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!

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”

Housekeeping

We’ve been doing a bit of work on the maker space lately, and this website too!

For the last several years, our website has been hosted on a VPS provided by Blair (thanks so much!) Now that we’ve got a reliable Internet connection at the makerspace though, we’re able to host the site from an on-site computer that’s already hosting the Valley Workspace, Dunedin Electric Bikes, and Quarantine Island sites, and some makerspace affiliated projects like Dunedin food truck tracker foodoo.nz. If you’re interested in how the Internet works, want to host a site, or have fun ideas for things to connect to the machine, just say the word!

As part of the website move, I’ve upgraded the WordPress install, and am planning to embark on a clean out of the Users (we’ve apparently got ~45k) and Comments databases. I’ll try to keep from deleting legitimate accounts, but if your dspace account disappears, just let me know and I can restore it.

Finally, some donated lights were installed last weekend, in the room adjoining the bike workshop, to light up that web server!

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3D printing in commercial products

I was recently tinkering with a thing at work, and was surprised to find that a couple internal parts of this thing are 3D printed using a printer of the same type we’ve got at the makerspace!

This is a Thinklabs One digital stethoscope, available for sale online through mainstream retailers for about $500USD. Check out the grey plastic ring around the blue part.

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