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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!

Continue reading TechWorks is moving!

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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.


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!


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


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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.


PID Controller with cheap Chinese relay.
Testing with an LED in place of the relay coil
Back together
SSR with wires soldered on
All wired up
It works!
Goes back together the same way
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Spectrum 2016!

I just spent the past two days helping out at our booth at Spectrum 2016. Spectrum is a triennual show put on by the U of S College of Engineering students.  The people attending on Thursday and Friday tend to be predominantly school field trips.  It was great to meet kids who were enthusiastic about making things.

The show continues on Saturday and Sunday, so please come visit our booth and chat with us about making things and maker culture.

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Our display consists of a variety of projects that Techworks members have made.

Of course, there is a ton of other cool stuff to see, so budget at least a couple of hours to look around.  Kilobots XXXII will also be holding their event in the Hardy Lab on Saturday and Sunday, so if that’s your thing, make sure to budget even more time to watch the mayhem.

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Much Soap Made

We had five soap-makers and two helpers (plus me) at the soap workshop last night.  This was a very good size, I think.  We had a variety of ingredients. In addition to the usual coconut oil and olive oil, we used lard, cocoa butter, flaxseed oil, lanolin, and perhaps a few more I’ve forgotten.  I’m looking forward to hearing reports on how the soaps turned out.

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November meeting cancelled

In light of Remembrance Day coinciding with our usual monthly meeting date, we decided to cancel November’s monthly meeting. Our apologies for not communicating that to the membership at large before the meeting. Thank you to everyone who showed up last night anyway. We will continue with our regularly scheduled meeting on December 9th.