Nerf Gun Mod Challenge Results!

Last night, the Makery hosted a Nerf Gun Mod contest, previously announced here.  We had 5 total entrants, after a few people had things come up at the last minute, and about twice that many spectators.

Appearance

Only Brandon and Eric made an attempt in this category;  Brandon did a functional “pseudo-steampunk” mod (with an extended brass barrel and integrated laser sight), while Eric gave his Nightfinder a complete color revamp using Sharpie markers (Which did come off on his hands).    Eric won almost unanimously, earning him an extra 10% in the distance competition.

Accuracy

The accuracy contest was run next, in a series of 8 rounds, with a point going to the entrant who could hit a whiteboard (At about 15 feet) closest to the center mark. The entrant with the most points won this category.  The contest itself came down to a shootout between Brandon and Dave, (2.5 points each) with Brandon emerging victorious. Eric (2 pts) and Kevin (1 pt).

Distance

This contest measured total distance to rest, thereby including any beneficial or harmful rolling or tumbling that a dart did. A slight accuracy component was involved, in that if a dart went more than 75 feet or so, it had to clear a 5 foot wide doorway.  The low ceiling also proved challenging to some contestants, as it limited the amount that a dart could be arced.

Distance was scored as “best of 8 darts”, with each entrant shooting all 8 in succession.  Brandon’s was the only dart to clear the doorway, making him the winner.  A few darts bounced off the wall, though.  Eric’s 10% bonus (2.2 paces, very scientific) was enough to propel him into 3rd place over Dave, leaving the results Brandon, Kevin, Eric, Dave, Patrick.

Conclusion

Overall, Brandon was the supreme winner, having taken first place in both categories.  Even with a smaller-than-expected field, everyone involved had a great time.  Thanks to all involved for making last night a success! A few photos from the event are below.

Home-made Hobbed Gears

At the Makery lately, Brandon and I [with some help] have been working on a CNC Hot-wire Foam cutter quite a bit like this one.  Ours is going to be a bit larger, capable of slicing up a 2×4 foot piece of foam (actually, the X is more like 5 feet than 4). For our Z axis, we are using a salvaged set of rails including a rack and pinion setup, but our X axis is entirely homebrew.

I’d initially lobbied for a belt setup similar to the X-axis on a Prusa Mendel, but Brandon objected on grounds of the cost for a 10 foot piece of belting.  He proposed instead using a piece of all-thread as a rack, and a curved gear as the pinion.  That was fine, but seemed like the gear would cost more than the belting. In the end, we decided to try making a gear, in the same way that extruder rollers are made for the 3d printers: Hobbing.

Tonight, I got around to trying to make the gear.  We’d settled on 3/8-16 all-thread, as it’d be sufficiently beefy as to not bend with a gear pressing against it, and to not sag under the weight of a mostly unsupported 5 foot span.  I grabbed a piece of (approximately) 1″ round aluminum from the scrap bin, and drilled a 3/16″ hole through.  I bolted the cylinder to a bearing I had lying around, and chucked it into a V-jaw in the mill vise, with one end floating free.  I chucked up a 3/8-16 tap in the spindle, and set the speed as low as it goes (I around 500rpm, I think).

From there, I aligned the tap so that the centermost full thread was parallel to the bolt through the work, so that I’d be cutting only on full threads. I used the Y-axis of the mill table to position the tap along the length of the work, and advanced the work onto the spinning tap by slowly feeding the X axis as the work turned. (The work spun freely in the bearing, powered by the tap cutting into the aluminum, like when a board lifts as a wood screw is driven.)

I initially had a bit of trouble with the work flexing in the chuck (as I was only supported from one end), but I overcame this by grabbing the outboard end of the bolt with my hand and keeping the bolt parallel to the vise jaws manually.

Overall, the process worked really well.  The tap cut nice, deep, uniform teeth into the aluminum. If I were going to do it again, I’d find a better way to hold the work (supported by both ends) in the vise; I’d also pick a better piece of material, as I didn’t bother turning the surface imperfections of out this one before I started.

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.

The Why of Makerspaces (Hackerspaces)

Ever since I visited Noisebridge in San Fransisco back in November of 2010,  I had burned into my head how amazing it was, and how great it’d be when we finally had a space of our own in Omaha.  What I didn’t see in my brief visit was all the work that someone’s doing behind the scenes. At the Makery, there’s always something to be cleaned up, fixed up or otherwise looked after, and as a Doocracy, those things tend to fall to whoever cares the most (Did I mention, I’m sort of a neat freak?)

Sometimes, I get lost in the maintenance and wonder why we collectively go to the effort of maintaining an actual space, especially after working on robot arms in Dave’s pretty slick basement workshop.  Last night, a few visitors to the Makery reminded me, with phrases like “This place is magic” and “I never thought Omaha could have a  hackerspace”.  That right there sums up what went through my head when I walked in the door at Noisebridge just a year ago.

I’ve said it before (at the Makery’s Founding Day Celebration), but I’ll paraphrase it again here because it bears repeating:  A Makerspace is just a lens that focuses the energy and talents of a creative community.  The people are what makes the Makery great.  Our people collaborate on art projects, build impromptu electric vehicles, entertain out-of-town guests, have Nerf-modding contests, provide material and technical resources for individual projects and are just a generally great group of friends.

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.

 

 

 

 

Handlebar Camera Bracket

Tonight, I finally got around to finishing up the Handlebar Camera Mount project.  The mount consists of a hunk of printed PLA, sawed in half, and bolted back together around the handlebars. At the moment, I have a piece of rubber tape wrapped around the bar, under the mount, to keep it from slipping, but my Canon S5 is pretty heavy and it needs a bit more wrapping underneath.

The printed portion of the mount weighs around 60 grams, and took about 90 minutes to print on the Makery Mendel.  On the side facing the camera, you can see where we lost a bit of blue tape.  The part has an inner diameter of an inch, and is about 2″ wide, to provide good stability for the camera.

The hardware is 4 1.5″,1/4-20 stainless steel hex head cap screws. I opted for stainless because “It’s a bike, and it’s going to be outside”… The bolts were around a buck a piece, which wasn’t really any more money than the regular steel ones.  Hex-keyed is sorta like metric: It just costs more, and no one knows why.

All this puts total materials cost (including the PLA for printing) at just under $10.  The model for the printed version is available here.

 

In the Making: Player Guitar

Kevin’s been busy lately. All hail the hypnoguitar!

So far it plays 1 string and can play simple songs. The idea is to make a slide guitar that can play complex music from a program, much like “player” pianos read from sheet music. This is a demo video showing the progress so far.

Its coming together, don’t you think?

Read more on the project at the Player Guitar Wiki

The Mendel is Alive!

We have finally gotten the Makery Mendel to print properly!

So far we have printed a huge camera mount to connect Kevin’s camera and bike. Also, we have made a couple of new gears and linear bearing mounts to upgrade the ‘bot.

However, we are in need of funding for more plastic. The roll of PLA we are using is almost out, and a new spool will be about $65 plus shipping.

Here are some pics of stuff printed so far. :)