posts tagged with the keyword ‘makerspace’

2014.01.12

We’ve been using the RED ONE a lot in the past few months over at z2 and while we’ve had the matte box for a year now, we never managed to get top or bottom flags for it, so I finally got around to solving that problem.

RED Flag

Camera accessories are notoriously expensive. For some things, that makes sense, and for others, I’m not sure it does. The top/bottom flag for a RED Matte Box is $90 USD. Well, hey, it’s carbon fiber. Yeah, that stuff is pricey! But, don’t worry…

RED Flag

There’s an aluminum version of the top/bottom flag for just $40USD. Hey, you could get two of the aluminum flags for less than the price of one carbon fiber flag!

RED Flag

While I was perusing the RED store, admiring their well done photography, I noticed that the large version of the photo was clean. Really clean, and at the perfect angle, straight on! So… I engaged in what I now like to call “R3Dverse Engineering”. (That’s “reverse engineering” of RED stuff, if that was too subtle.)

RED Flag

I grabbed the image from the web site, opened it in Photoshop, and started to clean it up.

RED Flag

I got rid of the shadow, added a white layer below so I could see things a bit better, and selected the object…

RED Flag

I then filled the whole thing with black so I had a high contrast image…

Once this was done, I saved the file as a PNG and imported it into Inkscape, where I used the ‘Trace Bitmap’ feature to create vector lines defining the image.

Inkscape Flag

The next step involved a lot of precise measurements with the digital calipers on the part of the matte box where the flag mounts. There were many guide lines added.

Inkscape Flag

The lines helped me determine centering of the slots and how wide the slots/tabs needed to be.

Inkscape Flag

I did a few revisions, and here’s the final cleaned up version. with most of the guide lines removed.

Inkscape Flag

Here’s a visual diff to show the tweaks between the original trace of the image I imported, and how much I ended up adjusting the lines a bit for a better fit. (The reddish hue shows the final. I mainly had to add a bit more space around the larger tab.)

I should mention that with each revision, I was printing out a sample on tabloid size paper and cutting it up to test the fit.

Inkscape Flag

Once my paper prototype was good enough to consider “final”, I ended up sitting on this project for a bit trying to determine what material to use, and how to cut it.

I’m still thinking about it… I’d prefer to go CNC versus trying to cut it by hand. Perhaps using the CNC Router at Milwaukee Makerspace would work. A very thin sheet of aluminum perhaps? I thought about laser cutting something, but didn’t think acrylic or wood would be a good option. I’ll need to keep thinking about materials…

Black Flag

Meanwhile, we have lots of black board at work, so I stuck my paper prototype onto a piece and hand cut it with an X-ACTO blade. (I did not round the corners.)

Black Flag

The tabs and slots are a little messier than I’d like, but again, I’ll call this part of the prototyping stage.

Black Flag

But it also totally works… and is probably less than 1/100 the cost of the carbon fiber version. It may not hold up as long, but then again, I can easily make a bunch of these for next to nothing. (I can also just laser cut the black board instead of sliding an X-ACTO around to do it.)

Black Flag

Update! I ended up laser cutting the black boards, and they works great! You can grab the files from Thingiverse.

2012.11.25

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!

2012.11.19

Mothership Hacker Moms

I fully support Mothership HackerMoms (The first women’s hackerspace) and was happy to donate to their Kickstarter campaign. Their goal was/is to construct a workshop with tools and equipment, and create a kids program and business incubator for moms. I think it’s a great idea.

So who would be against this? Nobody, right? Well, actually, some people spoke out… see Anti-HackerMoms send hate mail, HackerMoms respond. Great responses from the women involved. Mothers are important to the world, and having a space where they can get their making fix should be viewed as a good thing. Here’s another blurb:

We are a new kind of playground and workspace for creative mothers. Fun to us is not mani-pedis, but making, breaking, learning and hacking our bright ideas. HackerMoms model active creative lives for our kids who learn, explore and create as mini-makers alongside us. We offer members daily childcare. We also welcome dads.

I don’t think they have any plan to be exclusionary, and they certainly aren’t out to stop anyone else from doing their own thing. You want to start a hackerspace geared towards women who have chosen not to have kids, or for single dads, or for people who view their pets as their babies? Go for it. I’m sure they won’t try to stop you.

And here’s the thing… we all have/had mothers. (Well, unless you were created in some other way, I know some people were.) Imagine being a kid and having your mom take you to a hackerspace, and growing up in that sort of community and culture. I can’t wait to see what the kids who frequent the Mothership HackerMoms space turn out like in 10 or 20 years.

If you believe in creative spaces like these, support them, and let others know how awesome it is.

One more thing… over at Milwaukee Makerspace we’ve talked about how to reach out to more people, men, women, robots, etc. We’re interested mainly in maker, and less about gender, but you can bet that if a bunch of women (or mothers, or men, or cats) came to us asking for advice on how to start their own space, we’d help them out. In fact, we’ve already done that a bit for Spring City Launchpad. We’re also hoping that our new space will be much more inviting to all kinds of people. I guess we’ll find out how that goes in 2013!

2012.11.11

Laser-etched name badges

I made these laser-etched badges at Milwaukee Makerspace recently, and if you’ve see our logo before, you may have noticed it has some thin lines in it. Thin lines are great, except when they aren’t, and when etching with the laser, they might not be.

the photo above shows my three attempts, with the first being on the bottom, and the third being on the top. You can see the difference by comparing the helmet in each badge.

Logos

The image above shows our standard helmet logo on the left, and you can see the line widths, which work fine for graphics we use online, or printed materials like flyers and stickers, but for laser etching, the lines are just too thin. The middle logo shows how I tried to fatten up the lines to allow the etching around them to leave a bit more material (in this case 3mm Baltic Birch plywood.) Match the middle logo up with the middle badge in the photo above… it’s better, but still not great.

The logo on the right side shows the lines around the eyes and nose thickened up even more, and this is what worked the best, as seen in the final (top) badge in the top photo. (And yes, these were done using the 60 watt Laser Cutter at Milwaukee Makerspace.)

Example #1

Here’s a poor macro shot of the second attempt, where you can see that not enough material was left for the eyes and nose, even after the first attempt at fattening up the lines. (I didn’t bother to photograph the first attempt, as I sized up the logo on this, the second attempt, and then maintained the new larger size on the third attempt as well.)

Example #2

Here’s a poor macro shot of the third attempt, the one with the fattest lines. This one worked out quite well, especially for the eyes and nose. The detail in the solder iron were completely lost, which is fine, as it’s extremely fine detail, and we’re etching it at a small size.

I’m pretty happy with the final result, and I’ll keep in mind that thin lines may need to be fattened up in the future. (There’s always the issue of altering someone’s logo or artwork, but in cases like this it’s necessary if you want good results.) I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rules on this, as things will vary depending on size of artwork, material being etch, and other variables, but it’s a nice reminder that tweaking is needed for this type of thing to work well.

2012.09.26

Laser Kaleidoscope

We managed to get Milwaukee Makerspace invited to another gallery night, and this time we’re taking part in Bay View Gallery Night at Alterra, so I figured I needed a new project. And hey, what’s better than a deadline to get a project done? (It’s like college all over again… in a good way!)

Interociter

When I was at Maker Faire Detroit back in July I saw this laser spinner thingy called “The Interociter” and decided I had to have one. And by “have one” I mean “make one”… so I did.

(There’s some debate over whether it should be called a “Laser Kaleidoscope” or “Laser Spirograph” or “Laser Spinner Thingy” and while I do like “Laser Spinner Thingy” I also get sick of people thinking all my projects are Spirograph-inspired, so I went with Laser Kaleidoscope. Deal with it.)

Laser Kaleidoscope

Laser Kaleidoscope

So where were we? Oh yes, the project! It’s really simple: a laser is pointed at a mirror, and that reflects the laser onto another mirror, and that one reflects it onto another mirror, and then it shows up on the wall. You can make the motors spin by turning them on with a pushbutton, and then adjust the speed by turning the knobs. There are 3 motors (an earlier prototype had 4) and by setting them all to different speeds, you can get some crazy patterns going.

So how does it work? The laser hits the first spinning mirror, and creates what appears to be a circle. It’s really a single dot, but it’s spinning around so fast it looks like a circle. Add a second (and third) mirror, and since they all wobble just a little bit, you get much more than a simple circle.

Here’s a shopping list:

I say “shopping list” because those are the parts I (mostly) bought… Of these parts I’ll note that with the laser I leaned towards the “safe” side, but it can be difficult to see in well-lit rooms, so I may upgrade to this one at some point. The round craft mirrors came in a variety pack with different sizes. I may experiment with larger mirrors in the future.

Laser Kaleidoscope

Laser Kaleidoscope

There are a bunch more parts involved, one being the piece of wood everything is attached to, and the other parts were all designed and 3D printed by me. (OK, I had a little help with the knobs.)

The printed parts are:

  • (1) Laser mount
  • (3) Motor mounts
  • (3) Mirror mounts
  • (3) Knobs

(I also considered printing some small U-shaped things to hold the wires in place, but haven’t bothered with that yet.)

And yeah, this is why I have a 3D printer. The ability to digitally design something, rapidly create it, tweak it a bit and print a new one… that’s what I love.

My original plan was to make up a nice laser-cut case for this (I thought that would be appropriate) but with the lasers down for repair, I didn’t get that done in time. That’s actually fine, as I’ll probably end up redesigning things a bit before I’m totally done with it. So far though, I’m happy with the progress.

The video was quick & dirty, and really doesn’t do it justice, which is why you’ll need to come see it in person I guess. I figured I couldn’t write this post without including some sort of proof that it actually works. :)

Lasers! They’re awesome!

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