Author Archives: Bill Ball

The circus comes to Stetson

Yesterday one of the Orlando TV stations did their morning broadcast from Stetson. They did short segment on Innovation House. Well, sort of, since they misidentified it as the “Invention Club”, managed to misspell the word “college”, and misidentified one of our visiting instructors from Sparkfun as a Stetson student. They also skipped the PDLork demo from Digital Arts entirely. I knew we would be in trouble when the reported asked for a current invention and didn’t know what a fitness tracker was. At any rate, the clip is here:

BTW: he had just learned what a planetary gear set is 30 seconds before air time.

Shop Tools and Shop Safety Workshop

The Stetson ACM chapter is hosting the following workshop on the evening of October 21st. Not only will it give you the chance to learn how to use the basic tools in Innovation House, it will certify you on safety so that you will be able to use them whenever you like.


Adventures in Vacuum Forming (part 1)

One of the intriguing pieces of equipment we have on hand is a vacuum forming machine (a Centroform Ezform 1217). It’s time to learn how to use it effectively.

After a miserable failure with some plastic from Home Depot designed to diffuse fluorescent lights, I decided to order some proper materials and give it a go with small objects laying about. Below are some pictures from this semi-successful attempt. The plastic is 0.03″ PTGCE-PETG, recommended as the easiest to start vacuum forming with. All of these parts were done on a single sheet, which costs about $3.50 per sheet.

The 3D printed octopus molded really well. I was concerned that the hot vacuum form plastic would stick to the PLA the octopus is made out of, but it worked with no problem and it preserved a lot of the detail. The brass hood from a soldering station also worked out fairly well, although you can see where the plastic didn’t pull completely tight around the bottom, probably because the sharp edges popped the plastic in the middle opening, resulting in a loss of suction. The piece of white coral molded ok but with a significant loss of detail. The wooden blocks show the limits of this technique–the high straight sides led to significant folding in the plastic.

Of course this was my first real attempt so I am sure it could have been done better.

We need to schedule a vacuum forming night soon. I’ll do that shortly.

vf1 vf2 vf3 vf4

Innovation House at Orlando Mini Maker Faire 2013

Innovation House organized the Stetson booth at Orlando Maker Faire 2013. Here is a gallery of pictures from the event. Once the faire got going, the Stetson booth was slammed with visitors until the doors closed. In addition to Innovation House members Ryan Howard, Michael Branton, and myself, Stetson was represented by Don Burrhus, Alicia Schultheis, Mandy Camp, Anja Erwin, Jack Fields, Karen Cole, and Grady Ballenger. The enigmatic Chris Gillespie failed to show, although he/she may have been in the stormtrooper uniform.

Innovation Class visits Innovation House

Dr. John Tichenor brought his first seminar titled “Life at the Intersection: Examining the Collision of Ideas, Innovations, and Culture” over to tour the facility and talk about the role of makerspaces in fueling innovation.


This is the course description for his seminar:

“What do termites and architecture have in common? Music records and airlines? And what does any of this have to do with healthcare, card games or cooking?” In this course, we will examine these questions and many more as we study and discuss how ideas and innovations come together in often-explosive ways. We will use a study of the Medici Effect and other works to challenge ourselves to see beyond our own current expertise and to actively approach new situations, including the first year in college, in creative and game-changing ways.

Dr. John Tichenor is Associate Professor in the Decision and Information Science department in the School of Business Administration.

Live camera added to Innovation House

I have added a live public IP camera to Innovation House (a Dropcam). This provides 24/7 coverage of the entire space. It also records all activity for a period of days. The camera is there primarily so members can see what is going on before making the long walk over. You can also use it to see if your print is finished (please do not leave the printer on all night). However since the camera also logs all activity to the cloud, it has a secondary security purpose. It has 2 way audio, but I am going to leave that off for now.

You can access the camera under the Live Cams page in this site’s menu system.

Dropcam also provides mobile apps through app stores so you could check the camera with your phone (it uses Flash so you probably can’t just use the browser on your phone). You will need to set up a free account with Dropcam to sign on to a mobile app. Create your account. Then open up this link and click follow: Then you will be able to find the camera on your mobile device

This is a public 24/7 camera so anything you do in there from now on will be available for anyone to see.

We are “Entrepreneurs” Find out Why

The past two decades have seen an explosion of entrepreneurship and much of it has occurred in the social sector. This revolution is fundamentally changing the way society organizes itself and the way we approach social issues. Stetson is looking for leaders to help in this movement. This is open to all majors on campus. Whether you are looking to start your own business, want to improve your career possibilities, or want to work for another firm, we believe we have a program that can help you in many ways. We are breaking the mold to make this possible.

We also need your help. We are looking for the founding fathers of several student-run groups to help with the speaker series, competitions, mentoring program, and any ideas from you. This is your opportunity to be on the ground floor and start something special.

Learn how to live your passion! We are holding an information session on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 1:15 p.m.and again at 5:15 p.m. in the Lynn Business Center (LBC) 222. Pizza and drinks will be provided. All majors are invited. Come by for a short presentation that may help you find direction to your future.

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

If you need more information about this event, please contact Dr. Gary Oliphant at

The Sparkfun National Tour is coming to Stetson!

They’re not a heavy metal band from the ‘80s, but even better:  they’re a band of engineers, hackers, and educators out to “plant the seeds of inventorship” on their 50 day, 50 state tour across the US.

On Friday, October 18 they will be conducting a day-long, very hands-on workshop on the Sparkfun Inventor’s Kit (SIK) at Stetson. With the SIK you will learn how to use the Arduino microprocessor to read environmental sensors, generate music, control motors and servos, make blinky lights blink and generally create new and amazing devices.

No previous experience in electronics or programming is required. This introductory, full-day and free workshop is open to all Stetson students. After the workshop 20 of the SIKs will be available for continued use at Innovation House on the Stetson campus.

Space is limited. Apply now to take part in this workshop at:

More information about Sparkfun and their national tour at:









Electronics/robotics components available for projects

Here is a list of electronics and robotics components available for your use at Innovation House. These items should not removed from the room without permission. You’ll have to bring your own usb cables where applicable. There are some power adapters in a milk crate.

We will be receiving 20 Sparkfun inventor’s kits on Oct 18 (

Meanwhile go nuts on:

There are also a couple small breadboards, jumper wires, some computer power supplies, and of course soldering gear.

The smaller stuff is in the white plastic storage units next to the 3D printers. The bigger stuff is on the wooden shelves.

I would like to commission someone to whip up a soldering fume extractor with a PC fan, 12v wall wart, power switch, and CNC cut body, all available in the room.