Laser Cutter Software Upgrade

November 5, 2017 3:57 pm

Space ornaments made with our laser cutter

Our 80W CO2 laser cutter is one of the most popular tools in the makerspace. Last month it suffered an unfortunate control board failure. Rather than buy an identical control board, we saved money and embraced an opportunity for improvement by switching to lower cost open source solutions that allow for a lot more customization.

If you’re an authorized laser cutter user you do not need to re-take the authorization class. The fundamentals of laser cutting haven’t changed – you need to know about graphic design, material usage, and fire safety. You can re-take the class if you want. I tell everyone who takes laser cutting basics that they can sit in the back of future classes for free, forever. But you can also just review the Wiki Page. The “Workflow” section has a brief outline of each step, and also contains a link to a presentation with step-by-step screenshots. The screenshots have been printed off and are stored in a 3-ring binder next to the laser cutter computer.

LaserWeb version 4

A few key changes to note:

  1. LaserWeb accepts *.png, *.jpg, *.jpeg, *.bmp, *.gcode, *.g, *.svg, *.dxf, *.tap, *.gc, & *.nc. There is no longer a need to convert your vector files to DXF, and your SVG files can have raster files embedded for engraving.
  2. We can now do 3D engraving – a range of power settings depending on darkness of the image.
  3. Power settings have changed. Try a lower power than what you’re used to. Power can now be set down to 1%. We’ve found that 6mm sanded plywood cuts at 30% power, speed 15mm/s.

One other new thing this month: we’ve added a reservation calendar to help schedule times to use the laser cutter. You don’t have to have a reservation to use it, but this makes it much easier to set aside time, meet friends to collaborate, or just know that you can make a deadline on a project. Be sure to check the calendar before you start using the laser cutter to make sure you’re not running into anybody’s reservation. If you’re in the MakeICT google group, you can add reservations yourself.

If you’re a new user, or if you just want a refresher, head to http://makeict.org/calendar for the latest class schedule.

Ceramics Gallery Show Highlights

October 28, 2017 12:26 pm

September Gallery Show – Ceramics

From the Electronics Lab: Our Transistor Tester

October 16, 2017 11:19 am

At first I was thinking of doing a blog post about the multimeter, but instead I choose this guy the QS2015-T4. Fairly unassuming and in a box that might be marked “transistor tester”. Amongst the arduino and sensors, this clever guy a ATMEGA328P with some neat firmware. On the front is a screen, and a socket and a button that does stuff. Pictured here it’s interrogating the transistor we use in basic electronics. So how do you know which way to put it in the socket? You don’t, and you don’t care.

12864 Mega328 ESR

There is a 1, 2, 3 on the board next to the socket . Make sure you have a different pin in a different socket number. See the 1s at the end? All connected together. Check out the screen though. There is a 1 by the G, a 2 by the D, and a 3 by the S. It told us which pins are what. Pop in the part, push the button It figures out the rest technomagically.

Check out where it says C=1.37nF. That’s a capacitance isn’t it? It reads capacitance too. You suspect a cap being bad you can pop it in this bad boy and it will tell you what the capacitance is. I’m not saying it’s NIST traceable, but if you want to make your 555 timer wiggle and need to check that cap? This do that. Resistors, Diodes, Transistors, inductors. Put it in the socket, push the button, and there ya go.         It does have some limitations. UV LEDs for instance have a high enough forward voltage that it thinks it’s a resistor sometimes. Linear regulators don’t play nice. But if you pull a resistor out and the red looks a LEEETLE orange… or if you just don’t feel like googling what the bands are. It’s way easier to use the transistor tester than to try to balance the Multimeter probes on the resistor leads.

We have another transistor tester, a red one with fewer capabilities, it works a lot the same way. But when Jens Torrel donated this guy I liked it so much, I bought one for myself. If you are just starting out in electronics, there is a different model I recommend. That’s just because it has a bunch of other stuff it can do as you go further into analogue electronics. The QS2515-T4 is perfect for the space because it’s easy to use, tells you what you want to know at the touch of a button, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and frankly, there isn’t really another piece of equipment that does what it does in there. It really is a thing that does the thing.

Make Crazy, Make Safely
JAS

All the tips for joining MakeICT

September 22, 2017 9:11 pm

If you’re a creative person visiting MakeICT you might immediately want to know how to get in and start making. We share your enthusiasm! We have fantastic tools and an amazing community of teachers and experts to help teach you. Showing up is the first step, but getting trained and familiar with our resources can’t happen in an hour. Sometimes new visitors get overwhelmed. We have the shortest explanation on our how to join page, but here is the long form: all of our recommendations for getting on board and making use of MakeICT.

Our key applications

Members can apply for keys that grant them 24×7 access to the space. There is no “half time” key or “you can’t be here by yourself” key – there’s only the 100% key, so we don’t issue it first time you walk in the door. You can get a key within your first month or even first week if you visit a few times. You need to fill out an application and have six other members sign it. We’re a co-op, so it’s important for us to all be able to talk to each other: your key application proves it. It’s a great opportunity for you to meet some people in the space! Printing out a key form and bringing it around with you when you visit the space is a smart first step if you’ve just become interested in MakeICT, even if you haven’t officially joined yet. For more information about our key policy, visit http://makeict.org/wiki/Standing_rules#Key_Policy

Orientation

Attending Maker Monday orientation is a requirement for a key as well. You’ll get a tour of the space and meet our leaders to ask questions. Orientation is exciting; in our 7,000 square feet there’s a woodshop, metal shop, fabrication lab with 3D printers, a laser cutter, artist studios, textiles area, ceramics room, print shop… a lot to see! Hopefully you’ll leave with a good feeling and a starting point for what to jump into first.

Safety classes

Safety classes are required for use of the metal shop, wood shop and laser cutter. If you know you’re interested in these items, watch the calendar for classes. You can take a safety class even if you haven’t joined or attended orientation, getting one of these under your belt is a great way to know that you can use the space. There is a discount on safety classes if you are a member.

Public events

MakeICT has other public events besides orientation that are great to jump into. Maybe it’s area-related, like our monthly textiles tribe or Tuesday ceramic nights. We have casual social meetups like game night and parties. And of course there are always chances to volunteer for our kids or community events. Pay attention to the calendar and forums to see where to join in.

Paying dues

At any time in this process, you can pay dues! You have to pay dues for us to accept your key application, but you can do everything else – gather application signatures, take safety classes, attend orientation and public events – before you officially join. Dues are $25 a month and can be paid monthly, every six months, or every 12 months. Paying members receive class discounts and the money paid in helps with our mission to unite Wichita’s technology and art communities.

Ready to make!

When you’ve gotten to know us, attended safety classes, paid your dues and have your key, you’re as “in” as anybody. The road to being a MakeICT expert is a pretty short one, but there’s always more to learn with new tools coming in and classes on the calendar. You’ll know some of your fellow members by this time so you’ve got the go-to names down for just about any question.

But the real thing to know is this: your onboarding process is whatever you make it. You can change the order up – take some classes before you even go to orientation. Gather key signatures before you pay dues. Get to know us before you take classes. The order is up to you. We’d be happy to help you figure out the right process if you’re stumped, just let us know more about your schedule and we’ll be happy to help.

The Art of Painting Rocks

September 12, 2017 4:46 pm

Have you been painting rocks? Wichita has embraced this trend in full force and MakeICT has held several events this summer to encourage this accessible, popular, artistic past time. The idea is simple: paint a rock with colorful pictures or words of encouragement, then hide it out in the world so it can bring joy to someone random who happens to find it.

In June we invited members of the ICT Area Rocks group to our space for a public art night, and they came out in force. We had rock painters in every room of the space! It was a little hectic, but we were happy to show so many people through our open doors.

After the success of this event we decided to scale back for future workshops with a return to our normal registration required/class size limited format.

Rock painting has literally been around for centuries, with rocks and caves service as canvas for early humans 40,000 years ago. For some reason in 2017, a few popular movements started catching on. One of these is the kindness rocks project, a blog that started in 2015. Google trends shows the keywords hitting big this summer:

If you want to paint rocks, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1) Our favorite places to get a lot of rocks are landscaping companies. The Sod Shop at 3601 N Hillside has been very nice to rock painters, donating rocks for our events and kindly letting all kinds of shoppers fill buckets of rocks for less than $10. Bring your own 5 gallon bucket. South side Wichitans report that Andrla’s at 1501 W 55th St S is another great source. And of course, if you’re just a casual painter getting started you can find rocks on your own property or a friend’s to try out. Just don’t steal rocks from landscaping of local businesses without asking permission.

2) Our favorite places to get paint are hardware or big box stores. Craft stores have a great selection too but are more expensive, even with those tempting 40% off coupons. Acrylic spray paint is an easy way to start a basecoat but it takes a while to dry. You can also use craft paints for your background. Some people smooth out cavities in the surface with wood filler or clear spray before painting.

3) Don’t worry if you’re not an artist – anyone can paint rocks! Faces, animals, symbols of our city, foods, cartoons, or inspirational messages make for fantastic rock art. Sharpies or paint pens are nice for finishing touches. If you use pens be sure to coat over your design with modge podge so any sealing sprays you use don’t run your colors. A clear acrylic sealer spray to finish it off makes your design permanent.

4) Labeling your rock is a fun way to let others know what’s going on. Use just a hashtag like #ICTAreaRocks, or a whole message… “A kindness rock has found you! Keep it for today then hide it again, find us on facebook at ICT Area Rocks.” Some families use their own hashtags so they can easily search facebook, twitter or pinterest to see who has found their rocks. There’s a printable PDF with lots of label sizes in the rock painting group.

4) Finally, go hide your rock. Our favorite places to hide rocks in Wichita are:
– Keeper of the plains
– Douglas Street
– Riverside park
– Sedgwick County Park

But you can hide your rock anywhere where rocks are found. If you hide your rock in a more out of the way park, it’s more likely to be found by a random person than someone out on a rock hunting mission – so it’s totally up to you. Just don’t hide rocks in grass that gets mowed. Mowers and rocks do not get along and we’d hate for either to get damaged.

You might see your rock re-posted on social media, or you might not. To be a rock painter is to learn the art of letting go. It’s totally altruistic – something you’re doing, knowing that you might not get anything back in return. Along the way you might get better at drawing your favorite objects, and you might come up with some quotes that inspire you. Maybe your rock gets to live in someone’s house and bring them inspiration, maybe it travels around the world, since it has no expiration date there’s no way to know what its next journey will be.

We hope this trend continues, since we support anything that gets new people into creating art. Check on our calendar or events page for more painting opportunities at MakeICT.

2017 Solar Eclipse Recap

September 5, 2017 7:34 pm

This year Wichitans were within traveling distance of a total solar eclipse. A coordinated road trip of MakeICT members went up to the Crane Trust Nature Center near Grand Island, Nebraska. The weather was beautiful and traffic was light. Special thanks to James Lancaster for organizing the road trip and putting together an informative class on safe solar eclipse viewing and photography. James is involved in the Lake Afton Public Observatory in addition to MakeICT and we’re looking forward to growing our partnership with them.

MakeICT members safely viewing the August 21 2017 Solar Eclipse.

 

Here are some photos by our vice president James Lancaster.

August 21 total solar eclipse photographed by James Lancaster, MakeICT

 

August 21 total solar eclipse sequence photographed by James Lancaster, MakeICT

The next total solar eclipse within easy traveling distance of us will be April 8, 2024.

We also learned some lessons worth passing along about solar eclipse glasses. In late July we noticed solar viewing glasses were hard to find in Wichita, so we ordered 500 pairs from NASA-recommended manufacturers. We mentioned on facebook that we had the glasses on August 1, and about 50 were picked up at that first maker Monday. By August 10 or so we still had hundreds of glasses, so when a local business asked us for 200 pairs for their employees we jumped at the opportunity and our fundraiser was complete. That’s the week that everybody in Wichita seemed to realize they needed eclipse glasses and we were inundated with phone calls! So less for everybody next time: get your eclipse glasses a couple months in advance. They last a long time – more than the three years that the older ISO standard recommended. We are currently collecting glasses for Astronomers Without Borders. If you don’t want to save your glasses, drop them in the box on the front glass cabinet.

September Updates From The President

3:39 pm

Welcome to September! This email has more volunteer sign up forms than any email ever, so if you’re a new member wondering how you can get to know people at MakeICT, pick a thing! Maybe you joined MakeICT to make your own stuff – I know I did. But I quickly learned that I am smarter and a better maker if I’m friends with makers. You know what I mean – those people who just SENSE when you’re confused about a tool in the woodshop or your Inkscape design isn’t matching your vision at all? I got to know those people through attending events and volunteering. Well now that I’ve started off about my personal abstract about journeys, let me get to our highlights. – Kim

September 28th General Meeting and Chili Cookoff

Remember the annual meeting was so fun, we voted something along the lines of “we should do this more often!” Well that quarterly time has occurred. Join us for our first member meeting. We’re making it a potluck chili cookoff! Bring a crock pot of chili, a topping or side that goes along with chili, or a prize for the winners. Apparently some people have asked to be total anarchists and bring soup. Fine with us!

One very important thing we’ll be doing at this meeting is talking about Spaces. What if you could create your dream makerspace? Would it be in a different building, or can we keep making this building into our dream? It’s a topic that comes up and we’re forming a building committee to focus our 5 and 10 year plans. Your input will put them off to a great start.

Sign up to bring a food here: http://bit.ly/makeict128

Join the building & facility committee here: http://bit.ly/makeict11

RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/160439797841335/

October 27th Art Auction

We’re planning something big for October’s Final Friday: A MakeICT art auction. Join the artists, craftsmen and builders of MakeICT at the Gallery for a night to remember on Final Friday, October 27, 2017 from 6-10 p.m. On display will be a collection of art that combines the skill and creativity of the vibrant local maker community. The pieces in this collection are an intersection of art, technology, science, and culture that the members of MakeICT have donated to a silent action. Funds raised will be used to purchase equipment to enhance & modernize our local community makerspace.

Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/148841592371360/

Sign up to help: https://goo.gl/forms/fthbeaORM23nbu2K2

Sign up to donate your art: https://goo.gl/forms/9rpLrMXrbvxDVlor1

We’re Big In Wichita

There’s a lot going on in Wichita and MakeICT wants to be present for all of it! Can you help by representing us at a table? Events coming up are:

Open Streets – Spend time at the makerspace giving tours while the entire city walks down Douglas. Sunday September 24th 12-4PM.

Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/159392824626093/

Sign up: https://goo.gl/forms/yMQrU5bfNWBUXSD53

North End Urban Arts Festival – Help kids make rockets at our table on Saturday September 30th 3-10PM.

Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1902071053410033/

Sign up: https://goo.gl/forms/6lvEPsbzHo3tFRt62

Delano Fall Fair – Demonstrate woodwoorking or 3D printing at our booth on October 6-8

Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/123200994992896/

Sign up: https://goo.gl/forms/qRAg1ZekftXEmrxk2

Bartlet Ecofest – Help out at our booth or with our bike generators that power this concert. Sunday October 29 12pm-5pm

Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1880533508856971/

Sign up: https://goo.gl/forms/6VaBJ9i10LNc7Orz2

Alternative Gifts Market – We’re showing off our holiday ornament-making skills and raising money for Egyptian recyclers on Saturday November 11 10AM-4PM. Help make ornaments to get ready.

Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1368549073179019/

Information about our cause, and sign up: https://goo.gl/forms/44t0khke4h78lEbs2

More News from the Makerspace

There are lots of events going on at MakeICT. Are you certified on our plasma cutter yet? Read about it on our blog: http://makeict.org/2017/08/24/new-cnc-plasma-cutter/

Our summer eclipse road trip was a huge success! Check out James’ photos and lessons we learned.

We decided not to have scheduled open hours on every Monday and Thursday anymore. The biggest reason for this was that there is so much going on, members without keys have plenty of opportunities to get involved.  Classes, workshops, game night, Toastmakers, committee meetings, ceramics night, textile tribe, and as always Maker Monday – my number one piece of advice for new members is to stalk the calendar and dive in.

October will be huge – we love Halloween! As always our annual Halloween maker challenge will be judged on the last Monday in October. If you make something spooky, take photos along the way so you have a log of your process to submit. You have plenty of time so get your ideas going now.

Do you have questions, comments, or feedback? As always send us an email (info at makeict dot org) or fill out our ongoing survey (bit.ly/makeict55) – we’re all in this together, so you hold the key to improving MakeICT. Thank you!

 

 

New CNC Plasma Cutter

August 24, 2017 5:00 pm

Our newest tool at MakeICT is a CNC plasma cutter, built from scratch by Curt Gridley our CNC lead and Jeremiah Burian our metal shop lead. We’re using it to cut precision designs through thick sheets of metal (3-20mm) that our laser cutter could not get through.

We’d been talking about a plasma CNC and its capabilities it was soon decided that we would ask members if it was something they would rally behind. We held a meeting for anyone interested and put a call out for ideas, concerns, and requirements. We knew we wanted to seek donations to purchase the actual plasma cutter. Multiple members stepped forward and raised $3,050 for the purchase. The components for the CNC Table were donated by Curt. We had multiple members step up to help run new electrical, work on individual parts of the table, and help move things around to get ready. Thomas Bloom worked on the LinuxCNC programming and interface.

None of us had ever built a plasma cnc before and we had little to no experience running one, so we ran into some hurdles, but now it is set up and working out wonderfully. Our advice for other maker spaces is just to do your homework if you decide to take on a project like this. Decide size, drive line, what programs you plan to use and plasma cutter specifications before anything. Our build process was over a 3 month period. If you need to get something up and running as soon as possible there are manufactured tables and kits on the market.

For members of MakeICT – Don’t be intimidated, you can learn to use this machine over time. First you’ll need designs made up in svg or dxf format. Inkscape is our favorite free open source tool to create designs, but there are lots of programs that can make DXF files. This machine only cuts in 2D, like the laser cutter. The ShopBot CNC router in the woodshop is known as “2 and a half D” because the router bit moves up and down at different depths in the material.

Using the plasma cutter requires metalshop safety authorization and then a special tool-specific authorization. Look for the CNC Plasma Class on our calendar.

Game night is the third Friday of every month

August 14, 2017 1:31 pm

If you’re ready to relax on a Friday with your fellow makers check out our monthly game night. Game night can break out any time of course, but we’ve got it on the public calendar on the third Friday of every month. Bring a game, a snack, some friends, you can even bring a kid if they can cope with both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Some of the recent games we’ve enjoyed:

  • Epic spell wars of the battle wizards
  • Oregon Trail
  • Checkers
  • Fluxx
  • Catan
  • Codenames
  • Pandemic

The game “Risk” is not allowed.

Visit our calendar or facebook events to confirm game night dates and times. For more information or if you’re concerned about who’s going to be there, contact info@makeict.org.

Spring 2017 Gallery Shows

July 17, 2017 1:31 pm

Thank you to our gallery team for curating this year’s gallery shows so far. Here are some of the items we’ve featured. The MakeICT gallery is open for Wichita Final Fridays and also during our standard open hours from 7-9PM Mondays and Thursdays.