Sunday, 14 July 2013

52 Week Maker Challenge Week 5

So this week I have decided to make a camera that I can position over my work space. This will help when making projects as I plan to have it foot operated. To so this I have got an Ikea angle lamp and a Microsoft HD Cinema webcam.

The first job was to remove the light surround, this is really easy to remove on the Ikea lamp. It just simple twists to remove it.

The bulb holder was then unscrewed. This was connected with a couple of nuts and bolts.

The wire was then cut to remove it, this allowed the wire to be pulled out. I tried to keep the parts of the wire as long was possible so I can always use the switch and the bulb holder again.

I will keep the lamp surround as I know a friend has an angle lamp in his workshop without one.

With the wire removed the adjustable end was free to hold the camera.

To fasten the webcam on to the end of the arm. To do this I had to drill out the camera mount and tap it, this allowed me to use a longer machine screw. I had to change the size due to the tiny screw that was originally in the camera mount (I changed it to the smallest machine screw I had M2.5!).

When the camera was in place it was free to move around to be pointed in different directions.

The cable was fastened in place with cable ties. This will keep it out of the way when it is being used.

To start with I fastened the camera between my monitors. This may change when I start using the camera as it may get in the way of my lamp, but until I try it I will and see!

Next I will make a foot operated switch, this will basically be a mouse with no movement and will allow me to press with my foot (when the cursor is over the photo button on the software).

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Fair 2013

So today I went to the Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Fair in London. This is the first time that I have been to a Maker Fair. I have seen the one in Brighton advertised, but it was always advertised as a mini one and I was not keen on travelling that far for a mini one. The full Maker Fair in Newcastle is too far for me to travel and be back in work for the Monday morning.

What are my first impressions..... I NEED A 3D printer!!! I hold my hand up... I had never actually seen one working! I am impressed! They were everywhere! This week I am going to look around at the different options that are available. I will not be able to buy one in one go, but I will have a look at the possibility of buying one bit by bit!

Walking round the fair I was impressed with some of the projects. I particularly like a set of hanging guitars. They had a pair of hanging contacts, that when touched the guitars made noise... pretty cool!

There was also good collection  of laser cut products. I do not have access to a laser cutter any more, but one day I want to have a go at bending materials with one! I really like the bent plywood! Such a cool idea.

I liked the little marble machine. Such as cool little project, the kids in my school would love this!

Another project I liked was a useless machine. This is a project I have been thinking about making one for a while. I like the way that the case has been cut out to allow it to be bent.

Another great project was an automated musical device. I hold my hand up.... I am not music in any way shape or form! I have no rhythm and I can not sing!  This machine could happily keep a rhythm though! Another project that the kids in school would love!


There was a wide collection of 3D printers and products! This has really inspired me to get one! I was impressed with the sheer range of products they have on show that they have made with them!

Also on show were some other products I really liked this water dispenser! I could quite imagine this in my schools staff room. Mind you I think it would look a bit out of place!

In general though I had a good couple of hours.... I have some ideas of things I want to buy and make as the inspiration seeds have been sown!

Friday, 5 July 2013

52 Week Maker Challenge week 4

This week for my fourth week I chose to turn a hard drive into a speaker. I got the idea for this project  from the book 62 Projects to make with a dead computer.

I started by taking apart a hard drive. I then cut the end of a 3.5mm to 3.5mm lead I had kicking around (I could have used an old pair of headphones if I had one). I then used the lead connected to a radio to find out which terminals made a noise when touching the terminals on the hard drive.

When I found the correct terminals I soldered the two wires in place. I then used a spare amplifier kit I had to make an amp for the hard driver speaker. The circuit was then glue gunned to the back of the hard driver. (photo to follow). When testing the hard driver speaker I found that it was very quite, but it did look cool! When I was testing the hard drive I had it on a cutting mat. I like the fact that this gives an understanding of scale. With my electronic area redevelop I am thinking of having this under the camera that I am going to set up.

The photo below shows the amplifier connected to the back of the hard drive, this was done with a liberal dose of glue gun glue..

The wire from the headphone lead was very thin. To keep this secure it was fastened in place with more glue gun glue.

The finished speaker looked cool, especially when the arm was moving as it played music. As the amplifier was very small, there was only a small amount of movement of the arm. It would be interesting to fastened it to a louder amplifier!

Maker Challenge Week 3

For my Maker Challenge Week 3 I spent some time helping a friend take down his wood store, move it and reassemble it smaller. This will allow his neighbour to complete some building work.

The first job was to work out how to take the old wood store apart. It was built really well so this was not a quick job!

The store was made from shuttering ply, it is raised up on top of a raised bed.  This allowed it to be next to my friends workshop.

The first job was to empty the contents of the wood store. It always looks so much more when spread out!

 We managed to get the frame a apart in sections. This would allow us to reuse the wood to make the new timber store.

 We kept the right hand side of the store together. This was then used to form the new back of the store in its  smaller incarnation.

The biggest pain was having to remove all of the old nails and screws!!

The panels were trimmed to size using a circular saw. This allowed quick reshaping of the the panels.

A new opening was made across the front of the store. This covers three quarters of the front of the store to allow access to the material.

To keep the wood dry it was quickly put inside. This will need properly sorting so that it can easily be accessed.

The roof was cut to side and then fastened back on. This will need a strip of roofing felt on the back of it to make the roof watertight for the British summer! Oh.... and the doors being put back on.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Week 2...... It started as an idea.

Week 2...
This week has flown by and I have struggled to find time to get in my workshop but I had an idea....... my idea happened when reading this months edition of make magazine (vol 34). There is an article by Kazuhisa Terasaki about using smart phones to control servos. Basically what they had done was write an app (Gluemotor) for use on an Android or Iphone that uses PWM (Pulse width modulation - signals go up and down) to make a servo move. They do this be connecting a small circuit to some old headphones plugged into a phone. The app then makes the servos move.

My idea is to use this app fastened to a pair of wireless headphones to some servos that are modified to continually rotate. If this works I hope to make a robot that could drive around. I have NO idea if this will work.... I will try and get into my workshop to find out... Just need to find some time to do this... its looking like a busy weekend!

So I have pulled apart the headphones. I cam across a problem that I have encountered before! This is the fact that I struggle to take photos at the same time as actually working on an object. The photo below shows that I am also having to work on the edge of my bench. The area that I have set up for doing electronic bits is just not big enough.

This is a panorama of my set up for electronics. Basically by the time I have two monitors, power supply, oscilloscope etc.. I have no room to move. So.... I am putting this project on hold until I have updated my work space!