Monday, November 25, 2013

Side Projects: Emilio's Halloween UFO & Sebastian's Vacuum Former

Our group does a lot together, but each member also works on projects just for fun. Here are two recent ones:

At Halloween Emilio added to their family's collection of spooky decorations by fashioning an alien ship from a Christmas tree stand, silver paint, a strip of 2-color led lights (you can just see it starting to switch from purple to orange, below), and a hooded skeleton with costume beads for eyes.

 It was even more spectacular wired up to fly over the heads of trick-or-treaters:
Also initially begun as a Halloween project, Sebastian made a vacuum former to mold his own plastic masks. When we learned that Tim at our local Makerspace had also just built one, we went to visit. Tim generously shared his process, advice and extensive documentation of his own project.

Sebastian's first mask, just after molding:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Recycling Center

Yesterday was our trip to the recycling center to brainstorm Power Wheels modifications and see if we could find any useful parts.

The recycling center, which sells scrap by the pound, is like a maker's toy store.

We walked along dirt paths to find...
 old farm machinery...
and other fun things.
 There was even a table with items like brass candlesticks and copper cookware.
We briefly considered a mobility cart, but it was too heavy to be economical at a per pound pricing.
Then in one of the dumpsters that we spotted this, a go-kart frame with a bent steering column:
 A short while later, Leo found his dream Power Wheels, a red Ford Mustang:

The cost for both of them was $28. One man's trash...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Two Discarded Power Wheels

At the Maker Faire we'd talked about perhaps trying to put together something to enter in the Power Racing Series held there each year. As luck would have it, a Power Wheels pickup had been dumped in a ditch near our meeting spot. A call out on Freecycle yielded a Power Wheels quad.

We'll be going to the local recycling center soon to look for motors, wheels and other parts. Updates to follow—

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Engine Rebuild

After a short break at the end of summer, we have begun meeting again. Our group is now pared down to the two boys who have been there from the beginning, as other kids have become busier with upper level schoolwork.

Jim was kind enough to guide the boys in a simple engine rebuild. This was something neither of them had done before but were both interested in learning.  An old rototiller engine that had been rusting outside was dismantled during one meeting:
And after cleaning and wire brushing...
…was carefully reassembled in Jim's garage with new gaskets and lubricant:

Did it run?

It did.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

County Fair

Why stop at the Maker Faire? Sabrina offered to organize an entry of the planes into the Yolo County Fair just for fun. Leo is a regular exhibitor who showed his very first Young Makers project there a couple of years ago.

When the kids dropped off their planes, the Junior Exhibits were just getting set up:
It might have been the first time all the completed planes had been in the same room together. Naturally, a commemorative snapshot was taken.
Back in the parking lot, Leo gave everyone samples of his baking entries, including these starfish s'more cookies, baked completely from scratch:
And a couple days later, Sabrina texted us with the news that the planes had done very well indeed.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Maker Faire 2013

Our Young Maker's year culminates in the Bay Area Maker Faire. This year only four of our families attended, and only Leo exhibited; but it remains the part of the year we most look forward to.

Maker Faire is a celebration of both skill and creativity in almost any area you can think of, among them—

needle felting (yes, that dino was completely felted by hand!):
and light sculpture:
—as well as food, games, bicycles, art cars, arduino, 3D printers and more.

Every year the Maker Faire has attracted more and more people. Perhaps it is understandable, then, that the exhibition hall has an increasing number of companies displaying their products and startups looking for funding, and that the Maker Shed now sells more packaged kits than raw supplies.

But outside, and particularly in the South Lot, there are still many spectacularly homemade projects.

a dalek:
a bejeweled mosaic spaceship:
a walking geodesic pod:
 a homebuilt submarine:
a motorized teapot:
We were especially happy to see Make's own version of The Towel prominently displayed in the center of the exhibition hall. It was exactly a year ago at the faire that this very plane was featured on the cover of Make magazine and started us on the process of our own builds.
 Leo's plane also hung all day in the Young Maker's exhibit area:

 His end-of-the-day exhibit drew attention from young and old alike:

Thanks to the Maker Faire's inspirational atmosphere, we are already talking about ideas for next year. Robots? Vehicles? 3d Printers? Group project? Individual projects? It's fun to think about all the possibilities.

Meanwhile, here is a short video of some of the random sights from BA Maker Faire 2013. Our hats are off to all these makers for their individual visions, and for their incredible work to see those visions through.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Last-Minute Adjustment To The Towel's Motor Mount

Although the test flights were successful, the planes all still had problems with the motor mount flexing. The spinning motor put force on the vertical part of the bracket, shown below with arrow, bending it inward and making the plane hard to control. We brainstormed ideas on how to reinforce the bracket at the park, and decided to meet one last time before Leo took the plane to the Maker Faire.
 Doug had designed and printed a two-part reinforcement on his printer. The flat piece on the left goes underneath the foam board, while the piece on the right sits on top, behind the aluminum angle stock to keep it from bending backwards.
 With the above parts, 1/16" plywood, and two-part epoxy, the motors were remounted.
And voilĂ ! The motor spins with no flex on the bracket now:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Towel RC Plane Test Flights

The other evening we took the charged planes out to a local park and gave them their first test flights.

What were formerly foam presentation board, campaign lawn signs, bulk-ordered electronics and some zip ties were now planes. And they flew! The flights were a little dicey due to operator inexperience, but everyone got at least one relatively long run in. Here's one captured by Laurie:

And here is a compilation of all the planes tested that evening (John and Matt were not able to make it):

What a great end to the year—and what a fun year it's been. Here is Laurie's photo album with pictures from our meetings:

Leo will be showing his plane at the Maker Faire this weekend. Please feel free to stop by and see him at the Young Makers Booth on Saturday evening.