Robots!

This past Tuesday, Jeff Jensen, a long time friend of OMG was at our regular meeting to get some help with mechanical assembly and soldering of a dozen CEENBoT units. Jeff is part of a program that develops the CEENBoT robots for education and the program has been so successful that Jeff is overloaded with requests for new robots, so several OMG members jumped in to help out.

We had several other visitors, including first-time guest Chris, who promptly jumped in to help out. This really embodies the spirit of OMG, creating an environment where folks feel comfortable getting involved in whatever’s going on.

Thanks to everyone who helped out on Tuesday!

Oscilloscope Music

A few weeks back, I caught a video on AvE’s YouTube channel of graphics drawn on an oscilloscope, given an audio input. Last week, Ben, Garrick and I decided to give it a try at OMG.

According to Garrick’s research earlier that week, “older scopes” do better with this sort of thing, and OMG’s scope is plenty old. We had to do some tinkering with the settings, and the phase, eventually arriving with the left channel on Input 2, alternating vertical and External trigger (ch2). It worked best if the laptop volume was turned clear up, as it gave the best signal to noise ratio.

We’d initially hooked the scope directly to a laptop headphone jack (through a spaghetti of cables), but as Eric pointed out “To be music, there’s gotta be…music”, and no devices we had would play on the headphone jack AND the internal speakers at the same time.  We ended up hacking up a powered speaker to give us a stereo output and play both channels on a single speaker. This gives us something to feed the oscilloscope AND lets folks hear what the audio actually sounds like. In addition, it had a lot less noise than our initial mess of wires.

As for what we played, we just searched YouTube for “Oscilloscope Music”.  Someone who works with Jeff mentioned Aphex twins “windowlicker” and “songs about my cat” by Venetian Snares as two examples of spectrographic songs.

Founding Day 2017 – OMG’s 7th Anniversary!

We’re going to be celebrating the Omaha Maker Group’s 7th anniversary on Tuesday, August 29th. As has become our custom, the evening will include dinner, dessert and the awarding of the annual Founders’ Prize. In addition, I’ve dug up some photos from long ago, showing not only the old space, but also our current K Street space as it was when we first moved in.

Dinner starts around 6, meeting and awards at 7, and dessert thereafter. Additionally, we’ve come up with a few interesting things for a raffle, so we’ll be drawing for that after dessert. Still TBD, but there might be a special “show and tell” after dark… I still need to check with Garrick for details though 🙂

This is an “open house”-type event, and members are encouraged to bring guests. It’s a great opportunity to invite your Maker-inclined friends, family and co-workers to see our new and improved space and find out what the Omaha Maker Group is all about.

Please RSVP below, indicating whether you’ll attend for dinner, dessert, both or neither. Since food needs to be ordered in advance, please be RSVP’d by August 25th so we have an accurate-ish headcount.

https://goo.gl/forms/vwAKXQjRkAGilReB2

Banker’s Box Storage Plans


For years, our makerspace has used a hodgepodge of solutions for storing members’ projects in progress and other personal belongings.  Most recently, we’ve used a dozen or so plastic totes.  The totes worked great, but were limited in quantity (they were industrial waste, and no more matching totes were available) so that not everyone could have one.  Additionally, these totes were slightly trapezoidal, which wasted quite a bit of space between them.

To that end, Ben and Kevin undertook a project to convert personal storage to standard Letter/Legal Banker’s Boxes, which are readily available and pack more densely.  They are a bit smaller than the totes we were using, but most members totes weren’t full, and we can store twice as many boxes in the same space.

Read on for full plans and assembly instructions.

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2014 Robotics Expo Wrapup

Thanks again to everyone who helped make today’s booth at the Robotics Expo a huge success again this year.  Booth volunteers included Ben, Don, Mike, Michael, Brandon, Nick and Jared, with material support from Patrick, Sarah, Eric, Dave and Katlynn.  [Apologies in advance if I missed anyone].

If you weren’t able to make it out today, but would like to volunteer at some point in the future, just keep your eyes on the mailing list, as we’ll have several more opportunities throughout the year.

2014 FirLumber Rally Photos

OMG’s innaugeral FirLumber Rally was a great success, with 17 cars competing.  Official results will be posted shortly, but in summary, Dave’s electric cheater was the fastest, Eric’s elephant was the most creative, and Nate’s car was the least effort to build.  Additionally, Dan’s kids’ cars were the fastest among the Squares.

Congrats to the 2013 Founders’ Prize winners!

 

Founders' Prize 2013Congratulations to the winners of the inaugural 2013 Founders’ Prize:

  • For Opening New Frontiers – Jay Hannah and Dave Knaack
  • For Operational Excellence – Eric Kaplan

As stated at the meeting, the categories for these awards are entirely arbitrary and subject to change in future years;  Also, we estimate that this prize is roughly 1 million times easier to win than a Nobel Prize, and the cash award has been scaled accordingly.

Here’s a bit from Travis about the Opening New Frontiers winners

As for the award for Operational Excellence, this prize is awarded to Eric Kaplan for consistent attention to “things that need done”; He’s involved in everything from staffing booths to designing marketing material and furniture for the space. Furthermore, he successfully facilitated the Makery’s relocation to our new home.

Again, congratulations to all our 2013 winners.

OMG is holding a trebuchet contest!

This is your chance to build the best miniature siege engine in Omaha.  Work by yourself or in a small group to make the best golf-ball*-throwing device you can imagine.  We will then compete for range and accuracy to crown a champion. The contest will take place at the Makery on September 21st.

Although the competition is called “Trebuchet Contest,” your device does not need to look like something out of the middle ages.  You can use any design, any materials, any construction techniques, and in fact any launch techniques you’d like.  We want to keep things interesting, so the rules for this contest are very lenient:

  1. The energy used to launch the projectile may come only from the gravitational potential energy of a mass falling no greater than 16 vertical inches.  No explosives, precompressed springs, compressed gasses, batteries, or any other sources of energy.  Gravity only.  However, you can use all those things as intermediate steps if you’d like – if you use gravity to compress a spring, or use electronic timing to coordinate the firing, that’s just good Maker spirit.  Just be prepared to prove that you’re not contributing any extra energy to the projectile.

  2. Your siege engine requires a remote triggering mechanism.  Mechanical, electronic, whatever.  You need to be ten feet from the firing position during your shots, and away from the most likely misfire direction (for example, on a standard trebuchet you need to be off to the side, out of the plane of the arm).  We want to keep things safe.

  3. You cannot aerodynamically assist the projectile in any way.  If you need wadding to seal the projectile in the barrel of your gravity-charged pneumatic cannon, that’s fine.  If you want to use a sling which stays attached to the projectile instead of the trebuchet, well, you’re the one who thinks it’ll be competitive to throw more weight than anyone else.  But whatever you do, the projectile has to take a ballistic trajectory once it leaves your machine.

We’re trying to keep things interesting and attract the widest range of designs by keeping the rules loose.  Please don’t abuse this privilege – nobody wants to read a ten-page rule book covering every possible situation.  Tech inspection is going to have a “spirit of the rules” philosophy, and you should keep that in mind while working on your design.  If you have a creative idea or think you’ve found a loophole in the rules, please bring it up with Ben as soon as possible.  Most likely it will be allowed, but if you show up on competition day with something ridiculous, having never discussed it with the organizers, you might find yourself disqualified.  We promise flexibility and absolute discretion – if we allow your cunning plan, its secret will be safe, and we promise not to steal it for our own designs.

*Golf balls make ideal trebuchet projectiles.  Unfortunately, they’re a bit dangerous and bouncy.  To dramatically increase the chances of scoring each shot by ensuring we can actually find each projectile, we won’t be using golf balls.  Competition projectiles will be approximately equal in size and exactly equal in mass to a golf ball.  Projectiles will be supplied for scored shots, although you may test with anything you like.

Competitions and Scoring:

The exact equations used for scoring will be revealed the day of competition, to prevent any rules-lawyering and to allow us more time to perfect them.

  • Longest Range

    • You will be scored on your ability to efficiently throw the projectile as far as you can.  The mass of your power weight will be taken into account, so if you decide to increase performance with extra weight, make sure you’re getting a proportional gain in range.

  • Best Accuracy

    • You will be scored on your ability to hit a predetermined target at a distance of your choosing.  The main goal is accuracy, but your chosen range will also affect your score – a 10-foot miss from 100 feet isn’t as impressive as a 10-foot miss at 200 feet.