Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CNC Routed graphics

TEDxVCU was held on VCU campus and the stage letters were cut here at HackRVA. Great job guys. Turned out to be a really great conference. 

3D Printed Objects

3D Prints

Cub scout raingutter regatta

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Manual Pic n' Place

by Aaron

Not sure if the name "pic n' place" actually applies. It's more a souped-up air placement tool, but they call them manual pic n' place around the web.

Basically you're looking at a spring, some 1/4" plastic tubing, a piece of aluminium tube, powered by a computer power supply and this vaccuum pump from sparkfun. The roller bed beneath is a board with unidirectional ball casters and a swivel plate (those hardware links are just examples. our actual hardware came from salvage and other).

Probably still need to add a switch (right now just covering port with finger to release) and a tip and likely a camera. When we originally built this, we could never find an affordable pump solution. We tried sealing and reversing a aquarium pump but it never had enough force. The sparkfun pump was the key.

Once we prove this one out we'll make a parts list and put the whole thing on Inscrutables for others.
Btw, we do realize that this might seem silly compared to just placing with tweezers, and I'm not sure that it isn't, but we specifically wanted to place the tiny PIC chips with a lot of connectors and that can be a challenge with tweezers for some. We'll test out it's usefulness during the 2015 badge build.

Double Barrel Incense Burner

by Michael

Incense burner in its natural habitat
This project started off as a few scraps of poplar, purpleheart, and jatoba.  The original intention was to create a candle holder for 3 votives.

I started by cutting the wood into different sized strips and just layout them out next to each other to come up with a pleasing pattern. After finding a balanced design, I just spread some wood glue on everything and clamped it up.

The glue dried in a few hours, and then it took a trip through the planer.  I ended up sending it through a few more times than I initially intended.  I should have paid more attention to the grain direction; the purpleheart and jatoba kept chipping out because they are very hard woods and the grain was running in different directions...

The board turned out a bit on the thin side by the time the planer was done with it, so I was no longer confident that it would work out as a votive holder.  Back to the drawing board...

The middle groove was planned.
The bottom profile was a happy accident
I took it over to the table saw and started cutting a decorative groove about half way down using the crosscut sled with an additional guide clamped to it.  It was all going so well, but somehow I flipped the board the wrong way on the last cut and ended up with a groove near the edge of the board.  Crap!

I flipped it around the right way and cut the final groove, but now I had to figure out what to do with this new "design element".  A few minutes later, I found myself by one of my favorite tools - the router table!  A quick pass over the router table left me with a nice floating look.  I like it!

This was my first time ever working with jatoba.  I expected the purpleheart to be brittle, but I had no idea the jatoba was much more difficult to work with.  Jatoba scores 2350 on the janka hardness test, purpleheart is 1860.  For comparison, oak scores around 1300, and poplar is less than 600!  Even being gentle resulted in a good amount of chipping...
A lot of sanding and carving was needed to smooth the chip out

I hate sanding.  After sanding for about an hour, I decided I was done.  I know, I know, I should have kept sanding until the job was done.  Too bad.  I wanted to get this done during a single Saturday Hackathon, so I went ahead and applied a few coats of Minwax paste finishing wax that I had brought in to lubricate some drawer runners.  That brought out the beatiful colors of the wood, but it also highlighted my poor sanding job.  The pores and uneven surfaces developed an ashy color due to the wax build up.  Luckily, this is going to be covered in ash as the incense burns, so I felt that it was acceptable.  A couple of quick holes on the drill press finished the job nicely.

All in all, I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. I'm not sure that I would use paste wax again for this type of project.  A polyurethane or acrylic finish would probably be a better choice due to heat resistance.  It was a fun project, and now I'm motivated to try again and work on other laminated designs at the space!

Acetone Vapor Bath for 3D Printed Objects

by Aaron

3D printed pyramid melting
Tis' the season for throwing out crockery? There were three crock-pots newly arrived on the HackRVA salvage pile. Their garbage is our glory.

There are so many things you can make with kitchen stuff that gets hot. Foam cutters, acrylic benders, and, in this case, an Acetone Vapor Bath for 3D prints.

Basically, you just pour in acetone, heat it up, and it melts the plastic. We thought about taking the guts out of the crockpot, but it seemed like hacking just for the sake of it, so we built this cool Frankenstein/steampunk lowering platform accessory instead. It's made from Al sheet, Al hex left over from laser build, and some copper wire.

Here's a MAKE magazine article on the process for more info

more pics after the break:

Octocopter Camera Rig

by Aaron

HackRVA member Andy built this servo actuated Camera Rig to fit his Octocopter. Don't have a lot of details, but Andy is starting a UAV/multicopter build group at HackRVA where you can ask questions in get involved building your own copter.

For details, join our mailing list or send us an email.

Futile Can Crusher

by Aaron
We attempted to make a motorized can crusher. Watch the video for result. Hint: FAIL.

We've decided this isn't a can crusher at all, but actually a metaphorical piece of active art. A metaphor for what exactly, well much debate has occurred (life, making, eon-ic time spans, the environment), but probably best left to the viewer to decide.

The primary culprit is the salvaged microwave turntable motor which is DESIGNED to reverse direction upon any strain. This was also a chance to do some hot-glue electronics potting, where I stuffed all the wires in an aluminium project box and filled it with hot glue (only 6 glue sticks....).

Video below is the total fail version. This thing makes me laugh every time.

KMODDL Library - Slider Crank Mechanism

by Aaron

I was trying to make a copy of the Slider Crank Mechanism from the KMODDL Library (go here for video). I tried a large and a small. The big one is cut from masonite, the small from veneer plywood. Both were fails.

I think the action arm is a little too long, and more importantly I need some actual hardware to keep everything in line as it's moving. I wanted to do the whole thing in wood, thus dowel rods, but it's just not working out. I guess there's a reason they make mechanical systems out of mostly not-wood. Time for McMaster-Carr part searching.

If I ever get these down I want to make several more of these models, add a motor, and realease the designs on thingiverse/intructables with BOM etc. For now, here's the CAD file on thingiverse for the small version.

Open Source Logos

by Aaron

I made a couple of logos to hang around the space. Open Source Hardware and Open Access Journals. These were cut from foam on the CNC router. The spray paint reacted with the foam and made it all craggy instead of original smooth. I thought the gear looked kinda like rusty metal, which is cool. The other, well... probably needs some work.

See the video at bottom for up close action of the HackRVA CNC Router cutting foam. Go here for design files.

Home Built Computer Sans Case

by Aaron

We've seen a lot of computer builds come and go, but this is one of the hack-iest in recent memory.

Here's the specs from John V.

CPU: Intel Pentium Dual Core E5300 OC'ed from 2.6 to 3.42 ghz (CPU-Z validation
Ram: 4 gigs DDR2 800
GPU Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT (x2)
HDD: 2 250 gig drives in a raid 0
PSU: 750w high amperage PSU
MOBO: Asus P5N32 -E SLI Plus" between cpu and ram

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Clay Modeling (no catchy title)

by Aaron
Madison gets festive with Christmas Tree
Jon with HackRAT - Unofficial HackRVA Mascot
We like our electronics, machines, robots, and tools around HackRVA. But sometimes we like to slow it down a bit. Get in touch with nature or whatever. That's when we break out the clay.

Madison showed up around Christmas and got handed a chunk of clay. A few hours later, a Christmas tree. John made the HackRAT on a day when we were all playing around with it. His was the best. I can almost see it twitching.

We still have a huge block of clay from Rosewood Pottery Studio here in Richmond (Like $20 for a huge, shoulder slumping, block). And there's rumor of a kiln being put into action at the space. I'm actually looking at it right now, it just needs some setup.

I'm also interested to see what we can do with hand modeling clay in conjuction with our 3D scanner, blender, 3D printer. Make it with your hands, scan it, 3D print more?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Aquaponics/Urban Sustainability: Nutrient Film Technique channel construction

Member Arthur uses drill press/hole saw to cut holes for net pots for his Aquaponic system:
A look inside the nutrient channel:

This project is currently active at Carver elementary school in Richmond, Virginia. There was an unused greenhouse which was dormant for lack of a 'green thumb' among faculty.

Arthur used a little ingenuity and his connections at VCU to make a thriving Aquaponic system that helps teach children about food production in an urban environment.

The goal is to create scholars of Science that value healthy and organic food that otherwise would not have access to such resources which have a high cost of implementation.

A brief summary of Aquaponics:

Aquaponics employs the idea that plants need a source of nitrogen to grow, one of which is fish urine. The nitrogen is unavailable to the plants until a sufficient source of bacteria allows nutrient uptake by the plants.

Incidentally, fish excrement allows for this bacteria to thrive. The plants filter out harmful materials and a closed loop and sustainable version of hydroponics is created.

Follow this project at:

[by ed]

Fab Lab gets a Facelift [Sign and Door]

Sign above door:

With the door/Sign Pending:

Our Fab Lab has been updated with a door that has auto closing capability thanks to HackRVA member Fred. This should help cut down on noise level and some element of particulate separation.

The Frame has been constructed completely in house using only the tools that we had available; a planar, joiner, miter saw, and chisel. Fred went all out with this project showing a natural instinct for carpentry.
[by ed]

Monday, December 22, 2014

Showing the capability of our D.I.Y Laser; Bryan torches wood

HackRVA member Bryan ignites a plank of wood with our long anticipated D.I.Y. laser build. Compare our open source version to commercial variants such as Jamieson, Epilog, or Boss.

This has been a concerted effort of using scientific precision with a little hacker ingenuity.
The C02 style laser is driven by the same Mach 3 software as our CNC machine. Safety glasses required.

Notice the classic Nintendo blaster style ON switch.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Slow but Solder

by Aaron

It's a bit hard to tell from the picture, but the board on the left is soldered much better than the one on the right. This is because HackRVA member Dustin has been soldering mega-much since joining a year go.  He showed me these two boards after noticing the difference himself and I snapped a quick pic.

If you want to get good at a maker skill, occupying HackRVA is an excellent method. It's hard not to learn with the constant project action. If you stand around long enough someone will put a soldering iron in your hand and make you solder. In fact, I did this twice today and two new solders were born.

And now that Dustin is practically a pro, he'll be all up and ready for the grueling 2015 badge build production LARPing. (note: he got plenty of practice last year too. we are all strong with the solder hand now thanks to badge builds)

3D Printing with Clear Filament

by Aaron

The clear filament is in for the Makerbot. Sidney's been busy printing up some pyramids. When you shine a light you can see through them. Because of the 3D printer he's been able to re-iterate through several potential designs. When he gets it just the way he want he may make some out of glass.

This video is of a 12 shell print and 0 infill attempt, which makes for a unique method not often seen. That's the reason for the thick wall and hollow center too.

CNC Router In Action

by Aaron

We're going to make a sweet video sometime soon, but until then, here's a quick video of the CNC router in action here at the space.

It's cutting out a prototype sign for the crowdfund contributors.

LED Back Lit Present

by Aaron

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Small Scale Aluminum Casting/Smelting

Pictured below: Aluminum is smelted in order to reform it into a desired object by casting.
The process:
And the fruit of our labor:
[by ed]

Using our CNC machine to fabricate a sign

Our D.I.Y. CNC machine gives us the capability of cutting and etching wood and vinyl. 
Below is a sign that we created using plywood. The possibilities do not stop here. Everything from from furniture to artistic decals can be created with a crash course in proper operation.
When it is possible, Make it!
[by ed]

Former RC Car becomes Robot

When playing with RC cars no longer has it's thrill...make a robot! Member Thad shows his latest creation.
[by ed]

Space Saving Air Hose/Reel

An innovative approach to saving space, given a ceiling with mounts. Our air compressor hose is mounted on a reel and can be extended or retracted as needed.
Above: Up close view of hose/reel
[by ed]

Extreme Gaming spanning Three Monitors

HackRVA member Jonathan reveals that it is possible to play computer games that span across three individual standard Dell brand monitors.
[by ed]

Laser Cutter/Engraver Water Cooling System

HackRVA member Brian has finished assembling a water cooling system for our laser cutter and etcher. Nearing completion, this project will enable members to mark designs in wood. 

The cost savings of building our own system is almost as invaluable as the knowledge gained in the process.
[by ed]

Friday, December 12, 2014

Making the most of your space: A sofa for the future

A deceivingly normal looking couch...

 ...Becomes a  hinged table with stow-able components:

And finally...As a bonus feature: sensory deprivation chamber/presentation booth:

Innovate the ordinary

[by ed]

HackRVA member Bill creates Dr. Who fan art

Above is a hand drawn artistic representation of the villains and protagonists from the Dr. Who Sci-Fi series which was created by our member Bill here at HackRVA. 

A cross section view of the inside of the Tardis reveals the complexity and infinite curiosity of the Dr. Who franchise.

[by ed]

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tool Cart Derby - "ROLL OUT!!!"

by Aaron

So HackRVA is re-thinking the way we work in the FabLab. Specifically, we're putting many of our larger tools on carts for easy use and storage. All these tools being mobile means being able to position them where you want when you want. And it means more room for work space and building up a temporary bench or work surface for larger projects.

Above are, from left to right, chop-saw, drill press, planer, and band saw, each on it's own workstation cart.  Below the same, with the mobile table-saw/router combo in the foreground.

And just to add something non-sequitur, the new Electronics Test / Production Bench in the Tech Lab is pictured at the bottom.

BadgeBuild 2015 - Production Equipment

by Aaron

With Jonathon leading the way, we've been getting "hardware production ready" for BadgeBuild 2015 with a goal of "RIDICULOUSLY EARLY" by building new equipment. Seen above is a homebrew etching device that both agitates and heats the board etching solution.

Jonathon made this with a motor and a see-saw like mechanical setup. It slowly rocks the fluid back and forth while the griddle heats it up. Last year we were doing this by hand, so a big improvement to have it automated.

And below is a disemboweled laminator to help with the toner transfer process. With these tools, and more to come, including getting the small CNC tool to do machine through-hole and board de-paneling, we're hoping to make a more consistent and faster board manufacturing process.

We're getting started early on the hardware, so we can nail it down, giving our software team plenty of time to make this "The Year of Software" for the 2015 badge, where we hope to fully build out the coolness in the bits portion of the badge and spend less time on the atoms. Any coders in our collective are welcome to get in touch to build an app or game or driver for the new badge!