Lincoln Makerspace

Somewhere, deep in the capital city of Nebraska, is a building.  This building is full of smoke, full of mirrors.  Inside, birds take flight, machinists grind away in a vast darkened wonderland, and countless scavenged items from around the countryside rest in hulking, sometimes dilapidated heaps, thrown into rows awaiting re-discovery and thrifty sale.

Need to romp in an old grain silo turned on its side?  Do you want a 50s era dental xray machine for arcane experiments?  Wait, is that a VW Thing?  There’s an old jumbo-tron!  Think of the possibilities.  And oooh look!  Fiberglass light fixtures the size of your mom!  We could turn these into Death Star replicas!  That’s a rather large magnifying glass over there and, ah… wait.  Who really needs an Applebee’s sign?

That’s not really the point, people. Stop looking at that sign.  This, friends, is the home of something much more special something you might need way more than an Applebee’s sign.  The hackers and makers of Lincoln, NE lurk these grounds.  They are Lincoln Makerspace, and select members of OMG had the pleasure of meeting them this past week.

 

This fine group of enterprising guys work out of an old window factory.  They currently spend most of their time in a small office space on the second floor, where you can find various works of art, Maker style.  There’s an automatic drawing machine, kinetic sculptures, a record player with an ember on top that creates a flaming vortex when lit, and a dapper CNC milled likeness of Einstein, to name a few things that decorate the space.

Beyond that, the picture gets more dirty, more crazy, more awesome.  Their small office space is part of a huge building that has pretty much everything a maker would need to have an A team style warmachine creative fit.  Professional machine shops aside, the old window factory and Lincoln Makerspace have a 20x10ft CNC to call their very own (incidentally, this is where Einstein came from).  That would be impressive enough, were it not for this:

Gosh, what’s that?  It looks like a 10ft tall robot arm, fully armed and operational.  But what is it for?  What…does it do?

 Group member interests, when not flinging people around in racing chairs, include bioinformatics, physics, free energy, engines, robots, and art. So far Lincoln Makerspace is a small group, but they pack a big punch and have a very high cool projects to member ratio.

Omaha Maker Group is impressed.  If you’d like to get to know the Lincoln Makerspace, you can reach them here.  We look forward to working with this great group of guys in the future!

Balsa Bridge Bash Results (with movie of stuff breaking)

Results are in! 

After a run up of making throughout the week, the bridge competition began at the Makery last Sunday to test the designs of our participants.  In all, there were 9 entries (some last minute).

 

In short, the rules:

Bridge:
May contain only balsa wood and Titebond 2 wood glue.
Must fit within a 50 x 20 x 10 cm rectangular volume.
May not contain more than 6oz of glue by wet volume.
Must have a smoothish road deck no less than 6cm in width.
 – suitable for a HotWheels-style car to easily roll over
Deck ends must contact the upper surface of the test rig support planks.
Deck must have no more than a 10% grade (where grade = 100 * (rise/run))
Deck must accommodate the load plate.
Some part of the load plate must fall across the midpoint of the span.
There are no limits on construction tools or technique.
Scoring:
The load plate is 10 x 5 x 1 cm, and has a loading hook extending from the center of the bottom surface which requires 1 cm annular clearance through and below the bridge deck.
Bridges will be loaded progressively (w/ minimum shock load), starting at 5kg and progressing in 1Kg increments to 10Kg.
Upon reaching the maximum load, the bridge must hold for 1 minute.
 – Disputes as to whether a bridge ‘held’ will be resolved by vote
Bridges that fail will be ranked by the weight carried without failure and bridge mass.
Bridges that do not fail will be ranked by the mass of the bridge.
Testing:
The open span between the support planks is 30cm.
The open span is between rectangular, fixed, smooth, level, coplanar planks with a thickness of ~2cm.
The bridge may touch the top or inner surfaces of the supporting planks, but may not touch any other surface, nor be affixed to any surface.
The load plate will support a wire or rod from which the test load will be suspended.

 

And so, our bridges took to the field.  Most, thankfully, were able to take the designated test weight.  Ironically, the ones that didn’t pass the test seemed to fail because of over-engineering.  The resulting bridges flirted a bit  too close to weight limits and efficiency and ultimately couldn’t stand up to the test weight.  The results:
As you can see, Dave K emerged victorious, with a design that was the lightest to survive the task of lifting 8kg, and which went on to lift 1452.61% of its own weight.  Impressive!

 

By now you may have worked out that there is a category in the results called “Fail Weight.”  Well, we at OMG like to test to the limits of design.  Also, we’re all about 8 years old at heart and like to break things, filming the results in slow motion video if at all possible.  So, without further ado…every last bridge getting destroyed/max tested to sexy music:


Join us for our next competition, to be held this Sunday!  See the forum for details.

OMG’s Patrick Pecoraro to present Contrast, a custom pinhole camera inspired exhibition

From Patrick’s website:

“In order to assemble this series, I faced a specific problem: most pinhole cameras have only one shot. You expose film or paper and have to go back and develop it in the lab before loading the next shot. When there is more than one opportunity for a great photograph, the only option is to carry more than one camera. I came up with a solution. I designed and built a pinhole camera that uses regular 35mm film, but in a larger format. Three rolls are combined, equally spaced, giving a triptych like image. The resulting triptych blends together by persistance of vision. No longer limited to the short distances from the photo lab; I can take this camera hiking and get four to six exposures per set of film. Exposures only limited by the number of canisters on hand and the available light.

This new camera enhances the subject matter. For the last few years I captured images of nature reclaiming the fruits of man, photographing anything from abandoned buildings on the verge of collapse to old tires dumped in a field. Fascinated by the rusting, disintegrating, forgotten objects reclaimed by nature. I believe that capturing these scenes this way helps one understand that, over time, all man-made things will disappear, nature reclaims all.”

You can see Contrast beginning the 13th of January at:

The Tea Smith

1118 Howard St
Omaha, NE 68102
(402) 932 3933

 

Projects Abound!

Despite unseasonably nice weather, the members of OMG continue to work on their projects at the Makery or in their garages at breakneck speed. January is traditionally the perfect month for shunning the outdoors and basking in the glow of your computer monitor or, perhaps, the piercing UV glow of an arc welder.

 

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s in the works among the members of OMG:

Alex has made a LED matrix, for some arcane artsy purpose.

The Makery now has new modular workbenches for your hacking pleasure.

The aluminum forge is online, and continues to be improved.  Excerpt from Dave’s explanation,

“…welded together a frame for the tippy-forge last night. I still need to build the stationary part of the frame and put on a handle. What is pictured here is the moving part of the frame that lifts the forge to pour the metal.

After the welding was done we decided it was time to test the new concrete and the lid that Brandon installed recently. We had a couple of minor issues with the burner. There is some leakage of fuel around the input tube that we temporarily sealed with some duct tape. That lasted just long enough to get the aluminum to melt. The propane bottle was nearly empty and started to freeze up on us at the end, the gas pressure looked to be dropping off. We didn’t have time to get the aluminum up to proper pouring temperature, but it was hot enough to at least dump it out of the crucible. The clearance between the inside of the forge (a large soup can) and the crucible (some iron pipe) is a bit narrow, somewhere around 1cm, but the flame swirls around the body very nicely, and when the lid is on the hot exhaust flows over the pouring spout, which is welded to the crucible, which should help keep it hot so that the metal stays warmer when pouring.”

See something here that interests you?  These projects and more are in the works at OMG.  If you have a project you’d like featured on the site, send a photo and description to info@omahamakergroup.org.  Of course, if you’d like to get involved in a project, or need help with something you’re working on, check out the forum.

Until next time…

Maker High Fashion…the EL Coat

Actually, I’ll leave the judgment as to whether this is fashionable to the reader.  Taking a cue from the ready availability of electroluminescent tape/wire to the Maker community, and yes, the recent Tron movie (which re imagined the cult classic costuming in a decidedly more modern twist), it has become too tempting to ignore the possibilities and shaking up the norm.

And so, using white EL tape from Adafruit, two AAA battery packs, a coat I rather like from H&M, and a bit of sewing, viola!  My Jeff Bridges impression is complete, man.

So, project aside, this has got me thinking about the state of change in fashion in the modern age.  Making a coat like this is one thing…how you use it quite another.  I think the Steampunk community must also face this problem.  When you think a certain fringe fashion is cool, do you wear it only among those who also share your (weird) tastes, or do you let that freak flag fly, hoping to inspire?  Let the social experiment begin!

TacitTheremin: A spatial awareness tool for the blind.

What’s this strange thing?  This is the TacitTheremin, a device which helps blind people understand their surroundings using ultrasonic sound ranging.  Designed to work in tandem with a cane, this device allows users to get a greater sense of what’s around them at ranges that exceed a cane and in any direction in which its pointed.

Inspired by the Tacit, an invention made by Grathio Labs, the TacitTheremin is a modification of that design concocted right here at the Omaha Maker Group.  It mounts to the wrist, receives distance measurements from an ultrasonic sensor, and outputs sound to the user through a speaker (low tones for far distances, high tones for short distances).  It ranges from 16 feet down to 3cm, 5 times per second.

See the original Tacit here.  The TacitTheremin is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA License.

This whole project started as an attempt to replicate a Tacit (because the idea is just so darn cool), and in the end it turned out to look quite different, with different coding as well.  You can read about the epic journey in detail, and make your own for a friend (on an individual project basis).

But enough technical stuff.  See it in action!

Currently, this prototype is being field tested by a local Omahan named Mike, who happens to be blind.  Stay tuned for a followup video.

You can reach me with any comments, questions, or concerns here.  Just be sure and put “TacitTheremin” in the subject.  Alternatively, feel free to comment below!

 

 

 

 

The 3d Printers at Work

Its amazing what you can print these days. We tested out the Mendel Prusa last evening by printing this cool little light bulb sculpture.

If you could make any design in your head come to life, what would it be?

Much of what we can do these days with 3D printing is due to the hard work of Brandon.  Be sure and check out the new RepRap piece he’s making to ensure 3D printing just gets better and better: Vertical X-Axis

Be sure to check out our new “Makery Mendel” channel on Ustream, located in the links to the right.  Whenever the Makery is printing, you can see it happening.

One Month to Make: Nerf Gun Distance and Style Mod Competition

Are you a Maker?

The Omaha Maker Group is hosting a Nerf* dart gun competition for distance and visual improvement modification.

When: 7pm, November 9th

Where: The Makery

Competitors will modify a Nerf ‘N-Strike Nite Finder EX-3‘ to maximize it’s distance and/or aesthetic value.  Steampunks, artists, we look to you for inspiration.

The entrance fee for the competition is $10, but anyone can come and watch for free.

The gun may be modified in any way, provided that it remains at least somewhat identifiable as an N-Strike, and does not use pre-compressed air (such as CO2 cartridges) or chemical power. Electric power is permitted, provided the voltages are within reason (meaning the gun won’t cause a power outage).

Ammo will be standard-unmodified Nerf darts. For the contest each contestant will provide with their entry a minimum of three such darts in good condition (a new N-Strike comes with 3 darts), which will be pooled and used for the competition.

The modified weapon in ‘primed to fire’ condition must fit within a 3x7x11 inch container.

Performance for the distance competition will be measured by a maximum range test. The gun may be held by the contestant or mounted in a vice, provided the muzzle does not extend beyond the firing line. Distance will be measured from the firing line.

The cosmetic “Fine Weapon” competition will be judged by majority vote of your fellow participants.  The winner will be judged to have a very fine weapon indeed.   The winner will also gain a 10% distance bonus in that competition.

The winner of the distance competition gets bragging rights and a 1 month free membership to the Omaha Maker Group.

 

 

*’Nerf’ is descriptive of the brand of equipment to be used, and does not imply any other association with the brand.