Sunday, October 4, 2015

A New Project With A Real Learning Experience

This week at the Tinker's Workshop has brought something totally new to my little piece of the world.  I have been in contact with the University of Wisconsin in Platteville (UWP) and have been asked to put together several classes to teach Blender 3D graphics!
  I have been using Blender 3D for over 15 years now and as most of my loyal readers know I am a big fan and promoter of this great free software and have posted many of my projects that I have created using Blender.  Most currently my VW Bug project shown here that you can find more info about in older posts. 
I spoke with  Kerie Wedige who is the manager of the Community Education Program at UWP a couple of days ago and I am very excited to have the chance to start an introductory Blender 3D class  for the community.  I figure an introductory class would be a good place to start and if all goes well I would expand that to an intermediate class and possible an advanced class later on.  It all depends on the number of people that turn out just for the first class.
Work has already begun here at the shop to start laying out the ground work for the intro class.  I have to put together my teachers manual and tutorial plan.  It's in my head so that at least is a good start.  Just will have to put the hours in on this part of it over the next couple of weeks to pull it all together.  From there it will be turned over to Kerie and UWP to get the news out about the new class that should be a lot of fun for those who are interested in learning Blender 3D computer graphics. As well as some fun for me along the way as well.  
Kerie and I spoke for 2 1/2 hours  about this project and various other physical projects that I build in the workshop.  With all of this there are also plans to start a Blender class not just for adult education but grade school classes as well that the university sets up each year for the local children in Platteville and surrounding areas. 
But this is not all of the news for today.  After reviewing of my blog with Kerie it has also been decided that I will be teaching a class on how to start your own blog! WHEW!  A very exciting day to say the least.
I have my work cut out for me with this new opportunity along with a couple of other projects that are rattling around in my head or in bits and pieces already laying on my work table in the workshop.  It all looks to be a very busy schedule over the coming weeks and months that follow.  I'll keep you up to date on this latest learning experience and let you know how it all turns out.  You can then call me Professor Langkamp once I get the classes off the ground.... :)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Glowforge 3D Laser Cutter.... Another Tool On My Wish List

A couple of days ago while surfing online I came across the latest laser cutter that has just hit the open market.  It is the Glowforge 3D laser printer from  I am quite impressed what this desktop laser can do with a starting price of just under $2000.  Still a bunch of cash but a far cry from what I've seen over the years for laser cutters that were five times the cost, could cut parts the same size and have less capability than this machine.

Just to give you a quick rundown on the specs of this new machine it can cut a 12" x 20" part in the basic version and a 20" x infinite length of part in the "Pro" version.  The "Pro" version has a filter setup and a pass through ability to make a part 20" wide by how every long you want.  Glowforge crowdfunded the new machine and was only trying to get funds for $100,000.  Within four days on the campaign they had nearly $3,000,000 and was still going strong. 

  With an easy to use setup camera system drawings can quickly be aligned to the material you want to cut by using your Mac, PC or on an iPad or other tablet device!  So this is another piece of equipment that I will have to keep my eye on in the next year to see how the company does and what pricing and reliability will look like in that time.  For now the new machine are still be crowdfunded and has 26 days left before the campaign ends and the prices will go up after that time. So far it has my vote.  

For much more information about this interesting piece of equipment I've included a link below from the Glowforge website.

Here's another video from the "Tested" website from YouTube.  Great stuff to watch.  I'll have to save my nickels and dimes for this machine for the workshop but it will be worth the wait if I can swing it for future projects. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Davenport Iowa QC Co-Lab Makerspace Has Greatly Expanded!

Today I was fortunate enough to have great driving weather to go see the new Davenport Iowa QC Co-Lab makerspace's new location.  To say this building will have more breathing space than their old space is an understatement to the extreme.  Their original makerspace was 3000 square feet.  The new space is eight times that size being a whopping 24000 square feet!  I practically needed a map to walk my way through the maze of offices and work areas that this new space will have once all the renovation and moving in of equipment has been completed. 

The new location of the QC Co-Lab is in downtown Davenport Iowa in this rather ordinary looking building that once was a car dealership.  Along with all of the square footage that the new location sports there is also a dock door entrance large enough to drive a big truck through and a service area big enough to do a major rebuild of the vehicle if that is the project of interest. 

Tons of open space in this building.  Several of the members of the makerspace have their own offices that they can work on their individual projects and keep personal things under lock and key. 

This is just one small section of the building with every door shown here leading to an office / workspace.  Looks kind of like a dormitory for a university.  Well lit with loads of potential for this huge makerspace.

This is an interesting feature also in the building.  It has a working service elevator that is capable of handling the weight of an entire car!  You could practically bring your car to work and park it outside of your own personal workspace office.  Talk about a top of the line feature for a makerspace.

Lots of work needs to be done as you can see by the photos above.  None of the equipment for the new space has been moved in yet as a million little details need to be worked out first  to get everything just right for it's members.

Here some of the members of the Co-Lab discuss  issues that need to  be addressed so that the final move to the building can get the makerspace up and running again for it's 38 members.  With all the space that is available they could triple the number of members and still not have a problem with people finding a place to work on their next project.

I thought moving into my house was a big job. This crew has their work cut out for them with all the furniture and the boxes of equipment that are already populating the space.   The major equipment for the makerspace is being stored in a warehouse until the building is dialed in for the grand opening coming up sometime in the near future. 

The makerspace will be an impressive setup once all of the work has been completed and all the equipment has been moved in.  Needless to say they will have plenty enough space for new members and from the looks of what I have seen it will be a great place to work on anything from pottery to electronics.  Both interests already have rooms ear marked for these interests and many more. 
   If you live near Daveport Iowa and would like to become a member I highly recommend doing so.  I was a member for a couple of years and live 1 1/2 hours away so it makes it difficult for me to be a current member now but I enjoyed working with this great group of people and I still stay in touch with them from time to time. Today was worth the drive to see first hand what is in store for the future of this great makerspace and the members of the QC Co-Lab.

Here's a link to the Co-Lab's website for more info about this makerspace and how to contact them to become a member.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Eye Glass Mounted Microphone Project

With working on various video projects from time to time I am constantly looking for new ways to mount the microphones that I use for whatever video that I am working on.  This does not include the standard mic that I rarely use that is on the camera itself. Simple because the sound quality from a mic half way across the room tends to be poor at best when it comes to what I really want it to sound like.  I use a very good Audio-technica desk mic for narration and a lavalier mic that I clip to my shirt when I have to be holding something up to explain how I build certain projects.  
  So to the point here.  With all of this in mind I thought I would combine several tasks that I wanted to learn and needed to do all at the same time.  These being upgrading my Makerbot 3D printer to keep it up to top operating condition, learning more about using Fusion 360 CAD software and of course a new way to mount another microphone for video productions.

This is my latest creation that I put together using Fusion 360 and my Makerbot 3D printer.  It is a eye glass mounted boom microphone.  The black components that are mounted to the frame of the glasses are 3D printed as is the mic mount at the end of an aluminum shaft.

The mic is my lavalier mic that I made a mount for the end of the aluminum shaft.  I simple took a  five inch long 1/4 inch diameter aluminum rod and made a 45 degree bend in the middle of the piece. 

The aluminum shaft was then fitted into a "D" shaped opening in the eye glass clip by filing down one side of the rod to make a mating "D" shape. This keeps the rod from spinning in the opening. The red piece in the images above is a simple part that slides in a grooved slot and is wedged into place to hole the eye glass clip to the glass's frame.   The wire for the mic is fed through a contoured slot in the side of the eye glass clip to hold it securely in place while being used. 
  The reasoning behind the project was to get the lavalier mic much closer to my mouth  while I am filming.  This will keep the mic out of the way and still be able for me to use both hands  in the process of showing off any other project that I want to. Also the sound quality will be greatly improved as the mic will pick up my voice that much better. 

The entire assembly only weighs 0.8 of an ounce so it is very lightweight and should be no problem to use.  With the photo above you have a much better idea of the size of the boom mic assembly. 

  In this process of making this small project I learned a few more tricks in designing with Fusion 360 CAD, upgraded my 3D printer to continue making beautiful parts as usual and now have a new way to get better sound quality for my video presentations.  That and the fact I think the mic setup should look pretty good when I use it to shoot my next video. When I can scratch three things off my to do list in one project I call that a good day in the shop to be sure.    

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Progress In Learning Fusion 360 From Autodesk

About a week ago I posted about finding Autodesk's Fusion 360 free CAD software.  In this amount of time I have been putting in as much effort as possible to break the software down and learn how it is to design something with it.  I am still quite impressed by what this software can do that I could not accomplish in other CAD software that I have worked with.  With all of this in mind I set out to create a simple computer model of possibly a future project that I may develop further as time moves on.  

In two days I was able to come up with this beautiful CAD model of a jet drive boat.  It is nowhere near complete but the point of this model was just to see what I could learn from the software and how hard it was to manipulate a design after I had started with it.  I am also putting in the hours that it takes to learn the software's  tools and how to use them. 

Some of the techniques that I have used to design things in software such as ProEngineer and Inventor I still have yet to figure out in Fusion 360.  The new software has a different way of creating models that eliminates a lot of the clutter associated with the ProE and Inventor  software so that is a good thing, but it still will take me some time to be proficient with this new software.  

In the images you see here I have have not put in the detailed engineering to actually make this a working boat either small or full sized.  That takes a lot more time than just a couple of days to work out even if you are only going to make say a RC radio controlled boat.  Something that would be much cheaper to build than a full sized boat to be sure and still be a lot of fun to design and build. 

In this version of the boat I decided to full enclose the boat which would make it a lot simpler for an RC model to be sure.  Electric drive would be my best guess as to how to power such a model so that is another thought on this design. 

I am quite impressed with the graphics that Fusion 360 creates as illustrated with these images.  Very simple to understand settings to make various views and lighting setups so it's a lot of fun along the way while trying to learn all the tools of the software.

Anyway this is just another plug for my views on what I think of Fusion 360 and what it can create.  I'll keep working on the software to learn more on the fine details that I will need for future projects.  But after only a few days time if I can come up with this in short order just wait until I get into something a lot more complicated such as the images you see below.

This radio controlled car was modeled using Fusion 360 and the photos were posted on the Autodesk users website.  Tremendous modeling done here which makes my boat look like I have much more work to go before it can even be put into a small pond of water.  Interesting to say the least and so I thought I would pass these along to everyone also to show you the real capabilities of what this software is really capable of. 
Enjoy the photos and check out the Autodesk website to get a free copy of the software for yourself.