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More ballz

As part of the continuing Manchester MakeFest preparations, and in particular the Amazeballs challenge from Manchester HACMan tonight I completed the next step of my marble (well pinball) run drop.

This is a large version of the version 2 Lammballz. So essentially a Version 3 Lammballs and is 555mm by 300mm made from a combination of perspex and birch.

Big thanks to the ever-wonderful Tom Bloor for help with the setting on the laser cutter, design done as always in Inkscape. Images of the unfinished (needs lots of glue/fixings) version with business card for scale, below.

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I Made a Thing

So last night I made a thing at the hackspace and although it is relatively simple and small I am inordinately proud of the thing that I made.

You may, or may not, have heard that there is a Makers event in Manchester (Manchester MakeFest, I believe this to be a faire or carnival of makers) that is to be held at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) on the 11-12th August. For that event the folks at Manchester HackSpace have created a AmazeBalls challenge and we at LAMM are trying to create something for it.

My small part in this is to create a small pair of ball drops. One of which I am cutting out of wood using the laser cutter and the other I am making from scratch (predominately) using a 3D printer. This challenge is a great way for me to start to play with both Laser and 3D printing.

Last night I designed a simple rail in Inkscape.

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I then took the simple rail and extruded it in OpenSCAD with a lot of patient and generous help from Tom Bloor (who guided this old duffer through the openSCAD way of doing things).

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And then I sliced the resulting stl files in the 3D printer softare.

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Then I printed and played with them as they seem to work 😉

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It was a great achievement, I said it was small, for me and it was another example of how a place like the Lancaster Space can inspire you to create using a variety of tools even if you are new to them or an ‘old duffer’ like me. Thanks all for the pointers and help, a big thanks to Tom for all his gentle tutelage.

Stamp It

There was a small, determined, and succesful combined effort at the Lancaster Space this week.

Stamps

Those of you familiar with the MakerSpaces will know that there is a MakerSpace Passport. This is a copy of a traditional passport with the idea that you fill it with stamps from the various hackspaces you visit.

Hackspaces themselves are encouraged to make stamps for the visitors.

We at LAMM took this into hand and made a collective effort amongst some of the members to make a stamp for the Space and for the LAMM people.

Make It

  • Darren provided us with some laser-ready rubber from which to create the stamps.
  • Claire checked online for the details and did the organising of data and information.
  • Mark designed the logo in Inkscape.
  • Tom designed the handle and performed the Laser and 3D printer duties.
  • Ian drank coffee and cola and made jokes when we forgot to reverse the first cut.

The end result is something we are proud of and also means we have now costed the time, effort, process for creating custom stamps, which is another service we can provide or that we can teach to local people.

The Wonderful Chaps at Andrews and Arnold

andrews_and_arnold_ispStarting a Hackspace is a daunting task, there is the finding of a space itself, the tools, members, and then the inevitable bills to pay. Hackspaces tend to be run as businesses, as such they are liable to pay rates, they usually have rent, there is power and then the associated costs. There is little left over for luxuries such as Internet, which is a shame as the Internet and connectivity is an essential need in the modern world.[1]

We discovered that our budgets would likely suffer if we had to get an internet connection, however we approached some providers for their rates and explained our situation. That’s when those wonderful chaps at Andrews and Arnold came through for us.

Andrews and Arnold are renown in the community as a professional internet provider. They are not the cheapest service, and there is a reason for that, they focus on quality and not cutting corners or reducing customer service or satisfaction. For the Lancaster and Morecambe Makers they have generously agreed to provide us with a year of internet provision to help us establish ourselves.

We at LAMM and the Space in Lancaster are humbled by the generosity and it will help us settle and establish in our first year. We will raise a merry toast to our Internet Sponsors at Andrews and Arnold.

[1] This is especially true if you are trying to be a digital/creative hub and work space.

Bedside lighting

I am new to the whole hacking, making, playing, soldering and generally hands-on construction and so my time at the hackspace is always a steep learning curve.

One of the projects that I have been tinkering with was to take a couple of old, well toys really – but toys for me as an adult, and make them into something new. What i decided to do was build a bedside light with two switches, some ultra-bright LEDs and a blue LED. The toys were a Doctor (model of David Tennant’s doctor) and a TARDIS safe (that had stopped functioning).

I basically ripped the electronic guts out including the microchip board, added a bit of lego and Sugru’d LEGO in the TARDIS and to David’s feet so he would stand upright, and then made a board for the 5 lights in the doorway. A little tinkering with a drill got me the holes for two switches, a push button for the decorative lights and a two stage switch for the main ultra-brights, and we were done.

I have re-used something and made a useful light for my bedside. It is hardly on the same scale as the hacked sensors that have appeared on this blog in the last week, but I am still moderately pleased with the result.

Is there anybody there? Click once for yes!

So following on from my previous post about switches, let’s talk about Passive Infra Red (PIR) sensors.

Loxone Presence Sensor

Cost: OMG HOW MUCH?!
Summary: No way in hell I’m buying one at that price
Supplier: Loxone

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Wow, the price of this is staggering. It’s got a light level sensor and a PIR in it. I’m not going to buy one, but I’m including it here without much comment.

Manufacturers site – http://shop.loxone.com/enuk/presence-sensor.html

Generic presence sensor

Cost: Low (£10)
Summary: Not quite what I’m after, but I can hack this.
Supplier: Low Energy Supermarket Ebay shop

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I purchased this with the thought that I would place them in some rooms outside of the automation system like the toilet and possibly the kitchen. I ran it in the kitchen for a while until it finally started to annoy me. There’s an adjustable timer and light level sensor which means that once the light drops below a certain level the PIR will activate the light until no presence is detected and the timer runs down. It’s 240v mains, which isn’t great for working with, so having gotten annoyed with it and removed it (Claire nearly cut herself after the lights in the kitchen went out) I took it apart for a looksee.

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So what’s the black tube? It’s a fuse, that’s a good thing. Otherwise not much of interest.

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Oh hello! That’s a 24v relay. That means that we’re looking at a 24v DC supply. *grin* The Loxone kit is 24v DC, which I don’t think I’ve mentioned so far. The two circuit boards are a mains power supply and the combined PIR and logic board with the two variable resistors on. Removing or modifying the back board *should* give us a board that we can power with 24v and will trigger a 24v line when activity and suitable light level are detected.  We don’t actually care about the light level or the timer so we can turn both right down. Now we have something we can connect directly to a Loxone digital input and feed into a lighting controller block for a fraction of the cost of the official presence sensor.  This I like 🙂

Purchased from Low Energy Supermarket Ebay Shop –http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/230776895665

Hacking the generic PIR

Some time after writing the top half of this post, I got to the testing.  Tests on the generic PIR revealed that indeed it was 24v as expected. A simple full wave rectification circuit with four 1N4007 diodes, a couple of capacitors, a signal diode and a couple of resistors.

Turns out the signal diode was mostly redundant as far as I can tell, it’s included to eliminate back EMF but that’s actually dealt with by one of the power diodes without need for it. Eh, I put one of the power diodes back in and removed the signal diode.

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So testing! Lets see what the current consumption is like on this after the modification

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Huzzah! 24v DC PIR with low current consumption and low cost. Our terminals are now switched 24v DC, 0v and +24v DC enabling us to use this on an input as suggested above. The input can then be mapped to the sensor input on the lighting controller and programming via the Loxone as documented.

I’m very happy with this money saving hack and will be buying a few more of these sensors in the very near future!

Sponsors Page

Yesterday we added a new page to our website at Lancaster and Morecambe Makers. This is the Sponsors page and it is to recognise all those who have made a contribution to our group and our hackspace.

The sponsors page is about the companies who have given us support, services and advice to help us come into existence. But we think our sponsors are also individuals and the first group we want as a permanent roll cal of honour on the site are the Founder Members who gave us funds to help us get off the ground.

Take a few moments to have a look at all the people who have helped so far, and if you can help, or know someone who might be able to help us make more services or grow, then please point them at us as well.

Two 3D soon to be Three or Four…

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The Space in Lancaster has acquired a second 3D printer that can be used by Members who have completed the 3D Printing training. This machine is the property of Mark Keating who is allowing use of the machine by members as long as they pay for the costs of the material that is extruded.

The printer is a model of the Replicator 2 and has twin nozzles. This means that it can be used to print with two different maetrials at the same time and can utilise a variety of printing techniques. It should be possible to combine elements such as hard filament and ninja flex to print wheels with tires in situ on a single run.

The printer will take PLA and ABS and is being tested with other materials. It can also handle support material allowing for more complex prints to be achieved.

At this time Mark and Tom are calibrating and testing the printer, they will soon add a part cooling mdification which will further enhance the machine and will be looking to add a glass bed.

Hacking the space – March 2015

So this weekend on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th of March we had our first major hack the space day, and much was achieved!

  • Workshop area now has a chip board flooring to prevent us causing damage to the laminate flooring in Unit 5
  • Kitchen worktops are cut to length and fixed to the units
  • Big shelving units are screwed to the walls
  • Donated equipment and parts were moved from the Shadowcat offices to the space
  • Laser was moved location along with the PC (including some comedy moments of Bob discovering how thin the metal was and bending it)
  • Laser modified to replace the USB cabling so the software licence dongle lives inside connected to a USB hub all nice and neat
  • Laser usage counter box purchased and wired up at one end. We worked out where to connect it in the cutter but didn’t quite get to connecting it due to lack of ferrels
  • Tested issue with datum button for Just Add Sharks – don’t press the datum button in Z mode with the honeycomb and slotted beds in as it will crash the head. The limit switch now needs moving
  • TV donated by Graham as spares or repair was mounted on the wall and the first signs of issue started to show with it. Percussive maintenance fixed this so there’s probably a dry or loose joint that we need to find
  • Blew up the new board for the 3d printer that Bob brought with him (whoops – looks like the power connector was soldered to the board the wrong way around)
  • Got the chip from the new board to work on the old Gen7 3d printer board gaining a working board out of two not working boards
  • PAT tested the pillar drill, which passed!
  • PAT tested a PSU from Ian’s house, which failed and went back home with him in disgrace
  • Realised that we can’t run the extractor past 21:00 in the evening as it’s too noisy for the surrounding houses – sorry to the people who rang up to point this out. Noted and we will stop at 21:00 in future.

So all in all a very productive couple of days! Massive thanks to Bob Clough from Hackspace Manchester (Hackman) who came up to see us to use the laser cutter and and help out. The A-Maze-Balls project is looking very exciting in the flesh (that’s what Bob was cutting out).

Come and see for yourself at our open evening this and every Wednesday from 18:00 onwards!

A-Maze-Balls box being cut:

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Laser cutter in new location on top of chipboard flooring:

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Challenge accepted

So this weekend saw many changes at the space. We received the go ahead to start moving in equipment and the White Cross team had installed many more electrical sockets, which we greatly appreciated.

Jim was renovating his kitchen and gave us his old kitchen cabinets, Ian and Tom collected them and installed them on Saturday. Other furniture also found its way up to the space including desks, chairs and other storage units.

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Sunday was the main event with our A2 Laser cutter arriving. Martin from Just add Sharks arrived at 2pm with a challenge: “Nobody has ever got one of the A2 lasers upstairs before”. Not a group to step down from a challenge, we called in more people to help, as it weighs just over 170kg. So the task began getting a metal box weighing 170kg up to the second floor – we knew that it would fit up the stairs but it was going to be tight. It helped that some of the extra help were engineers and a plan was formed. Ropes were attached, people psyched themselves up and the laser was rolled to the bottom of the stairs. 7 yes SEVEN minutes later the laser was in the space and we were patting ourselves on the back, or we were patting the people who had manhandled it up the steps on the back.

Next was fitting the laser tube and other extras like the air compressor, water chiller and extraction unit. Then came the calibration and training. I won’t go into the details of these here as there will be training documentation to come for everyone who wants to learn how to use the laser. Just to say it is really not that difficult to use which I proved by laser etching and cutting the LAMM logo on ply before the day was out.

A BIG thank you to Martin from Just add Sharks, for his excellent training, and an extremely big shout out to all those who helped over the weekend, I will name names as without their help we would have been stuck. Graham Hill, Darren Poulson, Tom Bloor, Ian Norton, Jim Mann and his friends. A hackspace is nothing without people rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in.

-clj