Part 1 of a continuing series…

 

If you’re a member of our Facebook group, you’ve probably already heard this, but we won a really neat tool!

 

It started with Mr. What (Aaron) emailing out to the members mailing list about the Inventables.com contest – they were giving away a Shapeoko 2 3D carving machine to a Maker Community in every state.

Shapeoko 2!

That message led to a back & forth flurry of others between members, officers & the board of directors, talking whether we should apply for it (honestly?  That was the easy no-brainer part!), and the best way to fill out the application.

 

We worked & worked, and edited & edited, down to the wire, and made the deadline to submit.  And we won for New Mexico!  Yay, Quelab!

 

That was last month.  Since then, Inventables contacted us with instructions how to actually get our hands on their magic machine.  Walter volunteered to be the point man, so it was delivered to his house.  I can’t imagine how excruciating is must have been to have that sealed box in his possession, yet not able to open it!  While everything is included, it comes as a kit, so there’s much work to be done in getting it all together & ready to cut.

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Here in the Southwest, we are entering Year 5 of the drought, and there are more firework restrictions than ever. So once again I have compiled a few ideas/links from my own head and around the net. Share and enjoy!

No fire crackers?
Buy an extra long roll of bubblewrap (or collect it from places that get lots of things shipped), put it down on a sidewalk or driveway and have a little bubble walking parade!

Milk jug rockets Got old snap top milk jugs? How about making little rockets for the tops, and pouring a little baking soda in the bottom, pour in a few table spoons of vinegar and snap the cap on, and stand back. (experiment option alka-seltzer tablets can work too, which works better?

Family Firework time
Youtube videos and a data-projector outside on your garage door! If you live anywhere really dark (or inside)and don’t have a data-projector, you can project a monitor using a cardboard box and a magnifying lens (those flat fresnel lenses they sell at bookstores work great!
‘Jellyfish’ in a Bottle
Check out this YouTube video, which while not super fireworky, it’s a fun bottled show.
Bottle Lightshow
Spitballs, waterbeads, watergems; whatever you call those jelly spheres that they sell for putting in flower arrangements and as kids toys… Put them in a tall thin plastic bottle with a few glowsticks or cheap LED lights (Dollar Tree has flashing color LED bracelets), then toss it around in the dark. The spheres all work as little lenses and look at how it projects on a wall in the dark!
Paper Straw Rockets
No Bottle Rockets? How about Paper Straw Rockets? Breath-powered and fire-free fun.
Fireless Sparkler Decorations
Try these Pipe Cleaner ‘Sparklers’
LED Throwies
LED, Tape, Magnet, and a disposable lithium battery turn into Throwies; these will glow for up to 3 weeks and can be tossed against anything magnetic (garage doors often work great). You can also collect them and tossed them over and over again!
Pringles-can Kaleidoscope
Check out this link to get the plans. Substitute Transparency material with the shiny side inside folded and taped into triangular tube (instead of their cardboard and foil), and use a Phillips screwdriver to poke a hole in the middle of the bottom for an eyehole). I’d suggest cling wrap over the open end and then fill with beads and confetti, and snap the lid on.
Water Balloon Launchers
Follow these instructions to get a world-class water balloon catapult.
Confetti Popper
Get an air pocket in the corner of a ziploc bag, twist it off once and hold it in your hand. Sprinkle in some confetti in the upper part of the bag and zip it shut keeping as much air inside as possible. Hold above your head and quickly squeeze the air pocket — it should quickly untwist and then pop open the zip lock spraying confetti upwards!
Glowing Magical Mud
Needs cornstarch (or potatoes), Tonic water and a blacklight. Watch the YouTube video for the results.
Black Snakes
(no fire,  but fumes and dangerous chemicals). Uses Sulfuric acid (concentrated battery acid) and Powdered sugar. This experiment should be performed outside or in a fume-hood. In a glass beaker or other heat-safe Pyrex container. Put a 1/4 cup sugar in the bottom, pour in a little sulfuric acid until the sugar is completely covered, stir quickly, then just sit back and watch the reaction. The sugar will change from white to dark brown, then to black carbon.

For previous year’s ideas, check out:
Quelab’s Fireless Fourth Links from 2013
Quelab’s Fireless Fourth Links from 2011

 

After making it part way through the dreaded calibration procedure for a delta 3D printer, it does not seem that bad. I tried to write a quick overview that may be helpful to some.

I am not done yet, but I am within +-1mm of flat. I hope that the autocalibration procedure will take care of the rest. I think that the residual error is from loose tolerance on my mechanical build. The solution would be to check the squareness of the frame, and re-print the diagonal bar carriages to be exactly the same. Mine were printed at different times with minor design changes, and don’t perfectly match.

Centering the extruder tip on the print bed is a matter of position of the endstop switches. This is very hard to correct with sub-mm accuracy. I may add a fine-adjustment screw to the carriages for these small adjustments.

 

People sometimes ask me ‘where does all the money go’.

Ok, People don’t really ask me that, but I figured I ought to show folk where things do go. The answer is “Rent and Utilities”. I was inspired by the London Hackspace’s “Cost of Hacking” page, and figured I ought to throw one together for us as well. So, here is the Quelab Cost of Hacking.

As you’ll note, we’re still short. We’ve still got a spot of reserve left from our Kickstarter, but we’re burning through it quickly. We have no employees, and none of the directors or officers make a dime off this project. A lot of the expenses after rent and utilities are costs of doing business; Credit Card fees, State and Local incorporation taxes, General and Directors Liability insurance, and the like all eat into our monthly income.

So how do we carry on? Increased Membership and more Workshops. Fifty-three sustaining members and three workshops a month is our break-even point until November, when our rent goes up again. We are on target to have sixty-three sustaining members by then, but we need your help.

Donations of both goods and services or money are gladly welcome. Quelab benefits if you shop at Amazon using our affiliate link, and if we do group orders of hardware from Sparkfun and Adafruit, Quelab gets the difference between the Retail and Wholesale prices.

But how else can you help?

Consider teaching a workshop on something you know. Quelab charges $15 per person for most classes, and the class fees come straight to Quelab.

Conserving energy (raise the thermostats, turn off the lights, coolers, and computers) helps as well, but not as much as telling your friends to come on down!

 

I have gotten busy, and not heard much from ACE. I don’t have tickets yet (guess I’ll get them at the door). I don’t know if I could bring the Dalek if I wanted to, without permission as an Exhibitor.

Quelab Red-Green-style Dalek confronts cut out of the Queen.

It has a blown transistor, which I have not fixed yet. I could just replace the transistor, but I’d like to try to improve the drive circuit to make this failure less likely to happen. I haven’t gotten around to it.

If anybody is interested in a last minute push for ACE, I can arrange to go over to Quelab in the evenings to try and get this done. I need to repair the drive, and perhaps work a little more on the aesthetics.

A local cosplayer is doing a push to have a lot of superheros in tutu’s. If you have or could make a tutu for the dalek, that would be awesome. A tutu might give me extra motivation to at least repair the current drive circuit.

 


There are some tricky aspects to working in wood. Since it is not totally flat, cut the stock just large enough for your piece, then stabilize with magnets. It can move with the engraving motion/vibration. Masking tape would have helped with burn marks/smears, but they can be removed to the desired degree with light sanding. I wanted to leave a little bit of the burn scars, I think they look neat.

 

We just found out — Quelab won a Shapeoko Mill as part of the Inventables 50 States Contest.

Inventables decided to give away a Shapeoko Mill to a Maker Community in every state, and our application won for New Mexico.  We have been told we should have the machine by the end of the month.  More details to follow!

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I have drawings for a 3D printer filament spool holder, in 5mm stock. 5mm plywood is common for furniture backing and drawers. This was tested on the Quelab laser cutter. See my blog for details.

The axle can be made from a short piece of electrical conduit.

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Announcing another member’s-only event: Friday, 25 May 2014. I will be sponsoring a Cook-out and movie night at Quelab. I’m bringing Space-themed movies, and food to cook on the grill.  If you also bring food for the grill or a side dish to share, then we can make it a party!

If you’ve been meaning to sign up for membership, then now’s your chance.  I’ll be happy to sign you up the night of.

Some of the movie choices, or suggest your own:

  • Mars Attacks
  • Apollo 13
  • October Sky
  • Mission to Mars
  • Iron Sky
  • Astronaut Farmer
  • Gravity
  • From the Earth to the Moon
  • …more?

 

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YelptropolisCome join Quelab and New Mexico Yelpers at Yelptropolis, May 8 at Sister Bar downtown from 7-9pm.

Following up on our stellar grand opening event, we’re going to be showing off our flavor-hacking treats with the folks from Yelp. Here’s their blurb:

Yelptropolis will bring an interstellar bash to Sister Bar with plenty of sights, bites, sounds and sippable delights that test the laws of modern man. There’s a lot happening behind these doors, you’ll have to experience Yelptropolis to believe it. Our Makerspace/Hackerspace partner for the evening, Quelab, is stacking the house with fascinations unforeseen, and you can experience what’s Next in the 505 with an array of modern magicians.

Themed threads aren’t required, but we’d love to see you costumed for your vision of the future, anything goes: dystopia, space odyssey, zombie apocalypse, we’re game. Yes, there will be prizes. While the event is totally free, please bring tips for servers and we suggest a $10 donation at the door for our nonprofit partners. Check out this list of contributing vendors and sponsors!

Click through to see our own Vice President Walter demo the flavor-hacking tablets on uPublic’s “Morning Brew” with Howie from Yelp!

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