The upcoming lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning will offer a rare possibility for some viewers: a selenelion. Some locations (east of the Mississipi) may be able to see the setting eclipsed moon and the rising sun at the same time. But wait, it’s an eclipse, so that means that the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the earth, right? Right. So you shouldn’t be able to see them at the same time, right? Wrong. The earth’s atmosphere refracts the light from both, letting you see the sunrise a little early, and the moonset for a little longer. A guide to what part of the eclipse will be in progress at sunrise at various locations is available at space.com. You might just want to get up before sunrise for this one!
The CandyFab 4000, 5000, and 6000 were three early DIY 3D printers that we built in the years 2006 through 2009. They worked by using hot air to selectively melt and fuse granulated media, and were capable of producing large, complex objects out of pure sugar, amongst other things.
CandyFab is no longer an active project — it hasn’t been for a few years. But the time has come to retire it officially and document its history. We have taken some time to write an in-depth article about the history of the CandyFab project, the different CandyFab machines, why and how they were built, what they were capable of, and the lessons that we learned in the process. Have a seat; we have a story to tell.
The CandyFab Project: 3D Printing in Sugar. Big, DIY, and on the cheap. 2006 — 2009.
Maker Faire can be a pretty demanding environment for a project. Outdoor locations expose many projects to the weather, prototypes may have been unpacked and repacked by the TSA, and curious visitors may handle projects in new and unexpected ways. Or maybe ambitions were greater than preparation time, and the project just didn’t quite get finished before the fair opened. No matter what the reason, Maker Faire is a great place to see people in action fixing, troubleshooting, and finishing their projects. Below are some beautiful projects I caught in progress at Maker Faire New York.
The FirePick Delta pick and place machine was a victim of the TSA, and arrived less functional than when it had been packed. The team was working on it valiantly, which also provided opportunities to get a closer look at many of the components.
Components not in use were repurposed for holding down business cards in the breezy aisle of 3D village.
The maker of this robot arm soccer game was opening up one of the control boxes to check on a malfunctioning knob.
He had no shortage of willing testers after the repair.
This half-scale 3D printer assembly was at least as charming in its disassembled state as it would have been all put together. It is great to see the components along with the kinds of tools that are used to assemble and repair projects like this one.
Gertie the robot had seen quite a bit of action, first at the Bay Area Maker Faire and then in New York. Her actuators were apart and in the middle of repair when we came by.
This let Alonso show us the mechanism and demonstrate how the internal frame worked to lean and make Gertie jump in different directions.
Maker Faire exhibitors are generous with sharing tools and materials with each other, and visitors are treated to what are typically hidden activities. No one whisks away a broken prototype to hide it out of sight. Instead, the guts are happily spilled out for everyone to see and learn from.
Last year, I wrote about a case of 3D printed parts being used for a vintage car. This year, another fine example of modern manufacturing and prototyping techniques being used for a vintage vehicle showed up on my doorstep when my parents stopped by during a road trip in my dad’s 1934 Dodge Brothers pickup
Passenger side mirrors on cars and trucks used to be a luxury, add-on, or aftermarket item— if they were even available at all. My dad’s truck never had one. In the intervening years, many states have made side mirrors a requirement, and having them makes safely driving a vintage vehicle much easier. So how did he get the matching one you see in the picture above?
He did what pretty much anyone can do these days: he had the driver side one 3D scanned, had a CAD model made up from the scan and then mirrored it. The model was then 3D printed and sand cast in aluminum. After some finishing work and paint, it looks fantastic.
However, geometry reared its head: it turns out that because the driver sits on one side of the car, a perfectly mirrored mirror mount doesn’t put the mirror in quite the right place. As a temporary fix, he added a standoff to correct the position of the mirror. After returning from the road trip, he’ll adjust the CAD model and have a new one printed and cast. Since the world of vintage cars is a close-knit one, he has already had requests for additional units from friends in the community, and making more will be straightforward from the digital master.
He’s had a few other components made using scanning and digital manufacturing techniques, including a laser cut insulation board for between the engine compartment and the cab. These techniques are a perfect fit for a community with low-volume needs for custom, unavailable, or never before made parts.
Maker Faire was a whirlwind of an experience, and here are a few highlights from our trip. Above is Wayne Strattman’s Nixie Rex, a giant scale handmade seven segment nixie clock. Each tube is about two feet tall. A “normal” sized nixie clock is on the table in front of it for scale.
This constellation quilt was made with glow in the dark thread by Haptic Lab.
Sometimes the simplest activities are the most satisfying. Contruction Kids let everyone leave their mark on Maker Faire by hammering into the wall of nails.
The Power Racing Series was joyfully providing great entertainment for the crowds.
Gertie the robot’s creator Alonso is demonstrating with an oversized model how the frame inside the squishy case can move around to make her jump in different directions.
There were many memorable moments from Maker Faire, and the ones we managed to capture with our camera are in this flickr set.
If you solder, you’ve likely come across an “untinned” tip at some point— that’s when the tip of your soldering iron loses its shine, and doesn’t easily wet to solder any more.
Once your tip gets this way, it doesn’t make nearly as good of a thermal contact to whatever you are trying to solder, and it simply doesn’t work well. Soldering can take 2-10 times as long, and that isn’t good for your circuit board, components, or mental health.
You can sometimes re-tin the tip by melting fresh solder onto it, but that can be challenging, because the whole problem is that the tip isn’t melting solder. It’s particularly hard to keep tips tinned with modern lead-free solder, because it needs to get even hotter to begin melting. If you get to this point, you might think about even replacing the tip.
But before you throw that tip away, instead consider using one of the “old standard” solutions, which is to refurbish the tip with a tip-tinning compound. And we came across the most classic of them in one of the most unexpected locations. Continue reading
AnnMarie Thomas has just released her book Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation. She interviewed many notable makers for this book, including Dean Kamen, Leah Buechley, Luz Rivas, and Nathan Seidle. I’m thrilled to be included in this group of fascinating people. It is available through Amazon for Kindle now, and paper copies are shipping September 25.
- Admiral Grace Hopper, on Letterman in 1986.
- The original “bendy straw” patent from 1937. Figure 3 shows how the corrugations are rolled.
- Marine sponges pump seawater through their bodies for efficient filter feeding. Here is a great visualization.
- MarcDuino, an astromech accessory controller, based on our ATmegaXX8 Breakout board
- Lovely laser cut and routed wood harmonograph kits.
- A spectacular moonrise video. Shot on planet earth, with careful planning, and without any tricks.
- Newly discovered: A desert plant that sucks the water out of minerals to survive.
- A modern, wooden Congreve rolling ball clock (via jwz)
- CMYK stackable coasters (via Gizmodo)
- Tom Lehrer’s New Math, illustrated in a video.
Next weekend, September 20-21, we’ll be at Maker Faire New York at the New York Hall of Science. I will be participating in the Making Makers panel on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 on the Make: Live Stage, and Windell will be helping out at the Let’s Make Robots booth and will be bringing along an EggBot Pro.