For the green artist or inventor

Active Surplus

I found out about this place a few years ago when a random guy posted it on my facebook page.

I went to see it on a trip to Toronto and loved it. I was not into making things at the time and it activated some of my drive to do so.

Since then it seemed to have disappeared as I didn’t notice it on my trips anymore.

Thankfully they attended the Toronto Mini Maker Faire recently and had a booth.

They moved!

Documentary on Toronto Mini Maker Faire

They missed my table. Boo hoo. ūüôā

Makers: Mini Maker Fair Toronto from Ryan Varga on Vimeo.

Big Sushi

Big Sushi (388 Bloor Street West, Toronto) is a pretty nice restaurant.

But this promotional art work is so funny I can barely stand it:

Toronto Maker Faire, Sunday Pictures

Sunday was a warmer day.

I got a few excellent Squirrel flights. I always miss the good ones on video. Eventually a few interesting ones got onto the video.

Many presenters moved or left the faire and some new ones came.

Here are pictures from Sunday and a video:

Toronto Maker Faire Pictures — Setup

Friday night was fun.

I was especially fascinated by the venue (building) itself.

Here are a few pictures.

I’m compiling a video as well but it’s processing right now. ūüôā

Toronto Maker Faire Party

At the party now.

Internet works. Music is playing. Beer is flowing.

Makers are making.

Squirrel is attending Toronto Makerfaire!

Looks like I’ll be going to Toronto to present the Squirrel model airplane at the Toronto Makerfaire.

Visitors can buy tickets here.

I’ve presented the Squirrel model plane at two makerfaires so far. I want to come up with different stuff for showing it. Perhaps a banner or something. Any ideas?

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!

Dreaming about summer


I guess it’s time to prepare my bike for summer trips.

I like owning a bike because it makes short distance travel very accessible.  My Honda Shadow gets better than 50mpg in most circumstances. Even with city driving.

It’s also small enough to park anywhere. Between two cars. In spaces that are too small for cars. Walk ways, sidewalks and other stuff can also be even more convenient. For instance in Chicago you can park on the sidewalks.

To the right you can see where I parked for 4 days in Harlem. I should mention that the bike sat there (near Manhattan and 112th) for four days. I left some of my bags and contents on the bike. The bike was basically untouched. After returning to Ottawa, I parked on Bank Street for about 2h. When returning someone bent my mirror. I must say this is more evidence that New York is a much friendlier town than Ottawa.

Broadway in New York

Also this type of cruiser style motorcycle is quite quiet. People don’t notice you much. The police are disinterested as well.

Except once when I was cruising down Broadway and the police were on a binge to pull over every motorcycle. In this case there was a Dominican Parade and apparently they pull over every motorcycle the passes into lower Manhattan.

Police in New York are much more professional and friendly than our poorly trained forces.

This was a pleasant experience. I just parked the bike for 20m or so while they checked all my paperwork and ran whatever checks.

Apparently they had three different agencies there. Federal, State Troopers and City police.


There is a disadvantage with a motorcycle when it comes to comfort. It’s much harder work than operating a car.

On longer trips you need a gel seat. Otherwise you get a soar rear end like you can never imagine. When driving a car, you can choose lots of different ways to rest the weigh on your rear. On a bike, you will have one or two sets of foot pegs so there is only one or two ways to sit.

You wont notice this much till you are much over a 4h trip though.

I found this out on this run to Chicago from Ottawa.

I had no gel seat, plus I had not yet adopted a tank bag. That really helps when travelling in USA because of tolls. It really helps to have a glove box sort of thing in front of you for change. Also for refueling.

Near Pocono Mountains

The elements is another interesting thing. In the picture to the right, I was tooting along on a beautiful day about to pass through the Pocono Maintain area. It was so nice out I just had my light vented jacket.

Suddenly I saw what looked like dense fog again. I pulled over when I saw a huge load of hail in the ditch. There was a 1 km stretch that was covered in hail stones as large as 1.5cm.

Wasn’t any need to pull over I just wanted to marvel over the hail.

This wasn’t cold or anything. But rain can be very annoying for a motorcycle. I can’t emphasis the importance of having good equipment for a bike. You can’t wear ordinary jackets and stuff because they will flap (and fall apart) and will not have good airflow patterns.


The other thing is that you learn to live with very little storage.

I’ve added two leather side bags, a trunk bag and a small purse on the front forks for sunblock and a few tools. I have a couple of tank bags as well. The one on the right is my small one for local travel.

When I’m in a city I usually take the rear trunk bag off and leave that where I’m staying.

A¬†windshield¬†is also a good thing to have. I have a full size police style windshield. This will take up almost everything that comes your way. You wont have any issues with bugs or whatever’s out there.

Also, you’d be surprised how hard it is to sit up in the wind on a bike. The windshield takes up a lot of force on your behalf. On the down side, it will destroy your gas mileage. But I’m still well over 50mpg.

I think this summer I will use the bike for everything from Toronto to Montreal to Ogdensburg. I’ll use car and train for some other locations.

Mantis CNC router build

Toronto hack lab are interested in building this CNC router. I managed to come up with 5 people in Ottawa Artengine and OttawaRobotics so we will be making 10 of these!

Apparently the Mantis can be made for less than 100 bucks not including the controllers and steppers and such. I think this is a great project because it can do all sorts of cool stuff like cutting PCB circuit boards, cutting plastics and wood. What a great platform for learning about CAD, CAM, CNC and such. Not to mention going to town cutting things.

For steppers and control I have a 30V 5A power supply I picked up on the cheap on ebay (used). Also, I managed to find some nice Nema 23 stepper motors from an Ottawa Robotics member. The same member also sold me three controllers. The wiring came from the generosity of Guy of Ottawa Robotics. This configuration might be overkill for the project but I was already building a CNC mill so I have this stuff on hand. (The 4-axis controller you see in the background of the stepper detail is the controller for my CNC laser cutter).

I’m thinking of extending one of the axis of the machine. That might be interesting for cutting larger wood and platic parts.

Here is the BOM for one supplier McMaster-Carr according to Leigh who is championing this project:

1 Machine:   $170.74
2 Machines: $221.17 [$110.59 ea]
3 Machines: $271.60 [$90.53 ea]
4 Machines: $322.03 [$80.51 ea]
5 Machines: $372.46 [$74.49 ea]

The incremental cost per machine is $50.43, for any number from 2-5

Here is a breakdown of the BOM For the shared, and unshared portions

Unshared parts:
Part#        Description                            Qty    Price      Ext
60355K503    R4 .25" ID .625" OD bearing              2     4.71     9.42
2868T17      .625x.75x1" bronze bushing               1     0.93     0.93
9414T6       .25" shaft collar                        1     0.58     0.58
6061K108     .375x10" precision rod                   4     4.86    19.44
6061K422     .375x7" precision rod                    2     4.17     8.34
2868T72      .375x.5x.625" 863 bronze bushings       12     0.56     6.72
98935A817    3/8-12 lead screw 36" 2G                 1     5.00     5.00

Shared Parts: [for up to 5 units]
Part#        Description                                 Qty    Price      Ext
5234K72      Nylon/silicone tubing - 1ft                   1     1.01     1.01
94639A189    .09x.25x.3125" spacer [100pcs]            1/100     7.99     7.99
1817T13      5/8 O.D.-1/4 I.D. Delrin AF tubing - 1ft      1    14.60    14.60
90283A112    4-40x.625" flat pan head screws [100pcs]  8/100     1.56     1.56
92949A199    8-32x1" screws allen button head [100pcs] 7/100     8.05     8.05
90975A012    8-32 tee nuts [100pcs]                    7/100     6.74     6.74
90126A512    8-32 washer [100pcs]                      7/100     1.29     1.29
90252A104    #6x.75" plywood screw phillips [100pcs]  17/100     6.66     6.66
25345A42     ACME 3/8-12 Tap                               1    72.41    72.41

Whups… I forgot, there is an error in my BOM. The R4 bearing is incorrect. The bearings are supposed to be shielded.¬†The proper part should be: 60355K43 [replaces 60355K503] They are only slightly more at $5.10 ea from the 4.71 ea in the BOM.

Tom Burns (Dec 6) of Ottawa found a nice independent build log at

There is a much better BOM: bom-9

Tom Burns (Dec 8th) sent this link:

Project Update: I think the Mantis project isn’t really attractive enough for people to get over the time it takes to make it. The Toronto group didn’t actually do the bulk order for parts that they talked about. The Ottawa group isn’t really hot on it either. ¬†I decided to just do this on my own but not follow the Mantis plans. Instead, I’ll go to a slightly larger cutting area and a few other improvements. I’ve already ordered a pair of Nema 17, 3-axes systems with motors. They came without power supplies but I’ve already bought a supply for one of them. I’m still shopping for the second supply. I’m now working on some ideas for the linear bearings. I ordered 150 bearings from VXB to try some of the ideas I use on my laser cutter. I have a telephone meeting with a linear bearing sales person on Wednesday. They have some plastic bearings. I will consider that. I think I’ll publish the plans and have pinged around for a name for the project. Any ideas? Feb 6, 2011