Friday, November 14, 2014

Younger Makers + Older Makers = ??

I keep thinking we need a name change. Although we still have one or two members who are ostensibly part of the Young Makers, it feels like we have become much more than that. The Young Makers program is, or at least initially was, intended for teens working under adult guidance and mentorship. Somehow over the years our adults have come to outnumber the teens and a couple of them have started to bring in their younger children. The only format we follow is that we always eat pizza and talk about our various side projects. Here are some of the things people are working on:

  • stripping and rebuilding a train table found free on craigslist
  • knitting a sweater
  • working on sections in Minecraft
  • writing a song
  • looking into building an R/C car
  • making a leather belt & watch strap
  • refinishing an outdoor patio table found free on craigslist 
  • building a fence
  • setting up a new computer
  • getting certified in the maintenance of AWOS weather stations
  • helping a friend find and fabricate steel to bind a giant drum
  • taking apart a non-working keyboard from...wait for it...craigslist with the aim of creating a playable instrument again
  • building a custom LED light strip for a workbench
  • 3D printing parts for an RC car
  • designing and building a 3D DLP printer

Our youngest have as much to share as our most experienced. Perhaps the best part of the group now is being in the company of people who love to make and repair things. But what would one call that?

After all the discussion about side projects, we did get the sides of the cupcake measured and cut. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cupcake Car Base

Sometimes things just work out. We ran out of table space, for example, but found a way to serve the pizza.

Or this: by chance, Jim had found and repaired a broken large format printer, so it was possible to print out full-sized plans for cutting the cupcake base. (Of course it wasn't strictly necessary, but what a treat to be able to just glue the plans over the plywood and cut on the lines.)

Or this: after eyeing the plan, Emilio went back to his truck and pulled out a circular piece of plywood that he'd found a year and a half ago and been carting around since. It was just 6" wider than the diameter we needed.

Everyone got a chance to help make the base. Cutting with a jigsaw:

Starting pilot holes with a drill: 

Young makers guiding younger makers:

Wheels, casters, and motors were mounted. It may be that the ring cut from around the base will be able to serve as part of the structure, like so: 

We'll have to see how it all works out.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Show-and-Tell Meeting

We were at an in-between stage for this meeting: the power system for the cupcake car is ready, and now it needs a structure around it. Some are starting to think about individual projects. With nothing specific on the agenda, we had a show-and-tell.

Show-and-tell is not just for grade school: it's a good way for members to share what they're thinking about and working on outside of meetings, and the simplest question/answer pair can be both instructional and inspirational.

Here is some of what was brought last week:
Doug's Yellow Submarine, made from a painted soda bottle, 3D printed additions, & hand drawn designs
Leo's gloves with carbon fiber knuckles, brought to show us what the material is like
Dave's r/c-controlled wheelchair base
The Campiz family's surplus computer, ready to be disassembled
the gyroscope Bob got through Kickstarter

Finally, Doug talked us through some design considerations when creating the cupcake car base: sizing it to fit a seated person, making sure the wheels are well spaced for comfort and maneuverability, keeping the parts accessible for adjustment and repair. Getting that started is our next shared task.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Starting the Cupcake Car

Last meeting the boys wired up new batteries to the wheelchair motor controllers and motors to confirm that the system would run as intended. They also learned to write up a wiring diagram for same.
batteries, motors, controllers and wheels
Over the weekend, the tubes and tires were changed out and cleaned.
prying old cracked tires off with screwdrivers
Jim explains the use of grease to help get the new tire seated
inflating the new tire
The bonus of having skilled mentors: when Sebastian wondered aloud how knurling was done, Jim was able to take him to the metal lathe and show him.
the knurling tools next to the metal blank
metal shards from the lathe
We now have a solid basis for some kind of motorized car. The next step will be designing the base and body.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Maker Club Considerations

This is our fifth year of meeting together to do projects. We have evolved over the years from a few kids working on projects at kitchen tables into an all-ages group of students, tinkerers and expert mentors who meet twice a month in a warehouse space and work on several group and independent projects.

Yet our roots are in the Young Makers arm of the Maker Faire, and our group is still tied to many of those values:
  • choosing a project that is interesting and challenging
  • taking responsibility for finding necessary information and mentorship
  • accepting the inevitability of mistakes and working through them
  • sharing one's work so that others might learn from and build upon it
It looks like we will have a couple of large group projects this year: upgrading and modifying the Power Racer, and creating a miniature mobile cupcake a la the Acme Muffineers. A couple people have also spoken of individual projects, as well.

Meanwhile, Emilio has been been building an art fence at home:  
photos by Sabrina Granados
And Sebastian recently made a charging box for a local school:
photos by Sebastian Simmons

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reconvening After Summer

Every year, high on the excitement of the Maker Faire, we vow that we'll meet over summer. And every summer somehow flies by.

We sat down for the first time last week to discuss the year ahead. Our enlarged group is now more of an all-ages, cooperative maker workshop than a true Young Makers group, and we may make some adjustments reflecting this.

Sabrina brought their family's county fair award-winning displays on the Maker Faire projects:

And Sebastian flew his quadcopter for us. He is hoping to build his own this next year.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Leo's interview with TWiT Tv from the Maker Faire

Leo's interview with Friar Robert Ballecer on Twit TV from the Maker Faire after the Power Series Racing.  His interview starts at 2:20.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

We Did It!

We're back from Maker Faire, where our car and driver Leo both performed like champs. On Saturday, we placed 5th out of 11 entrants in the 25-lap races—not bad for first timers! It was hard to tell where we ended up in the Moxie Race, as points were added up all weekend (we also ended up 5th here by the end). As for the Fun Bike/PPPRS Race, it was anyone's guess.

Sunday there was only a single race: the 75-minute Endurance Race. The other teams drove this as a relay, switching drivers every 15 minutes and taking regular pit stops to change wheels and replace batteries. We had with us a single set of wheels, a single set of batteries—and a single driver. The rules allowed one driver racing in successive legs if sufficiently disguised. We quickly improvised a cape from Sabrina's Radlamp banner and phone charger cable. Emilio came up with a duct-tape mustache. A baseball cap taped to his helmet completed the change.

This costume went on and off 5 times, while Leo drove a careful, conservative race in order to preserve batteries. Car after car blew tires, had wheels and other parts fall off, suffered battery failures, and were penalized for various infractions; Leo avoided all of these and drove into a second-place finish. More impressively, the car ended the weekend with little more than a few surface scratches and a pair of dislodged bumpers (thank goodness for duct tape, the only repair material we novices thought to bring).

It was a fun weekend, the best Maker Faire in many years for all of us; and we have already met to celebrate and begin planning for next year.

Below is our race weekend condensed into 3 minutes:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Off To Bay Area Maker Faire 2014

"There is no significant difference between scrap and stock."
~Jim Stewart, inventor & YMY mentor

sewing machine pedal
wheelchair motors, lawnmower wheels
scrap metal

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Test Drive Video

This is the video of the test drive after the motors had been changed from the tape drive motors to the wheel chair motors.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bodywork, part 1

We are lucky to have Emilio, an experienced auto restorer, as part of our team. This scuffed up plastic toy car from the recycling center is going to have a full paint job. Last night he did the prep and priming.

All photos by Sabrina Granados.