Monday, August 30, 2010

My living room (construction zone)

This is my living room this evening...

This is a shelf I'm building. The tan colored pieces are reclaimed from a pine twin size bed, the brown piece in the middle is one of the shelves.

I modeled the design in sketchup..

I didn't design it really, it designed itself. This was the best way to arrange the pieces of wood that I had. To get the maximum shelf.

I was concerned about the size and other furniture getting moved into our living I modeled that too...(I tell myself it was good practice since I couldn't build the shelf saturday because it was raining...)

I made the walls transparent because I kept getting stuck in them. :)

It looks like it fits in this picture, but in real life, in the room (being assembled) it looks Massive!

We are really looking forward to this new arrangement and having more shelving.

I was really hoping to be done tonight, but the rain fouled up my plans again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Simplified Mechanical System Part 4

There is one more important component.

What to bolt the brackets to?
How about a standardized grid of holes, of specified diameter...

Like this...

There is one more component I came up with early on. 
A cam arm. Cams are used to do lots of things and it seemed like it would be easy to model so...

So there you have it. The Simplified Mechanical System... 

I will soon send these models to Google's 3d Warehouse, and also post them here as well. 

I would love to build some of these components, but I haven't gotten a chance yet. 

This system would be particularly useful if you wanted to prototype something (much like the arduino). You could prototype in wood or plastic, then for final assembly build it in metal. 

It shares alot in common with Makerbeam and Contraptor and MicroRax and Vex and of course where I got my start mechanically... Lego Technics

Simplified Mechanical System Part 3

This is where it gets interesting. :)

We now have a shaft we can mount a bearing to and hold the bearing in place. Without any custom machining. But what holds the bearing? This does..

This is a bracket with a bearing placed in it. 

Here are two brackets capturing a bearing..

You then can hold the brackets with a stationary bracket..

But there's another type of bracket that is useful...
The axle bracket.

This bracket has the 8mm D-profile cut into the middle. This bracket can either hold a shaft stationary to your assembly. Or it can engage a shaft that is made to rotate smoothly by riding in a set of bearings..

Such as here in my trebuchet model. 

But either of these brackets can be used for yet another purpose. Given any gear or pulley. If you can center it up properly and drill your holes right. You can bolt any gear or pulley or sprocket to one of these brackets. 

The possibilities are endless. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Simplified Mechanical System Part 2

Secondly we need a shaft/axle that will work for the following functions (as mentioned previously)..

1. They hold components where they need to be.  But they also need to be held in place on the shaft.
2. Shafts give various components a common rotational axis.
3. Shafts transmit motion from one component to another

Let's tackle number three first.

A D-profile shaft will allow components to spin on the shaft, as well as being able to transmit power. Also its easier to go from a store bought shaft to a d-profile, than it is to put a key slot into the shaft. 

But this still doesn't place a component somewhere along the length. 

This is where standards come in again. If your components could be a certain thickness, then maybe we can avoid making a custom shaft, a common design will do for many different setups. 

We can cut concentric slots in the axle of specified width with specific spacing, then we can make our component thickness match those measurements. 

Like this..

Then E-clips hold the components in place along the shaft. 
Kinda like this..

Simplified Mechanical System Part 1

I had an idea. 

I was talking to my brother and as I talked I was frustrated at how hard it was to build things. The biggest problem in my opinion is. Everytime I want to build something, it pretty much always involves some kind of shafts. 

Shafts have several functions: 
1. They hold components where they need to be.  But they also need to be held in place on the shaft.
2. Shafts give various components a common rotational axis. 
3. Shafts transmit motion from one component to another 

If you want to place a component on a shaft and have it perform reliably, it needs to be held in place on the shaft. If you want a component to spin smoothly, then you need a bearing placed on your shaft. The bearing needs to have the same inner diameter as the shaft's outer diameter, within a few thousandths, if not things will vibrate and wobble and all kinds of problems. Most shafts get stacked on with a different diameter for each component. Thats alot of custom machining. 
Borrow from: Wikipedia
I don't have the resources to machine custom shafts each time I have an idea, and I'm not alone in not having them.

Bearings are the next big problem. Some things need to free-spin on shafts and some things need to be engaged on the shaft. Again with each component needing a different inner and outer diameter. 

What's needed is a standard, a system. 

Kinda like the Arduino. Standard shields fit standard sockets with standard pinouts. It works for electronics, it works with Personal computers, PCI cards fit in PCI slots. Serial ATA drives plug into Serial ATA cables. Standards make building things (relatively) simple. (USB has got to be the best example Ever!) 

Then I realized. I've used skate bearings in several things. Skate bearings  are ubiquitous and standardized. Here you can get 100 for $35, $0.35 a piece! 

They have an exactly 8mm inner diameter and 22mm outer diameter, they are 7mm thick. But they don't come with any mounting help, no flange, no bearing block...

So an 8mm shaft will mesh up into a skate bearing exactly. 
Skate bearings are perfect for a simplified mechanical system...

Three Tips To Try From Lifehacker

Here's three tips from lifehacker, I want to share them in case anyone else needs them, and maybe try them myself one day..

I keep almost every chord I acquire, just because it sucks SO BAD to buy them. You buy a $10 network card and it comes with a 12ft Cat-6 cable. Goto bestbuy looking for the same cable $17 (IIRC). It's insane to buy cables...

My wife loves coffee so I have as many coffee grounds as I could need...

I will be trying this one sooner rather than later. It always annoyed me to actually have to install TweakUI

There that frees up 3 more maybe my computer can actually run from the ram rather than the virtual memory ('s windows it can't do that)

I'm dreaming right?

This can't be real...
The jetpack is finally becoming a reality...
This is just amazing..
Martin Jetpack Final Testing

Gotta say it looks pretty good too...
I hope next time I goto an airshow someone will be demonstrating one of these. :)

Another Video Game Replica

These replica guys really know how to make things look fantastic. This time its a Mass Effect assault rifle...

Found via: Hardocp

Rustic Mallet How-To

We recently stayed in a very rustic log cabin for our vacation. It was great. But I don't necessarily really  "Get" the rustic thing, the mindset. Doesn't particularly appeal to me, in and of itself.
This does though..

This mallet is a pretty cool little project that I would like to undertake..

Problem is logs of these hardwoods aren't just laying around everywhere in lower alabama like they are most places. Here everything EVERYTHING is Pine. I think my best bet would be to find some hardwood pallets and carve some mallets out of that material. I think I will get some branches/logs and stow them in the top of my shed to let them dry then maybe attempt this....

Found Via Make:Online

I also found another neat little workshop project on her site. Non-skid boosters..

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CNC Hacking

Thats hacking, as in building things...

Peter who works with Reprap has had two blog posts come across my screen lately...

First his entirely laser cut rack and pinion cnc axis.

Although having something cut with a laser cutter or cnc'd is still out of my reach (not by much). This does lower the bar for making a repeatable cnc machine significantly..

But there are still cheaper/easier options... And thats what his more recent post shows..

Reciprocating Laser Cutter

There's two innovations here. The use of Optical disk drive carriages makes for a low power and small scale axis. This uses three. 

Secondly he's using a low power (for a cutter) laser. It's a 1watt unit. He's reciprocating the laser on the Z axis to move the focal point through the material. Giving just enough heat to melt some plastic and cut a part. 

If Peter gets a chance to read this. I'd just like him to know I'm impressed and I have plenty of old cd-roms if he needs more. 

Robot Arm Turned Into F1 Ferrari Simulator

Robot Arm F1 Simulator
Via: Hackedgadgets

This is a very complicated hack, looking into simulating the extreme acceleration of an F1 car. Looks like the ULTIMATE video game console to me!

My cousin was designing his own motion sim but somehow I dont think a KUKA robot arm would fit in his budget (or his garage). But I do think this one has the heave axis covered. :)

Hidden Home Theater Computers

A while back I was reading Computer Power User (I think) and they had a little sideboard about Orange Amps. An old company from the UK that makes guitar amps. They had a new product that meshed a computer into the back of a guitar amp. Here look, it's genius...
Orange Amps PC division website
This is a really really good idea. My friends in production tell me its pretty hard to get a computer hardy enough to meet the demands of stage and recording. Even after you've picked a PC then it needs a case that is ok with being kicked and generally abused. Most choose the hardened but limited choice of using a laptop.

So the orange amps pc is a great solution.

This got me to thinking...they are just putting a PC in a big speaker box. What if I did the same. Maybe I could get an old busted amp and place a PC inside. It would look better than most other solutions for the living room or what not.

Which made me think of an even better idea...

Home theaters need subwoofers. Subwoofers are usually in big wooden boxes and made to look good for the living room/media room. What about getting an old sub and using the box. With smaller computers you could even place another..smaller sub inside the old sub box and have a Sub+HTPC.

Well...of course, before I could get all this written down and posted (or built then posted would have been even better) someone built almost the same thing..!

Hidden Home Theater PC from Lifehacker

This is a really good implementation.

I would like build something a little more space efficient, and in a subwoofer day... 

Sketchup Ruby Scripts

I've been designing some things in sketchup...
It's been a struggle at times.

Today my friend Ben told me how he was getting a ruby script to add-on to sketchup.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go through the trouble.. Then I find this..

The Engineering Toolbox

This plugin adds standard and custom parametric components that you can add to your sketchup models. Things like piping, I-beams, standard bulding lumber and so on...

I found that plugin Via Ruby Library Depot. Which literally has hundreds of sketchup ruby plugins...

Two of note to me are Tomatoes and Woodwork both of which should make designing cabinets and desks and other such furniture and fixtures MUCH easier in sketchup. :)

Fallout 3 replica weapons

Fallout 3 replica weapons

These video game replica guns look fantastic! Now if they only worked.

Via Make:Online

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What does it Do!?

A while back I had an idea for greatly simplifying mechanical design, but everyone I told about it (with 2 exceptions) just said "What does it do though?" to which I said "Anything!". Which didn't make sense. So then I set out to draw this idea in sketchup and to make an assembly that can "do" something.

I finally completed that model.

Here's a pic.

Come to think of it, it was December when I had the idea. 8months is WAY too long for something like this.

I will be detailing the how's what's and why's of this system here in my blog in coming weeks.

Stay Tuned...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

R/C Wipeout

As usual this is something I've often wanted to build. But someone beat me to it with a couple of really cool twists.

I've always wanted to build an remote control car with a camera mounted on top. But I never thought to build a cardboard clone of a Wipeout (video racing game) track to race the car on. And I never thought to hook up the controls to an arcade style cockpit and drivers seat. This is genius!

Make sure you don't miss the video! (love the music)

I think maybe I should find an art grant somewhere and really start building things...

Monday, August 02, 2010

You can now actually build a UAV!

This is a incredible project, maybe even a little scary.

Its a processor and peripheral board that can control a remote control plane. Same as the military has. But this board and its software are open source and available for a rather low price (for what it is).

Also: I've bought some things from Sparkfun before, their service was really good!

Open Source Graphing Calculator

Really less of a dedicated calculator platform and more of a handheld linux computer with a touchscreen interface.

This graphing calculator is built using a beagle board a particularly well apportioned open-source single board computing platform.

I personally wish for a calculator with gigahertz class processing (like the beagle board) and easy to use software (like the ti-89).

Not that a format like a kindle or i-pad wouldn't work just fin. It's simply a matter of the software.