We’re just a group of Racer tech wizards who drive a Barbie, but rely on a cowboy.

Members of OMG recently attended Maker Faire Kansas City. While hopeful that we’d be able to race our latest project “Barbie”–a souped-up power wheel–in the Power Racing Series, several set-backs caused us to withdraw from the event. Team OMGFTW (Omaha Maker Group for the win) may have been knocked out this time around, but we’ve already begun working out Barbie’s kinks, which means one thing–we’re already ahead of the game! Though we didn’t get to race, the Omaha World Herald wrote an article about the trials and tribulations of taking Barbie from a mere girly power wheel toy to a lean mean winning machine. We’re just a group of Racer tech wizards who drive a Barbie, but rely on a cowboy.

Special Event at OMG – May 28th, 7pm – Paint and Pizza!

I am honored to announce that the website, Instructables.com, has contact Omaha Maker Group and asked us to participate in their inaugural “Instructables Build Nights”!
The idea for Build Nights is that Instructables picks a topic and sends supplies/materials to select Makerspaces for their use in creating an event around that topic.  And just to make it more enjoyable, they kick in some cash for pizza, too!  All we have to do in return (in addition to hosting the event) is produce 3-4 new Instructables to their website.  Our Instructables don’t even have to be about the topic, though that certainly helps.  And as long as we tag/link Omaha Maker Group in our Instructables (more details on how to do that later), we get credit.  If we hit the 3-4 mark, we qualify to participate in future Build Nights.  If we manage 10 Instructables, we could be looking at a new laser cutter, new 3D printer, electronics kit, or more!
The topic for May is conductive paint.  You may have seen the new paint pens at Radio Shack from Bare Conductive.  These pens allow you to “draw” an electronic circuit.  The paint cleans with soapy water, so if you don’t like your circuit, just wash it away and start a new one.
Here’s a link to their website, so you can start getting some ideas: http://www.bareconductive.com/
And here is a link to some Instructables that have already been submitted for Bare Conductive paint, again to give you some ideas:  http://www.instructables.com/group/bareconductive/
Since this is our first Build Night, and the first time we have really talked about Instructables, I will be sure to send out information over the next couple of weeks to give you an introduction to making an Instructable, what constitutes a “quality” Instructable, and how to link your Instructable to OMG. At any time, please email me if you have questions.
The Bare Conductive Build Night will take place at The Makery on May 28th.  Doors will open by 6:00pm, and the event will kick off at 7:00.  We will have pizza from Varisty/Roman Coin, but please BYOB (and any snacks you might want).  Hope to see you there!

Another Successful Presentation – Balloon Animals!

Tonight’s meeting was a great success, thanks in large part to Tom’s Balloon Animals presentation/workshop.  Members and visitors were shown, and then guided through making a variety of plants, animals, and inanimate objects.

Additionally, we had a number of visitors, and worked on projects including a Peltier-cooler proof of concept and a grinder stand. We also dusted off an old Teletype, in preparation for it’s impending Twitterification.

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..

LiPo Battery Ruggedized Power Module

A while back, we decided that we needed a 24v power source for various “testing” applications. This source needed to be durable enough for daily use by a wide variety of people without becoming damaged. It also needed to protect the device being powered, and be easy to maintain.

Given that tall list, Ben suggested a HobbyKing LiPo pack, 6S, 5Ah. With that start, we decided that it should have volt and amp meters for monitoring, as well as a circuit breaker to provide positive power disconnect, and protect the battery (easily capable of 150A into a dead short).Meters were ordered from Ebay and the breaker was something out of an old UPS.

The blue enclosure is a waterproof storage box from Walmart, modified to pass through various connectors.  It’s not waterproof at this point, but we’re more after the durability of the polycarbonate than the waterproof aspect anyhow.

Internally, there’s quite a bit going on.  The battery is packed into a foamed-off area, while the other side contains the electronics, including the circuit breaker,ammeter shunt and all the connectors.

Charging is accomplished via a modified ATX connector (which re-presents the balance plug and main power leads), with a fuse to protect against abuse. The idea is that it’s virtually impossible to charge the battery improperly, or to break a relatively fragile balance connector.

Overall, it was a pretty straight-forward build, and cost around $90, including the battery and all the connectors.

Omaha Creative Week Spark Event – Tuesday September 4th, 7pm.

Just a reminder, the Omaha Maker Group’s regular meeting on Tuesday, September 4th is an Omaha Creative Week Spark Event. We have several presentations on the docket, including a summary of the Omaha Maker Group (and Making as a whole), as well as a hands-on presentation on manipulating your car’s onboard computer for diagnostics and customization.

Hope to see everyone there!  If you have questions, don’t hesitate to email info@omahamakergroup.org.

Straw Tower Contest – Results

As part of the recent OMGWTFBBQ festivities9, a contest was held, pitting the forces of gravity against the weight of cold hard cash (pennies, to be specific).  The goal of the contest was to use soda straws to support as much currency as possible in as high of a position as possible, thus racking up the most “inch-cents” of score.

As it turns out, we ended up going to “foot-dollars” and using weights that weren’t exactly copper, given the engineering of some of the entries. Check out the results below.

Team Inches Cents Inch-Cents Foot-Dollars
Brandon 8.25 2898 23908.5 19.92
Stephanie & Cait 8.25 2898 23908.5 19.92
John & Don 11.25 271.5 3054.38 2.55
Claire & Dad 7.5 271.5 2036.25 1.70
Jess & Company 14.25 45 641.25 0.53
Patrick & Travis 19.375 14 271.25 0.23
Ben & Dave 11.5 0 0 0