I got quite a bit done for my Star-Blinken project last week. I started by throwing a bunch of scrap wood I had in the garage into the car to take to Milwaukee Makerspace to build into some sort of stand to hold the 36″ x 29″ piece of steel.
I didn’t really have a plan for building, which is a way I occasionally like to work, just a big pile of raw materials and the appropriate tools. Another member, Kyle, said that he had a bunch of scrap wood to unload from his vehicle, so I helped him do that, and then ended up using the wood he brought instead of any of my wood. I did end up grabbing a piece from the scrap pile in the Wood Shop, but besides a box of screws I bought, the entire stand was built from scrap at the space.
The stand ended up being very heavy, and I had to get it on a cart to easily move it around the space. I still need to add the star to the metal so we can fill in the LEDs. I’m hoping to have the preparation for this project done by the end of the week, though we can’t add the LEDs until the evening of Thursday, September 22nd, 2016. I’ve been experimenting a bit with the LEDs to checking the blinking rate, and I think it’s going to look awesome when all lit up!
And of course if you want to see the final product, come to Maker Faire Milwaukee on September 24th &&/|| September 25th, 2016.
After a number of edits to make it “cut-friendly” and adding my own text, I used the Silhouette Cameo to cut some vinyl to use for the mask…
Since we’re going to stick the vinyl on the back side of the screen, make sure to reverse your image before you cut it! (You can do it right in the Silhouette software.)
The vinyl gets attached to the back of the screen. I don’t have a photo of the transfer paper, but yes, I needed to use transfer paper. Getting the vinyl to stick to the screen can be tricky! Go slow, very slow, and make sure it transfers ok. It may not stick very good (yet) but it will work.
Once the vinyl it in place, tape it good on at all four sides, and then add more tape. (It’s clear packing tape, hard to see in the photo.)
Flip the screen over, and press down on the screen, so it will stick to the vinyl better. Add more tape. Really, preparing screens involves a lot of tape. (The white thing on the screen is just the backing of the vinyl, which I used to save a bit of tape… It’s taped in place. Yes, more tape!)
It was the first time screen printing for everyone who attended. Usually at least one or two people have had some experience (usually in high school) but this time no one had done it before. Here’s the shirt Asim printed. It turned out good!
While I only talked about printing light ink on dark shirts, Andrea brought a black shirt, which we printed with dark red ink. She said she wanted to do a bleach treatment on the shirt, which should lighten up the fabric but not the ink. Hopefully I can get a photo of that when it’s done.
I did a print on paper as well so I could add it to the “Wall of Stuff” at the Makerspace.
After I cleaned everything up I had a member ask when I’d be doing another demo/class. As usual, I don’t know the answer yet! Usually when enough people ask about it I do it. So, yeah, I’ll do it again, at some point.
Occasionally I show up at Milwaukee Makerspace with no clear idea of what might happen when I’m there. This piece, titled “Click Whir Squee” is the result of one such visit. Another member brought in a box of old computer hardware, including a Hewlett Packard Colorado T100E Tape Backup Drive. Being a fan of old technology (1997 is old, right?) I opened up the drive to take a look inside. I also powered it on and stuck a tape in it. The drive came to life and unspooled the tape and made a lot of spinning motor and tape loading sounds. Not everyone knows what these things sound like. It brought back some memories. (At my first job in the tech industry I had to load daily backup tapes into two tape drives. I remember the sound fondly.)
I somehow decided I should mount the tape drive to a piece of wood for display, so I went to the Wood Shop and started cutting up some scrap wood I found. Steve showed up to do some training, so I sat in on that for a bit so I could use the compound miter saw and the band saw. I had all the pieces cut by the end of the evening and knew how I was going to mount it.
I ended up taking all the pieces home and assembling it in my basement workshop. I manage to only split one piece of wood. Just a minor split, but a reminder to slow down when working with wood. The rest of the assembly went very smooth.
Since the majority of fun with this drive is the startup sequence, I decided it should continually turn on, do its thing, then turn off, and keep repeating that. I’ve been playing with ATtiny85 chips lately, so I put one into service to trigger a 5 volt relay (which I also grabbed from Milwaukee Makerspace) and put the following Arduino code on it.
Yes, this is pretty much a glorified blink sketch. Sometimes the simplest things are exactly what you need. (Astute readers will see that the device will be on for 70 seconds, and then off for 15 seconds, and repeat indefinitely.)
To power the ATtiny85 and the relay I found a Samsung phone charger on the Hack Rack at Milwaukee Makerspace. It even had a long cord, which was quite useful. You can also see one of the tapes that this machine uses. Now, if you really want to find some contrasts, consider that the modern day phone charger pictured here was used to charge a phone that probably had 8GB (or more) of solid state storage. The tape next to it could store 400MB of data (or 800MB of compressed data.) I should have included a MicroSD card which can store 8GB of data that I routinely buy for about $6 USD.
Since I removed the case there was no indication of what this thing was. I felt I should have something that told a bit of the story. I chose to mount the beige power pack, with “Hewlett Packard” emblazoned on it prominently.
Oh, and while the whir of the motor is quite satisfying, we can do better. There is a wooden arm to which you can affix a small piece of material with a binder clip, which will then be activated when the primary motor spins. Fans of baseball cards and bicycle spokes, this one is for you! I call the “Annoy-o-tron” mode. (Look, if you’re going to use an ATtiny in an Annoy-o-tron, at least be original, right?) I’ve experimented with paper, vinyl, and plastic, but finally settled on a piece from an anti-static bag which some electronics were shipped to me in. It seemed fitting.
Gallery owners and curators take note! This piece is ready to be mounted to a wall, and needs just two outlets to power it. It’s pretty much guaranteed to amuse some visitors while annoying other visitors. Art isn’t always about being pretty.
Enjoy the video below which allows you to experience this wonderful piece over the Internet while in the comfort of your own home (probably while wearing pajamas.)
Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.
What I love about Maker Faires (I’ve attended about eight of them in various cities the past few years) is that the people who share their work (or play) are passionate about what they do, and they love sharing it with others. I find this inspiring, and I usually leave excited about what I saw, and eager to learn new skills and make new things.
I’m planning to do a talk about The Power Racing Series, and help out showing off tiny electric vehicles built for under $500, but most of my time will probably be spent working with the folks from Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and Milwaukee Makerspace just making sure everything runs smoothly. (The two organizations are co-hosting the event, and I’m an employee and member of them both, respectively.)
I hope to see you at Maker Faire. If you’ve got kids, it may inspire them, and if you’re a kid at heart, you’ll love it too. (Don’t get me wrong, adults are welcome too!) And, Maker Faire Milwaukee is FREE to attend, thanks to our great sponsors! (And yes, there are still sponsorship opportunities, so get in touch with me if interested!)
(Oh, Maker Faire Milwaukee takes place at State Fair Park on September 26th & 27th, 2015, and Harvest Faire is also happening at that time, and also free, so really, there’s something for everyone… Come on down!)