New Furnace Build

For a variety of reasons, Patrick and I took it upon ourselves today to build a new aluminum-melting furnace based on some old refractory (insulating) firebricks we had in the shed.  I’d watched a few videos on Youtube and sort of dove in.  Here’s some photos of the results.

We did eventually replace the ziptie on the lower course of bricks with more plumber’s strap, and build some legs for the burner that aren’t made of clamps.  We also need to finish up the lid and finish tidying up a bit, but I’m super happy with how it turned out for 3 or 4 hours of work. The biggest time-suck was recutting all the bricks to make a 6-sided structure (the original kiln was 8-sided, so the angles needed changed).  The most entertaining part was learning to use the plasma cutter to cut out the steel base plate.

Schedule Change -Open Studio Every Tuesday!

After much discussion among the Board, the decision has been made to change our weekly schedule to Tuesdays only.
Effective October 2nd, OMG Open Studio Time each week will be on Tuesday, every week.  Doors will open by 5:30p.  If we have a presentation or a space meeting, that will start at 7:00p.
We felt that it was getting more and more confusing for our guests to try to figure out which week was which, and other folks had trouble keeping the schedule straight.  And based on Thursday attendance, we felt that this would be a better solution overall.
That does not mean that you can’t still drop by on a Thursday evening, or any evening for that matter, if you are a keyholder.  In fact, if you feel strongly about Thursday evenings, I encourage you to continue opening the space on Thursdays, and posting such here on the mailing list.  Heck, with your involvement we might just become a 2-evening makerspace!
See you this week for our last regularly-scheduled Thursday Open Studio Time, then I’ll see you on Tuesdays!

UnMaker 2.0 – The Largest Dead Blow Hammer

A few years back, Brandon made a giant wooden mallet from a piece of butcher block counter top that was laying around the space. This was a 9pm, make-it-right-now sort of project. He’d repurposed a chair leg as the handle, but it was a bit too short and bent, making the mallet awkward to use. We dubbed this bludgeoning device “The UnMaker”, and used to “unmake” things that needed unmade. Eventually the handle failed and the head was lost.

Fast forward to August 2018 – Eric and Kevin were cleaning out the shed a bit and decided to build a new UnMaker. We turned up some maple planks for a head and handle and started piecing things together. The head was going to weigh about 15 pounds. About that time, we noticed that we had “just enough” material to build a hammer that matched the proportions of the bright orange Dead Blow (shot-filled) hammer hanging on the pegboard across the shop, and an idea was born.

After some quick math, we ended up hollowing out several layers of the head using a router, and purchasing 4 packs of 6000 steel BBs from Walmart to fill the void. It turns out that lead shot, while ideal for this application, is expensive and difficult to find. We ended up with about a 60% fill, and a total head weight of 34 pounds.

Ben helped out with the handle design (using a taper and a retaining pin) to make it replaceable in the future, and Eric put a coat of orange paint on the finished product.

The result speaks for itself. You don’t so much swing the UnMaker 2.0 as you do lift and drop it. My form in the video below is sub-par, based on our later experiments.

In an ironic twist, this giant utility knife hit Hackaday shortly after we finished up our hammer.

Maker Faire Kansas City 2018

Once again, members of the Omaha Maker Group participated in the Kansas City Maker Faire. Due to a general lack of interest, we forwent an “official” OMG booth entirely this year, focusing instead on the Power Racing Series. Garrick and the Tesla coil crew had quite the show, though, and even got a photo of their setup in the Make Magazine article.

After the Faire on Saturday night, most of the gang went to the new Hammerspace, the local Makerspace which is “like a gym for people who like to make things. WITH ROBOTS!  AND LASERS! AND 3D PRINTERS!”.  Their new location is HUGE, and it sounds like things are going really well.

We did a lot of things “right” this year, staying downtown (the new Home2 is an easy walk to Union Station, as long as you’re not carrying a cooler), skipping the booth (so everyone gets to hang out together and no one is “stuck” for their shift) and not waiting 3 hours for “pretty good” barbecue (Sorry guys!).

Race Results

Our amazing Power Wheels crew scored a FIRST PLACE in Moxie for the Amazon Box Car this weekend in KC!! With strong driving and an almost unbreakable car, we came home with a 3rd-place overall for the weekend! WOW! Great job to everyone who had a hand in it!

The BMW car had a very respectable finish, too. Again, great driving and a great design proved their worth – 90 seconds to change a tire? That’s amazing! The body, unfortunately, did not fare too well – it stayed behind in KC, destined for the trash bin. But the car is home and is a ready platform to build on our successes.

Thanks again to everyone for a great weekend.

Results from The Great Drill Contest

As promised, we tested some drills. The testing wasn’t exactly scientific, but the results pass the smell test and provide some interesting insights as to the relative value of different drill types.

Spoiler alert, no equipment was visibly damaged in the collection of this data.

Read on for all the gory details. Continue reading

New Cooling for the Laser Cutter – Part 1

Last Thursday, Ben and Kevin started experimenting with a proper closed loop cooling system for the laser cutter. This is something we’ve wanted to do for some time, as it’ll make the laser easier to move and less likely to spill coolant all over the floor (again). The big push now is that the existing coolant pump is getting noisy, so it’s an ergonomic consideration 🙂

Most of the parts for this build were sourced from the junk pile, including the reservoir, fan and pump. We bought a cheap ebay radiator and a bunch of plastic fittings.

At this point, we’ve got a few slow drips to chase down, and need to figure out how to enclose the system, but as evidenced in the picture, it cools pretty well. Ben is using a blowtorch on that piece of copper tube (our stand-in laser tube), and it’s cool to the touch immediately after removing the fire.

Toner Transfer Testing


My wife ask about me lasercutting a sign for some friends, but at the time she ask, our laser was still down for repairs. I remembered Ben doing a toner transfer project several years ago, so I googled it up, and it turned out to be easier than I remembered.

This isn’t intended to be a tutorial, but the general steps are as follows:

  • Print Design on a laser printer (mirrored)
  • Sand wooden surface (I bought a prefab plaque at Michaels 40% off)
  • Tape paper to surface so it doesn’t move around
  • Apply acetone (a little goes a long way)
  • Remove paper before toner bleeds everywhere.
  • Apply clear finish

This was my first try at toner transfer ever, and the photo below wasn’t my final product. The toner doesn’t soak in very deep, so it’s easily sanded off for another attempt.  I ended up resanding and transferring 3 times, due to incomplete transfer or smudging (as below).

Lighter weight paper seemed to work better (the paper at OMG was quite a bit lighter than what I had at home, and worked great) as it didn’t want to soak up so much acetone, and transferred more completely as a result.

Once I was satisfied with the transfer results, a quick coat of spray lacquer finished the project.  Setup, drying and cleanup took the majority of the time and effort here. Total hands-on time was about 15 minutes.

Gingerbread Teaser

While we’re waiting on the “good photos” from Garrick, enjoy these two less good photos I snapped of some our members’ handiwork.  As always, we had quite the turnout for this event, with several members bringing friends and family to play along.

A special thanks to Sarah and Jeff for helping make it go off without a hitch, particularly in the processing and emergency procurement of our frosting supply.

Spice Rack

This is just a quick and dirty spice rack I put together for my wife. It’s a piece of plywood (supported at an angle by a chunk of 2×4) with some maple cleats glued and stapled to the front. Figuring out the size and placement of the cleats took the longest (Thanks Ben and Eric), but the entire project only took an hour or so. I wasn’t originally going for a documented tutorial, so the pictures are just of the finished product. Someone else’s measurements would vary anyhow, given the sizes of their cupboard and its contents. It’s the thought that counts, right?