Cast aluminium wheels
Last Friday we fired up the crucible and did some aluminium casting at rLab. Mostly melting some scrap into ingots, but Andy also made this fantastic pair of wheel blanks using lost foam casting. He has since put together this great video that shows the full end-to-end process, including how he prepared the moulds – well worth a watch if you’re considering doing this yourself.
Here’s a great example of what you can build, if you set your mind to it, with the facilities here at rLab. This remote-control robotic cocktail-maker was made from laser cut acrylic, some RGB LEDs, cheap peristaltic pumps and an Arduino. All in a couple of evening’s work. Now sit back and let the robotic bar-tender do the rest…..
Want to know how long the rain is going to last? Simple- pop out to the shed and build yourself a weather satellite antenna from the bits that you can find. [OK – there may be easier ways of finding out, but this looks far more fun!]
Looks like rain again…
Antenna in Simon’s (unnervingly tidy) shed
Circling above your head the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have satellites constantly broadcasting back data and pictures using APT on ~137MHz. There is nothing to stop you receiving these images yourself and, like Simon, you can build a ‘quadrifilar helicoidal’ antenna with some plumbing supplies and the help of this great online calculator.
Connected to the antenna were an RTL-SDR dongle and a computer running gpredict to track the satellite, gqrx to handle reception, and wxtoimg to do the APT image decoding.
Next up? Let’s add a SatNOGS ground station to roof of rLab!
Fantastic video of the final testing of our Inter-Hackspace Robot-Wars entry
We are off to Newcastle-under-Lyme next weekend to compete in the 2015 Inter-Hackspace Robot Wars organised by the Potteries Hackspace. Aside from the home team, we’re also up against teams from Bromyard, Hitchin, and Birmingham.
Reading Hackpace’s menacing entry for the Inter-Hackspace Robot Wars 2015
One of the most challenging aspects of the competition is staying within the 10kg weight limit. Once you’ve put motors, batteries and drivetrain onboard, there’s not a lot of scope for much else. Ours is based on a biscuit tin! It might not look strong, or particularly menacing, but perhaps our entry is not quite what it seems [mwahahaha].
We’ll report back in a couple of weeks with a fuller write-up and hopefully some video of our victorious entry.
rLab is proud to be hosting Reading Repair Cafe this Sunday, July 19th, between 12:00 and 16:30.
So if you have something that’s broken, or some tools that need sharpening, bring them down to Unit C1, Weldale Street, Reading, RG1 7BX, where the volunteers will be only too pleased to help you.
There will be plenty of expertise in computers, electricals, mending clothes; the right tools to get things fixed; and some cakes and food for sale too!
More details here and here too
Reading Hackspace and TVRRUG members Matt and Malcolm recently ran some tests on a resin for smoothing 3D prints. Whilst with ABS prints you can use Acetone Vapour Smoothing for smoothing, for PLA the chemicals are a lot more noxious. In the tests, they used a resin called XTC-3D. Click through to Matt’s blog for pictures of the results and discussion.
Over the last few weeks members have been working on a new modular tool storage system for our ever-growing collection of workshop tools. Proposed and designed by Ian, the shelves are the ultimate in re-configurability, and will be a huge help in keeping our workbenches free of clutter. We’ve now got four units in total and, at last, a place for every tool in the workshop!
When Ian first showed the plans they looked ideal, but when I dropped in this evening I wasn’t prepared for just how awesome the finished product would look. Ian – you’re a visionary. Well done everyone who has mucked in over the last few weekends to make the plans a reality. A great team effort.
Two of the finished units…
… and the other two
A few weeks ago we posted about the dispatch of one of our lasers into the hands of YouTube-video creator PhotonicInduction. Andy has been pretty busy in the meantime, zapping bugs, setting fire to his sofa, burning holes in his mobile-phone, and has also produced this great video where he tears down the Sharplan 3000 laser and explains how it works. Highly recommended viewing.
Still from PhotonicInduction’s video