Category Archives: EMSL Projects

A Wax Coupler for EggBot

This tiny little thing is a new EggBot accessory that we call the Wax Coupler. Not because it’s made of wax (it’s CNC machined aluminum) but because you can use it to attach an egg to the motor that turns it, using wax, like so:

 

Aside: why is the base of the egg black? We’ll get to that below.

Once the egg is attached to the Wax Coupler, it provides a rigid attachment point that provides secure coupling between the egg and the motor. More importantly, the coupler+egg assembly can be removed from the motor and put back in place, without losing registration.  In machine tool terms, you might describe this as the process of attaching an egg to a rigid mandrel.

 

Wait– why would you want to do that?

Hardware 1 Pysanky eggs

Let’s go back a few steps. Last spring we introduced our Electro-Kistka for EggBot. A kistka is a hot-wax pen used in the traditional wax-resist and dye (batik) method to produce colorful eggs in the fashion of Ukranian pysanky, and this one is designed to work with a computer-controlled EggBot.

At the time, we noted that this process introduces a new problem, that of re-indexing the egg within the EggBot, after taking it out for dyeing:

It is harder than it looks.  While two-tone eggs are straightforward, we have found it to be challenging to precisely reposition an egg after removing it for dyeing. Thus, it takes considerable patience and experience to produce multicolor eggs with good registration between subsequent color layers.  We’d be interested in exploring better ways to do this.

Kistka-brush 7

One method that we tried (shown above) was to dye the egg in place, by brushing it without removing it. The results were mediocre: it worked, but the dye layers were subdued and blotchy. We also looked into a somewhat wackier method of dying the egg in place, by standing the EggBot on end, and using a collapsable bag of dye.

Which brings us to the proper solution: To attach the egg rigidly to a repositionable coupler with beeswax. Doing so allows us to take out the egg and dye it (coupler and all) and then easily index it back into the EggBot.

Continue reading A Wax Coupler for EggBot

555 Footstool for Sparky

Sparky the Blue Smoke Monster on 555

Adafruit just got a new chip for Sparky the Blue Smoke Monster! It turns out that our 555 Footstool is just the perfect size for the Sparky puppet they had made.

555-1508-1

As before, we cut the parts out on the CNC router from our original design.

555-1508-7

The parts were glued together and sanded.

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After assembly was lasering to mark and etch the notch, which we carved and chiseled to make it deeper than our previous one.

555-1508-13

The first layer of paint was primer grey, followed by black and silver. Once the body of the chip had a beautiful matte black finish, it went back into the laser for the manufacturer’s mark before a final protective coat of paint.

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It posed for a few pictures before heading off to meet Sparky, and we’ve posted them on flickr.

Sparky graphic side-by-side with IRL Sparky and chip

The original Sparky design side-by-side with the plush puppet and its new chip.

EggBot in Budapest

Kitti in Budapest has a thoughtful blog about her EggBot. She’s posting her experiences, modifications, and challenges. She is putting up designs on Thingiverse, starting with the Hungarian Folk design shown above.

My first design was inspired by my Mom. I told her about my plans to draw something in Inkscape to be printed on an egg later. She immediately ask if I am planning to do a Hungarian folk pattern.

We’ll be looking forward to seeing what comes next!

GeekDad on the EggBot

EggBot on workbench with daughter at computer

Mark has posted a nice writeup at GeekDad about receiving an EggBot as a birthday present:

It was the perfect gift for a GeekDad–something I wasn’t expecting and might not have bought for myself, but is so much fun that I wish I’d bought one years ago.

30 valentine ping pong balls

He used it for his daughter’s preschool:

In almost no time, I had a box of 30 Valentine’s ping pong balls for her to take to school. Her teachers were fascinated when they saw them and I was told had been debating whether we had somehow hand-drawn them all. The head teacher asked my daughter how we made them and she naturally replied: “No, a robot drew them!”

From the Mailbag: Long-term Lego Storage

1x8 flat - 5

This great question came in via email:

I was wondering if you are still using the Lego stacked storage system you blogged about 3 years ago?

We are (it’s actually been eight seven years since we wrote that post) and it’s still working well. Last time I went to do a Lego project, I was particularly pleased to find that our parts were still mostly sorted and easy to get at.

Evil Mad Scientist Valentines: 2015 edition

Lo Res Valentines valentines

For each of the last two years, we’ve released sets of “Download and Print” cards for Valentine’s day. The 2013 set had six equation-heavy cards, and the 2014 set was a set of six symbol-heavy cards.  This year, we’re releasing six new cards, bringing the collection up to a total of 18 cards. This year’s new cards feature love, hearts, and arrows (but no bows or cupids):

My love for you is real

For when your love is complex, but not whatsoever imaginary.

I love you more every day

For that moment when you want to express that not only is the first derivative of your love positive, but so is the second.

Our love is off the charts

(Just in case there was a danger of none of these being sufficiently cheesy.)

You make me glow

Not sure how we missed this one in last year’s set of symbols.  Alternate caption: “You light up my life.”

Solve for i

And what better way to say “I love you,” than with the gift of a math problem?

2015 Evil Mad Scientist Valentines
Lo Res Valentines

You can download the full set here, which includes all 18 designs from the three years (a 765 kB .PDF document).

As usual, print them out on (or otherwise affix to) card stock, and [some steps omitted] enjoy the resulting lifelong romance.

WaterColorBot as a laser engraver

Laser in place of paintbrush on the WaterColorBot

Our friend Schuyler posted on twitter that he got a laser working with his WaterColorBot. He uses the brush/up down function to move the laser up to defocus when he doesn’t want to engrave/cut.

Paperboard marked with the word Laser(s)

He even posted sample output: paperboard marked with the word “Laser(s)”. This isn’t the first WaterColorBot laser mod we’ve seen, but it’s the first with demonstrated output!

Lego Space Flight Jacket – 1 Year Later

CLS Flight Jacket 15

Last January, I wrote about how to make your own traditional painted-leather “bomber” jacket, in a tutorial about how I made my Classic Lego Space Flight Jacket. Since then, several people have asked us for a future update post, to see how well it has aged after a year. And so, here we are. After a year of regular use, how well are those nifty flexible leather paints holding up?

Continue reading Lego Space Flight Jacket – 1 Year Later

Fall in Love with Science in Texas

The Hill Country Science Mill is celebrating its grand opening on February 14th. It’s a new science center in Johnson City, Texas housed in a historic feed mill built in 1880 as a steam grist mill and cotton gin. This picture of their WaterColorBot is from a preview day in November. A “Fall in Love with Science” event sounds like a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!