July 12, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Power Tool Tachometer [Maker Update #42]

This week on Maker Update, Pterodactyl automata, a tachometer for your tools, poster tack for your tech, Hackaday Superconference, understanding screws, and making better projects. This week’s Cool Tool is poster putty (really!).


Pterodactyl, Pseudo Style by Greg Zumwalt

Pterodactyl automata
Photo and project by Greg Zumwalt.

Pro Trinket Tachometer by Bill Earl

Pro Trinket Tachometer
Photo and project by by Bill Earl, courtesy of Adafruit.


New Make: magazine (v58)

Maker Magazine 58

Hackaday Superconference tickets on sale

Hackaday Supercon

Cool Tools Minute

Poster Putty

5 Fantastic Uses for Poster Putty article by Gareth Branwyn on Make:

Poster putty supporting project
Photo by Donald Bell.


Collin Cunningham on Cool Tools Podcast

Screws: What You Need to Know by Essential Craftsman (Scott Wadsworth)

Essential Craftsman (Scott Wadsworth)
Scott Wadsworth of Essential Craftsman.

Tips of the Week: Tool Layout, Parachute Bags, Glove-Love, and Bendy Sticks

Becky’s Project Documentation Tips

Project Documentation
Photo by Becky Stern.

Maker Events

Maker Faire Bodensee Friedrichshafen
Maker Faire Xi’an Xi’an, Shaanxi
Waterbury Mini Maker Faire Waterbury, Vermont
Dublin Maker



This week on Maker Update, Pterodactyl automata, a tachometer for your tools, poster tack for your tech, Hackaday Superconference, understanding screws, and making better projects.

It’s Wednesday July 12th, I’m Donald Bell, and welcome to another Maker Update. I’m having a good week, getting back into my routine. I cleared out some space in my garage and built small work workbench in one corner. Nothing fancy, but it’s nice to have another surface to junk up.

I hope you’re having a good week too. There’s a good variety of projects and tips to share with you this week, so let’s get into it.

First, check out this hand-crank automata of a Pterodactyl, by Greg Zumwalt. The entire design — bolts, wings, gears and stand — are all 3D printed and each individual file is available right from Greg’s Instructable.

The assembly instructions are well written and have clear, beautiful photos. A lot of the parts have small, detailed threads on them, so you’ll need a printer with a nice resolution. Greg’s using an Ultimaker 2+.

I also think it would be cool (and probably pretty easy) to modify the body profile and create something more like a bird or a dragon, or a flying pig. Or maybe build out the body to look a little more like an authentic skeleton. There’s some good remix potential here.

For a more practical project, I’m really tempted to build this DIY tachometer from Bill Earl on Adafruit. Using a Pro Trinket, a 4-digit display, and a reflective IR sensor, Bill made an RPM readout that can be easily adapted for a drill press or lathe or band saw.

So long as there’s a clear contrast stripe on whatever is spinning, the sensor can count each revolution. All in, the total project cost is around $35. I’m thinking of maybe adapting this for my go kart.

Speaking of which, in news this week, there’s a new issue of Make Magazine out. It’s volume 48, focusing on the maker community. And early in, there’s a little Maker Faire roundup with a photo of me and the Kitty. John Park’s also in here with his DIY Lucio blaster, and there’s a great profile on the guys behind Megabots. Check it out.

Also, Hackaday announced that tickets are officially on sale for their annual Superconference. It takes place November 11th and 12th in Pasadena CA. If you’re interested in presenting a talk or workshop at the conference, there’s a Google form for pitching your idea.

And is it just me, or do the Hackaday promo videos kinda make you want to put on black eyeliner and chainsmoke with a complicated vaporizer. The promos are so cool, but it’s a little intimidating.

This time around for my Cool Tools review, I’m going super cheap. How cheap, Donald? How about $3. That’s what I paid for this block of poster tack as an Amazon add-on. I’m going to show you why you should keep some in your toolkit. And if I do a convincing job, be sure to use the link in the video description, which supports my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

If you do any soldering you probably have a pair of helping hands, or some bulky heavy thing like this that can hold your project or components steady while you wire them. They’re useful, but a little clunky to travel with, and often overkill if you’re just splicing a wire or two.

In terms of price and portability, poster tack is a great alternative. The first problem it solves is what I call the wandering board problem, where you’re pushing your project around the table as you’re trying to soldering it up. Using a glob of tack to temporarily fix your board in place makes the job a lot easier.

The second problem solved by tack is component to component soldering. You need to put a resistor on a leg of an LED, or splice two wires together. Everyone has their way of doing things, but in terms of convenience, few ways are faster than just sticking the pieces down with tack, and hitting it with some solder.

I know I’m not the first to think of it — you’ve probably heard this advice before — but if you’re like me you always forget to grab this stuff when you’re at the store. So do us both a favor, use the Amazon link here, throw $3 at it, and see if it helps you out. And remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools, and hacks, at cool-tools.org.

Speaking of Cool Tools, this week they’ve got a great podcast episode up with Collin Cunningham from Adafruit. Give that a listen.

While you’re at it, check out the Essential Craftsman YouTube channel, featuring Scott Wadsworth. Scott has a great video covering everything you’d want to know about screws. I learned about it through Gareth Branwyn and his Tip of the Week on Makezine. It inspired me to pick up some Torx head screws to fasten my new workbench together, which I love. I’m now a torx snob.

And don’t miss out on Becky Stern’s Instructable and video on 5 tips for documenting projects. From her time at Make, then Adafruit, and now her own channel and Instructables — nobody has better chops at writing up and filming DIY projects than Becky, in my opinion.

And let’s be real, the foundation of the maker movement is showing others how to make things. If we’re not striving to be better about showing and telling, then we’re not really bringing people in and making more makers. So thank you, Becky.

Maker Faires! This weekend we have three, including Bodensee in Germany, Xi’an China, and Waterbury Vermont.

Also, I got an email from Jeffrey Roe in Dublin Ireland, who’s organizing an event called Dublin Maker on July 22nd. So if any of those places and dates sound like a good fit for you, go out and get inspired.

And that does it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe or give thumbs up or a comment. I’ve got a link to that $3 poster tack in the show notes. And have a great week, alright? I’ll see you next Wednesday.

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