Microscope Photography – Integrated Circuits

On Tuesday night, we were disassembling some old printers, and salvaged some large ROM chips. Patrick got the idea to use the mill to remove the top layer of the case, and expose the IC inside.  Here are some photos we took of the chip’s insides with a microscope. Magnifications range between 4x and 40x, thought the 40x were pretty difficult to illuminate properly, because the lens obscures most of the light. As for the cameras, we  used a little point and shoot and a cell phone camera, both just held up to the microscope’s eyepiece.

Contacting the International Space Station

Last Wednesday, OMG member Pat Joseph (KØCTU) stopped by the Makery to see if we could make contact with the International Space Station, as it passed overhead.

The Space Station has a few amateur radio operations on board, and the one we were making contacts with was an automatic mode known as APRS. The automated station heard my transmission and sent back an acknowledgement three times during the pass.

About a  half-dozen people took part in the attempt.  James and Rick manned the antenna, while Pat ran the radio.  The rest of us provided moral support :)

The antenna that Pat brought down was pretty innovative. The main body was made from plastic conduit, and the elements were built from bits of metal tape measure.  The result is a quick-setting antenna that is difficult to damage, yet easy to fold up and store.


Web-attached pan tilt camera

With some help from Brandon and Ben I got the mechanics for the pan tilt camera rig going. The servos attach to an Arduino which is connected to a computer running a Windows web service that provides access to the camera.

I had an issue with the movement speed initially, and had to update the Arduino code with some position speed ramping. That went well and it is moving more smoothly. It flops around a bit, but I think that is mostly the slop in the mechanism.

The web service supports tagging of positions so that interesting views can be labeled. Once labeled a single button press takes the camera back to the associated position.

I will post some video of it in action soon.

Tippy forge

Here are a couple of videos of the tippy forge I've been working on for the Omaha maker Group. At this point it just needs the frame to hold it and a handle to make it easy to tip. There is a little leakage from the input that we need to get sealed up, but it works quite well so far.

Motor demonstration rig

One of the interesting projects from the Omaha Maker Group meeting on Jan 10. Ben put together this little motor demonstration rig with a couple of magnets, a 3D printed frame, and the armature from a commercial motor. Here he is just holding a couple of wires against the commutator as brushes. It's interesting to see the effect of adjusting the brush positions relative to the magnets.

OMG’s Patrick Pecoraro to present Contrast, a custom pinhole camera inspired exhibition

From Patrick’s website:

“In order to assemble this series, I faced a specific problem: most pinhole cameras have only one shot. You expose film or paper and have to go back and develop it in the lab before loading the next shot. When there is more than one opportunity for a great photograph, the only option is to carry more than one camera. I came up with a solution. I designed and built a pinhole camera that uses regular 35mm film, but in a larger format. Three rolls are combined, equally spaced, giving a triptych like image. The resulting triptych blends together by persistance of vision. No longer limited to the short distances from the photo lab; I can take this camera hiking and get four to six exposures per set of film. Exposures only limited by the number of canisters on hand and the available light.

This new camera enhances the subject matter. For the last few years I captured images of nature reclaiming the fruits of man, photographing anything from abandoned buildings on the verge of collapse to old tires dumped in a field. Fascinated by the rusting, disintegrating, forgotten objects reclaimed by nature. I believe that capturing these scenes this way helps one understand that, over time, all man-made things will disappear, nature reclaims all.”

You can see Contrast beginning the 13th of January at:

The Tea Smith

1118 Howard St
Omaha, NE 68102
(402) 932 3933


Projects Abound!

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 info@omahamakergroup.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.

Until next time…

Makery Glowstick Fashion

Myself and Brandon Essler put together a glowstick holster and a glowstick bracer at yesterday’s meeting, continuing the trend of glowy maker high fashion.

The plan is to eventually wire these pieces up with some sort of LED infusion.

You’ll be able to view these in action at this year’s “New Year Revolution” event.

Maker High Fashion…the EL Coat

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!