PIY vs. Buy

Camera Mount

PIY stands for “Print It Yourself” which is a little like “DIY” but involves things you can easily print on a home 3D printer instead of buying.

Remember last year when I made this hot shoe audio mount? Well, a few months back we picked up a Zoom H4n to use for some DSLR shooting, and for the quick & dirty stuff it makes sense to just mount the Zoom on the camera. I just printed another one of my mounts, added two nuts and a bolt, and had one we could use. They’re cheap enough that I could probably print 10 of them so we have spares on hand if needed and still come in under $20.


The story doesn’t end there though… at some point I was looking up specs on the Zoom and wanted to check out the accessories and came across the HS-1 Hot Shoe Mount Adapter. It’s basically the same as the mount I made, except it’s probably metal, and it’s about $20 for one of them.

So this time around it was the opposite of my GoPro Frame. For that one, I saw the frame on the GoPro web site and sat down to design my own. For the Zoom mount I ended up making my own before I even knew they had one.

This is the amazing world we live in now… where open source 3D modeling software allows you to quickly and easily design something, and open source 3D printers allow you to quickly and easily print them out.

PIY is the new DIY.


Holiday Make-A-Thon 2012 [Time Lapse]

Hack Friday

Here’s a quick time-lapse video from the 2012 Holiday Make-A-Thon that Milwaukee Makerspace does in cooperation with Bucketworks. We’ve been doing it for 3 years now, and Bucketworks has been doing it on their own even longer.

It seems like a lot more hackerspaces are doing these type of events this year, which is awesome, and there’s even a nice name for it now: Hack Friday. In my mind, part of belonging to a makerspace/hackerspace is the love of creating things, sharing that with others, especially on a day that has become completely over the top in regards to consumerism. Our mission is plain and simple: Instead of buying useless crap on “Black Friday” join us and we’ll help you make something for the holidays.

I figured it was also a good time to test out the time lapse capabilities of the GoPro Hero3. I have a workflow in place that includes taking still images with the intervalometer and then combining the frames into a video, and then resizing and cropping the video to the correct proportions. It seems to work. Oh, and the camera motion near the end is actually the gaff tape giving out before the camera fell face-down. Enjoy!


Fixing the Fixture


I (somewhat) jokingly posted something the other day about how my wife asked me to 3D print something, and was totally serious this time and not sarcastic about it. To be fair, she’s heard me say “I’ll just 3D print one!” about 100 times this summer, and was probably sick of it, but when you live in the future, it’s pretty damn exciting.

Or story begins back in 2009 when we moved into our current house. The light above the front door was just a bare bulb, with nothing around it. I’m assuming there was a glass ball at one point, and it must have broke, or been stolen, or dematerialized. No matter, we can fix it.

3D Printed Part

While at Home Depot the wife found a cheapie plastic majigger that would fit over the light bulb, so we bought it. This is also when she suggested I could “make it work” and thus, I agreed.

I ended up using OpenSCAD to design a simple ring that would press-fit the new piece, and have the needed holes to fix the fixture… and adapter, if you will.

It fits!

It worked! As you may notice, there are no mounting holes. I often don’t bother making holes in the objects I print because I’ve got a drill press, and it makes much more precise holes than the RepRaster 5000 can. (And just to be clear, the clear piece is not what I printed. I printed the black piece. Got it?)

Holes for screws

Here’s the piece after I drilled the holes and secure it into the fixture with two small bolts. Sadly the small bolts are a little long, and stick out the top, but hey, it’s still an improvement.


So now on the front of the house is this lovely cheapie plastic majigger instead of just a bare light bulb. Home Improvements FTW!

This is one more thing where I really don’t know how I could have done this as elegantly without a 3D printer. Using open source software I designed the needed adapter and then printed it out using open source hardware, and the total cost of materials (ABS plastic) was probably less than 50 cents. As I said… living in the future and all that.


Spray Booth Reclaimed!

Spray Booth

I picked up an Artograph 1520 Spray Booth from the Hack Rack at Milwaukee Makerspace. Well, just the base of one, but the rest of the parts are fairly easy to DIY, so I did.

This spray booth lists for about $250 from various places, and if you use the 3 stage filter system you’ve got to get replacements at some point, and those aren’t cheap either. I don’t quite have a carbon-impregnated polyester filter for the third stage, and I still haven’t figured out the first stage pre-filter, but I grabbed one of my favorites, the super-cheap Ace Hardware 30 day furnace filter. The 20x25x1 is about $1.29 so even if I replace them pretty often, it’ll still be pretty darn cheap.

Ace Filter

I use the larger Ace filters in my big spray painting booth, and with a lot of painting I can still go weeks before I replace one. Those are a bit larger, but they’re still under $2.00 each. I did need to cut the 20x25x1 down just a bit to fit in the 1520, but only in one dimension, so that’s not too bad. Scissors is all you need to cut it. And as for the cardboard hood (which you can see is recycled from a Pelican case) I ended up tracing the one we have at work. (Yup, same model, it’s a popular one. I didn’t even bother with the slots and tabs for the hood, I just used some gaff tape to secure the edges together.

I’ll probably use the booth as our spray glue booth, and the larger one is already doing great for spray paint, and I’d prefer not to mix those two mediums if possible.

So yeah, a bit of cardboard, gaff tape, a furnace filter, and a little bit of time, and I’ve got an excellent reconditioned Artograph 1520 Spray Booth.


Scrabble Coasters

Laser-etched coasters

I finally finished these Scrabble coasters I’ve been working on forever. There were so many issues with this project, I’m calling these beta and plan to completely redo them. This is all fine though, as I spent some time this weekend explaining to the kids that screwing up and doing things wrong is all part of learning. Fail faster and all that. I’m pretty sure that the next version of these coasters will not have all the problems that this version had.

Laser-cut coasters

So what were the problems? Well, for one thing, I’ve really got to remember to sand the wood first! Yeah, like, before I etch it. Not a huge deal, but I think they’d look better if I had sanded first. As for the backing, I first thought about using cork, but decided against it but then I had to use cork to cover up the mistake on the back of using the wrong wood stain. The cork was not easy to cut, and there are some rough edges. I used a lot of X-ACTO blades in the process, but I think this cork may have been aged a bit too long. As for the wood stain, the wrong stain nearly torpedoed this project. Lesson learned? Test the stain on scrap wood. Besides all that, I think they turned out pretty good.

Oh, while I was using the laser cutter at Milwaukee Makerspace Shane commented that the letters looked a little rough. I had to explain that I didn’t just type up the letters in CorelDraw, I actually scanned real Scrabble tiles, as I wanted these to be authentic replicas, only much larger. I probably didn’t get the color quite right, but again, I’d like to redo the whole project. A deeper/darker etch may be in order next time, and I’ve got another idea for the backing/feet.

Glass on coaster

But do they work? Yes! Surprisingly enough, the glass did not tip over or go flying off the coaster, though honestly I think gravity had a lot more to do with it than my skills at making things. Still, I’ll count it as a success. :)