Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 Davenport MakeFest Video and New Velomobile Video

On the 18th of this month I attended the first MakeFest held in Davenport Iowa.  This event was put together by my friends at the QC-Colab makerspace in Davenport and for a first time effort it was a huge success.  I was able to get my velombile to the show with help from my friend Keith Claussen from the Co-Lab and I also brought with me a large variety of my 3D printed projects that I have done over the years.  
  It was a long day for me as I had to drive from my home in Wisconsin to Davenport by 8:30 in the morning and the show did not end until 6:00 pm that night.  Then after another 80 plus miles of driving to get home I was finally able to put my feet up and relax.  I was pooped to say the least but the day was worth the effort as I spoke to so many people about my velomobile and how it was constructed and also 3D printing parts for it.  
  Keith managed to shoot a large amount of video and photos of the show and from his files I finally finished the editing of a short video which gives you a good idea of what was at the show and what you missed if you could not be there.  Already plans are being made for next years show and I am sure that it will be bigger and better than this one.  That in itself would be hard to do as this show was worth the effort just to check out all the different things that were on display and demonstrated. Check out the video below and you'll see what I mean.  Also I have an extended video of just my velomobile running around at the MakeFest.  A blast to finally see it while I am driving it.  Enjoy!




Here's the extended video that I put together of me driving my velomobile at the Davenport Iowa MakeFest.




Friday, July 17, 2015

A More Professional Wireless Microphone Setup Project

Earlier this year I did interviews at a Maker Fair in Cedar Rapids Iowa.  My friend Keith Claussen helped with the camera work and it turned out great. This was great fun and was another nice feature to post here on the blog.  The one thing that I found to be annoying as well as distracting while shooting the interviews was using my wireless microphone.  The mic worked flawlessly. But with the way it was set up it caused problems that I dealt with through the day.  

This is the wireless mic that I use with my interviews.  Azden puts out a great product and I have never had a problem with using it as far as sound quality is concerned.  When I shoot a video project here at the workshop I use the lavalier mic (the little one with the tie clip shown in the photo above).  This is fine for one person but makes it difficult to get the sound I want while doing interviews.  So I use the big mic instead.  The wireless transmitter for the mic is either clipped to my belt or stuffed into a pocket.  



Now the problems or should I say the inconvenience of using the bigger mic shows up.  The mic is plugged into the transmitter with a cord that is three and a half feet long.  The wire looks clunky on video and is always in the way while I am doing interviews.  This was not acceptable.


I thought that if I could make a setup that would combine the transmitter with the mic I would not have to deal with the dangling wire problem.  So back to my computer I started designing what I thought would be the solution to the problem.  The image above shows the transmitter buried inside an enclosure and mounted to the bottom of the microphone. 


To keep the size of the enclosure smallest for the transmitter and the microphone wire I fed the mic wire out of one side of the lower case and plugged it into the transmitter from the outside.


Here is the lower portion of the enclosure ready for 3D printing.  You can see the double compartment that was designed into it to hold the transmitter on one side and the mic wire on the opposite side of the case.  To give the enclosure a little more strength and some design features I added the four ribbed bands that run around the outer faces of the case.  The opening where the mic would be plugged into also has an opening to turn the transmitter on and off.  I also cut an opening on the long side just to show off the name of the transmitter and give it a professional look.


The top portion of the enclosure has a lid with a tapered tube to match the shape of the microphone.  This lid is held in place using 6-32 machine screws and nuts that are slid into slots on the under side of the lid.  The mic is a simple friction fit and the wiring from the mic is fed down through the tube to the right side of the enclosure where it leads out of the enclosure and is plugged into the transmitter. 

Here's the completed assembly.  Looks really pro and went together very well.  The wireless microphone stands 10.5 inches tall and the enclosure is 3.25 inches tall, 3.5 inches long, and 2.25 inches wide. Total weight of the setup comes to 12.6 ounces with the battery in the transmitter and ready to use.  The enclosure only added a few ounces to the mic/transmitter setup and now I no longer have to mess around with the wire from the mic to the transmitter!  The TTW (The Tinker's Workshop) nameplate adds another great touch to the assembly while filming interviews too. A nice neat package that will look great on my next interview and will make doing them a lot simpler in the process

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Microphone, Pop Filter, Shock Mount Project

With the videos that I have posted online over the years I have constantly worked at improving the quality of what I produce.  There is a big difference between the first videos and the latest ones that have been made.  It's been a learning process for me and of course better equipment always helps too.  So with my latest project I have jumped up a few steps to improve the sound quality of my voice-overs for my videos with the purchase of a better microphone. 

So after a bit of research I settled on this fine piece of equipment from Audio-Technica named the AT2020USB+ microphone.  A big step forward from the little plastic mic that came with my computer.  Being as I paid a good price for this piece of equipment for my video productions I thought I might as well try and build a proper pop filter for the mic along with a shock mount.  
  The pop filter is a small mesh that is mounted into a circular frame that is mounted in front of the mic to eliminate popping sounds when you talk into the microphone.  Very easy to do when you recite Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. The other part...  the shock mount isolates the mic from the stand so that you don't get a clunking sound when you are moving or touch the mic while recording.  


Here's a good look at a professional pop filter and shock mount for a studio microphone from Moodaudio.com.  The price for the pop filter is $24 and the shock mount for the mic is $126.95.  WAY out of my budget and so a new project was born with the purchase of my new microphone.


This is what I came up with.  I was lucky enough to have an older mic stand laying around in my computer room so it was as good a place to start this project as anywhere.  I designed a "T" mount for the stand which holds a 16 inch long 1/2 inch diameter aluminum tube to mount everything to the stand.  I designed a simple shock mount for the mic that mounts to one end of the aluminum tube and on the other end a 3D printed counterweight container to help balance the microphone stand. 


The mic is held in place with ordinary rubber bands which isolate the mic from the stand perfectly.  The pop filter is made from a 5 inch embroidery hoop with ordinary nylon stocking material for the mesh in the filter.  Inexpensive and easy to find and replace should the time come when it needs it.  The pop filter is held in place using special 3D printed parts and connectors for aluminum conduit. Home romex wire makes the perfect flexible part for the pop filter mount.  The wire is then covered with a split loom flexible tubing to give it a nice look. Both the wire and the flexible tubing I had laying around in my supply of parts in the shop.


Here's how the entire rig looks put together for real.  I started by repainting the metal base of the mic stand a gloss black as the original color was a dull gray color and just would not do.  As with most of my 3D printed project I make test parts to make sure everything fit right and this was no exception to this rule when it came to making this type of project.  


I wasn't sure if the rubber bands for the mic would be strong enough to hold it properly but it turned out better than I had hoped.  I had to add the counterweight on the opposite end of the stand to off set the 13 ounce weight of the mic. In this shot you can also see the black flexible tubing the covers up the romex wire for the pop filter.  Looks really good and is inexpensive to add to this project.


The enclosure for the counterweight is a 3D printed assembly with five hollow cavities for pennies and one hole so that it can mount on to the horizontal 1/2 aluminum tube.  With the pennies loaded into the lower container and with the top glued in place the total counterweight  weight comes in at just a hair over a pound.   I will just have to remember to unload the pennies should I ever replace the weight with something else in the future. But for now this was the cheapest way to add weight for this part of the assembly.


This project turned out very well and has saved me a bunch of cash along the way too.  I like the look of the orange pop filter and everything else in black and chrome.  Will look good in my computer room and be a big improvement in my sound for my videos for the blog. 

Below is a little video I shot of the new mic stand.  The first 47 seconds of the video has the audio using my old PC mic.  After that the audio for the new mic is turned on and you will notice a huge difference in the sound quality.  


Now all I have to do is start researching how to do Podcasts and I'll be all set to do weekly shows about making projects like this one.  Something for another possibly. Have a good one and be safe in your workshop!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

30 Iconic Velomobile Designs From The Past 85 Years

I received an email a couple of days ago from Mads Phikamphon  from Norway who runs the Cykelvalg website.  He wanted me to let everyone know through my blog here that he has updated his information about 30 iconic Velomobile designs from the past 85 years has been posted on to an English site.  I am more than happy and honored to be included in this list of velomobiles with my Radius T-T velomobile that I had designed and built last year.  
  I checked out Mads site and on it you will find velomobile information that covers the following list.

1. Turning Circle

2. Speed
3. References.... (links to builders and manufacturers)
4. Closer look at different designs
5. Why choose a Velo?
6. Why there aren't more Velos
7. Velo vs. Electric Bikes

The site now has a much larger version of the poster that Mads had put together with images of all the different Velomobilis that he talks about.  So if your interested in learning more about Velomobiles and some of the different models that are currently being built and or produced check out the following link.



http://www.icebike.org/30-iconic-velomobile-designs-from-the-past-85-years/


Also a bit of news about my velomobile and the upcoming Make Fest in Davenport Iowa on the 18th of this month.  All the preparations have been made to get my Radius T-T velomobile to the Make Fest so that I can show it.


This will be the first time that the velomobile has been on display in public and I will be there to answer any questions that you may have about it's construction and what all is in it.  The building that the Make Fest will be held in at the River Center in Davenport Iowa I am told is large enough for me to drive the Velo around in. So don't be surprised if you see me cruising around inside while I am there.  The Make Fest will be held on the 18th of July from 10:00 am til 6:00 pm on that date.  So mark it on your calendar and I will be looking forward to meeting you and showing you the Radius T-T velomobile up close and personal.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Inexpensive Steampunk Industrial Desk - Accent Light

I was picking up a few things at my local home and builders store yesterday and came across some parts for an idea for a project that has been rattling around in my head for some time.  I wanted to build a desk - accent light that had an industrial look to it.  Kind of steampunk feel to it if you will.  I had seen several different light housings online that I thought would be good for this project and was lucky enough to come across exactly what I was looking for while browsing. 


This was exactly the housing that I wanted.  It is definitely industrial looking and is just the right size standing only 7 inches tall with a diameter of 4 inches.  Galvanized steel construction and only $11.88.  


I did a little more searching in the store for all the necessary parts I would need for the lamp as you can see in the photo above.  I thought I would go with a red LED light bulb to give my light some color when it was lit and also being LED it would not produce the heat of a regular bulb.   The only other pieces I needed were an electrical box to mount the light to, a small extension cord for the lamp and a rotary switch to turn the light on and off.  Total cost for all the parts including the light came to $31.48..... tax included.  So I thought it was a pretty good deal. 


I started with the electrical box and removed the two inner clamps that were attached to it.  These were simply not needed and actually would have caused problems with resting the box on a desk top because of the protruding machine screws that came through the back or should I say now base of the box. 


I was lucky enough to find some felt pads in one of my work drawers in the shop and mounted four of them on to the base of the electrical box.  This keeps the box off of the desk top and protects any nice surface that I will rest the lamp on to.


I next removed one of the tabs on the side of the box so that I had a place to run the electrical wires into the lamp to connect everything up to make it. 


Here I disassembled the light so that it would be easier to connect up the wiring that would come into the electrical box that will be the base for the light.  I also was able to figure out how the light would actually mount to the box. This is simply done with a couple of machine screws that are already in the electrical box.  Another simple task to do for the assembly of the lamp.


Hooking the wiring up was a piece of cake. cut of the unused end of the extension cord making sure not to cut off the end that would be  needed to be plugged into the wall. Next I fed the extension cord wiring through the opening in the electrical box and tied a knot on to the end of the extension cord so that it could not accidentally be pulled out of the lamp.   The cut ends of the wires were then separated and stripped so that the orange wire acorns could be used to connect the extension cord wires to the wiring of the lamp.  


About five or six inches from the lamp I mounted a rotating on and off switch per the directions on the package for this part.  This again was a simple task of splitting the wire where I wanted the switch to be then cutting one of these wires in half.  The wires were then mounted into the housing of the switch and two small metal teeth got clamped to the ends of the cut wire and the assembly was put back together.  It worked like a charm and only took a couple of minutes to connect up.  I then added the red LED light bulb and plugged it in to test it.  First time out it fired right up with no problems.  YAH!


Now with the light and switch working it was just a simple matter of assembling the light to the electrical box with the two mounting screws and reinstalling the glass cover and wire cage over everything.  Another two minute job at most. 


Here is how the light looks lit with a bright red LED bulb.  I got a chance to turn the light on tonight and as I suspected it was way to bright.  Had to put sun glasses on just to look at it.  





I returned the red bulb and found something much more suitable for my little light display. In the photo above is a 40 watt bulb similar to what Edison had made back in his day. The light is much softer and easier on the eyes to look at so now I can honestly say it is completed.

 This had to be one of the easiest projects that I've put together in a long time.  It will be a nice addition to either my computer work room or even sitting in my living room just as a decoration.   Either way I would call this project a huge success for ease of construction, fast build time, and inexpensive cost. Always pluses when it comes to projects in my book!