Friday, March 29, 2013

A Few More Pictures From The Corvallis Maker “Festival”

We went back to the 2nd day of the Maker Festival lured by the promise of new exhibits and the fact that the kids forgot to get the disks to the Wii games they checked out of the library the day before. Yes, the library has video games.

The Eugene Makerspace showed off their “Quarktronic” sound machine.

Kinetic Creatures had cardboard automata.

Dawson Station, an Arduino controlled model of the Hull-Oakes sawmill.

The library bought some of these Sparkfun Inventor’s kits but for some reason are only having classes for teenagers. Such rampant ageism.

A rude 3D print. Ok, art print.

All in all I think a slightly larger space with all the exhibitors on both days would have been better, as well as more community involvement and communication. Many people had no idea it was going to happen until the day of the Festival. Also they really need to call it a Maker Faire and ally themselves with the official Maker movement. But that requires 6 months advanced planning apparently.

The big problem with Corvallis (or the Mid-Valley) is that it’s an extremely nerdy area with tens if not hundreds of micro-communities that do not communicate between themselves. We have the OSU Open Source Lab and sundry other OSU clubs and departments, Linn-Benton Community College, Da Vinci Days, Bike Co-op, sustainability nuts, home shop and model engine lunatics, R/C enthusiasts, HAM madmen, a model train club, Hewlett-Freaking-Packard, solar, nuclear and biotech startups, as well as people toiling anonymously on their favorite hobby-horses in basements and garages.

This is partly down to the psychology of the nerd and partly due to the lack of any centralized clearing house for nerd-events and resources in the Mid-Valley. Mostly down to psychology though. A couple of well funded and time-rich motivated individuals could change all that. Clearly I’m not that guy, so I can’t complain too much.

So I’m happy the “festival” happened and exposed people to things they may not have known about (it makes me seem less insane to my friends) and it was fun to have conversations with people doing neat projects.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Maker “Festival” At The Benton County Library

We went to the Maker “Festival” at the Benton County LIbrary (.pdf flyer) today. Not sure why they called it a festival instead of a fair, but that’s Corvallis for you… We stayed for about an hour and a half and we’ll go back tomorrow as there will be different exhibits.

Lonely little robot.

OSU robotics had quadcopters.

The room.

Tiny robot.

One of two Makerbots.

Snap Circuits and K’nex.

Felt fun.

Raspberry Pi, programming lights to blink with Scratch.

Lego robot w/ many features.

Bubble machine.

DSC02825DSC02826Some neat boards made by Ken.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Nice Way To Spend An Afternoon.

I glanced over at the side of the pump house today and noticed that it was dripping water at the bottom of the siding. The faucet pipe wasn’t leaking so I went into the pump house.

I found water steadily dripping from the inside of the well pump pressure switch. This isn’t ideal as I’ve been taught that electricity and water do not mix well. I turned off the electricity and removed the switch cover. Yup, water was coming out of the diaphragm area.

A quick trip to the Philomath True Value (The well supply store was closed after noon on Saturdays…) and I was the proud owner of a  Square D FSG2J21M4CP 30/50 PSI Standard Pressure Switch with Low Pressure Cutoff. Or as we laymen like to call it, “that switch thingy for my well”. The price was $8 over the cost of one from Amazon but this is a fine example of a time when you’re happy that brick and mortar retail establishments still exist. I should add here that no switch = no water (not strictly true as I could have manually bypassed it, but that would not be optimal.) Replacement was relatively quick and easy although I had to stay home instead of going out to yet another kid’s birthday party with the boys and Felice. Darn. I’ll be checking it every now and then for the rest of the day to make sure nothing leaks.

I tore open the old switch and found a lot of silt, which isn’t unusual for a well.

I removed the diaphragm cover and diaphragm.

Found the leak, the diaphragm had ripped at the point of contact with the cover plate. I suppose one could make a diaphragm in an emergency, it looks like either nylon or  a high durometer polyurethane. I’ll keep the old parts just in case.

Did I mention the silt?

As I was engaged in the project, Felice mentioned that the lower field’s outside faucet was leaking. Since I had the water off I pulled the valve out to check it. The washer was ripped in half.

Looks like part of the valve cup sheared off (how do these things happen?).

Lucky for me I have a box of random rubber washers, grommets and such. Found a suitable replacement for the washer and the faucet doesn’t leak. I’ll probably replace it or remachine the cup  if it leaks again.

Not a bad 3 hours of fun.

Monday, March 04, 2013

February Is Shorter Than Most Months

This is what we’ve been up to.
Henry took apart a fax machine.
We went for a hike on Bald Hill.
Didn’t see any newts though.

I made a really narrow LED display. It uses a Max7219, Arduino and an unknown LED matrix a friend gave me. I have some more Max7219 chips coming to chain together so I can get the whole thing working.
I did buy a Raspberry Pi as well this month. I haven’t done much beyond setting up its SSH server and remoting into it.

And I smashed our old toilet after installing the Gerber Avalanche.
Besides that, not much else. Here are some links:
Who knows what March will bring, besides those pesky Ides?