ModLab is the place to be


Last nights modlab was a blast (ModLab is the open house of ArtEngine the Ottawa HackSpace).

A newcomer made his first solder connection!

Lots of microprocessor and Arduino activity. An LED game of life. A controller for an autonomous quadracopter (in progress), a musical hat and much more.

Also the new laser was sitting around. This will have a lot of positive impact on the space I’m sure. Currently a solution for air cleaning is being looked at.

I had my drawbots running. I found that it runs nicely on 9v or 6v for motor power. You get .7A and .5A respectively. Quieter on 6v. Also we ran the same drawing more than once and observed some reasonable repeatability.

We actually made a happy face with the drawbot. Mike cooked up a happy face and transferred the data into the drawbot.

I attended a brief aftersocial at a Scottish pub but kept it very short and light since I was pretty bushed.

Bay Area Maker Faire

My friend Gary was at the Bay Area MakerFaire today.

Lots of CNC mills and 3D printers. inexpensive. maybe the best.
…and many more.

Several hackerspaces where you can rent space, tools. They are all over the place. Search online for one near you, or start one.

A place called . Couple places that recycle materials for classroom use:

We pretty much covered most of the territory. I’m sure we missed a couple things. Not enough time to see everything and pay enough attention to the most interesting things.

My favorites were the Bay Area Garden Railway Society, live steam model trains and . The latter does not show much on their site unless you follow the links from the “office” to the YouTube videos like this one: This is a water controlled Power Point Presentation. 😉 Made in an old suitcase from plastic bottles, bits of wood and hardware. This is a performance/puppetry/kinetic sculpture group, something a little different.

No airplanes. There was supposed to be a folded paper airplane guy, but we did not see him. Probably not very interesting.

Klutz was there, no RBPFM book.

He sent these pics so far.

Oh, and here’s a video:

Toronto Maker Faire!

Toronto MakerFaire is May 6th, 7th and 8th, 2011!

I’ve been to two MakerFaires so far and they are very interesting and fun!

Great for families too!

Marauder Extruder/Mill


I realize that it’s pretty involved to make even a simple CNC mill for cutting plastics and wood. There are nice open source projects such as the Mantis. But for some reason, there is still a high enough complexity that projects are not getting done in my community (despite the low cost of the project). Perhaps the functionality of these projects isn’t compelling enough for people to make the commitment.

So I am setting out to make an open source design that is both a CNC cutter AND a plastic extruder (like a reprap or a makerbot-cupcake (thing-o-matic)). It will have both an endmill and a spindle.

Here’s the plan as it stands (feedback, ideas and collaborators welcome!):

  • Marauder will have a work area of about 11 x 8.5 x 3″.
  • It will be possible to tote it around.
  • It will be based on inexpensive parts.
  • Construction methods will use common tools.

I expect to build many prototypes during the design phase. I’m supposing I’ll sell a few of them during the process.

I have no set timeline. I’ve been working on this for about a month.

Marauder is the current project working name. Naming the project isn’t a priority but I’m sure something will drop out of the process.



I was reading Makezine this morning and came across these pictures.

I thought they were very creative.

Here is an excerpt from Make:

Kyle Wiens, of iFixit, sent us the link to this photo essay from the UK Guardian showing Egyptian protesters improvising helmets in the heat of battle. Protesters are also rerouting power from street lights to recharge their cell phone. One twitter user jokingly dubbed this “Maker Faire Cairo.” Not to make light of what is a horrible and scary situation, but it is always amazing what sorts of “street tech” we humans are capable of improvising (for good or ill) under the most dire circumstances.