Have you heard about the Power Racing Series? It began in 2009, right here at PS1! This year, I joined the team and we went racing around the country. It was road trip season.
We made it to these cities and raced other teams at Maker Faires:
Kansas City, MO
The first race was in Kansas City, MO. We picked up some PVC pipes for drift wheels and this awfully nice random person offered us wires to secure them to the trailer.
You can see all the go-carts zoom by in this unrealistic timelapse video at the Kansas City Maker Faire.
This walkthrough video of the pits at the Detroit Maker Faire showcases a bunch of the other teams from all over the country. There is an important reminder about sunscreen at the end.
In the Milwaukee Maker Faire, we had a night race and it was pretty cool.
The last race we went to in Nashville had the nicest paved track ever and we made a bunch of skid marks.
We also had some really good spicy margaritas.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the rest due to distance or scheduling conflicts but races also happened in these cities:
San Mateo, CA
New York, NY
The Bluesmobile and the Kart of 1000 Faces were driven between Aaron F, Andrew C, Ash J, Carlos G, Jennie P, and myself. We also had other PS1 members, Casey and Aushra, show up at some of the cities and they drove for parts of the 75 minute endurance races.
It was a lot of fun hacking away at the frames, electronics, and bodies of the go-carts. Between fixing the two carts and racing, we have also been working on new things for next season.
There is a new Catbus body being made by Aaron.
Another new Jackson Storm body being made by Jackson.
Some serious wheels are being fitted onto a new frame by Carlos.
There is a new frame being built by Andrew, which is top secret, so no photos.
There is also a new body being built by Jennie, also top secret, hence photos.
I’m putting together a motor controller.
Last but not least, there is a new drivetrain with Leaf batteries and converted alternators being built by Andrew. He was ecstatic when he got the batteries in Milwaukee.
Come check us out on Monday nights. All of these are group projects. Anybody can work on the go-carts and race them. This was my first year at Pumping Station One and my first racing season of the Power Racing Series.
If you are interested in finding out about our Kickstarter (Fingerstender) check us out.
I invented the Fingerstender in 2008 and Deanna and I made improvements to it. The current Fingerstender is better.
We are halfway to our goal and we have 10 days left, so if you are interested, back our Kickstarter.
The arts and crafts area has a sewing table with a pinable canvas surface for pattern design, and this is also great for blocking hand knitted items.
Blocking means stretching the knitted item and steaming it to get a better shape. Acrylic, wool, alpaca and pretty much any fiber used to make a knitted item tends to roll at the edges and be floppy until it is blocked. Factory knitwear is blocked as well as hand knits.
I discovered a new tool called blocking wires which I used on this large lace shawl I recently completed. The wires can be run through the edges and pinned. Using the wires allowed for needing less pins and getting tension faster for the rectangular shape. I steamed the whole piece with a sewing iron and could see it adjust, tightening and relaxing, along the pattern.
Many people wash an item and block it into shape to dry, then steam it. A hat can be blocked on a large party balloon or a Styrofoam head form like the kind sold in beauty supply shops. Steam alone does a good job of getting a crisp shape for your knitted item. Just be careful to hover a steam iron a few inches above the item to not scorch or melt the fibers.
I machine-knit these finger sleeves from a conductive yarn that changes resistance as the knit is stretched.
With this project, I wanted to design a glove that could be machine-knit for workshops cheaply and quickly, making a wearable bend sensor available to people with no textile skills.
With a range of sleeve sizes, users can select the sleeve with the best fit and resistance range for each digit. We attach flexible silicone wires by means of a snap press, and the wearer then sews the wire in place with a tapestry needle and yarn — very easy! Once the sleeve is finished, the user can use the tapestry needle to easily sew the wire leads in place along a fingerless glove.
Get your own “digit” sensor at the PS1 workshop on March 25. Details and RSVP on Meetup. (Workshop fee: $10.)
Jenna Boyles, Kyle Werle, and Christine Shallenberg beta-tested the sensors at Pumping Station: One. They selected sleeves for fit, then stitched on the wires themselves. Kyle and Christine were able to use the sensors to control an analog synth and a processing sketch.
I am making a coloring book. The way is fraught with fears, doubts, and time eating mechanical failures. Fears of being unable to make my goals. Doubt that my art is worth the investment of strangers. Battles with an old scanner not being compatible with my computer. Then a crashed computer bios that corrupted my RAID drive. I lost a lot of files. But I am winning. I am winning thanks to very good friends who encouraged my talents. I am winning with the support of my very wonderful family that helped me in times of need. I am winning because of my tenacity in the face of problems. It is only a matter of time in this book battle of attrition. “Today I Draw Dragons” will be a thing.
I will encourage you too to tread the path of book making. Be not daunted by the endless tasks before you.
This project began when I started to draw dragons before work and then after work. I began to count them. I told myself that when I made thirty five of them I would pursue making them into a coloring book. I ended up making one hundred and fourteen of them.
I shopped around for publishers. It is a sea of frustration. You have your easiest ride if you can wrestle the support of a professional publishing company, but they will have a say in your product and it is hard to convince them that you are worth it. So I decided to pursue self publishing, at least for now. If I prove myself with a successful project, then I will show them what I can do.
None of this is the way to wealthbut it is the way of artists.
I learned many things. I learned that even if I print only 30 dragon images it will be considered a 60 pages plus book to a printer even if I don’t print on both sides of the sheet of paper. If you have a place to store 1000 books and the cash to buy and ship them then you might be able to get them printed for a competitive price. ISBN numbers are expensive if you buy just one.
Advertising matters. My Kickstarter shows a definite lull in support when my computer crashed and I could not reason out how to advertise without my scanned and worked drawings. My friends and family took up the slack then. I continued. I made business cards and flyers to paint the town. I wish I had done more. But I am still winning.
Cleaning up and re-working scans for print TWICE is annoying.
I have an external hard drive now so I can back up the back ups.
Learning all the programs for formatting everything for print is a huge pain in my pinky toe.
I still have many tasks ahead. I need to subscribe to a download service so that I can deliver my PDF. files. I need to secure a high quality printer for the prints I have sold. I need to prepare to wrap and mail out my books. I need to make all the custom sketch cards and commissioned art sold to fund this endeavor. I will need a plan in place to sell the extra copies I am going to order. And I need to draw more, lots more.
This will not be my last publishing adventure, by far.
There are still a few more days if you want a copy of the book yourself:
After months of work, hours of troubleshooting 3D printers and lasers, as well as a lot of patience, I’m proud to present my completed cosplay mask of gynoid Drossel von Flügel. My friend Jaina helped me take pictures at Katsucon last weekend in National Harbor. (Yes, the sameconvention center, unfortunately)
Note: almost all images can be clicked for full size.
I have received no shortage of help from various people. The CNC department at Pumping Station: One has been great at supporting those who want to make things. Twitter user @ByNEET released a full model of Drossel which my friend Faraday (she does 3D work! fortunafaradaze at gmail dot com) helped disassemble for conversion into 3d print friendly STL files. My friends who spent countless late nights with me while I worked on this project. My mom, who was very helpful in assembling the mounts to hold it on my head at the last minute. My friend Amir, who introduced me to Pumping Station: One which has made a huge impact on me. Lastly, the PS1 community itself, for maintaining such a wonderful place to create and share as a community.
Below the read-more is a fairly detailed explanation on how I created the mask and what tools I used for those who are interested in pursing similar projects. Feel free to contact me (Skylar) with questions at SKY at TUNA dot SHor find me at the space! I also have a (photography) website, http://hexbee.net.
My name is Ralph, and I’m an amateur luthier and PS:1 “starving hacker”.
I make all kinds of instruments: guitars, ukuleles, bouzoukis, and more, but my favorite thing to build is mandolins. They are far and away the most difficult instrument that I make, and require a level of craftsmanship not found in the simpler instruments.
There’s only one real downside to building mandolins— the carving. Mandolin plates are made from 1” thick stock, carved into a very precise dome shape ranging from 3mm thick at the rim up to 6mm thick at the bridge. Making the plate accurately is the key to getting a good tone from the instrument: too thick and it sounds “dead”, too thin and the top can’t withstand the force of the strings.
To make the plates requires a set of inside and outside templates that show the proper curves (making these templates on the laser cutter was a primary reason I joined PS:1), using carving gouges to get close the the final shape, and then curved planes and scrapers to get the dimensions exact. There is about 40-50 hours of carving and scraping that go into a set of mandolin plates. To make things worse, the back plate is made of hard maple, which is VERY difficult to carve. Even with leather carving gloves, my hands are a mess of blisters and callouses after making a plate.
When I saw the CNC routers at PS:1, I was immediately struck by the idea of using CNC to produce a rough mandolin plate. Even if I would still need to scrape to get things perfect, the hard carving work (and blisters) would be taken care of by the machine.
Thus began a year-long journey of discovery…
I learned about CAM, and taught myself to use Fusion 360, only to discover that this 3D modeling stuff is HARD. I managed to turn out some pretty simple models for bridges and headstocks, which I was able to make on the Shapeoko and ShopBot, but every attempt at modeling a mandolin plate failed.
After flailing around for many months, I discovered the Fusion 360 meetup (sponsored by Autodesk and held at PS:1), and everything changed. With the help of Autodesk’s Michael Aubrey (Fusion evangelist), and PS:1’s resident CAD experts, I improved my skills to the point where I was able to make a reasonable model of the top plate for an A-style mandolin.
Last weekend, I got to test the model on the ShopBot! The initial version is in MDF, just to test the model and the machining commands. Once everything is tweaked, I will do the real thing in Sitka spruce.
Since the plate needs to be machined on both sides, I needed to create a fixture to align everything. It’s a pretty straightforward plate, with two alignment pegs that match holes drilled into the ShopBot wasteboard. All of the shaping was done with a 1/2” round-nose bit running at 12000 rpm and a chip load of .35mm.
The inside is machined first, referencing the stock top. It uses a pretty simple adaptive pocket to remove most of the waste, followed by a spiral with a 1mm overlap to take things to the finished size.
You’ll note that the pocket is not centered in the picture— my origin was in the wrong place in my model. I fixed that, and the second attempt came out much better. There is still a bit of scraping/sanding to remove the machine marks, but that was to be expected.
After the inside surface was machined, I flipped the workpiece over and re-registered the Z axis to the bottom of the piece. That way, I know the thickness of the part will be accurate even if my stock thickness is off by a little bit.
Once again an adaptive pocket removed most of the stock, starting with a channel around the rim.
After the rim was rough-sized, the “hump” was roughed in.
A second pass of the adaptive pocket got the rim down to 4mm thick, and smoothed the transitions.
Just as with the inside, the finishing step used a spiral to clean the surface and eliminate the tool marks. The net result was quite good, and will need only a bit of scraping to finish
After all was said and done I swapped in a 1/8” straight bit to cut the outer profile and f-holes.
Cutting off the excess stock left me with a quite nice-looking mandolin top plate! Total elapsed time (not counting my initial screwup) was about 90 minutes.
Putting my micrometer to the finished product, the results were better than I expected. Thickness is accurate within 1mm across the entire profile, with most areas within 0.5mm. That leaves only a bit of scraping to get things perfect!
Next weekend… the real thing, in sitka spruce.
Many thanks to Michael Aubrey from Autodesk, Ray Doeksen and Andrew Carmadella from PS:1, and all of the Fusion 360 Meetup crew that helped me along the way! I’m still a modeling rookie, but I’ve come a LONG way with your help!
In the last days of Radio Shack, I was in a store on Michigan Avenue when I spotted, buried amongst the disassembled shelving units and discarded phone cases, a small red box that turned out to be an Arduino-based soldering project, the 2770158 LED Cube (https://github.com/RadioShackCorp/2770158-LED-Cube). I bought it for something like $5, took it home, and promptly put it on the shelf as a project I’ll ‘get to’ at some point.
The honest truth is that I was somewhat intimidated by the soldering; it’s a 3x3x3 cube of LEDs that are soldered together and the lights were smaller than i was expecting, and looking at some pics of the final result, I resigned myself to likely screwing it up and at best hoping that I might learn something from what I assumed would be a complete failure. So I somehow justified to myself that, in order to not waste my $5, I shouldn’t actually try to make the thing I spent $5 on.
At some point I hit myself with a clue-by-four and realized the stupidity of my situation; accept the possible loss of the $5 and actually try instead of fretting about what-ifs. So I took the kit to PS:1, sat down in the Electronics area, got out the soldering iron, magnifying glass, and went to work. It took a couple of hours, and I was certain, absolutely positively certain, that, even though it looked right, there was no chance that I had actually gotten the leads all wired together correctly, especially the ones in the middle that were extremely hard to reach with the big tip of the soldering iron. Okay, well, only thing left was to actually plug it into the Arduino Uno I had, load up the sample sketch (available in the RS GitHub repo above), and see what happens.
I fired up the Arduino IDE, loaded the sample sketch, hit upload, and all of a sudden all the lights came on as it started through the canned routines. I was initially skeptical, checking every single light to see which one was never lighting up, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that I had actually done it, all the lights actually lit up as part of the demo routine, and HOLY CRAP I MADE A THING AND IT WORKED!!!!1111
And then in my excitement I dropped it, ripping the USB cord from the Arduino, and landed lights-down on the floor. Well, of course I did. Of course I broke it, right? But as I checked the connections, nothing had come loose, there were no broken connections. I plugged the Arduino back in, and sure enough, it happily came back to life and started going through the routine. Whew!
So I resolved to make this truly my own; running a demo program that I didn’t write was not ‘finishing the job’. I remembered the QBasic ‘Snake’ program that drew a line bouncing around the screen, hitting the edge and then randomly turning and going off into another direction. Ah, but this is a cube, in threeeee deeeeeeee, so the challenge would be that more interesting, especially as I resolved to sit down and actually try to implement it without any help from the Internet; a three-dimensional matrix of lights, translated into C++.
This is where I remembered a line from Top Gun that went something along the lines of “Our pilots had become dependent on missiles” as a reason for loss of dogfighting ability. (And then I got that Everly Brothers song stuck in my head). Well, writing C++ for years, I had become dependent on the containers provided by the Standard Template Library (map, vector, etc.). While the Arduino is programmed using C++, it’s really a pretty small subset of C++ (which sort-of-kinda-not-really makes sense) and the STL is not available; go ahead and #include <map> all you like, all the compiler’s gonna do is complain. So I knew I’d have to regain some amount of dogfighting capability and do all the array/matrix stuff in pure C. So I decided the best way to keep myself honest and regain some of the skills I think I used to have, I created a C file in Vim (using Emacs always made me angry, straight-up I hate this, whatever this is), wrote the program, saved, compiled and ran straight from the terminal prompt. Again and again and again.
One of the biggest problems was forcing myself to get past the ‘sheesh, this woulda been easy to use <insert some STL thing> here’ and just focus on getting the values in the right cells of the matrix. It took a few hours to get the algorithm right, but pretty soon I had it spitting out numbers that seemed right, but how was I gonna know that it was right?
This is where I decided to make a quick diversion and build a virtual version of the matrix in OpenSCAD:
Using this model, I could walk through the output of the program and verify that the snake was truly moving correctly around the matrix. I rotated the model around, checking that the numbers were right and HOLY CRAP I MADE ANOTHER THING THAT WORKED!
The last thing to do was to actually get the program to work with the LEDs. This is where the spartan documentation of the original Radio Shack code became a problem; the sketch did a passable job of explaining how the lights were addressed, but the examples were all arrays of pre-baked values without having to do anything dynamic, and my program was all dynamic. I studied how the demo program worked, started fiddling with the values, and discovered how to set the bits in the right way to turn on individual lights, on specific levels. From there I modified my C program and added some code to translate my positioning, which turned out to be the mirror opposite of the way the lights are addressed; I solved the problem by physically turning the Arduino around so I was looking at the other side. Problem solved!)
I uploaded my sketch to the Arduino and it suddenly the lights were lighting up in what appeared to be a snake moving around the matrix. HOLY CRAP I GOT IT TO WORK!!!!!!11111
This is a long post for what amounts to a small light toy, but whilst I was feeling rather verbose (a consequence of sitting and waiting for an unrelated program to finish), I can’t emphasize how foolish I feel for not starting all this earlier; fear of failure is a very, very powerful emotion and if there’s a TL;DR in here somewhere, it’s that it is always better to try and fail than to never try at all, which is something PS:1 has done a very good job of teaching me.