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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Padlock exhibits vulnerability to extreme cold (and a large hammer)

If I hadn’t seen this myself, I don’t know that I’d believe it. Last night, we set out to test this Popsci article, and it seems to hold up.

We had 2 locks donated, a generic U-Lock, and a pretty beefy looking keyed padlock. The U-Lock’s steel turned out to be a bit too soft, and just bent a bunch, but the shackle on the padlock failed relatively quickly.

All said, we used 2 cans of air, but quite a bit of that was spent on the first lock. Both the body of the lock and the shackle sustained quite a bit of damage, though the damage to the body was mostly cosmetic and probably not “breaching”.

If I were to try it again, 2 things: 1. Strike the shackle directly, with a chisel or something, instead of the hammer face. 2. More lighting.  The high-speed video was too dark to really show anything interesting.  I keep forgetting how much light that thing takes..

Learn about Lockpicking from a Toool.. member

Would you like to learn about lock picking? Come to our meeting Tuesday July 10th @ 7pm.

The meeting will feature a talk from a member of (The Open Organization of Lockpickers), Steve Beck.

Steve will cover three topics, two of which are a little more hands on-ish, the first will be a basic lockpicking talk, the second will be a re-keying talk with a demo and the third will be about making your own picks with a demo.

Stick around after the talk for socializing and Makery Shenanigans.

Directions to the Makery

RedBull Creation 2012 Entry

RedBull Creation challenge entry. It’s a brain-wave game. The players stand on opposite sides with wireless headsets that measure brain waves. One of them presses the big red button on the back, and then as they focus the power of their minds, the arm responds to their brain wave readings, and moves back and forth according to who is focusing best. After 10 seconds the Bullduino (visible at the front in the window) checks whether the pointer is in one of the green scoring zones. If it is still in the yellow zone, it’s a tie and it just returns to center. If it is in one of the green zones the player on that side is the loser, and the ball sprays that player.

Getting Started with gEDA

gEDA is the open-source solution for hardware design. It has all the capabilities needed to develop professional boards, and does not have any of the limitations that commercial products put on their devices. However, like oh so many open source projects, it is a mess of a lot of little pieces.  The good news is that they are all packaged up in Canonical, if you’re using Ubuntu.

So Let’s get started.

Install the geda packages:

sudo aptitude install geda, geda-doc, geda-utils, libgeda-common

These packages should get you the tools you need, which are tragesym, gschem, refdes_renum, and pcb.

Set up your build environment

Due to the lack of integration between different packages, it is in your interest to just tie them all together with a simple Makefile. Here is the one I use for OpenPLC:

sim_board: sim_uc.sch sim_phys_out.sch sim_ether.sch sim_pwr.sch \
            sim_phys_in.sch packages/* symbols/*
    refdes_renum $^
    gsch2pcb -v -v $^ -o $@

    rm -f *~ *- *.backup *.new.pcb *.png *.bak *.gbr *.cnc

destroy_pcb: clean
    @bash -c 'echo "Are you sure? cuz this is gonna blow up all your pcb \
    shit."; read answer; if [[ "$$answer" == *yes* ]]; then rm -v -f *.cmd \
    *.pcb *.net; fi'

I found the destroy_pcb rule to be useful for a little while there, but I definitely don’t use that anymore. With the help of a makefile like this, gEDA starts feeling a lot more integrated.

The two subfolders you see in my project, packages and symbols, are used to store package footprints and schematic symbols that link to package footprints, respectively.

I also have a gafrc file with the following contents in it:

;; Add libraries
(component-library "./symbols")

This file is used to tell gschem where to look for schematic symbols that I created. The packages folder is searched by pcb for footprints.

Wrapping up

So now you should have two files in your project space: a Makefile and a gafrc. You can now type make and your schematics will be converted over to a pcb.

Stay tuned for next time, when I will talk about how to make footprints for those parts you need to make.