LEDs

Today at makerspace: we applied knowledge of sizing resistors for limiting current through LEDs, to reduce the brightness of this fancy nightlight! It was far too bright initially, but the hot air station at makerspace made it easy to remove the original current limiting resistor (R5 in the photo below), which was replaced with a higher-valued one. Thankfully, the case of the nightlight is held together with screws, so it all went back together easily and is now working better than new!

SLA 3D Prints

Please don’t look too closely at my keyboard

The first I heard of 3D printing machines was in the mid-90’s; I remember hearing of things described as “Santa Claus Machines” (perhaps this old Wired article https://www.wired.com/1994/05/santa-claus-machine/ had something to do with the name) which used computer-controlled UV light to harden a special resin. Dad bought a little bit of the resin, which I remember hearing was hideously expensive, and we had grand plans for making things with it, but we still haven’t got around to finishing the required CO2 laser’s power supply…

Fortunately, here in The Future, we can easily and inexpensively get UV lasers with power supplies, or even simple UV LEDs (remember, when that Wired article was written, blue LEDs were still a year or two away from Digikey’s phonebook-thin pages). The resin is still fairly expensive at ~$150NZD/L, so you’ll not want to be asking Santa for anything too big, but it’s approachable.

Of course, now everyone and their uncle has an FDM-type 3D printer, so dealing with the expensive resin and UV light isn’t so appealing anyways…

Except! SLA printers work really really well, and you can pay someone else to do the printing for you. Not even very much money – our friends at Dangerous Prototypes sent me the part at the top of this post (along with some circuit boards) for $3USD, and look at the quality!

Making the space for making!

Tonight, Steve was hard at work on building out the weaving studio in the garage area. It’s great to have the concrete floors available for this sort of work, for obvious reasons:

We gained a new tool in our computer toolkit: a USB-to-IDE/SATA hard drive adapter. This is something I bought for consolidating data off a pile of hard drives from several generations of old computers. It worked great for that job, but now that it’s done I don’t need it anymore – free to borrow or use it at makerspace.

Slightly less visibly – we’re a bit closer to having a new web server, which should be considerably quicker, quieter, more reliable, and more power efficient. Current plans are to provide it with battery backup via a Toyota-makerspace collaboration, perhaps with solar power at some stage! More details to come.

Car repairs at the VCW!

One of the perks of Makerspace membership is access to the 4-post car hoist at the VCW.

I just wanted to share a recent success story from this afternoon: a WoF revealed that my car needed a couple suspension bushings replaced – the shop doing the WoF quoted about $110 to do the job, parts included. As car repair jobs go, I think that was a reasonable estimate. But, I was able to get OEM parts for well under half that amount, and – using the hoist – easily do the job in about 45 minutes this afternoon including cleanup!

Lately at makerspace

We’ve had a few recent “Arduinos for Absolute Beginners” classes on, two at the makerspace and one at Hive – all have been successful and a lot of fun! I’ve found it particularly interesting to observe the different programming approaches taken by older vs younger students, and how well the different notification methods influenced people to bring USB cables and computers to the class :).

Last Saturday, we adapted and installed a fixture from the old location at King Edward Court in the Valley Workspace – the bare copper wires for hanging LEDs!

Next up is Learn To Solder night, tomorrow 18 May 7:30pm at the Dunedin Makerspace. Bring yourself (in warm clothes), and a gold coin koha or better your membership!

As usual, if you miss one of our events, either post on the mailing list or come to the next open workshop and we can often get you caught up.

Adafruit Feather M0 Express

The courier showed up today, with a really neat new board from Adafruit – the Feather M0 Express. It is essentially a break out board for the Microchip (formerly Atmel) ATSAMD21G18, which is the same ARM M0+ micro used in the Arduino Zero, plus a 2MB flash memory, RGB LED, and a LiPoly charger. It’s not too expensive at $20USD, nice and tiny, and I think could be a real hit.

Using the Feather M0 Express from Arduino IDE almost couldn’t be easier – just add the Adafruit Board Manager URL to your Arduino IDE settings, then install the “Adafruit SAMD Boards” – instructions at https://learn.adafruit.com/add-boards-arduino-v164 .

However, the really exciting new option available with this new board, is CircuitPython – Adafruit’s implementation of MicroPython. Continue reading “Adafruit Feather M0 Express”