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.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Large Work Table Just For The Tooli Machine

Three weeks ago or so I posted about the Tooli machine that  I will have to wait for until next spring to get my hands on.  In the mean time I have been working on a purpose built table for the new equipment and I am happy to say that I completed the project just this afternoon. 
This is the new equipment that I am anxiously waiting for.  It has many different functions and is capable of everything from plotting drawings to frosting a cake kidding.  I covered more information about this machine on my earlier post so I will try not to repeat myself again today.  The subject at hand is the building of a table for this rather large machine that will be solely for it's use.
This is what I came up with for the design of the table.  The top is 4' x 4 1/2' x 3/4 thick wood.  The legs are 1 1/4 diameter PVC with furniture grade PVC connectors.  These connectors are much smoother looking than regular plumbing fittings and come from a company named Formufit in Kansas City and they had a few extra shapes that were exactly what I was looking for.
I started the project by taking a 48" x 6" x 3/4" piece of Aspin and drilled pocket holes for both the upper and lower edges that you see in the photo above.  This was easily accomplished using my Kregg pocket hole jig.  A great tool that makes this type of work a breeze to do.
The six in wide piece of Aspen was then glued and screwed into a 2' x 4' panel to start the assembly of the table top.  Once the screws had been installed the clamps could be removed immediately so work could move forward without delay.
The second 2' x 4' panel of Aspen was then added to the assembly the same as the first had been put together.  I put the six inch wide board in the middle of the table top as I needed the completed assembly to be 48" x 54" in size.
Next I assembled three guide rails for the storage boxes that would be mounted on the underside of the table top.  The outer guide rails are nothing more than a 1" x 1" x 42" strip of wood that has a 1/4" thick strip of plywood glued and nailed to it to make an "L" shaped assembly.  The center guide rail needed to have a wider plywood strip mounted to it to have a double guide rail  set up to allow both storage bins to use it once it was mounted.

The three guide rails were then mounted to the under side of the table top using glue and wood screws.  I had to take care to make sure that the rails were spaced properly for the storage bins and centered on the underside of the table top.
Here the bins have been slid into place to double check that I got everything right. They work perfectly and will add a lot of storage for the table when I am using it.
Once the guide rails had been mounted I was able to turn the table top right side up and apply four coats of polyurethane varnish to it.  Between every coat of varnish I sanded it lightly using 600 grit sand paper.  It turned out beautifully and is very smooth so it will be a great surface to work on.
Next came the assembly of the casters for the table.  The photo above shows the simple parts that make up this assembly.  A caster, a PVC connector for the caster, a washer and a nut.
The parts are simply slid together and then bolted into place using the nut and washer.  Another simple task for this project.
From the PVC company I purchased eight of these 4-way connectors.  These are designed to fit a 1 1/4 diameter PVC tube and so they were exactly what I was looking for.
This part is the PVC mounting part that slides on to the top of the PVC tube for the legs of the table and then with screws is mounted to the underside of the table top to hold it in place.  Another perfect part for the project.
I did not want to have these parts just be in white so I decided to paint them a nice bright red.  I taped off the insides of the parts using painters tape to keep everything clean so that it would not interfere with the PVC piping that would be slid into it. 
I used a spray paint for plastic and it worked perfectly.  Also the fact that I had put the tape on the parts it kept them off of the board I was using to paint them.  So no marks on  the pieces made things simpler all the way around.
Here are all of the little parts sitting in the bins for the table ready to be assembled.
For the project I needed 8 pieces of 1 1/4 PVC 38" long and another eight pieces of the same tubing  11 1/2" long.  I set up a simple jig on my miter saw and again made quick work of getting all the pieces cut to the correct lengths and all matching perfectly.  It was worth the time to figure out how to put the jig together and it saved me a lot of work.
Another task that needed to be done to the PVC tubing after it had been cut was to remove all of the printing that normally is on PVC tubing.  I started out using Acetone but found that this was more work than I thought it would be.  So instead I used 180 grit sandpaper to remove the lettering and then smoothed everything afterward using 600 grit sandpaper.  You can see the end results by comparing the lettered tubing to the clean tubes sitting next to it.  It took me a bit of time but it is much nicer looking without the lettering to be sure and I don't have to paint the tubing to get this look.
Now assembly could finally start.  I  laid out the necessary part that I needed for the upper portion of the legs to get it centered on the underside of the table top first.  Then I took a nail and made a small indentation into the underside of the table top where three screws would be mounted at the tabs on the PVC top mounts.
I used # 8 1/2" wood screws to hold the mounts in place.  My measurements and prep work again paid off as this was another easy task to accomplish in the assembly.  At this point I needed to remove the upper portion of the leg assembly and only leave the mounts on the table top.  This being as the final placement of the table when it is going to be used will not be in the workshop itself but rather an adjacent room when it is completed.  So with the legs removed I was able to start the final assembly in the other room.
With the table now moved into it's final assembly room it was another easy to complete the rest of the legs assembly.  This all slid into place easily and tightly without any hassle at all.  Just as I had planned.
Here's a good look at one of the leg assemblies with the caster assembly added to it.  The red connector parts really stand out now and give the table a great look.
At this point the table only needed to be flipped over and placed on to it's wheels.  The plastic bins were slid into place using the guide rails that I had mounted earlier.  These bins by the way I found at Walmart and are normally used for storage under a bed.  They are 16" x 32" x 6" deep so the look and purpose of the bins will add a lot to the table.

So that's about it.  The table will be covered up for now in it's new area of the workshop to keep it clean until the new Tooli machine arrives in the spring.  I especially like the fact that the table has casters on it so I can move it around the workshop if I need the space for video taping another project or anything else that comes up.  The table turned out beautifully and should serve me very well once the new equipment arrives. When it does I will be sure to let you know and fill you in on that part of this project as well.  Have a good one and keep on tinkering!
For more information about the PVC connectors that I used in this great project check out the link below.