Monday, March 19, 2018

Soldering Iron: What is it and how does it work?

All About the Soldering Iron

Image result for soldering iron
              A soldering iron is a hand tool used in soldering. It supplies heat to melt solder so that it can flow into the joint between two work pieces. A soldering iron is composed of a heated metal tip and an insulated handle. The soldering iron here at the MakerSpace is typically used for fusing wires together with solder, and can really come in handy with circuitry.

              The image above, shows a button that I have
soldered to the two separate wires to make a working light switch.
 As shown, the wires are securely in place, and are not going anywhere.
There are a couple components of this machine which are the base, the hand tool, the solder and the poof cleaner.

The soldering station:
   There are two parts that go into making this station: the base and the hand tool. The soldering hand tool is a metal rod with a small slanted tip which is also very small in order to carefully and precisely solder. This tool has heat being conducted through it from what is called the base. The base is where the hand can be placed when  it is not being used but it also decides how many watts of energy is being used to solder. The dial that is numbered 1 through 5 shows the different amount of heat possibilities ranging from 5 watts to 40 watts however this all depends on which soldering iron is used. The handful heats up very quickly and is able to heat up in just about a minute.

The Solder:
     The solder is a metal with a Low melting point and and one that also cools very quickly as well. It is very effective in connecting wires and such and is a very important to the soldering process. There are many different types of solder. As shown below, these are the solder metals that we have at the Makerspace.

Poof Cleaner:
    This is what cleans the hand tool after it is used. It takes off any of the old solder that has dried on the tool and is useful in between different soldering periods.

      This is very helpful and holding the two wires together that are being soldered.

How To Work the Soldering Machine:

  1.   Turn the machine on and set the heat to whatever you need it to be by turning the dial.
  2. Then use the clamps to hold together the two materials you will be soldering together.
  3. Then take the hand tool and place it underneath the two wires which are connecting, and place the solder on top of it. The metal of the wires will conduct heat and the solder will melt on top of the two wires, securing them in place. 
  4. Unclamp and use your new soldered masterpiece!

Vinyl Cutter: Advanced Tips and Tricks

Vinyl Cutter: Advanced Tips and Tricks

Ben Pepper

Tip #1: Welding

     In the top left hand corner of the screen in Graphtec Studio, there is a button called "Weld selected shapes into one shape." This button can be very useful in making complex shapes.To use it, two or more shapes must be highlighted by dragging the mouse over them. When this happens, the button will turn from a light gray to a dark gray, informing the user that the selected shapes can be grouped together. Once this button is pressed, the selected shapes will combine into one shape. This can be very useful in making complex shapes out of simple shapes. For example, the Mickey Mouse logo can be made easily by grouping one big circle and two smaller circles on top of it. The weld button will combine all of these shapes and make the sticker look just like the logo. Knowing about this button allows people to make exactly what they desire to make by the use of complex shapes.

Tip #2: Roll-1 Front Edge

     Using the "Roll-1 Front Edge" option on the vinyl cutter can help save sticker paper. After the sticker paper is secured in the vinyl cutter, 3 options will show up. The first option, Roll-1 Front Edge, rolls the excess sticker paper back so it is not used. Knowing this allows the sticker paper to last longer, since no excess sticker paper is being wasted while cutting.

Tip #3: Layering

Displaying IMG-2086.JPG
     Layering is a very useful way to make stickers multiple colors. While each layer has to be the same color, stacking different layers of sticker paper on each other will create multiple colors. For example, the Christmas wreath pictured to the right was used combining different layers. This can be seen by the multiple colors of the sticker. Each color has to be in its own file because each color needs to be printed separately. It is useful to use one file at first and create the design completely. To visualize what shape needs to be what color, the "Open the fill color window" button in the top right corner of Graphtec Studio can turn the shape into that color. Make sure not to weld the shapes together, as it will mess the sticker up. After the sticker is fully complete, all of the shapes can be selected to make sure that the sticker is the proper size. Once the sticker is the proper size, they can be split up into different files corresponding to the color that they need to be. It is also important to use the file of the completed sticker to know how to put it together once all of the pieces are printed. Knowing this can allow the vinyl cutter to be used to its fullest potential and can be used to make multicolored stickers.

Tip #4: Text

Displaying IMG-2068.JPG     Text can be useful to personalize stickers. Text boxes can be placed directly in a shape and will appear on the sticker. Since the text shapes are so small, it is hard to remove the letters so that the text can be read on the sticker. Using the "pick me up" knife tool can be useful to remove the letters from the stickers. It works by scraping the letters off, which completely destroys them. Using this small knife will allow for only the text to be removed from the sticker and will not interfere with the actual sticker itself. This allows the user to have their text carved out of the sticker without ruining it. Knowing this can allow for stickers to be customized.

Tip #5: Dimensions

     Utilizing dimensions is very important on knowing how big the sticker is going to be. The dimensions of the sticker can be changed. They can be changed by selecting the sticker and shrinking or enlarging it by using the mouse to pull on the squares on the corners of the sticker which adjust its size. The exact measurements of the sides are shown directly on the sticker when this is done, so doing this will allow the user to know exactly how big their sticker will be. If a sticker is meant to go on a piece of paper, the user can adjust the design page to make it 8 in by 11 in, the size of the paper. Doing this will allow the user to model their sticker in the size of their paper, therefore allowing them to know not only exactly how big it will be but also how big it will look in proportion to the paper. Knowing this allows the user to make their sticker the perfect size.

Using the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a miniature computer that is able to run and conduct code. It is able to perform many functions that a PC computer can, like playing games, browsing the internet, and other things like that. To use it, you plug it into your computer, and control it using a mouse. It is also a teaching tool, and teaches many people how to code. It also teaches them more about computers and how they work.

To run it, one of the recommended installation methods is NOOBS, which stands for New Out of Box Software. It is perfect for those learning how to code, because it requires no computing or coding experience. This is the easiest and perfect for those who are just starting out coding. This software makes it easiest to set up various operating systems so that you can conduct a project. The other recommended operating system is called the Raspbian, which works just as well.

Since you code on it, the Raspberry Pi recommends using Python as the scripting language. It is the easiest and more versatile scripting language, which makes it perfect for beginners. But, it is not just limited to that language, but you can use many others such as C, C++, Java, Scratch, and Ruby which all come preinstalled. But it is still not limited to just there, any language that will compile with previous models such as the Pi 1 or Pi 2 will also work on the Raspberry Pi.

Image result for raspberry piThe Raspberry Pi is capable of all sorts of projects, from just fun creations and ideas to practical uses. You can code games, programs, but you can also use it to run a computer or project onto your TV. This starts out as a beginner tool but can be used for so many more practical and creative uses. It is also inexpensive, which makes it even better. With it having so many possibilities, it has a perfect use here in the Makerspace where you can be creative with it, but also apply your previous knowledge.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Working with Arduino

Image result for arduino
          Arduinos is a single board micro-controller that functions as a miniature computer. They can be used for many things, including turning on and off lights in a precise manner, as well as working with sensors. In this post, I will give a brief introduction to Arduinos and how to use them.
Image result for arduino wire         Arduinos need to be plugged into a computer to receive code, however they can run the code on their own if connected to a power source. They should be connected to the computer through a standard USB wire attached to the Arduino by the black box in the lower left corner of the image to the right.
          There are two main uses for the Arduino: output and input. Output is when the Arduino supplies power to something else, such as an LED light or a motor. Input is when the Arduino takes in information, such as from buttons or levers.
           To use an Arduino with a computer, first you need to install a chrome add on that can be found here. This allows you computer to interact with the Arduino.
          Code with Arduino is done is three parts. First, variables are defined outside of any functions at the beginning. Then, put anything you want to run once at the beginning of the program in the 'setup' function. Lastly, put anything you want to run continuously is the 'loop' function.
          A good starting point for working with Arduinos is to turn a light on and off. This requires coding with the Arduino. Arduino uses a modified version of C++. First, go to this site to code. Next, you will need to create a variable to define what port the light is in. This is done with the code 'int led = 13;'
          Next, you will need to define the pin as output, which is what tells it to power the light. This is done with the code 'pinMode(led, OUTPUT);'
          Finally, now that everything is set up, we need to turn the light on and off. To turn the light on, we turn the power to 'high'. This is done with the code 'digitalWrite(led, HIGH)' to turn the light off, we do the same thing as before, but replacing 'high' with 'low', like so: 'digitalWrite(led, LOW');'
          This should turn the lights on and off, however Arduinos do not have a built in delay, so the light will turn on, and then immediately turn itself off. To stop this, we will manually add a delay. This is done with the code 'delay(1000);' This will tell the Arduino to wait for 1000 milliseconds, or one second.
          This is a brief tutorial on how to use an Arduino computer. Arduinos are extremely versatile, and can do many impressive and interesting things. Though, previous knowledge of coding certainly helps, it is possible to learn along the way and achieve great things with Arduino.

Aspects of 3D Design: Backlash

Aspects of 3D design

In this blog I hope to chronicle the lessons I learn throughout my process of designing my own creations. My goal is to be able to help others create their own designs, while avoiding the same mistakes that I have made.

What is Backlash?

In terms of 3D design, backlash is the term to describe the amount to space between moving parts before they actually begin to touch. In other words, it is the gap between different pieces of your design.

Why is Backlash Important?

Backlash is a necessary component to creating a final product with moving parts or that must be assembled from what you have made. This is because the addition of backlash into your design accounts for possible imperfection or errors in your parts, tools, or assembly. For example, 3D printers use plastic that slightly expands when it is printed, and because of this, two parts that are printed to fit "exactly" together will fail to correctly assemble because the pieces will be slightly larger than expected. It is important to recognize where possible errors can arise and to implement backlash to account for them.

Backlash applies to all forms of construction from 3D printing, to woodworking. Each material will use it in different ways.

What does Backlash Look Like?

For a project that I have been working on, I have been designing a robotic arm to be printed using a 3D printer and assembled afterward, and I have been using backlash for each part of it. 

When creating gears inside the arm, I need to add backlash in three places: once inside the gear to make the gear teeth further apart to account for the other gear's expansion. The second place is the distance between the two gears to make sure that the two gears do not overlap once printed. The third place is within the hole of the gear in which I made the hole larger that the peg it is fitting onto. I specifically needed to make sure that every gear could turn smoothly, without begin inhibited by improper fittings.