Thursday meetups so far

The past 5 months I’ve held regular Thursday evening meetups in my garage. Some notes about things and trends I’ve noticed.

Consistency counts

My way of announcing this does not reach everyone interested, but since I’ve been doing this consistently every Thursday evening, people pitch up. I’ve only missed a few weeks while away on vacation in June/July.

Make it easy

It takes me about 20 minutes to transform my garage from car storage to makercave, and about 15 minutes to move it back again. I used to move lots of things off the floor and had all kinds of extra tweaks. Not anymore. Tables, chairs, power, light and tools. All we need.

Core group

We seem to have turned into a core group of collaborators. Of course, I’m there every time. Steph (A learner, son of friends) is a regular, as are Otto and Jan (2 electronics guys from a local tech business). Apart from that, we’ve had a few semi-regulars who pop in. On average, we’re about 3-5 people.

Getting things done

Setting aside a few hours every week and setting a goal for those hours really helps the projects along. There’s always some other things to do, so having focused time is really useful.

Idea generation

Having people to bounce ideas off of is very helpful. No one has all the answers, and hearing different perspectives is very valuable.

Long-term collaborative projects

We have started order parts and materials to build a Maslow CNC. This would have been a lot more difficult if we did not have this regular face-to-face to hammer out the details.

Visibility

I think I’ve gained a lot of visibility in the local maker community. I’m terrible at putting my projects out there, but this gives me some nice exposure.

All in all, a huge win. Come join us! Contact me for the location.

Meetup report: 31 May 2018 (And the previous week)

TL;DR: Knock sensors, ATTINY85, Satellite antennas, huge 3D printers and some drawing machine stuff.

Successful lissajous test

Last week

First, a quick report on last week: Steph did the Arduino knock sensor tutorial, but it looked like his piezo element was not working. We tried a few of mine, but most were actually buzzers, which don’t work in this application.

Evert came by: He’s interested in an IOT project with remote sensing, so we talked through the options, paying attention to the power requirements of the different technologies. This is very dependent on the data rates and radio technology used.

I messed around with the 3D printer and started getting my drawing machine going.

This week

Hard at work

Otto worked on his portable 3D printer, getting some misalignment sorted out. He had prints on the SD card, but most of them were sliced with ABS filament settings. PET-G needs a much slower first layer, otherwise the extrusion just gums up the nozzle. The few PET-G prints he had were either too long (time-wise) or just simple calibration prints.

Sorting out the printer

This is a really neat little printer.

Neat printer

Steph got the knock sensor working using one of my (many) scavenged piezo elements. Yay! He then started setting up some of the ATTINY85s that he bought from me, getting the bootloader onto them using an Arduino as an ISP. He got the first one working by the end of the evening, nice!

ATTINY programming

Jan had some soldering to do. He is building an azimuth/elevation satellite tracker to get satellite coverage in a big chunk of the southern hemisphere for SatNOGS. Awesome project: https://satnogs.org/documentation/projects/

Tracker soldering

Cassidy came by and chatted about the maker ecosystem in Stellenbosch, as well as a HUGE (2.4m square build volume) 3D printer he’s been developing for a client. Some interesting problems you pick up at that scale: 6 kW heated bed, getting things straight and squared up over those distances, and making sure that the multi-day prints can be stopped and resumed if needed. Very interesting.

(Also had some interesting sports scoring application, nice project to work on)

I got the drawing machine working again. The whole setup is a bit finicky: It depends on the order in which things are connected and started. I really want this to be a bit more solid.

Clearly obsessed with harmonic motion.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening.