Introduction to W88’s Laser Cutter class

Workshop 88 is excited to have a laser cutter for members to make use of at our makerspace. For those interested in becoming certified to use the laser cutter, taking the Introduction to Laser Cutting class is a required first step. For those interested in learning about what our laser cutter can do, and how it works, this class will provide you with descriptions and demonstrations of the operation of our laser cutter. This class is open to all. Certification to use the laser cutter is only available to current Workshop 88 members.

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Minecraft Extravaganza

IMG_20151023_002406We’ve mapped out a wiring diagram and rough layout for an Arduino-controlled Minecraft landscape. Bill has graciously agreed to write the code. Rachel roped in a bunch of newcomers to build part of the set and brainstorm Minecraft “events.”

We settled on a line of light-up Redstone dust (red LEDs in perforated boxes) leading up to a tree which catches on fire (LEGO flames IMG_20151023_012142657will stick out of the tree). Then a second tree will catch on fire. We’ll be working on it at Workshop 88 the next couple of Thursday evenings if you’d like to stop by and contribute your Minecraft, LEGO, and/or Arduino expertise.  Come play!

We’re gearing up to display this at the Barnes & Noble Mini Maker Faire, along with some other projects.  Scott Wojton from the Naperville store has been out to the space a couple of times and has been very helpful to us,so we’re happy to be showing stuff at his Faire Nov 6-8.

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Teknistas Inventing Lab program is now free!

We have some great news! Workshop 88 will be able to offer the Teknistas Inventing Lab programs free of charge in 2015–the $330 Tuition and the $100 materials fee will be covered by a grant from Cognizant Making the Future program. In addition, we have opened up the age range to include 8- and 9-year-olds due to the enthusiastic participation of some young but crafty and creative kids at our September preview workshop. The girls will start with a Halloween project and I can’t wait to see how they light up their costumes, make candy glow, decorate their front doors, and invent other things we haven’t thought of!

Just as a reminder, the LED Circuit Crafts program that will be held Wednesdays 4:30-6:30 Oct. 7-November 4. If you have a daughter age 8-12 who loves crafts, please encourage her to apply for one of the remaining four slots.

I’d love to see girls in our community take advantage of this great program while the cost is subsidized by a grant. We need your application by Monday or Tuesday of next week at the latest.

Click on this link to download the brochure & application (you can disregard the tuition & materals costs):

Updated information and application

P.S. Some parents have expressed interest in trading pick-up vs. drop-off duties so we can put families in touch with each other once we finalize the admissions.

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W88 Laser Cutter First Steps

Cooling+Exhaust5838The dead laser cutter donated to us by Inventables after blowing one too many power supplies is running!  While not yet ready for prime time, a water cooling system in a bucket and a fume exhaust thru the flue from the old furnace allowed first tests.  The Shapeoko laptop hosts the RetinaEngrave software that makes it look like a Windows printer.

We’re still getting our feet wet with laser power, speed, number of passes, raster vs FirstCutWolfHead3529vector operations, but we’ve actually cut some paper, wood, and plastic.  This wolf head – courtesy of Google Images – DollGoggles6419adorning a circular saw push stick was the first actual cut.

Daniil had the honor of being the first to produce an actual useful object on the cutter.  We think his daughter will be thrilled with these laser cut, hot air station formed goggles for her skateboarding doll.  She’s been trying to get some for a whTripleSpiral1470ile now.

There’s still a lot of work to do making much more proper implementations of cooling and exhaust systems.  We need proper electrical connections to guarantee the cooling will be running if the laser is on, and a damper on the exhaust pipe to keep cold air out and the landlord happy.  Lots more Ts to cross and Is to dot.  But it’s actually cutting stuff and hasn’t blown up yet!

BlueTape4371Update 11/12/15:  The laser is coming along.  We now have “air assist”, and have done some more tests and cuts.  Here’s a test using painter’s tape to reduce smoke damage, and a nice W88 logo.

W88Logo3mmPly2334

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Shapeoko 2 Calibration Tests

MicroscopeMounted2334_HDRWe did some interesting calibration checks on the Shapeoko 2 at the space last night.  Driver and viewer software for the USB microscope are now on the Shapeoko laptop.  With the ‘scope mounted to the gantry looking at the lines etched on an old-school vernier caliper body we observed average backlash (difference approaching a point from different directions) of around 0.009″.  Absolute accuracy varied from 0.003″ to 0.013″.  That latter worst case error is about 1/3 the diameter of the holes we drill in PCBs, and so is MicroscopeViewpotentially a problem.

There was some discussion of ways to improve the mounting of the drive belts.  With some evidence of belt stretch, replacing all the belts is also under consideration.  More details in this post on Jim’s project notes.

Thanks to Daniil, the SO2 now has a PWM speed control!  We have high hopes of adding closed-loop speed feedback to it soon.  We’re finally getting close to being able to machine plastic!  (That’s about impossible at the native 12K RPM of the spindle.)

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Announcing – Teknista Inventing Lab for girls ages 10-12

Workshop 88 is thrilled to announce the Teknista Inventing Lab – a nine week program for girls ages 10-12 who are interested in combining crafting with high-tech tools.

Where: Play Moore Studio in Wheaton, IL

When: Wednesdays, 4:30PM-6:30PM from September 16 – November 11
Maker Madness Session Dates:
Monday October 12 (Columbus Day), 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Saturday, November 7, 10:00AM – 4:00PM

How much: Tuition: $660 Tuition is $22/hour for 30 hours of instruction including
the Maker Madness sessions. Family members are
invited to participate in the factory tour at no charge
Lab Fee: $200
Early bird discount of $100 by August 31.

Updated 9/9/15:
Updated information and application

 

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Quickie PCB making class

Quick class/demo on making single sided PCBs using photo sensitized board material and black-on-clear artwork.  If all goes well, we might even generate gcode from the Eagle files and drill a board on the Shapeoko 2!  This Thursday 8/27/15 at the space, ~7PM.

SteveBadBoard3268Update:  After spending quite a bit of time trying to print artwork on the W88 printers, we did actually make a first version of Steve’s board.  The resist and etching processes worked fine, and the board looked great (especially given those tiny 8 mil traces and low contrast laser print!)  Unfortunately, the printing process was not yet tuned up, and for reasons yet unknown, the artwork came out slightly too small.  The board was far enough off that a standard 0.1″ header would never fit.  Given that and the fact that if we tried to drill it on the Shapeoko some of the holes would have missed the pads, and we risked breaking a carbide drill due to the centering effect of the holes in the pads, we didn’t bother to drill it.  We declared partial success and went home.

DaniilsFirstBoardBased on what he learned in the class, Daniil produced his first board a few days later.  He ended up with drill files that weren’t necessarily good for the Shapeoko, so he drilled the holes by hand.  It’s a test board for the cool WiFi SOC ESP8266 chip, and it works.  Congratulations, Daniil!

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At Southland Mini Maker Faire

W88Table3412Workshop 88 had a table at the Southland Mini Maker Faire in Mokena on 8/22/15.  Jim’s drawbot string plotter made a “big” hit, standing 6 feet above the table and drawing poster-size images.

The drawbot, a junkbox project inspired by Bill Paulson, is driven by a couple of $3 steppers from American Science and Surplus, some cheap H bridges and an Arduino clone.  Software is free from Makelangelo.com.  It does the heavy lifting math to convert from X-Y coordinates to the “inches of string” coordinates the polar geometry imposes on its steppers.  In addition to accepting normal X-Y gcode, it can take a jpeg image and use the traveling salesman algorithm to generate a single path reflecting the darkness of different areas in the image as it’s doing in the picture above.  Such a path is ideal for a plotter that doesn’t have pen lift capability.  Yet.

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