chili-01

We had a chili contest at work and because we are all clever and ridiculous we had great names for our chili. I named mine Winning Chili. Unfortunately the judge renamed it with unnecessary quotes to be “Winning Chili” which is just not the same…

chili-02

Carrie had two chilis, one being named The Winner, which the judge also renamed with unnecessary quotes to be “The Winner”…

chili-03

…and another named Best In Class which somehow avoided the dreaded addition of unnecessary quotes.

chili-04

Stacie went with a strangely named Aunt Lota’s Hot Meat & Cool Beans, which definitely won for highest character count, but lacked the words Winning, Winner or Best.

My chili wasn’t even really chili, it was Chili Mac & Cheese, because I’ve never made chili, but I have made mac & cheese, and I just added a bunch of chili ingredients. I probably won because the judges were a bunch of teachers and I reasoned that teachers would like mac & cheese because most teacher in this country are underpaid and probably used to eating a lot of mac & cheese.

(Note: while the paragraph above might be humorous, it’s also sad. I donated the prize to a teacher.)

mold-05

I made wax balls, and it worked, and I did it using 3D printed molds. I won’t get into why I want/need wax balls in this post, but I swear it has nothing to do with candle making or bath bombs. (These balls are about 12mm in diameter.)

model-02

I originally modeled one ball with one sprue, and then used the loop function of OpenSCAD to make a series of them in a row, slightly overlapping the sprues.

model-01

My original plan was to make silicone molds (like I did with this wax stick) and went as far as creating a positive and a mold box, but along the way I thought about just using a 3D printed mold…

mold-01

Here’s the 3D printed mold created using PLA filament. The holes are for bolting the two pieces together using 3mm hardware. (I used tape in the earlier versions, but it did not work well.)

mold-02

I didn’t need to fill all the bolt holes, but wanted a few options so I could get tight clamping. Wax doesn’t have the same low viscosity of something like water, but when melted is a bit runny, so I just want to make sure I can keep it from leaking out too much.

mold-03

Once the mold is assembled it’s just a matter of melting some wax and pouring it into the mold. I’ve had a few balls with air pockets when demolding, so I’ve taken to sticking a thin piece of wire in to stir around the wax in an attempt to remove the air. (I do have a vacuum pump which I’ve considered trying to use, but the chamber is currently too small to fit much in it.)

mold-04

Hey, wax balls! Originally I tried spraying the mold with mold release, but I don’t think it helped much. What does help is putting the cooled molds into the freezer for a bit (this is a known trick for getting wax candles out of glass jars.) It helps solidify the wax enough to make it come out fairly easily. I do break a few every now and then but a lot less than before I used the freezer method.

The other great thing about using 3D printed molds is that I can very easily (and cheaply) make a whole bunch of molds, which is good, because I may need a few thousand wax balls…

link-dump-201904

Hey there! It’s time for another LinkDump post. Yeah, a link dump! They are (typically) blog posts that link to other things on the old Internet Web, and often have little or no commentary. Sometimes I’ll just post links to things I’ve read or looked at or need to check out in the future, or just want to share.

mf-miami-2019-2577

I was fortunate enough to be invited to Maker Faire Miami by Mario the Maker, who I’ve followed online for quite a while, and had met previously at Maker Faire Orlando.

I’ll admit, when he invited me, and told me it was at Miami Dade College (which I had been to before) I assumed it would be indoors. When he told me it was 84 degrees there a few weeks before the Faire, I hoped it would be indoors. I got there and found out it was all outdoors. When people asked me how Miami was, I say “Hot!” (I’m from the Midwest, I don’t handle heat well.)

miami-ppprs

Besides that darn heat, Maker Faire Miami was pretty awesome. Every Faire in every city has a different flavor, and while I know a little about the Maker community in Miami, it was great to see more of it. Most of my time there was spent assisting where I could, and a lot of that involved helping with the Power Racing Series.

This was the first year for Power Racing in Miami, and the Orlando Crew pretty much took care of everything. We had a few issues with water, and power, and magic smoke, but in the end things worked out pretty good, especially for a first attempt.

mf-miami-2019-2617

Orlando (well, MakerFX Makerspace) also brought along their “Print a Shirt” station, where you can pay $5 to screen print your own t-shirt. (Or $10 if you buy one already printed.) Now that’s how you incentivize making!

mf-miami-hedgeclipper

As usual, Florida favorites included Hedgeclipper and the work from Moonlighter Makerspace. They had a giant tent filled with awesome things.

cnc-drumstick-01

One of the more interesting exhibits I came across was this little CNC lathe made for engraving drumsticks. I was interested in it because it looked like the little CNC machine I built from a kit a few years ago. Indeed, I talked to the Maker and that’s what it was, a heavily modified version of the same kit. We talked a bit about the Grbl firmware and I gave him a few tips on saving the settings. (Check out a video of it in action.)

mf-miami-2019-2632

I met a lot of great people in Miami. I talked with John Edgar Park and I think we bonded a little over our love of documenting and sharing work. I met Abby K. (VEX iCutie) who was super enthusiastic about what she made, and spent time explaining her robot to me. I also got to meet Esteffanie (YouTube, Instagram) who gave an inspiring talk about making and failing, and continuing to try new things.

Overall, Maker Faire Miami was a great event, and I’m really glad I got to be involved with it. If you’re in the Miami area, check it out next year, as I’m sure I’ll only get better with age!

Want more photos? There’s a bunch in my Maker Faire Miami album.

octonoise-5573

For this year’s WMSE Art & Music event, I created a new board I call OctoNoise. It’s an eight note piano featuring capacitive touch pads, LEDs, a Teensy LC microcontroller, and some fine woodworking. This is somewhat similar to last year’s piece.

octonoise-laser

You may know me for my work with decagons, but I also work with octagons, and this pattern is known as a 16 cell and it worked well for my design which utilizes 8 touch pads and 8 LEDs.

octonoise-5579

I’m not an amazing woodworker, but after laser cutting wood I can typically sand it, stain it, and add some polyurethane. At least it looks (somewhat) nice. I didn’t alter the bottom piece, and I just left it as a square, the way I received it from WMSE. My original design for this piece (over a year ago) was a bit different, but I wanted this to match the style of last year’s WMSE piece (and I was a bit rushed getting this done.)

octonoise-5583

The OctoNoise features and on/off switch, which is handy because it runs on batteries. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made electronic things for myself and not included and on/off switch. It’s nice to have one! When you turn it on the touch pads calibrate for about 5 seconds. There’s a startup sound that happens during calibration. (I added a note about that on the back of the piece.)

octonoise-5576

There’s a “somewhat” hidden control knob on the side that ajusts the delay between notes. The way the code is written, it plays one note at a time, but you can alter that to very quickly (or slowly) oscillate between multiple notes. You can get some interesting variances in sound by turning the knob.

Note that it is difficult to turn the knob while also touching the pads to make sound. This is by design, as it’s also difficult (if not damn near impossible without using various parts of your body) to play all the notes at once. This was done to encourage collaboration and playfulness.

octonoise-5589

Here’s a side view. The height was determined by the speaker that was chosen. Once again we’ve put the electronics on display as part of the piece rather than hide them inside an enclosure. They are mean to be celebrated! (Each wire has a label showing what it connects to, if needed.)

octonoise-5591

Here’s the Teensy LC, which runs the code. The board has built it capacitive touch pins, which make writing the code fairly easy. The notes used are C5, D5, E5, F5, G5, A5, B5, C6. This is real piano, and you can play actual songs. I based the code on a project I did for Brown Dog Gadgets a while back. You can check out their Touch Piano on Github.

octonoise-5594

This device also contains an built-in amp with a volume control. Again, a sometimes rare feature in the things I build. Often amps require 12 volts and that’s not always fun to deal with, but I’ve found some that work on variable voltages from 3 to 12 volts, so running them at the same voltage as a microcontroller becomes very easy.

octonoise-3d-parts

Besides all the wood and electronics, there are some 3D printed parts that pull it all together. The on/off switch, delay control, amp, and battery holder all have their own 3D printed part that they attach to and then easily attach to the wood with some #4 screws. Once again, things are left “open” to celebrate rather than hide the electronics.

octonoise-standoff

The other 3D printed pieces are the custom standoffs that raise the top piece above the bottom piece to (partially) enclose the electronics. I created a 2D profile from the original artwork used to laser etch & cut the piece to create the correct angle. I then extruded that design to make the tall standoffs and printed 8 of them.

As usual, I encourage you to check out my Instagram account if you’re interested in seeing confusing photos of these sorts of things coming together.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. I liked this piece so much, I made another one so I could keep one for myself. As the old saying goes “If you’re gonna make one, make two!” So I did.

Finally, here are some videos, including one showing me playing both of them at once, which might never happen again!

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