Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Test Becomes A Project!

With all that I have going on here at the workshop I still get a good surprise once in a while. This was the case this  morning while working on a paint test project that I had set up weeks and weeks ago.  I originally wanted to test out a painting idea that I had with a simple blank part.  I wanted to do a multicolored part and then lay down several coats of clear to finish it off.  Something I had not done before.

I decided on something simple like a "Smiley" face.  The blank was made with a twelve inch diameter plywood base to start. Then a Styrofoam blank disk the same size was attached to it.  The foam was shaped and sanded into the rounded shape that you see in the photo above.  When this was completed several layers of fiberglass was applied to the assembly. 

 When the fiberglass had been cured and smoothed out properly I painted the assembly gloss white.  Then a vinyl decal was applied to create the Smiley face and a layer of gloss red was applied and I crossed my fingers. 

Here's how the test part turned out this morning.  I carefully removed the vinyl decal that I had laid down on the white paint and sure enough there was "Smiley"!  It turned out perfectly.  The gloss on the sign is so good that you can see me in the lower portion of the face and the window reflections in the upper portions.

The shape of the Smiley sign turned out much better than I had hoped for with this test now turned finished project. 

So now I have another new display to hang either on my workshop wall or some other place in my home.  That's the really good news.  I want to try to make another test part as I do not plan on laying down any more paint onto to this nice little guy.  The new test part can wait for another day as I have other projects that need my attention at the moment but as I said from the start this test part gave me a nice surprise this morning and that is always a happy thing to happen in the workshop.  Have a good day in your workshop and maybe you'll get a nice surprise as well.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Do It Yourself Engineering!

A couple of days ago I received in the mail a catalog that I had gotten several times over the past couple of years.  The catalog "The Great Courses" offers courses on everything from learning how to take better photos to becoming an expert in astronomy.  I thumbed through this catalog once again and found a course that peaked my interest and so I ordered it.  The course being "Do It Yourself Engineering".  Here is the course description word for word from the catalog.

Forget about fixing the faucet or building a bookself. You can confidently tackle a working suspension bridge, airplane, helicopter, catapult, clock, and other technological wonders
in your own home workshop. Taught by Professor Stephen Ressler of West Point, this course conducts you through 17 thrilling engineering projects that you can build at home.... from a suspension bridge across a small stream to a low altitude sounding rocket. Dr. Ressler walks you through the entire process, from design,  to build to test, showing you how to think like an engineer in approaching any problem.

I did not hesitate to order the course which I downloaded directly to my computer. I could have ordered a DVD instead but this works fine for me.  In the catalog the regular price for this course is listed at $269.95 for the DVD and $234.95 for the video download.  The great news is that this course and a lot of other courses are on sale until June 28th.  The Do It Yourself Engineering course dropped to $29.95 for the video download!  I could not resist.  I started watching the course lessons and they are very well presented and interesting as well. 

Here are the lecture titles.

1. Why DIY Engineering?                                     13. This is rocket science
2. Exploring the science of structure                     14. Build a rocket
3. Design and build a cardboard tower                  15. Make an electric launch controller
4. Bridging with beams                                          16. Let's do launch!
5. Make a suspension bridge                                 17. A tale of three catapults
6. Design a concrete sailboat                                 18. Build a ballista, Onager, and Trebuchet
7. Set Sail                                                               19. Design a Hydaulic Arm
8. Make a Radi0-controlled blimp                          20. Make a water turbine
9. Exploring Aerodynamics                                    21. Design a gear train
10. Build a model airplane                                      22. Make a mechanical clock
11. Take flight!                                                        23. Design a motor powered crane
12. Build a model helicopter                                   24. Creative design: A tribute to Rube Goldberg

To check out this course and many others you can go on line at  There you will find many more courses that may also peak your interest as well.  To get the sale price on this course or others that are on sale enter priority code 158534.  This is what was on my catalog.  Once I did this the price on the checkout changed to reflect the sale price.  As I said earlier the sale will end on June 28th so don't wait to long or you may miss this great course. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Miniature Foldable Bowling Alley For Kids!

Time for me to get all of you caught up once again with a couple of the projects that I have been playing around with here at the workshop.  Work is still progressing on the carrying case for the Titan spaceship project but has stalled a little bit over the past couple of days simply because of the 90 degree temperatures that have landed on the Midwest.  But tomorrow promises to be cooler so I should be able to get back to work on that project.  Also in the works and the main reason for my posting today is a project that will be a terrific present for my grandson later on this year.  A miniature bowling alley!

Here is my design for the bowling alley and it looks very similar to other toy bowling alleys that you can find online. But I made the following improvements to the design.

With my new design the bowling alley now is foldable so it makes the perfect storage container to hold the ball and pins when the game is stored away and not being played.  This and the fact that the alley when it is being played is four feet long can now be shrunk down to only 2' x 1' x 1.7" in size which makes it easier to store and less likely to loose any of the pins or the ball.  Locks will be added to the bowling alley and of course a handle so it will be easy to carry from place to place.  The special double hinge for the bowling alley is made up of 3D printed parts that are mounted together with screws and bolts to make up the folding mechanism work for the project.

I came across a picture of a nice little bowling alley for kids a few years ago and stashed away for future use.  I had this idea to improve on the original design so now is the time to start work on it.  I put together this little video to explain it all further and give you a better idea of what I have in mind. Once I start putting things together I will put out the second post about this little project as I know it will be a lot of fun to play with and be a great project in the process too.  So enjoy the video. 

For a full screen view of the video select the YouTube icon and view it there.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fusion Drive Spaceship Pt 6.............It's Completed!

After having worked over 200 hours on my Fusion Drive Spaceship model I finally completed it early this afternoon!  Having had to redesign the model to make it stronger and more able to be repaired if it ever needs to be I am proud to present it to you now. 

(Click on pictures for a larger view)

With all the work that went into the model I am more than happy with my efforts and how it all turned out.  The model as you see  here is roughly 26" long, 14" tall on the stand and 12" wide.  All of the components that make up the model were 3D printed excluding the large light bulb and the domes on the front of the dual engines on both sides of the fusion drive (large light bulb).  I am also happy with the photo above as I took these shots on my kitchen floor.  Most people who know me would think that this is another Blender 3D model.  I am happy to say it is the real thing.

Once all of the parts were redesigned for the new model you see here the parts were sanded, primed and sanded and primed...etc....etc.   Once I was happy with the finish of the parts I was able to lay down the nice glossy white paint that you see in the photos above.   Assembly of the model took me around 1 1/2 hours as there are over 100 parts in the model.  Everything fit as I had planned so I am more than happy that I did not have to redesign the model again to make further changes to it. 

As you can see in the photo above I am a very happy camper!  The photo also gives you a very good idea as to how large this model is.  I am also happy that I have already started work on the carrying case for this model as I want to protect it now more than ever from coming to any harm that could happen to it when I transport it from or to the local makerspace or a maker fair.  

With the size of the model the name Titan fits for sure.  I know it will be a big hit with my friends from my makerspace and I hope you also approve.  The spaceship by the way is removeable from the stand and it to is very solid in construction so I will not have to worry about the model when it is on display.  

Another very good day here at the Tinker's Workshop.  I hope you latest project is going as well as this one has for me.  Have a good day in your shop!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Fusion Drive Spaceship Carrying Case Project Part 2

Lots of building and rebuilding has been going on in the shop this week.  With the redesign of the Fusion Spaceship model lots of parts needed to be redesigned and then 3D printed and now primed and painted.  Also with this work I have made progress on the carrying case for this large model.

This large carrying case now has all of the foam assembled to it's outer skin and the base has been nearly covered with the remaining fiberglass cloth to it's exterior.  The upper portion of the case still will need the last bit of fiber glassing done to the pink outer straps that now wrap it's exterior as well.

Mounted in the base of the carrying case are the three hard mounts that will locate the vertical supports that will hold the spaceship model in place once it has been completed and is in need of transport to some destination.  The hard mounts are nothing more the 1/4" thick plywood that have been fiber glassed into the base with the mounting holes already in the wood for an easy installation.

Bolts will be inserted from the bottom of the case up into the vertical supports to hold everything in place when the case is in it's final construction.  As I've said in an earlier post I have redesigned these vertical supports to make them a bit smaller in size but they will be the same height as what is shown in the image above.  I still may make up a hold down strap for the stand itself to secure the spaceship model more securely once it is inside of the carrying case. 

The interior of the base as will as the lid for the carrying case have been completely fiber glassed other than the edges where the two parts meet up together when assembled.  The edges will still need to be filled with a fiber glass resin/micro balloon putty mixture to seal them properly.  Not a hard task to complete but a little time consuming. It will make a nice clean edge on the two parts and so it will serve the purpose rather well.  Once I have both of the parts completely fiber glassed and edges done then the real work will begin to get everything smoothed out for paint.  

Luckily this will be simpler than trying to smooth out small intricate parts.  As the carrying case is rather large at roughly 15" x 15" x 30" in size it will be an easy task to take the parts outside and sand them smooth with an orbital sander when the time comes.  Then finally paint on the outside and I then plan on lining the inside with gray felt.  This will finish off the inside rather nicely I should think.  

For now this portion of the project has been put on hold as I am waiting for more fiberglass cloth and resin which should be here some time next week.  In the meantime I have been pushing hard to complete the spaceship model so that part of the project will be done when I complete the build on this big case.  I'll keep you up to date on the progress.  Have a good day in your shop!