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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
It’s been a few months now, but I’m finally getting to documenting the tool storage wall we built. I found a plan online to build some PVC drill/driver hangers, and adapted it to carry the grinder, glue gun and angle drill by their battery holders.
All the tools in one place!
The slanted pipes below the drills are some spare PVC cemented to a piece of Sintra (which is also PVC, so I used pipe solvent). These tubes, which have since been labeled, hold cylindrical tools, such as our rotary and oscillating multitools and apparently a caulk gun.
If you’re in the market for some drill hangers for yourself, we have a fancy jig built (for 3″ pipe, but 4″ works too), so c’mon down and build some for yourself!
Over the years I’ve played around with the Raspberry Pi to see what I can get it to do. I have limited programming skills and rely heavily on the opensource community and how-to documents.
The most successful projects I’ve done with the Raspberry Pi have revolved around using them as DNS and VPN servers. I also have them running with a monitor and wireless keyboard/trackpad combo in the basement utility room and garage. The screen on my phone to look up something in those rooms gets to be a little small and I’m usually using the phone as a flashlight so having a full sized monitor comes in very handy.
One of the things I’ve wanted to do for a while is build a portable gaming machine. Something that could easily go in luggage and look decent to the TSA as it gets scanned. I tried putting something together in 2013 with a Raspberry Pi B first gen, but struggled with lag and the controller setup. As luck would have it, I’ve had an extra Raspberry Pi 3 Model B sitting around I’ve been trying different projects with, but haven’t found the one until I read about RetroPie again.
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.
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.