Orlando Maker Faire 2014

The third annual Orlando Maker Faire is coming up on September 13 and 14, 2014 (http://www.makerfaireorlando.com/). Stetson is a charter exhibitor at this event and 2014 is going to be a blockbuster year. The Maker Faire has been expanded to two days and promoted to one of the few featured events in the International Maker Faire network (http://makerfaire.com/). Over 170 exhibitors will be in Orlando. Check out this list: http://www.makerfaireorlando.com/makers/

We are seeking projects from the Stetson community to be demonstrated at the Faire. If you have something you would like to show and can spare half a day on either Saturday or Sunday, please get in touch with me (Bill Ball) at wball@stetson.edu as soon as possible.

Even if you are not bringing a project for the Stetson booth you should go to this. I can help coordinate car-pooling. Tickets for the faire are available on their site.

See you there.

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Worn out tire to nearly new shoe? Is it possible…

Tires are all around us.  On cars, trucks, trailers, bicycles, and it seems anything else that needs to move efficiently.  But what happens to all those tires when they are worn out?  Millions of tires are discarded each year with some recycled, some burned as fuel for cement kilns, some crushed to be cover for landfills, and some left to rot in vacant lots.  But what if your “worn out” tires can become your next pair of shoes?

My family has a few trailers and every few years these go through tires.  Whether these are lost due to nails, blow outs, dry rot or flat spotting they are still no good.  The last time I replaced a tire on one of the trailers I wanted to try to turn it into something useful instead of just taking it to a recycler and paying a few dollars to make it disappear.  I looked on the Internet and found instructions to turn an old tire into a pair of shoes.  The instructions can be found at http://www.hollowtop.com/sandals.htm

This project took a while to get started.  There was work to do before I started the project.  I made a pair of pucker toe moccassins to cushion between my feet and the tire rubber.  These are very comfortable to wear and I would recommend the design to anyone who is considering making moccasins.  I believe the instructions I used are from ​http://www.nativetech.org/clothing/moccasin/mocinstr.html

My first major difficult came in cutting the tread off the tire.  A major ‘Thank You’ goes out to Larry, the Stetson University shop technician who helped me use a large band saw to cut the sidewall and tread off the tire bead (the part that seals on the rim).

The cutting of the tread to make the sandals was the next big hurdle.  A ‘Thank You’ to the Innovation House for use of their saw which worked well to carve the sandals out from the chunks of tread.

I tried to innovate on the method of making these moccasins by drilling instead of chiseling the holes for straps.  It failed miserably.  Back to the wood chisel.  However, one innovation did work.  Instead of straps I used 550 cord because I had some on hand and it worked very well.

Finally, the moccasins were done.  When I tried them on these ended up being some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.  Yes, the first day of wearing these required a lot of adjustments to the cordage and tweaking of the sandal sole but after that these fit pretty well.  However, these are not much for good looks.  As my younger sisters will tell you – these sandals are ugly.  Ugly – but comfortable!

So, can someone build their own footwear from tires?  Yes.  Is it worth the effort?  Yes, provided you like to tinker and are willing to invest a good deal of time into building the shoes.  Could this change the world?  Unlikely, not many people have the time, supplies, skills, and effort to divert to a project like this and these shoes will not outperform a pair of shoes you can buy at the store.  Still this has been a great learning experience and hopefully the basis for many more adventures.  Always stay thrifty and curious.  – Logan

 

An assembled sandal

An assembled sandal

An assembled sandal with matching moccasin.

An assembled sandal with matching moccasin.

Moccasin and sandal on author's foot.

Moccasin and sandal on author’s foot.

Habitat for Humanity Birdhouse Building

For the past few years, Stetson University’s Chapter of Habitat for Humanity has held an annual Birdhouse Building Competition as part of the Gillespie Museum’s Earth Day.  This competition is open to teams of students from Stetson or members of the DeLand community to build birdhouses with all proceeds from the event going toward building houses for those in need with Southwest Volusia Habitat for Humanity and West Volusia Habitat for Humanity.  This year we partnered with the Innovation House to build all the kits for participants.  Traditionally, each team has the option of going with a birdhouse kit which contains all the supplies and instructions to build a standard birdhouse or pulling from a parts bin which has mismatched lumber that can be creatively assembled into a birdhouse.  This year there were three kit designs which can be seen in the pictures.

Over the course of a few weeks we were able to create 50 kits using measuring tools, saws, and the drill press from the Innovation House.  There are always difficulties encountered and this year was like any other.  Standardizing the kits to all pull from one board size proved more challenging than originally thought and it was hard to recruit teams before the event.  However, there are also little successes along the way.  The drill press made drilling the holes in the front of the birdhouses much faster and simpler than it had been in previous years.  This year 12 birdhouses were assembled (lots of kits left over for next year) and raised more than $50 to build real houses.  Overall, we were glad to work with the Innovation House for this project and look forward to working on other projects with them in the future.  If you would like more information about Stetson University’s Habitat for Humanity please look us up on Facebook (Like us for future updates!) and you can join our email list on HatterSync.

-Laurie, Brianne, and Logan holding up the three birdhouse designs from 2014.

Laurie, Brianne, and Logan holding up the three birdhouse designs from 2014.

All the assembled birdhouse kits.

All the assembled birdhouse kits.

The building crew hard at work.

The building crew hard at work.

Hunkered Down: Updated

For the update on my 3D Printer Art Project “Hunkered Down” I wanted to add a light element to try and create shadows of the two figures. These shadows would give it a more “secluded childhood fort” feel and make it seem more whimsical.

For the light element I purchased a LED flashlight stick from Walmart for about $5. I then had to disassemble the flashlight to get to the LED/Battery part. I was relieved to know that it was all in one piece that was small and compact and included a small button so that I could turn the light off and on. The light however had one white LED and one green one. The green light was not going to work with my project. I had to make a trip to RadioShack to purchase a replacement white LED. I found a pack of two white LEDs for $3. I then had to remove the greed LED and solder on the white one. This was accomplished successfully.

I then had to decide how to place the light so that it projected the right shadows. This is where I hit a road block. No matter where I placed the light hardly any shadow was created. The body of the project simply did not have enough depth to place the light far enough back so that it create shadow. So I had to scrap the idea of shadows and just affix the light to the top to just go with a “lighted” look.

Overall the project was a success and the resources at the Innovation House proved viable in creating art projects.

Stetson Startup Product

For the Stetson Startup Pitch we decided to build a computer which could sense both the moisture and the pH content of the soil including, then send that information to an android phone via bluetooth. This was done by using both a YuroBOT moisture sensor, an arduino UNO (from the sparkfun kit borrowed graciously from the Innovation House), a basic PH sensor bought from amazon, a HC-06 bluetooth transmitter and receiver, some resistors, and a basic breadboard.

The sensors were simply plugged into their respective ports on the ardiuno UNO, the bluetooth sensor was used in conjunction with a library found online with all the bluetooth commands needed, and then we found a simple potted plant to test all of our sensors.

After getting all of the sensors to work we calibrated them. For the moisture sensor we simply used the zero value as our lowest value, then to get the maximum value we placed the moisture sensor into a cup of water, after that whatever value we got was divided by our maximum plus our minimum. For the pH sensor we used the difference of the values received over out line to define our value. We then stated our minimum to be coffee (pH value of 5), which there was alot of at the Stetson Startup, and our maximum to be soapy water (pH value of 12). Once all of the sensors were calibrated we then stored the last 40 values and averaged them to display a simple smooth transition of sensor ouput values.

Our current sensor only gets the Moisture, and light amount; only because a pH sensor will slowly degrade over time, and the cheaper the sensor the faster it degrades and the worse the values will be.

 

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Above image is that of the current sensor with an arduino UNO.

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Our Stetson Startup team. From left to right David Edwards, Christian Micklisch, and Christian Casadio. Nathan Hilliard is not included, but was also in the team

 

Joystick Update

Continuation from Previous article.

The completed project

Final JoystickCloser look at housing

Unfortunately, my initial goal for this project could not be met, as I have continually run into structural integrity issues.  What remains however, it a large joystick that requires near full body motion to use, which is similar to my initial goal of creating a controller that allows the user to use their actual movements to navigate an environment.  As can be seen from the above image, the Fio v3 micro controller is wired to to the outer housing.  Inside each block is a potentiometer which in turn is glued to the dowel which is rotated by the joystick.  The base of the potentiometer is attached by two wires wrapped around screws to a metal bar.  This ensures that the base does not rotate, but only the top, so that it can more accurately measure the dowel rotation.

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The above images show how the joystick rotates inside the housing.  Both the X and Y axis are free to rotate, allowing the joystick to move in a full circle.

The joystick takes the rotation data and determines which key is to be pressed for the given configuration.  The key press is sent over the Serial XBee connection to an Arduino Leonardo with an XBee Shield (Seen below), which is recognized by the computer as a keyboard and mouse.  The Leonardo is then attached to the computer running the virtual environment program.  Once attached the joystick is able to send data to the computer and navigate the environment.

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The code for this project can be found here.

Innovation House Party (and Prize Award Event)

Next Tuesday’s Stetson Showcase provides an opportunity to announce the winners of the first round of the Innovation House prize and hold a brief party for ourselves. So I am inviting all members, their guests, and anyone else who can find the place to come by at 4 pm on Tuesday, April 15.

We will announce and recognize the winners of the prize.

We will have treats. Please participate in the following poll to select the menu:

I’m not trying to bias the results but if we pick the first menu, there may be dry ice to play with after the frozen food’s gone.

Lastly, we will have a new toy to play, with namely this one:

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So if you ever wanted to create 3D models freehand, or just stick stuff together with melted plastic, this is your chance.

Vote in the poll and try to let me know if you are coming (wball@stetson.edu) so I know how much stuff to bring.

Hunkered Down

I created this art piece for my Sculpture class Fall 2013. The project was to make piece from found/made objects that had a deeper meaning. I decided that I wanted to make my entire project from scratch and I wanted to use the 3D Printer to create some of the elements. I drew inspiration from my own life and ended up making a deeply personal piece. The name of the piece is “Hunkered Down.”

The supporting “C” frame of the piece is made of extra strength cardboard. I needed something that could stand on its own and support the weight of 3D printed pieces on top. I hand sew the 21 individual pillows and affixed them with hot glue. The two figures are 3D printed. I had to sand, spray paint a white base coat, and hand paint the figures in acrylic to get the look I wanted. The tree on top is also 3D printed, sanded, base coated, and hand painted. I found that sanding and applying a white base coat of spray paint is the only way to get the plastic to take acrylic paint smoothly. I wound rope to make the noose and made each individual tag on the tree from card stock and jump rings.

This piece is supposed to reflect the coping mechanisms children employ to shield themselves from domestic abuse. The two figures, one small and one large, represent siblings together making lemonade out of lemons. The pillow fort/bunker represents barriers children create to escape from all the bad. The tree represents family and on each tag hung on the tree is a word that represents parts of life that become corrupted when a child is not raised in a stable home. The noose around the tree simply means that family can be a source of great anguish and pain that could lead to death.

3D printer enhancement

My Innovation house project is the hardware portion of my research into extending the functionality of 3D printers. For further information you can visit the project website at ryanthecoder.github.io

Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2
Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2

Three dimensional printers have taken off in the past three years, and home models are now able to make intricate and interesting designs. As professional- and consumer-grade versions increase in popularity, extensibility will need to be addressed. This project explores the idea of expanding the normal 3D printer and adding a second range of motion. To test the feasibility of this I have built A electromagnetic crane attachment capable of inserting objects into a printed object.

Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2
A side view of the crane arm and how it goes into the printer

The crane is based of the Shapeoko machine but features several modifications includingi a enlarged work area, a lighter frame and most importantly an arm capable of holding several tools. The first tool implemented was the electromagnet but others could easily be used. Development has begun with the Makerbot Replicator 2 but will include other 3D printers in the future. Here is a demo of the two machines functioning together.

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Joystick Gaming Chair

The inspiration behind this project was to create an alternative controller to explore virtual environments, particularly to help increase the sense of immersion in that environment.  As an extended motivation, it can also be used by people who might not be able to easily use more traditional controllers, such as a keyboard and mouse, or a console controller.

This chair builds off of the work by SparkFun, and their design of a joystick, which implements two potentiometers to collect analog data about the rotation about X and Y axis.

Potentiometer

Using XBee Modules (seen below), the chair will be able to send the movement data over a wireless network to the main computer using a Fio micro controller and an XBee USB Dongle (Nickels for scale because no one ever uses them).

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With this, the joystick housing for the chair still needs to be constructed.  It should look something like the following which is based on the joystick listed above:

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I have decided that a series of wood, screws, and springs would work best to modify an office chair into the joystick chair.

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This chair model was chosen for it’s simplicity and the fact that it was not already pre-made, so it would be easier to modify.  Below are all of the materials I have bought to construct the joystick.  A few springs and hooks should work to keep the chair upright when not in use.  As it seen in the left image, the chair’s base is is not attached yet, so a new base for the joystick will need to be creates, as well as a new place to attach the original base.

 

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For wood I decided to go with Aspen for the planks (because it was cheap and the signs at Lowe’s said that it was good for furniture) and Popular wood (what ever that means) for the dowel, which will provide the actual stick for the joystick.  As you can see from the image below, the wood will need to be cut before it can be used.  Once the wood it cut I will need to print more components so that it will act like the joystick detailed above, as well as be able to use the potentiometers.

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For future, I will need to build the joystick housing and attach it to the chair.  I will also need to solder the components together where needed and finish programming the chair to work with the computer.

I will provide more updates once building begins.