Monday, 26 August 2013

Diy Space Projects...Machynlleth Maker Faire

I got an email the other day asking if I'd consider applying to go to this mini maker faire as a maker as they had heard about my passion for DIY space stuff/satellites. So I put in an application and it's been accepted! I plan to have some models built showing both cubesat and pocketqub satellite formats (both popular DIY platforms) and also some electronics stuff to demonstrate some satellite processes. I'll also have books and information about lots of other diy space initiatives.

So if you are at Machynlleth Maker faire which is at the Centre for Alternative Technology on 28th September...come to my stall, we'll get our geek on and talk space!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

More Aluminium melting and casting.

I got a nice weather day off work with no commitments a few days back and decided it was time to fire up my second homemade furnace. You may remember I made a really small furnace a while back (HERE) and did melt a small amount of aluminium in it. I realised from that day that the furnace I'd made by insulating a paint can with fire cement was too small as I couldn't keep enough fuel burning in it to last through an entire melt. So a bigger furnace was needed.

I shelved the idea for a while as I realised to make a bigger furnace in the same way as the previous one would be quite pricey (remember I'm a miser!!) as I had made the walls of the small furnace out of pure ready mixed fire cement. I then stumbled across the answer in a youtube video by the user myfordboy who has an enormous number of informative videos about his home sandcasting processes. He had made a furnace mix by using 4 parts perlite ( a common moisture retaining insulating soil additive sold in all garden centres) and 1 part fire cement by volume..this meant that the amount of fire cement I had to buy was massively reduced...I reckon all in this second larger furnace has cost less than 20 quid and I blew 4 quid of that on a brand new bucket...decadent I know!! The other nice thing about using a perlite cement mix is that the resulting furnace is very fact this one is probably lighter than the original one about 1/4 of its size.
Anyway this second melt and pour went well...I have also made some casting sand using bentonite clay (sourced from cat litter...don't worry I bought fresh I'm not that tight!)..but my casting sand was to wet to do a proper cope and drag type casting. So I just made indentations in the sand and poured some different shaped ingots. I did 2 melts and pours and burnt probably 2 quids worth of charcoal and used a few units of electricity but I have produced some good useable pieces of aluminium which I am slowly facing off in the lathe.

So next stop with this is to make some patterns for something and try a proper sand casting..may be a while pattern making is an art unto itself with a lot to learn...draft angles...shrinkage..fillets..all good fun though!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Manchester Mini Maker Faire

Been meaning to do a little post after going to this the other weekend (better late than never!) I had an enjoyable day at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester the other weekend volunteering for the Mini Maker faire. It was very cool with lots of stuff going on..more 3d printers than you can shake a stick at and I've never seen as many raspberry pi's in one day! I was volunteering on the soldering workshop stand which was a long and busy day but really worth while. It was busy all day and kept the half dozen or so volunteers on this stall really working..hundreds of people young and old came buy and could purchase a very cheap but very well put together kit for a manchester mini maker faire rocket badge that had smart leds scrolling and flashing through various pwm cycles etc. Theres a really good feeling when someone gets through the 10-20 mins of instruction and then turns on their badge and it works and their face lights up with pride...pretty cool if you ask me!

Although I didn't get that much chance to mooch around it was very nice to out a few faces to names, particularly the excellent Shrimping It crew whose arduino clones I've tinkered with and got a lot of information from their work. I also got to pick up some lovely raspberry pi rpi water for volunteers, a nice wooden laser cut pibow case and an adafruit micro sd adapter those last 2 items being bought from the pimoroni crew.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

More Mozzi Messing

More Mozzi messing from concretedog on Vimeo.

Piezo triggering sample...far to much fun!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Lathes...machines mending themselves..ish!

My lovely old lathe I bought earlier in the year is great fun but like a lot of things over 50 years old I realise it's going to need a lot of tinkering and making to maintain (and possibly improve) it.
One issue I noticed was that a casting that extends the cross slide lead screw was cracked and when winding the cross slide ball handle it induced a bit of flex and play (on top of lots of other bits of play/backlash--I might need to do a new cross slide leadscrew and bronze nut at some point!). When I stripped it down what should have come off in one piece came off in I knew I needed another.

The broken piece could be attached and the lathe could still function and so I've made another which proved to me the old saying about lathes being able to rebuild themselves.

So I found a piece of old grotty cast iron cut a lump out of it and proceeded to turn this up..It has to be said that the level of finish I am getting if frankly appalling partly due to a lack of rigidity (my bench is good but the cheap shed its attached to flaps around a bit!!) but also due to operator innexperience and error!

Still it's been a good project as I've had to do lots of different types of cuts, some boring and things like using a half dead centre etc. I've stuck to the dimensions that are critical from the original but have made the piece thicker and chunkier in places to try and avoid this one cracking. I might strip it down and paint it at some point...if only to try and hide the finish!!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Arduino and the Mozzi library

Arduino fm synth Mozzi sketch from concretedog on Vimeo.

I've been tweaking around with the arduino playing with the AMAZING Mozzi library which does some great audio/synth's very cool, I'm trying to split my tinker time a few ways at the moment so, although playing with this is great, I'm also working slowly through the documentation that takes you through all the different aspects of the library. Its slow progress...I do seem to have a luddite brain when it comes to code!!

The video is of one of the example sketches from the mozzi library very slightly tweaked...and yes light dependant resistors are cool!!