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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. Continue reading Base Commanders (Paintball Game)

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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 Continue reading A Quick Sunday Afternoon CNC Project

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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!
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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.

 

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Sous Vide Update

The sous vide controller is beginning to take better shape than the prototype on the breadboard.  Note, this one still has a fully configurable analogue stage.  The wheatstone bridge and the op-amp gain can be changed by swapping out resistors.

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The meals have also progressed beyond soft-boiled eggs.

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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.
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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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Temperature Control (Sous Vide)

I have been talking about this for ages… threatening to build it… even ordered parts.  But, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when Drew brought his Sansaire over and cooked some eggs for us that I finally got the motivation to start work on this project.

There are 101 ways you could do this.  I’m going for cheap.  My temperature sensor is a super-cheap PT100 PTC sensor.  I am running it in a wheatstone bridge connected to a differential amplifier tuned to get the best resolution out of the temperature range I’m interested in. (49C – 74C)  The output of that goes to a Nano clone, which currently only turns a Solid State Relay on and off.  (I plan to use PID in the future)  The relay turns a slow cooker on and off.  This tiny one really isn’t hot enough, but I’m giving it a try today.

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I am monitoring the whole thing over the USB/Serial port with a quickly hacked together windows application.  Future plans including adjusting the setpoint and tuning the PID from this application.

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So, in about an hour, I should have some perfectly cooked eggs!

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UPDATE:

It worked!  These were cooked to 64.5C for one hour.
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