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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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!
A Variac (also known as an Autotransformer) is a variable transformer, which allows the user a convenient way to control the power to an AC appliance. In our context, it’s typically used to adjust the output of a heating device. The variac currently at the Makery is a 20-amp model manufactured by PowerStat. We’ve configured it to scale voltage only in the down direction, so that the output range is 0-110vac (or whatever line voltage happens to be). The transformer is outfitted with standard AC outlet fittings, and is mounted to a board for easy transport. It should be noted that this transformer is NOT isolated, so the output could still be hazardous, regardless of how low the voltage happens to be set. As with most other equipment, the variac is stored in the TOOLS cabinet.
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.
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!
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.
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.
This week I took a simple camera lens from a $3 film camera I got from a thrift store and attached it to a cheap Canon body cap after drilling a hole in it. The result was a bit surprising once it was attached to the camera. Since the lens gets so close to the sensor, it made an inexpensive macro lens.