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TechWorks is moving!

As of September 1, 2016, we will be located at 412 44th St E., just North of Circle Drive and East of Faithful Ave. Our new location will be over twice as large, including a much larger shop area and dedicated office space available for members to rent. We will remember our old location at 509A Gray Ave. fondly, but with every end comes a new beginning, and we are excited for the opportunities this presents to our members and to the community.

We need your help!

Read the rest of this entry →

24

08 2016

Taper Jig and Sheet Lumber Storage

I decided that I needed to have some decent sheet lumber storage in my garage because i didn’t want anymore warped wood. So to build this storage I figured the easiest way was to build a jig to make long angle (or taper) cuts in a controlled precise manner.

I gathered up the material needed for the project:
3/4x24x48 MDF sheet
1x4x6 oak board
8x  T-Nuts (sometimes called Blind nuts)
3/8 all-thread rod
3/8 nuts
I also used some scrap 1/2 and 1/8 MDF
#6 3/4 Screws

Some of the tools I used:
10″ table saw
12″ Mitre saw
Drill press
Laser cutter
Cordless drill
Air Pin Nailer
Hacksaw
Small file
Hammer

Supplies

Supplies

 

I started by ripping the 3/4 MDF sheet down to ~11″ x 4′ (this didn’t need to be exact because I would be trimming the excess later)
I also ripped a piece of oak 3/8″x3/4″x4′. This is to be the guide that slides in the mitre slot on the table saw.

Oak Guide

Oak Guide

 

I then drilled and counter sunk the oak on both sides (this is so when the screw goes in the MFD the oak won’t shift or separate at all. I then glued, tacked and screwed the oak to the MDF board ~4-1/2″ from one side so that when the jig was placed in either mitre slot the edge of the MDF would be at the saw blade. I let this dry for several hours.
I then ran the the jig through the table saw to trim up the edges thus having the saw blade at the very edge of the jig. The next step I took was measuring 1 1/2″ from the center guide and drilling and countersinking holes for the T-nuts.

Countersunk holes

Countersunk holes

 

I then hammered the T-nuts into place ensuring that they didn’t protrude from the board

T-Nuts installed

T-Nuts installed

 

The next step of the process was getting all of the accessories prepared. I started by drawing up a CAD file of a 2-1/2″ hex with a hex hole in the center that would fit a standard 3/8 hex nut. Using the laser cutter at Techworks, I cut 10 of these hexes out of scrap 1/2″ MDF. I then designed an equally sized hex but with a hole in the center and cut 20 pieces out of 1/8″ MDF. I placed the a hex nut in the center of the 1/2″ and sandwiched this between 2 1/8″ hexes. I then glued and tacked these together. (sorry no close ups of the finished sandwich…mmm sandwich)

Cutting hex pieces

Cutting hex pieces

 

Hex Hold

Hex Hold

 

Hex Hold with screw

Hex Hold with screw

 

I then cut 5″ lengths of threaded rod taking care to smooth out the threads using a file. Next I cut 4 blocks of oak measuring ~3/4×1-1/2×11″. Using a sled I made out of scrap material and a dado blade, I cut slots into the oak pieces so they would fit around the threaded rod.

Dado Sled

Dado Sled

 

Finally I screwed a small piece of wood on the end of the jig to act as a stop and I was ready to start making my shelf.
Using the threaded rod and hex nuts, I was able to clamp the wood to the jig at a very shallow angle. I used one of the oak pieces as a stop to be able to reproduce the same cut on multiple 2×6 boards.

Clamped wood

Clamped wood

 

After a successful first cut, I proceeded to make 3 more of the exact same cuts.

First Cut

First Cut

 

Success

Success

 

And after all the trouble of making the jig, I was able to make my angled cuts in about 5 minutes. however it did make my cuts consistent and making the dado sled helped when making the dado cuts for my shelf. and the final product turned out quite nice.

Competed Shelf

Competed Shelf

26

07 2016

Upcoming Retro Video game Day

Just a reminder that Saturday July 16th is the Retro Video game day at Techworks. 509 Gray Ave.

Come out and have some fun.

Event page

14

07 2016

Base Commanders (Paintball Game)

Paintball Game for Ranger Lake Bible Camp

A few years ago I built a “Terrorist Bomb” for RLBC to use as a paintball game. It was simple. It was hacked together out of a variety of parts I had lying around. It was also a huge hit.

aka "Game Timer"

aka “Game Timer”

After that, we started talking about a grander scheme. The next game would consist of three bases with buttons and lights. Initially it was traffic lights, but it eventually became the light pole we ended up using. The biggest problem with this sort of “capture the flag” type game is having referees to keep score. If we could use technology to keep score, it frees up the refs so they can focus on fair gameplay. I had been using XBee devices in my “day job,” so decided they would work great for communication between the bases and the command centre.

The system I ended up building consists of a Parallax Propeller based circuit board in a Seahorse case with an SLA battery for power. The light pole uses LED strips intended for ground effect lighting and the buttons are standard arcade machine buttons. Communications are provided by XBee S3B-DM modules, which are probably way overkill for the application, but I decided to start at the top rather than have to work my way up until I found what worked. The base station communications is provided by a stock Digi XBee development board connected to the computer by a USB cable.

Base Commander Bases

Base Commander Bases

Base Commander Light Pole

Base Commander Light Pole

After the initial software developer fell through, I took it upon myself to write the command centre software as well. (I don’t claim to be a software guy — especially GUI applications.) The software monitors the bases throughout the timed game and counts up the score for each team while the base is held by them. It will also remotely reset the base states when starting a new game, and puts all the bases into “win mode” at the end of a game. (They slow blink the winning team colour and no longer respond to button presses until the next game is started.)

The software was written in Free Pascal using the Lazarus IDE. Lazarus is a cross platform development environment and the plan, initially, was to install the software on an older Macintosh laptop. Sadly, I couldn’t get the serial communications library working on the Mac, so I ended up installing the software on an old Windows XP laptop.

Command Centre Software

Command Centre Software

July 4th was the first full day of camp for the 2016 season, and a perfect day to try out the new game.

We installed the base stations at locations around the paintball range and set up the command centre in the safe area building. I was a little worried about the fact we had a metal wall between one of the bases and the command centre, but communications was not a problem.

Speed Bump

Speed Bump

Black Snake

Black Snake

Command Centre

Command Centre

I watched the first couple of games from inside the safe zone. One of the staff provided the players with game progress updates over the PA system. Finally, on the third game, I decided to venture out and watch the action first hand. Sadly, after one picture, my phone announced to me that my memory card was full… and I didn’t feel in a particularly safe situation to go through my pictures and delete old ones. So this is the only photo I got while paintballs were whizzing around me. Yes the ref is protecting his junk. He was caught in the crossfire between a couple players. Yes, he did get hit.

In The Action

In The Action

It seems like the game was a huge hit. Many of the campers thanked me for building it, and a few also put two and two together and asked, excitedly, if I was also the guy who built the “Terrorist Bomb.” Yes. Yes, I am. (But in polite company I refer to it as the “Game Timer.”)

http://www.rlbc.ca
http://www.waldetech.ca
https://www.parallax.com/microcontrollers/propeller
http://www.digi.com/products/xbee-rf-solutions/modules/xbee-pro-900hp
http://www.lazarus-ide.org/

05

07 2016

A Quick Sunday Afternoon CNC Project

When switching back and forth between calibres on my Lee Pro 1000 reloading press, I often have bits and pieces strewn around my reloading bench.  Now, I tolerate a fair bit of disorder, but sometimes it gets to be a bit much.  So… today’s quick project was to help organize my mess a bit better.

The parts I switch out when changing between 9mm and .38spl are the turret with the dies installed, the shell plate, and the case slider.  (Also the case feeder, but that’s too big to store this way.)

IMG_20160522_151827

A few measurements and some quick drawing in Aspire and I’m ready for the router.

IMG_20160522_151843

I always enjoy watching Goliath work.

IMG_20160522_154231

Done,

IMG_20160522_155451

and back home!

IMG_20160522_160128

22

05 2016

Hacking a Samsonite Briefcase

So, years ago my daughter used an old briefcase of mine to keep some of her stuff in.  Today she asked me if I remembered the combination… yeah, right.

IMG_20160325_173847

So, I tried all sorts of bits of old phone numbers, but no joy.

But… apparently, there is a visual difference in the gap beside the wheel when you’re on the correct number.  So:

And… Voila!

IMG_20160325_174124

And, yeah, it was only a pad of construction paper and some dried up markers.

 

25

03 2016

Upcoming Soap Making Workshop

21

03 2016

Andrew’s PID Controller

(Submitted by Andrew Wright aka Bun-Bun)

After acquiring a used Cubex Duo 3D printer, I discovered the heated-bed did not actually heat. The PID controller for the unit appeared to be functional and the relay could be heard actuating, however upon testing with a DMM I found the relay to not be contacting. Opening the PID controller revealed a cheapo chinese relay which made me think if there was a better way: an SSR would be quieter (silent) and more reliable than a mechanical relay in the given application. With the help of Scott Walde I sourced an SSR and tested the PID output with a resistor and LED to prove an SSR would work. I drilled and tapped a hole to attach the SSR to the PID enclosure and applied thermal paste; the enclosure is the heatsink for the SSR. I bypassed what was the chinese relay and used the PID connections to wire up the now externally mounted SSR. It works perfectly and any concern on heat dissipation of the SSR is nullified in practice: the heat from the SSR is only enough to take the chill off the metal enclosure, not warm it up.

 

Before

PID Controller with cheap Chinese relay.

02_Testing

Testing with an LED in place of the relay coil

03_Modified

Modified

04_BackTogether

Back together

05_SSRSoldered

SSR with wires soldered on

06_Wired

All wired up

07_Works

It works!

08_BackTogether

Goes back together the same way

09_Done

Done!

22

02 2016

2016 AGM

Meeting Announcement!

Yes, it is that time of year again. The Saskatoon TechWorks Annual General Meeting will be held on March 15th, 2016 at 7pm at the space. (509a Gray Avenue)

At this meeting:

  • Board members will be elected for 2016-2017.
  • Any proposed bylaw changes will be voted on.
  • The president will deliver his address.
  • Financials for the year will be presented.

 

IMPORTANT!

  • Nominations for board members must be received no later than March 7th.
  • Any proposals for changes to the bylaws must be received no later than March 7th.

 

Please send your nominations and proposals to thespace@sktechworks.ca

You must be a member to vote at this meeting.

 

12

02 2016

What _are_ those things?!?

In addition to his obsession with obsolete display technology, John has also recently become obsessed with these insects.  Last night he spent some time mounting his new acquisitions in a shadow box.

10

02 2016


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