Learning in the MakerSpace: 3D Printing

The first thing I was introduced to in the MakerSpace was the 3D printer. What struck me most was how long it takes to print an item with the Ultimaker Printers. Even a small project can take multiple hours. Since this is a public space, I struggled to gain access to a printer for the first few days. I spent the time creating a design.

I came across Autodesk’s web app TinkerCad, which is a 3D object design program. I went through the tutorials and learned how to use the program, which is not as intuitive as it could be. I created a design of a treble clef on a staff with the opening four notes of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. In order to print it quickly, I had to make the object quite small. Once I was able to get to a printer, I uploaded the file and let it print. I’m pretty happy with how it came out. I would like to explore more options for 3D printing, but access to the printers at this MakerSpace is difficult.


Learning in the MakerSpace: Laser Cutting

Today I took a quick lesson on how to use the Epilog Laser Cutter. It was surprisingly easy to use. There are a few things you need to know about Adobe Illustrator, such as how to resize and image and create a box with no fill. The rest was just inputting the correct settings for the printer.

I began by etching some fun images I copied from the web and pasted into Illustrator. Then, I searched for some templates for guitar picks. I found one, but it had additional lines across the pick that I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of or tell the printer not to cut all the way through. I ended up creating my own design and cut 32 cardboard picks that I could potentially use for ukuleles.

DJ Yoda laser etched on cardboard
R2D2 laser etched on cardboard
Ukulele picks laser cut from cardboard

Learning in the MakerSpace: Arduino, Day 2 (PM)

Project 8: Digital Hourglass

This project used a tilt switch and LEDs along with the code to create a timer. The initial code set the LEDs to illuminate every 10 minutes, or 600,000 milliseconds. I adjusted the code to speed the process up to 6,000 milliseconds, or 6 seconds. Shaking or tilting the board resets the clock.

Project 9: Motorized Pinwheel

I will have to return to this project when I have a 9V battery to power the motor. The battery was not included in the kit.

Project 10: Zoetrope

This project also requires a 9V battery.

Project 11: Crystal Ball

This project required a lot of wiring. There is a lot of room for error, which was alarming when the LCD screen did not illuminate. I double- and triple-checked my wiring, but it looked good. Eventually, I realized that I forgot to plug the Arduino power and ground into the breadboard. Tech Support 101: Is it plugged in? I felt pretty silly, yet relieved.

The idea behind this project was to recreate a Magic 8 ball using the LCD screen. The code creates 8 possible answers and the Arduino chooses one at random each time the switch is activated. The potentiometer adjusts the contrast of the LCD to make the text easier to see.

Project 12: Knock Lock

Well, the good times had to end sooner or later. I ran into another roadblock with this project. The idea for this one is to use a piezo to sense knock sounds that would cause the servo to move and LEDs to light up. Mine doesn’t do either of those. I can’t tell if the piezo is even picking up any sound. The wiring had to be adjusted from what was illustrated because the servo wires are attached to each other, unlike in the book. In addition, the piezo is quite large and the additional components are underneath it.

The code for this project was complex as well. A lot of variables and conditional statements along with a few boolean terms. Searching through the forums did not lead me to any solutions at this point. I may come back to this project next time and see if I can figure out how to get it to work.