Welcome

Sector67 is a non-profit collaborative space in Madison, WI dedicated to providing an environment to learn, teach, work-on, build, and create next generation technology; including software, hardware, electronics, art, sewing, metalwork, apps, games, etc.

If you’re in southern Wisconsin feel free to get involved; come by for a tour on Fridays, sign up for meeting announcements, or check the calendar for upcoming events.

2016 Afterschool Activities – Thanks Alliant Energy and Zendesk!

Sector67 provides many avenues for students to learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).  This year we were fortunate enough to be supported by a grant from the Zendesk Neighbor Foundation and the Alliant Energy Foundation to provide instructor time, materials, and equipment.   We support an Afterschool Science Club at O’Keeffe Middle School and a Sector67 Club at Sherman Middle School, these clubs are open to any students at the school and had over 100 participants this year for various activities:

The O’Keeffe club worked on:

IMG_4155

IMG_4158

Dry Ice

IMG_3993

IMG_4002

Hovercrafts

Super Science Saturday

IMG_3780

IMG_3781

IMG_3782

Arts and Words Night (demonstrated 3D printers and taught soldering to build a flashlight)

IMG_3841

IMG_3842

Cloud Chambers

IMG_4132

IMG_4142

3D Printing

Electronics

Liquid Nitrogen (thanks Airgas!)

IMG_3889

Model Rockets

DCIM103MEDIA

DCIM103MEDIA

IMG_9818

IMG_9821

IMG_9826

IMG_9829

IMG_9856

Field Trip to Sector67

Thanks to Alex, Shira, and Nate for your help too!

The Sherman club covered:

Electronics

3D Printing

IMG_3625

Arduinos

TinkerCAD

IMG_3923

Marble Machines

Field Trip to Sector67

3D Printing for Family Engagement Night:

IMG_3642

IMG_3643

Funds were also used in support of our general outreach and high school classes-

At MG21 we helped the students with the selection and construction of a new CNC wood router through an MG21 course and used grant funds to cover some incidentals:

IMG_3800

IMG_3798

and we had a blast at Tormach’s open house:

IMG_4106

IMG_4116

IMG_4118

Saturday Science at The Institutes for Discovery:

IMG_3577

IMG_3578

and countless other events in the prior year.

We’d like to acknowledge and thank Zendesk and Alliant Energy for their support of these programs, without their contributions we would be unable to offer these programs for free to the schools and broader community.

 

Posted in Projects

Moments from the 6th Annual “Build Madison” Event

Sector67 was proud to host the 6th Annual Build Madison event the weekend prior to Thanksgiving.  This event offers community members the opportunity to take action on a project they’ve been thinking about, working on (or procrastinating) and allows participants access to all of the equipment and collaborative expertise Sector67 has to offer.

The Teams and their Projects

There were twelve teams and over 50 individuals participating in this year’s event. Participants, young and old, started Day 1 with a short presentation on their project idea and what they hoped to accomplish in the 24-hour timeframe. Others, without a team or project, attend the event to support these teams.  These individuals share their knowledge, skills, and expertise in programming, voice recognition, welding, electrical engineering, or tinkering in general.

Introducing the Projects and their Teams:

Project/Concept Team Members
Repair an RC car

1-RC Car

RJ, Scott
Build a Christmas Tree with voice-command LED lighting Erica, Di

La’Shawna

Jack, Davi

Replace existing delorean taillights with LED ones

1-23988341192_a87b85289f_o

Dennis
Build a table base from copper pipe Kate
Make updates to the Sector67 website Bob
Build a self-homing telescope stand/gantry system Brian
Stained-glass project Laima
Create a campaign to convince their friends that Jamie and Rob should be ushers in their friend’s wedding Jamie, Rob
Create a DIY game controller

1-Switch

Xavier, Thiru, Robert, Tyler
Build a motorized skateboard

 

Jesse
Assemble a high-altitude balloon tracking device Chris
Build an electric car

1-Car Intro

Mike, Danny, Nate, Alex
Modifying a cat exercise wheel to make it more FUN-ctional

1-23988379872_875d34ba71_o

Brad, Andrew

The Results

Project/Concept Results
RC car repair

complete in 3 hrs

 

Using a part from the car as a pattern, Scott and RJ fabricated a replacement part from a small aluminum rod and a paperclip. They used the lathe to create the replacement “dog bone” component.

Here’s a video of RJ test-driving the repaired RC car on the newly modified cat exerciser

Christmas Tree with    Voice-command LED lighting

complete in 16 hours

1-23469721493_3e01097101_o

 The “Dancing Lights Team” (Erica, Di, La’Shawna)  laser cut 2 pieces of plywood which were then put together, painted, decorated, then laced with LED tape lights.

1-IMG_8996    1-23800838550_a3002790e3_o

The Tree tech-team, Jack and Davi, programmed, tested, programmed and tested voice recognition and control.

Here’s a video of the final creation!

Delorean LED taillights

in progress

Dennis wanted to replace the existing taillights in his Delorean with LED lights. A follow-up presentation was  given at Sector67 December meeting.

1-23468283504_34f404a7ca_o

 

Build a table base from copper pipe.

complete in 10 hours

 Kate designed, cut, soldered and polished the copper table base

1-Table Polish

Make updates to the Sector67 website.

complete!

Bob successfully completed his mission to clean up behind-the-scenes functionality of the website.

1-Website

Build a telescope stand/gantry system.

in progress

Brian gave a follow-up presentation of his project at the December meeting

1-23800820010_0135b4d050_o

Stained-glass project.

complete!

Laima completed one of the three panels and the results were stunning!

1-SG 5

Save the Ushers campaign

complete/in-progress

We checked in on Rob and Jamie’s quest in mid-January. Here’s what we found:

https://www.change.org/p/caroline-and-tim-save-the-ushers

http://savetheushers.org/

DIY game controller

complete

 

The team completed their mission and showed off their final product.  Only they know which button does what…Or do they?

1-23468260464_5a72f18a31_o

Build a motorized skateboard

in progress

Jessie had a nice protoype at his presentation and continues to work on the skate board. So far, so good!

1-Board Final 3

Build a tracking device for use when locating high-altitude balloons after they’ve landed

complete

Here’s a cool video of a balloon launch, imagine how helpful the tracking device is in finding the balloon when it travels up to 90,000ft high and lands where it wants to!

1-24013925971_f9a5e0c71e_o

Build an electric car.

complete

 

Watch a couple of test-drive videos here:

At the event VIDEO

Two Weeks after the event in Madison’s Central Park

Thanks to Jim for Tab-synthing the battery box

Cat exercise wheel

complete

 

1-Cat End 6

 Brad and Andrew made the following modifications to the wheel:

  • narrowed the base so that there was less friction, allowing the cat to exert less energy to make the wheel move. Thanks to Jim for support on this!
  • added a motion detector which would count the number of revolutions of the wheel using an integrated Arduino.
  • Added an incentive for the cat to use the wheel – an Arduino-run cat-treat-dispenser which would dispense treats after a certain number of wheel revolutions.

Please come join this fun, community event in 2016! Bring your ideas and let’s build, Madison! And if you’ve made it to the end of this post, here’s a little reward for you!

1-24013814811_2b70db3e84_o

Posted in Meetings, Projects Tagged with:

March Monthly Meeting

Listen to the Sound of Science1-IMG_1386

Liam kicked off the presentations with his Arduino audio synthesizer project.  In essence, Liam used an Arduino Uno running many clock dividers to emulate tones.  He programmed the Arduino to accept MIDI serial commands so it’s effectively operating as a MIDI tone generator with really limited resources. Liam’s presentation engaged many interested audience members – great job, Liam!

Lon’s Dragon

Sound’s like a great movie, doesn’t it?

Lon has been a metal artist for many years.  He always wanted to create a cool metal-sculpted gargoyle for his former home in Minnesota but never got around to it.  After moving to Madison, Lon started tinkering with the idea of a metal-art dragon.Lan's Dragon
Close up and Personal

The metal “Dragon Bell” is still a work-in-progress; created with a recycled argon gas tank, various types of metal, glass beads, guitar strings, and of course stained glass wings. Modification are still being considered… flame thrower nostrils maybe?

Lon also shared a book of some of his other creative metalworks.  Thanks, Lon!

 

Photo LightboxJoe's Lightbox Hack

Joe needed a light solution for use in photographing some very shimmery (and difficult to photograph) nail polish products.  Rather than having to move the product multiple times to get just the right lighting, Joe used  Neopixel LED lights and an Arduino to control the lights.  Joe can encircle the subject and control individual lights rather than having to move the product.  In addition, Joe can control the brightness, hue, and color of the lights necessary for capturing the perfect image.

Bright idea, huh?

 

Plug In Hybrid Conversion Packs

Eric gave a talk on surplus plug in conversion Prius packs that were originally sold by Hymotion (cells from A123) to take a standard Toyota Prius and turn it into an all electric (most of the time) electric car that plugs into the wall to charge.  The advantage of these packs is that you can get about 20 miles of almost all electric power, the problem is that Hymotion was sold to A123 (who subsequently went bankrupt) so there’s no longer any service available unless you talk to Eric as he owns and operates EVPowers hybrid vehicle repair and is a battery/EV wizard!  He walked us through what’s inside the battery and how to go about diagnosing them.

 

Look Who Made the Finals!

Three teams from Sector67 recently entered a makers competition sponsored by Infymakers. All three teams were selected as finalists for a $10,000 award. The teams were:

  • Mike and Alex with an electric town car
  • Jesse Ransom with a fireproof/superinsulated space blanket (for the homeless and firefighters)
  • Eric and Jim with a vibrating therapy device

They’re still awaiting news of who takes home the top prizes, but either way we’re proud of their creativity and accomplishments! Great job!

Hackaday Hints

Congratulations to Bob, who has recently been selected as an article writer for Hackaday!  Bob shared some information about the project selection process and some tips for getting articles published and making it easy for the writing team!ob's Hackaday presentation

Bob’s suggestions:

  • A descriptive subject line helps grab the Hackaday writer’s attention
  • Links to information about the project (photos and videos welcome!)
  • Nice description of project, including why your project is cool!

Once you’ve got things put together, submit the information via email to tips@hackaday.com or use the contact form found on the Hackaday website.

Battle Bots Update

While they didn’t make the cut for Season 3 of Battlebots, the  Sector67 Battlebot creation team shared a fascinating video of their bot, Bad Penny and got to the final cut.  Unfortunately the video is still underwraps but we’ll post it at some point!

Call for Makers – Mini Maker Faire – May 14 – 10am – 5pm

MMF 5.14

Heather from Madison Mini Maker Faire stopped by to share information regarding the upcoming Mini Maker Faire at Monona Terrace.  The Faire is still accepting exhibitors and would love to have interested Sector67 community members join in the event.  There’s still room for participants in the following areas as well as others found on the Faire’s website. Registration for Makers will be accepted through April 15th, 2016.

  • Robotics
  • Homegrown Drones
  • Arduino Projects
  • Unusual Tools or Machines
  • 3D Printers

 

Posted in Meetings Tagged with:

Startup Weekend Returns to Madison – April 22 – 24

Ready to accelerate your startup business idea?  Here’s your chance!

Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs.

Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos and pitches.  Participants create working startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurs.

The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education.  Whether you are looking for feedback on an idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.

A limited number a participants are allowed, registration prices vary by level of participation.

For more information, visit the Startup Weekend website.

To register, visit the event Registration page.

If you have addition questions, contact the organizers at swmadison@googlegroups.com or chat with Chris.

Posted in Uncategorized

February Monthly Meeting

If you missed the live Twitter feed of the meeting this month, here’s the long version of the meeting notes.  Thanks to all who came out in the snowy weather to see what our community of creators have been up to.

Homemade CNC Router

Nate showed us a 12-foot CNC router he’s built from scratch from hardware store parts.

IMG_1272 IMG_1273

Shira’s Robo-Arm

Shira shared her experience working with a high school student to construct and program a robot arm.

IMG_9254 IMG_1275

O. M. G. (Oh My Gourd) –  Building Speakers from Gourds

James shared his experience of making speakers out of gourds and the difficulties in working with a very organic material/shape!

IMG_9263

Brian’s Makerbot Thingomatic

Brian has spent the past month building his own “supersized” 3D printer. Brian plans to utilize the new printer to print very large objects – you can check it out on Thingiverse.

IMG_9285 IMG_1276

Follow Up – Importing a CNC Machine from China

David gave a follow-up presentation on his experience(and lessons learned) importing a CNC router from China. See December meeting notes for information on David’s original presentation – his machine has arrived and he learned the hard way about “death by a thousand papercuts” on import and duty charges, port fees. . .

IMG_9286

Home Automation for the Rest of Us

Larry gave a presentation on the history of home animation, some current IoT (Internet of Things) technology he’s been using, and some items that are being incorporated into today’s homes.

Phillips lights

IMG_9268  IMG_1274

Building a Better Bench

Chris shared a presentation on a matching oak bench that he made for a table at home.

IMG_9277

See you in March!

Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 1 at 7:00 PM.  If you have something you’d like to share, please do! Use the “contact us” button at the top right to get on the March agenda.

See you soon!

IMG_9271

 

Posted in Meetings Tagged with:

January Monthly Meeting

Finally, Winter in Wisconsin! The snow and 28-degree weather didn’t keep inquiring minds from attending this month’s meeting. January topics ranged from robot controllers to laser cut pinecones to tire pressure monitor hacks to building your own CNC router.  More info below!

EZ-B WiFi Robot Controller Demo

EJ, one of Sector’s business incubator residents, is a software engineer by trade.   EJ has been watching the progress being made on Jeff’s WALL-E and offered to share his expertise in controlling WALL-E’s robotic arms.

IMG_9166  IMG_9165

In staying within his 7-minute presentation time, EJ demonstrated how quickly and easily the EZ-B WiFi Robot Controller (~$79)”black box” (actually white!) could be programmed using EZ builder software. Unlike an Arduino, the WiFi controller doesn’t need a physical connection to the computer running the software.  In addition, the programmed commands can be saved to the cloud and transferred to another device (i.e. iPad) for use. IMG_9169

There were tons of “ooooos and ahhhhs” from the audience as EJ brought the robotic arm to life during the presentation.  Here’s a great video about the capabilities of the EZ-Builder software, which include voice recognition, servo control, vision recognition and tracking and so much more.

 

Hi-Tech Pine Cones

Inspired by nature and on a quest to create some unique holiday gifts, Kate set out to build a laser-cut pinecone.  Because she had some unique features in mind, Kate created her own design.  The final pattern consisted of twenty uniquely-shaped slices of wood, which when stacked would simulate the shape of a pinecone while also having the interior space to hold a battery-operated votive candle.

IMG_9172 IMG_9174

After “many hours” of laser time, it took Kate “a long movie” to carefully stack and glue all of the slices in the correct order into the desired shape.  The result is quite beautiful, don’t you think?

IMG_9179    IMG_9177

Here’s a link to Kate’s full presentation which includes some additional pictures and video of her project.

Using SDR technology for DIY Tire Pressure Monitoring

Doug’s presentation walked the audience through his quest to explore the use of SDR (Software-Defined Radio) to build a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) for the new wheels he put on his truck that didn’t have enough rim spacing to fit the sensors on them.  Doug captured the signal on a TV tuner, and then used a SDR transmitter to create a radio dialogue with the TPMS to fool it into thinking the tires were all inflated properly.  Doug was able to successfully complete his mission, shared the results, and generated lots of interest from inquiring minds at the meeting.  The audience had lots of questions and Doug had all the answers!  All just to eliminate a chime when his truck was started and a light on the dash.

For more information about SDR, try these resources:

IMG_9181 IMG_9182

Build Your Own CNC Router Kit

Chris has been working with Monona Grove Alternative High School (MG21) students  to build a X-Carve CNC Router from a kit purchased from Inventables (~900).  While the students built the physical portion, Brian took on the task of finishing up tuning the controller.  Chris and Brian demonstrated the router and answered questions from the group about capabilities of the device compared to the more robust CNC we have onsite at Sector67.  There was also discussion of purchasing US vs China models (see related article from December meeting) from a cost, time, and customer service perspective.

Software discussed during the presentation was:

Easel (available through the Inventables website)

 

“Pour Yer Heart Out”  Iron Pour Collaboration Reminder

Alisa Toninato from FeLion Studios joined the meeting to tell us more about the 6th Annual “Pour Yer Heart Out” Iron Pour Collaboration event which will be held in the Sector67 parking lot on February 6.  Chris and Alisa shared tips and tricks for success in designing moulds for the event. Even if you don’t choose to participate by creating a heart mould, stop by Sector67 on Saturday, February 6th to watch the event!

IMG_9191 IMG_9189

For information on the event, click here and here.

 

Posted in Meetings, News Tagged with: , , ,

TEDx Talks featuring Sector67 Members

Most of us have watched a TED Talk or two. In the spirit of TED Talks, self-organized local events have popped up across the country.  TEDx-Madison is one of those events – highlighting local leaders, entrepreneurs, creators, engineers and more.  If you weren’t already aware, two of Sector67’s members Robin Lawson and Bob Baddeley have been featured presenters.  Take a few moments to watch their videos!

 Robin Lawson – Engineering is Actually Girly

A self-proclaimed “standard overachiever” and 4th-generation mechanical engineer, Robin shatters the perception that engineering is masculine by comparing elements of the creative process to conceiving, bearing, raising, and nurturing a child.  Robin’s talk reflects her evolution from being “one of the guys” to the empowered woman engineer she is today and how becoming that person has benefitted her and others around her.  Robin and her brother founded Lumen Electronic Jewelry.

 

Bob Baddeley – Made in China

In 2012, Bob Baddeley spent three months in China working to manufacture his prototypes and make manufacturing and sourcing connections before launching his company.  Bob’s 2013 Tedx-Madison talk offers insights on manufacturing products in China compared to the US.  He offers tons of tips on living, working, communicating, and manufacturing in both China and the US. Definitely worth a watch!

 

 

Posted in News, Uncategorized

Iron Pour Moulds Available – Through 2/6/2015

The iron pour is coming up, get your moulds today and make your own unique Valentine’s Day gift or otherwise.  Moulds should be purchased online through FeLion Studios website, and picked up at Sector67.  Please call to schedule a time or stop by any Friday from 1-7PM when we’re open for tours.

Opportunities available:

More information on carving hearts or otherwise is here and over here.  YOU MUST DROP OFF YOUR PATTERNS ANYTIME BEFORE 11AM SATURDAY FEBRUARY 6TH!

Posted in Uncategorized

December Monthly Meeting

Build Madison – Project Follow Up

Brian presented a project that he built during the 24-hour Build Madison event hosted by Sector67 in November. Brian’s self-homing telescope stand was almost completely built during the 24-hour event.  Brian used several of the tools housed at Sector67 to build his project:  the panel router for cutting the base, laser cutter for a very large belt driven gear and the machine frame.  OpenSCAD was used for the design and digital prototyping.  As he already had belts to use for the project, Brian cut corresponding teeth out of acrylic rather than wood.

IMG_9036 IMG_9035

Components/features of the project include a magnetometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, Arduino Mega board, and 9 Degrees of Freedom chip.  Brian hasn’t connected a telescope to his new creation yet so hopefully we’ll hear more at a future meeting.

Pens for Parkinson’s Patients

Parkinson’s disease is debilitating.  The stiffness caused in a victim’s muscles can keep them from doing everyday things like writing.  Eric has been working on putting pens back into the hands of Parkinson’s patients with his new project.  The pen prototypes he shared use vibration to essentially massage the stiffened hand muscles to allow the user’s hand the freedom and flexibility to regain small motor movements like gripping a writing utensil. A small videogame controller motor (think Wii or Xbox handheld device) attached to the pen barrel, vibrates the pen enough to massage the hand but not enough to affect the patient’s penmanship. A potentiometer is used to control the frequency/vibration of the motor, based on the needs of the user.

IMG_9041

Eric feels the pens can the cost of the final pen could be reasonably affordable.  The motors are the most expensive component and run $5 – $15 based on size and quality.

Creating a simple AOI (Automated Optical Inspector)

The company Bob works for, Quietyme, is ramping up in-house production of their circuit boards. Every board is checked by a person, which is time consuming and an eye strain. Bob wanted an AOI (automated optical inspector), but they are typically in the tens of thousands of dollars.  Bob decided to try building a miniature version using a webcam and some computer vision software. The hardware is a laser cut enclosure with the base of Quietyme’s product enclosure glued to the bottom. 12V white LED strips covered with a diffuser to reduce bright spots make the PCB evenly lit. A camera is positioned so that the PCB occupies the entire frame. The webcam video is fed into a custom python application which uses the OpenCV library to match patterns of known good soldered components against the video stream. When it finds a match it blacks out (masks) the component on the display. Any unmatched components are shown (as potential errors) and must be inspected by the person. This masking means the technician must look at only a few components instead of the entire circuit board.

IMG_9048IMG_9051 IMG_9047

This Family Bakes Together and Makes Together

Scott & Laura, along with their sons Luke and Levi (and Scott’s Mom, Cindy) tackled a big family project for the holiday season.  Rather than creating a traditional gingerbread house, the family aspired to bake and build a gingerbread version of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  Scott was inspired by a papercraft version of the Cathedral he found on Canon Papercraft.

IMG_9028 IMG_9062 IMG_9029 rosewindow

Scott wrote a great article about the design, testing, baking, and building of this project.  He also shares information about the challenges faced along the way!  Scott posted directions on Thingiverse for making one yourself next holiday season.

A timelapse video of the process process can be found here: https://youtu.be/vcZdZHOcefo.  Check it out!

 

Personal CNC Machine – Build or Import?

After doing a good amount of research and pricing, David decided that the best decision for him was to import the CNC machine of his dreams (via Alibaba) from a manufacturer in China.  Based on his experience, David shared some tips with the group.IMG_9063

  • Plan ahead –  No door-to-door overnight shipping when you order from China!  The process has taken three months… and counting.  At last report, the machine is on a boat from China.
  • Forms, forms, forms – From ISF to CSF there’s alot of paperwork involved.  Be prepared
  • Show me the money – There is the potential to save some money by ordering from an overseas manufacturer, but there are other costs to factor in.  For example, import fees, port storage, port maintenance fees, inspection fees to name a few.  Of course, there are also costs to getting the machine from the U.S. port to the Midwest. Dave had to put 30% down at the time of order and pay the remaining 70% when the order was loaded onto the ship in China.
  • Customization available, prices negotiable – David was able to order his CNC with some custom features and get quotes from a few different manufacturers.  All manufacturers gave him their best price…and when one of the manufacturers didn’t get his order, they presented David with a new best price.

We’re hoping David will have his new machine in-house before the January meeting so he can give us an update!

Posted in Meetings

Pour Yer Heart Out 2016 Iron Pour – FeLion Studios Collaboration

FeLion Studios and Sector67 are proud to announce our 6th annual partnership on a community iron pour, taking place on February 6th at Sector67 – you can RSVP on Facebook here

You can purchase heart moulds online now and pick them up; or pay cash or check when you pick them up – we have two hearts for $30 which can be customized to your liking and forever cast into iron:

Pile of Hearts

Creating your own heart is easy, you can modify any aspect of the mould:
Scratch Demo 2
Scratch Demo
Just remember a few rules:

  • Mould modification is messy, so lay the mould on a cardboard box or plastic bag to dispose of the excess sand.
  • Remember to draw everything backwards, it’s a mould, not a finished product, so everything will be reversed when it’s poured!
  • Sharpie your design first and carve following your lines
  • Use any pointy implement you’d like but we’d advise against using any power tools as they can create dust that you don’t want to inhale (AKA: wear a mask with power tool work)
  • Return your moulds a few days before the pour up until EARLY the morning of the pour (late turn ins will be turned away this year – SORRY!)

If you’ve read this far, you might be interested in the sand mould workshop at FeLion Studios headquarters on January 24th 2016.  Get more info and pre-register your spot early here, SPACE IS LIMITED TO 6 STUDENTS!:
http://www.felionstudios.com/felion-workshop/

This workshop will allow you to create more complicated artwork and full patterns (as opposed to a face mould only).

Even if you aren’t interested in making your own cast iron artwork, please join us for music, great company, and a fun spectacle while the iron is poured:

IMG_2901

IMG_2920

IMG_2926

Here’s some cool videos/pictures from prior years as well:

2012 video and image summary

2013 video and image summary

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

Spring Break Camp for Kids – Build Cool Stuff!

Fractal-Logo

Fractal will be hosting half-day mini-camps during Spring Break for Madison area schools from 8:30-noon at Sector67 during the weeks listed below.

The camp is targeted for ages 6-13 and they’ll have the opportunity to work on project for:
  • 3D modeling and 3D printing of their own designs
  • Soldering and building an electronics kit
  • Scratch computer coding for videos or games
  • How to sew a project they choose

If you’d like to sign up, please register online:

March 28-April 1
The Summer Fractal Camp dates are also listed on the Classes Page (and filling up fast!) make sure to register soon before it’s too late.
Posted in Uncategorized

Laser Cut Gingerbread Notre Dame Cathedral

main

Inspiration

Growing up every year my family had a tradition of gingerbread house making. We always tried to out-do the previous year’s effort. This year my family decided we would try to achieve my lifelong dream of making the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral out of gingerbread, but with a twist: we’d use the laser cutter at Sector67, our beloved local hackerspace, to cut out the pieces. We’d done simple gingerbread structures before on the laser cutter so we knew it was feasible, but we weren’t sure if we could pull off a much more complex structure.

Design

We were lucky enough to be able to start with a Canon papercraft model. That gave us a starting point for
dimensions, but the papercraft designs are meant to be made out of paper which can bend around corners and has basically no thickness. As a result we had to significantly redesign a model, removing lots of detail, segmenting curved parts and generally accounting for a material thickness, in our case 3/16”. It took about 20 hours using Inkscape to make a workable design, and the final SVG file is available at:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1174128

That SVG file was made using Inkscape and so assumes 1″ = 90px. You may need to scale appropriately if you use different tools.

Testing

After completing the design we cut and assembled a complete prototype from 5mm luan plywood. This let frontus not only confirm fit (there were problems that needed to be fixed!) but also get a feel for how the actual structure would go together.

We also had to test many iterations of stained glass windows. Our vision was to melt colored sugar for the windows, but we went through about six iterations or different processes before we settled on something that really worked well.

Even baking the gingerbread required testing, to find the right thickness and to make sure the recipe worked well.

Mixing, rolling and baking

I’ve included the recipe we used below along with some instructions. We needed 10 sheets of 12″x18″ gingerbread, and each sheet took about half an hour, much of which was rolling it down to the desired thickness.

Cutting

Every laser cutter is different and if you are interested to try this you’ll have to figure out your own settings. I had to cut the gingerbread a bit slower than a similar thickness of plywood.

Stained glass windows

As mentioned above, we melted sugar to make the stained glass windows. We tried several approaches:

Brushing the sugar into the window openings and then baking the whole thing was not as consistent as we would have liked and resulted in the cut pieces of gingerbread shrinking and warping.
rosewindowUsing a cooktop/griddle with the sugar brushed in caused similar problems.
We made sheets of “stained glass”, and thought about frosting them to the backs of the windows, but with the fit of some of the pieces this was not feasible.
Aluminum foil, parchment paper and Silpat (silicone) mats all worked well enough to stop the sugar from sticking. In the end the process we settled on was to sprinkle sugar onto a silpat mat in the pattern needed to fill the windows. We pre-mixed a bowl of different sugar colors to provide a rainbow effect. We then baked the sugar on the Silpat at 350F for about 15 minutes, watching for when the sugar is just fully melted but not caramelizing. Catching it at just the right time left the colors well separated. We then pulled the Silpat mat with the melted sugar out of the oven, lined up the window openings and pressed the gingerbread pieces into the melted sugar. We then left heavy flat pieces of metal on top of the gingerbread pieces until the sugar cooled, as otherwise they would warp.

As you can see in the pictures, this process resulted in an accurate stained glass look that can be nicely lit from behind.

Building

The time lapse video shows the assembly process. It took about 10 hours total as a two adult/two kid process. We used a simple royal frosting recipe that provides lots of holding strength and dries relatively quickly.

Lighting

We used a 16′ string of RGB LED lights to light the inside of the whole structure. The lights need to be strung while the structure is being built, and the design includes holes for routing the lights.

Challenges

Gingerbread can be a tough medium to work with. It can crack, warp and shrink. Even with our post-bake rolling process pieces were often not exactly 3/16″ thick and so for certain parts we needed to sand or grind to get a good fit. We ended up using an xacto knife, dremel cut-off wheel, hack saw and bench grinder at various times to make the model fit well.

This is an achievable family project but it was fairly time consuming.  In the end we were all very happy with how it turned out!

More information including a complete recipe for the gingerbread sheets can be found at:

https://hackaday.io/project/8660-laser-cut-gingerbread-notre-dame-cathedral

Posted in Uncategorized

Cart

Upcoming Events