Meetup report: 12 April 2018

Discussing deep maker things

Yesterday evening I hosted a Maker evening in my garage. We had some good discussions and even worked a bit on projects! The garage door was wide open most of the evening, so people had no trouble finding us. Nice warm evening.

Timelapse of almost the whole thing here: https://youtu.be/rVXQBAnWsEs

Discussions

Otto showed his very nifty 3D printer that folds up into an aluminium tool briefcase. He mentioned how much trouble he had getting the heated bed to work, since it’s a very specific smaller size. He first tried cutting down a heated bed circuit board and repairing/joining the cut pieces, which turned out to not work. Eventually, he built a heater out of nichrome wire with a 6mm aluminium bed that spreads the heat nicely. His mission for the evening was installing an inductive bed sensor. This required changing the firmware settings, which led him down a rabbit-hole of updating the Marlin version so that the newer Arduino IDE could compile it, and then figuring out what all the new settings needed to be. Not done, but good progress. Thanks to Luke for the tip about the older Marlin not compiling on the newer Arduino IDE.

Chris talked about his home automation efforts, getting his Raspberry Pi talking to his solar power inverter, as well as using a R600 gadget to measure water in his rainwater tanks. Interesting projects. Looks like home automation will be an ongoing theme, as I have some ideas for that as well. Otto has some entry control parts still to be done too.

Brad popped in for a short while, talking about the project to get kids in the Mitchell’s Plain area up and running on electronics projects. We mentioned Robotics Cape Town workshops as a great resource. We’re always willing to help too if anyone gets stuck. Very interesting project.

Luke talked about his latest 3D printer, an own design with linear rails, an H-bot xy top, and lasercut metal parts. Looks like an awesome machine. I’d like to see that in action, and also chat through the specifics of extruders and hotends. My 3D printer is due for an upgrade.

I had my pendulum wave set up and running, and managed to get the drawing machine to do one drawing before it refused to do anything else. That needs to be more robust.

I also managed to test a setup I thought of a while ago: When using the 3D printer xy stage as a vertical hanging hot wire cutter, the bottom of the hot wire swings around and causes ripples in the cut, since it’s basically a wire with a weight hanging free. I took a strong magnet, mounted it on the underside of the weight, and placed about 6mm of aluminium plate below it on the ground. The combination acts as an eddy current brake: It dampens the swinging of the weight very quickly and smoothly. This is a winner.

Lastly, I did get the 3D printer partly working. After a bit of oiling, the demo print (no extrusion, just the movement) works fine.

Future

Next week, I’ll see if I can upgrade the firmware and OctoPi for the 3D printer and actually do some prints. I’m thinking of doing some sort of bed sensor too. I also want to put Home Assistant on a Pi and see if I can do anything with it.

Takeaways

That was fun. I’m going to continue doing this. Anyone is welcome.

I need to take photos. I have a timelapse of the whole evening, which turned out OK, but no closeup photos at all. Ah well....

Home Automation seems like a big interest of quite a few people in the group.

That’s it!

Having a meetup in my garage

I’ve decided to start holding makers meetups in my garage. I announced it on Facebook on the Arduino Cape Town group and on Zatech Slack. Here’s some info, copied from the announcement posts:

Initial announcement:

Calling all Makers in the Stellenbosch area! I have a double garage, a bunch of tools for mechanical and electronic making, and Thursday evenings dedicated to building interesting things. Bring your projects, get some help and inspiration, and make things! This will be free and really informal. I’ll provide tables, power and tools. Anyone with enthusiasm for making is welcome. First meetup is this coming Thursday 12 April, 6:30 pm. Please RSVP so that I know how much workspace to provide.

Based on the questions I got, I added some more info:

This will be a regular thing, almost every Thursday. I will be tinkering then, even if no-one else arrives.

Anyone is welcome, beginner to pro.

You don’t have to bring a project, you can come just to chat or get ideas for projects. I might have a spare Arduino or Raspi, some sensors or lights, and breadboards available if you want to mess around with that, but no guarantees. Might be useful to bring your own laptop, even if you don’t have a project, so you can start researching one :)

Just to get the conversations started, I’ll probably have my pendulum wave set up and also will have the new, improved drawing machine with Jupyter notebook control set up. And the 3D printer, of course.

I have free wifi with 10Mbps uncapped ADSL.

If you want anything to eat or drink, you have to bring it yourself.

Bring warm clothes, the garage might be cold.

I have some parts and raw materials, which you are welcome to use within reason. This includes a bunch of scavenged motors and magnets from printers and harddrives, Solar cells from old garden lights, lots of foam, and random electronic parts.

I have a soldering station, drill press, small semi-working lathe and lots of hand powertools, mostly woodworking. Also a 3D printer, if I can get it to work.

My goal for this week is getting the 3D printer set up and working and getting the place in shape so that everything is accessible.

This is NOT the makerspace that the engineering students are setting up at the Launchlab. I’m planning on joining that and helping too, but this is just something I want to start and see where it leads to.