April 19, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sun Powered CNC [Maker Update #30]

This week on Maker Update, an all natural laser engraver that harnesses the sun, a fume-free portable workstation, a tool recommendation from Adam Savage, 3D printed Lego tape, and a collection of vintage Mac software you can use in your browser.

Amazon link for Knipex High Leverage Cutters: http://amzn.to/2onGa20

Kitty Car Update

Chains on go kart
Chains on!


Solar Draw by rabbitcreek

Solar Engraver
Photo and project by rabbitcreek.

Stepper Motor Screw with Nut Slider

Stepper Motor Screw with Nut Slider

Fume Extractor by I Like to Make Stuff

Electronics Workbench
Project and image by Bob Clagett.

Cool Tools Minute

Knipex High Leverage Cutters
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2onGa20
Adam Savage review: http://kk.org/cooltools/knipex-high-leverage-cutters/

Knipex High Leverage Cutters
Photo by Donald Bell.

This week’s Cool Tools podcast:
Simone Giertz


Tips of the Week: Shop Vac Digging, Know Your Bolts, and Arranging Your Drivers

Digging post holes with a shop vac is a game changer! 48″ in about 10 minutes!

A post shared by Jake von Slatt (@vonslatt) on

Patterns Collection – for Bending Rigid Materials by CncFactory

Living Hinges laser cut
Image by CNC Factory

3D Printed Lego Tape

3D Printed Lego Tape
Photo and project by the Ruiz Bros.

Internet Archive Brings 80s and 90s Mac Programs Back to Life

Maker Faires

New Orleans Mini Maker Faire New Orleans, Louisiana
Maker Faire Sachsen Chemnitz
Maker Faire Burlington Burlington, North Carolina
Maker Faire Westport Westport, Connecticut
Bloomsburg Mini Maker Faire Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
Red Deer Mini Maker Faire Red Deer, Alberta



This week on Maker Update, an all natural laser engraver, a fume-free portable workstation, a tool recommendation from Adam Savage, 3D printed Lego tape, and a collection of vintage Mac software you can use in your browser.

It’s Wednesday, April 19th, I’m Donald Bell and welcome to the 30th episode of Maker Update! A minor milestone, but still pretty cool, and the feedback you’ve given me along the way has kept me motivated — so thank you.

It’s been a good week. Just yesterday, Jordan Bunker and I made some good progress on the Hello Kitty car for Maker Faire Bay Area. We’ve got chains on now, and a brake. We could still really use some funding help through, so if you can put a few bucks towards it, that would be great. I’ll leave a link to our Indiegogo campaign in the show notes.

Now, if I had to pick my single favorite project this week, it’s this CNC engraver that burns images into wood by focusing sunlight through a giant lens. I’ve never seen anything like this.

The project is made by Instructables user Rabbit Creek, who’s taking the whole thing to Burning Man. Appropriately enough, it’s setup to burn the design of the Burning Man logo into wood.

Now, aside from the fact that this is more or less a DIY solar powered laser engraver and could potentially burn down your back yard, it’s a surprisingly approachable project. I wouldn’t do it for the sake of my own well being — but I like knowing that I could.

The heart of this project is an Adafruit feather board to handle the Arduino code and a Stepper Motor Featherwing to control the motors. Both can be had for around $20 each.

But the star of the show is a pair of $11 Stepper Motors that are built into these rails that screw up and down. You stack one on the other, and you’ve effectively got your X and Y axis. I had no idea these were so cheap!

The other key ingredient here is a little servo that moves a thin circle of aluminum into the sunbeam to regulate the burning — otherwise the whole thing would just catch on fire.

I love this project — mostly because I love it when I see projects that I’ve never seen before. It’s also — for better or worse — so dangerous that I suspect no company would ever risk manufacturing it. So it just perfectly sits here as this mad scientist maker project.

That said, I bet you could adapt this for a little drawing machine or another less flammable project.

For something far more practical, I also loved this portable electronics workbench from Bob Clagett of I Like to Make Stuff. It combines a powerful homemade fume extractor with a burn resistant surface and an array of helping hands. There’s no writeup for this project yet, but the video does a great job of methodically going through each step, so really the video is all you need.

Time now for my one minute review of a tool I found through the Cool Tools blog. It’s one of my favorite ways to discover new, useful, and unexpected tools. This week I’m going to show you these Knipex High Leverage Cutters.

These cost around $35, which isn’t cheap for a pair of clippers, but they’re indestructible. They’re drop forged, so they’re extremely tough. They’re rated for cutting through Piano Wire, which is essentially tempered spring steel and easily damages most cutters.

Personally, I’ve used these on cutting away sharp ends of nails and screws. But I’ll also use them on overkill things like zip ties or extracting my kid’s toy from packaging tie downs. It’s safer and more satisfying than a box cutter.

Also, and I probably should have led with this — they were reviewed on the Cool Tools blog by Adam Savage. He loves them, and that alone was enough for me.

I’ve got an Amazon link in the show notes, and by using that link you help to support this show and the Cool Tools blog and podcast. This week on the podcast they have an interview with Simone Giertz, so check that out.

Now for a few extra tips I found this week. Over on Makezine, the latest tip roundup from Gareth Branwyn includes a tip on using a Shopvac to dig post holes, which I’m curious to try. Also a tip on using PVC pipe sections to create holsters for power drills.

On Instructables I found another guide on using lasercut patterns to create flexible hinges in your designs. This one comes from CNC factory, and they include a number of fancy patterns that you can download and test out.

Over on Adafruit, the Ruiz brothers have an excellent guide on making your own adhesive Lego tape using Ninjaflex filament and any 3D printer with a heated glass bed. The glass gives the Ninjaflex the super smooth surface it needs to stick to things, but it’s still rigid enough to lock into Lego pieces. It looks like a lot of fun.

Finally, through Popular Mechanics I learned about a new batch of 80s and 90s Mac programs that you can browse, download and use play right from Archive.org. The Mac emulator is built right in, so you can load up Dark Castle, go full screen and waste some serious time. But it’s also a great resource if you wanted to make a vintage Mac emulator on a Raspberry Pi.

Maker Faires! A whole bunch this weekend, including New Orleans, Chemnitz Germany, Burlington North Carolina, Westport Connecticut, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania, and Red Deer in Alberta Canada. If one of those is near you, go out and mingle with your fellow makers.

And that’s it for this week’s Maker Update! Be sure to subscribe to this channel if you haven’t already. And if you could give me a thumbs-up here or leave a comment, that would be great. And again, if you’re interested in those cutters I showed you, using the Amazon link in the show notes helps to support the show at no additional cost to you, alright? Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.

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