It’s all about feelings.

20140824_213847

When the idea of making a robot becomes a feeling and you say to yourself, “I feel like making a robot!”… well, that’s when you need to get on down to our super-secret robot makerspace and exercise that emotion. That’s precisely what we’ve been doing these past couple of Saturday mornings. In this blog post I’ll attempt to put some words to those glorious feelings.

20140823_103046

It was a hard Saturday morning of flies, dust, stiff rawhide gloves and rusty metal as far as the eye could see. We had just arrived at the BIMCO scrap metal yard. Avi lifted heavy metal things and looked at them, Ian spent time with tires, Tiffany supervised and I tried without success to convince the metal crusher guy that his shift was over and it is now my turn to operate that wonderful machinery. He wasn’t having it. Anyway, we found metal, we found lots of it, we bought some of it and we brought it back to headquarters.

20140823_103106

20140823_103113

20140823_103128

We don’t have a real plan for making our self balancing robot (aka. DIY Segway for under $400) so we just started putting objects near each other in a configuration that we imagine to be the robot we want to make. Voila! It looks good to us and we are that much closer to our goal.

20140823_115932

The robot chassis not only needs to withstand the forces of the two 280 watt motors we bought on ebay ($32.99/each) but it also needs to safely hold up a person. We started with a couple of pieces of extruded aluminum square t-channel bolted together and then doubled up up on some 6.25mm scrap to make 12.5mm end pieces on which to attach our wheelbarrow wheels, which we secured with big bolts and washers.

20140830_124903

It was unclear where to drill our bolt holes so we cut a few slivers from the extruded aluminum square t-channel so we could make a pattern. Then Avi ate some watermelon.

20140824_161250

 

20140823_120002

Ian dreamt up a super-cool custom collar to hold the sprocket to the wheel. He then machined that piece into reality. Oak ply was relatively cheap and easier to work with then the scrap iron we were using so we cut it to fit and bolted it in place.

20140830_124936

I refashioned the end pieces where the wheels attach. The frame seems to be holding up nicely sitting 20mm lower than before.

20140901_153441

Avi brought his ol’school cathode ray tube oscilloscope to test the h-bridge circuit he designed to run the motors. With some perfboard, an electomagic degree, and some parts he went to work. Like the wizard from Fantasia, a flurry of soldering strokes and mystical utterances brought forth a whole universe of circuitry wonder.

20140830_135136
I mostly just made sure we had some nutritious snacks and that the shop music was partial to my liking. Well, I think that’s about it. We’ve been robot making for the past few Saturday mornings and I can honestly say, “It feels good!” Stay tuned for phase II of robot evolution happening in our  temporary robot makerspace in the basement of some guy’s house.

20140901_161432

Quick & Easy Camping Platform

06

My sister recently built this sweet camping platform in the woods on my land, so I thought I’d show off her build. Most of the wood was scrounged from various construction dumpsters, and the metal roofing/gutter was purchased from the local metal recycling facility. Total cost for materials (not including tools) was under $100, & was constructed in about 8 hours.

Dimensions: 8′ x 10′, height ~3.5′ (back), 5.5′ (front)

Bill of Materials
Platform Base:
- Primary Support Beams (2x) – 2×10, 10′ length (2x8s would be fine)
- Floor Joists (5
x) - 2x8, 8′ length
- Flooring – 140′ of 1″ tongue & groove wood siding
Roof:
- Roofing Metal - 6, 11′ sheets of roofing metal (total area 11′x12′)
- Metal Gutter – 12′ length
- Roofing supports (2x) – 2×4, 12′ length
- Rafters (7x) – 2×4, 11′ length
- Purlins – 72′ of pallet wood
Misc:
- Posts – 2x 4×4, 8′ length (cut into 3′ and 5′ lengths)
- decking screws
- roofing screws
- caulk, ~1 tube
- stain, ~1 quart

Base Construction
Land was cleared & cinder blocks were placed and leveled. Structural base was constructed using two 10′ 2x10s for the primary support beams and five 8′ 2x8s for the floor joists.
02
These nice 2x10s and pine wood siding were given to us for free. Apparently they were rained on, and thus deemed no longer usable on the job site. A few of them were slightly warped, but was no longer noticeable once being screwed down.
03
Posts were attached to both primary floor beams & joists, and grooves were cut into the flooring in the corners to allow for the posts to pass through. The roofing support beams & rafters were cut to allow for approximately a 1′ overhang on all sides (~12′ and 11′ lengths respectively). Since most of this came from dumpster scrap, few of the 2x4s used for rafters were actually long enough to extend the full length. The full lengths were created by joining (sistering) multiple boards together.
04
Purlins – used for screwing the metal roofing to – were made from old pallet wood.
05
Roofing metal attached & caulked. A gutter was added to the rear side to allow for easy rain water catchment for washing / filtering & drinking. Last step was to paint all the wood with a thick sealing stain to encapsulate & weatherproof.

 

Build your own Stomp Rocket Launcher for less than $5

Finished1If you’ve been to any of our rocket launching events, you’ve probably seen some of our awesome launching rigs.

While some of our members spent a good bit of time and money creating them, you can build your own in about 30 minutes, and for $5 or less.

Bill of Materials:

  • 3 – pieces of 1/2″ PVC pipe (12″ each)
  • 2 – 90deg elbows for 1/2″ PVC pipe
  • 2 – small hose clamps
  • 1 – 12″ section of bike (or similar) tubing
  • 1 – 2-liter soda bottle (or similar)

Tools Required:

  • Flat head screw driver
  • PVC cutters, or hack saw

PVC

Step 1: Measure out and cut your PVC pipe to the appropriate size (12″).

 

 

 

Saw   or   Cutters

 

TubeStep 2: Using the hose clamps, attach one end of the bike tube to one
of the PVC pieces, and the other end to the soda bottle. Screw down until the hose clamp is snug.
 

 

Clamp2   and   Clamp1

 

Elbows

Step 3: Push the 12″ PVC lengths into the elbows (no PVC solvent or glue needed).

 

 

 

Step 4: Have fun!

Jump

 

Soldering Fun By All

Soldering Workshop 1Thanks to the ~40 folk that came out last night to our free Learn to Solder Workshop. It was such a success that we’ll probably run it again in a few months, so if you missed out, keep a look out on our calendar.

We had a vast variety in age range, and most had never soldered before (some of our volunteers had only learned a couple days before). Everyone was successful in assembling their soldering kits, and in an amazing effort by all of the organizers and volunteers to make sure safety was our number 1 priority, there were no accidental brandings!

Special thanks again to our two sponsors, Efficiency Lab and onHaywood.com, who made it possible for us to have this event be free and open to the public, and to all the volunteers that showed up to help teach and supervise.

For further soldering tips check out this fun how-to comic. You can find many more soldering kits by searching around on the web; we recommend checking out Adafruit for some additional fun projects.

Soldering Workshop 2

Learn to Solder Workshop

solderkitWHAT:  FREE “Learn to Solder” workshop for anyone interested in learning an important “Maker” skill. You’ll learn how to use a soldering iron to create a robot “badge” that has two blinking LED lights and is powered by a watch battery. You keep the robot badge you make!

WHO:  Anyone can participate. Minors must have a parent or guardian present (and helping).

WHEN:  Thursday March 20, 2014 from 7 pm to 9 pm

WHERE:  West Asheville Library located at 942 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806

COST:  Free

SPONSOR:  This event is made possible by generous donations by The Efficiency Lab and OnHaywood.com

EfficiencyLab-Logo                   onHaywood-logo2013-260

Rockets are a success!

RocketKids

Well over 100 people showed up last Saturday to join us in building and launching paper rockets at the YMCA Youth Services Center (it was hard to keep count). Special thanks to Tom and Ian for all the work they did to make this happen, the YMCA for hosting us, and all of the parents who brought their kids out for a fabulous field day of flight and fun.

RocketKids2