posts tagged with the keyword ‘makerfaire’

2018.11.15

giant-led-cube-02

This year my “big” project for Maker Faire Milwaukee was a Giant LED Cube. In this post I’ll talk about designing it, and in a follow up post I’ll talk about building it.

I should mention that the idea for this started maybe three years ago. I think it was during a meeting for Maker Faire at Milwaukee Makerspace and I tossed out the idea of building a giant light sculpture using light bulbs. Lance and Chris talked about it a bit and Tom started looking up parts on Alibaba. Nothing came of it that year, and I sort of forgot about it for a while. In fact, I really didn’t think about it again until after we completed the DecaLight last year. Once the two dimensional relay controlled light bulb thing was done I thought going three dimensional would be a good idea.

I modeled the cube in OpenSCAD, and then animated it just for fun. I figured out how many pieces of each PVC joint I would need, and while I originally thought a 20′ cube would be a good idea, after some initial tests (and the unavailability of 10′ PVC pipe) I ended up going with a 10′ cube so the 5′ PVC pipe I could get would work.

I picked up Jordan Bunker’s book PVC and Pipe Engineer: Put Together Cool, Easy, Maker-Friendly Stuff last year and then ended up learning about FORMUFIT which allows you to build furniture using PVC pipe. I had a plan!

giant-led-cube-01

Here’s the first sketch of the Giant LED Cube. By now I had decided that I would use LED light bulbs and standard household lamp sockets. The nice thing about using such common parts is that they are very cheap. I found these Black Bakelite Fixture Socket with Terminals and ordered some so I could test the fit. It was close enough that it would work, and I just needed to make a small adapter. Well, at least 27 small adapters.

giant-led-cube-04

I designed and 3D printed over 30 of these using clear ABS, which is remarkably close to being white, and since you wouldn’t really see them, I was fine with the close match. I cranked these out so I’d be ready when they were needed. Like many parts of this project, they are just press fit into place. The entire thing was designed to be easily assembled and disassembled for making transport and storage an simple affair.

giant-led-cube-03

I had the basic design of the cube figured out, so I decided to work on the controller. Since we’d have 27 LED light bulbs I decided to use an Arduino Mega, which had plenty of I/O pins, along with two 16 channel relay boards. LED light bulbs are pretty lower power (compared to incandescent bulbs, anyway) so even though they’re 110 volts AC, 27 bulbs all on at the same time probably pulled less than 6 amps.

The image above represents my first attempt at layout out the controller, which I eventually abandoned. The screw terminals ended up not being a good idea. I would be pretty busy running Maker Faire so I assumed that I could find helpers able to strip wire, put them into the screw terminals, and get it all right. After attempting this myself on a small scale I decided that it needed to be even simpler, and clear enough that almost anyone could do the setup. So I scrapped the screw terminals. Around this time I also decided that running all of the power cords inside the PVC was going to be tedious and difficult, so with the decision to just run the cords on the outside (at least for this installation) I decided to just use standard household plugs. This would allow nearly anyone to just match up some numbers and plug things in. Simple wins!

The design process for the Giant LED Cube wasn’t too difficult. Doing this like this (designing, specifying parts, building, etc.) is pretty much my day job. The wiring was definitely tedious, and required at least one unexpected hour-long troubleshooting session due to a bad connection. I had a lot of help with the wiring of the lights from Adrian, and a lot of help with initial assembly from Becky. Without their help things would have taken me a lot longer. (Thank You!)

I think I’ve spewed enough about this project for one post (which I wanted to get out last month!) so I’ll end it here and get working on Part II ASAP.

2018.07.08

make-sign

Yes, I know it’s July, but it’s time for the May update because summer is so busy that’s just how it works.

In May I went to the Madison Mini Maker Faire and we ran out Design & Build Derby (formerly known as “Nerdy Derby”) and kids and adults had fun. It was not as busy as previous years, which was good, because the number of volunteers was down, but as always, Adrian from Milwaukee Makerspace did an amazing job! If you missed it, check it out at Maker Faire Milwaukee.

Right after Madison it was time for Maker Faire Bay Area. I was able to join the Power Racing Series gang and assist with running the races. I think I can now say that straw bales may be worse than tires. The straw is very irritating. The race was fun, and I got to see a good amount of the Faire (but not everything, I mean, there’s a lot to see!) I also got to attend the Bring a Hack event, and if you don’t already know that Drew is awesome, you should know that now.

Also in May, I went to an event that shared the findings from the State of Urban Manufacturing Report. It was interesting how it relates to the “Maker Economy” and individuals and small businesses making and selling products.

I also went to the Meet the Meetups and it was interesting but difficult due to the crowded venue. I still got to see some old friends and talk to a few people about the Milwaukee tech scene, so that was good. Hopefully it can be a bit more spacious next time. We offered to do another Meet the Meetups at Maker Faire Milwaukee, but I don’t think there is enough interest in it…

I also did a tour of Milwaukee Blacksmith with BLK SHP Milwaukee. Ken is a great speaker as well as a great blacksmith, and it was cool to see what he’s built over the years for his family and the community. If you haven’t checked them out yet, add it to your list.

Besides all that I worked on a lot of components for a new museum exhibit, 3D printed a lot of parts for a giant sculpture, and a few other things, but we’ll cover that in future posts… As always, if you want to see a glimpse of things I’m working on, check out Instagram.

2017.11.18

NoiseMaker XI

This is (almost) the last noisemaker. There’s been a whole series, and they were all at Maker Faire Milwaukee. But don’t worry, if you missed them in person you can read all about them…

This one started out (somewhat) as a joke. While at Milwaukee Makerspace trying to convince other members to join me on this noisemaking quest I found this old radio on the Hack Rack and said “Look! Here’s a noisemaker! All we have to do is connect up a button for power. It’s that easy!” And while I did convince Maks and Dustin to make some noise(makers) others were not as easily swayed.

NoiseMaker XI

Not being one to not follow up on my own stupid idea, I took the radio, confirmed it worked, and then took it home to connect up a button and a power supply. I ended up just using alligator clips and didn’t even bother soldering anything in place. I did however use a generous amount of tape. (This was definitely the shortest/fastest build of all of the devices.)

NoiseMaker XI

As for the button, I already had that handy and mounted, because it was the old button for our garage door. (I replaced it with this one.) Since the old garage door button was something I hacked together very quickly one morning when the original garage door button broke, I thought it an appropriate use.

NoiseMaker XI

This one definitely has an aesthetic different than the other noisemakers, and that’s a good thing. If anything, I wish I had varied things a bit more throughout the process.

Looking back on the whole thing, creating nearly a dozen different noisemaking devices was a lot of fun. None of them were too involved so I could be sure I’d get each one done and move on to the next, and when things got a little more complex or time consuming that it should have, I offset it by working on multiple devices at a time. Some makers I know suggest this is the secret—having multiple projects at once so you can switch between them when you get stuck/bored with the one you are currently working on. Of course the issue with that is to not abandon projects completely, and come back to them in a reasonable amount of time. (Yes, I may be guilty of 4+ years of planning and/or working on a project that has seen very little progress. I ain’t proud!) If you’re interested in making your own noisemakers, let me know, and I’ll do what I can. The world needs more noise!

This is just one post in a series about noisemakers. Check out the other posts as well:

2017.11.03

NoiseMaster IX

Once again we’ve got a noisemaker to tell you about. As you may know, there’s a whole series of these things, and they were all at Maker Faire Milwaukee in 2017, and each one is getting a blog post. (More links are at the bottom of this post.)

NoiseMaster IX

This one features a really nice (looking) speaker that was donated to the cause when I posted about needing unused speakers. This one was in a cabinet that was probably 25 years old, and had what I assume was fiberglass insulation inside of it. I ripped the cabinet apart at Milwaukee Makerspace one day and trashed everything but the sweet speakers which have “Muscle Magnet” power!

NoiseMaster IX

We’ve got a Teensy LC in this one, along with a Teensy Prop Shield (Low Cost version). I made the mistake of soldering a Teensy LC onto it instead of a Teensy 3.x and then realized it wouldn’t play the sounds I wanted to play, but it can do some speech synthesis stuff, so I embraced that. (You’ll hear what it sounds like spouting random phrases in the video below.)

NoiseMaster IX

One of the weird things I did with this one was make the wood look like plastic, and the plastic look like wood. Sort of. I mean, the wood is really MDF, but I gave it a glossy coat of paint, to move away from the stained wood I used in other noisemakers, and I sort of thought it looked more like a plastic surface. (Except for the sides, because MDF is stupid.)

NoiseMaster IX

For the “spools” I 3D printed them with wood filament, so they sort of are wood, but still plastic. Sort of. It’s confusing. Everything about this one is confusing I guess.

spool

Here’s the spools I modeled to serve as standoff between the top and bottom pieces. The spools came about after I modeled the feet. What feet?

foot

These feet! While the wood (uh, MDF) and plastic were on the controller part, I made bright green plastic feet, which are actually modeled as tiny speakers, to attach to the large blue speaker so it could “stand” face down on the table.

NoiseMaster IX

Because the Prop Shield has a built-in amp, it was much louder than most of the other noisemakers, so this was a good way to dampen the sound a bit. Hear this noisemaker in all its glory!

This is just one post in a series about noisemakers. Check out the other posts as well:

2017.10.29

NoiseMaster VIII

We’re back after a short break with another noisemaker! Oh yeah, there’s a whole series of these things, all of which were shown at Maker Faire Milwaukee in 2017. (More links are at the bottom of this post.)

NoiseMaster VIII

I built this one very quickly while Maks was using my shop. I tried to stay out of his way and built it off to the side while he was using the workbench. I grabbed an Arduino Leonardo I had on hand and I just stuck some wires in the header pins and stuck them down with gaff tape. I also hot glued a small speaker into place and added a small terminal block to wire things up. There’s a MicroUSB cable to provide power.

NoiseMaster VIII

This one was built with a bunch of scrap wood and MDF. The one tricky thing with this one was something I wanted to try with the button. I used a breadboard compatible button and mounted it on some perf board and drilled a hole through a 6mm piece of Baltic Birch and used a Forstner bit to pocket out a space for the square body of the button so it would sit flush. (This was meant as a test for a future project, so I was glad it worked out.)

NoiseMaster VIII

Super-boring looking! Fast build, no decoration, plain wood and MDF, with a few screws and a tiny button. Plain. Simple. Blah.

NoiseMaster VIII

This one did have what I considered a fun sound though. It’s pretty much a siren. Woo-Woo-Woo-Woo goes the noisemaker! I can’t remember where I got the code from but it uses freqout, so that’s exciting. Enjoy!

This is just one post in a series about noisemakers. Check out the other posts as well:

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