Tank Bot

The tank bot is fully functional.  Sort of.  Actually not at all.  After hours of work fitting the frame, wiring the electronics, and tweaking,  it turns out there's a fundamental design flaw.  The wheel edges aren't high enough to keep the tracks on-track.  Despite the setback there's no question about the potential of this rough rider.  It's a beast, and once we get the bugs corrected and add a few extras, its going to be one-of-a-kind cool.  I see angry bot delivered paint balls in the future.

A New Take on an Old Theme - Railroad Spike Knife#?

Rich is a new member and made this knife his first day.  Not stopping there, he's already contributed to such projects as the soon to come power wheels racer.

As an intro to Fredhack, we like to make sure people know what they're getting into so we turn up the temp to 3000 and give them a hammer to hit things with.  Nice job.

It's cool to see how everyone has their own take and you can definitely tell Rich put some time into this making it curvacentric.  If you throw it does it come back?  I'm not sure I'd want it to.


Celebrating Tabletop Day - Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator

Fredhack celebrated Tabletop Day on March 30th by playing Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator.  Alright alright, before you start yelling, "But that's a video game which is totally not what Table Top day is all about," let me make my case that its ok.  Maybe.

First, we put all our laptops on a large table, thus tabletop.

Second, the way the game works, requiring coordination between multiple members of the "bridge" mostly through talking back and forth, gives that work together and laugh a lot feel that is somewhere between LARPing and tabletop play rather than the arguably standard insular video gaming situation.

The highly interlocking co-oping of Artemis requires players to work together in a way that is even more interwoven than say your standard WoW run.  One person on navigation, one on weapons, one on engineering, one on science, etc.  And everything everyone does effects everyone else.  If people don't report on the bridge and do particular tasks at the right time, we all die... on our ship together. 

Third, we met the makers of Artemis at Nofolk Maker Faire where they presented, which has no relevance other than we like that, so there.  Case made.

Regardless if your convinced by my argument, Artemis is a great game and we'll be playing it more in the future as team Fredhack voyages into the great beyond conquering alien intruders of all kinds.  We've even been talking about fielding a team to go and fight another team.  We shall see.

Having a Blast! - Sandblasting for Project Lettering

With a combination of paint, vinyl, and sandblasting we learned a new technique for lettering objects and simultaneously invented a new Fredhack award, the "Stump of the Week".

First the sandblasting:  We used Garrett's sandblasting rig which is setup for fossil preparation and is pushed by a giant air compressor through various conditioning apparatus.  The particulate used was mainly sodium bicarbonate, but there was a mix of other mystery medium included in Garrett's secret blend.  

We used vinyl lettering from the hardware store to lay-down the lettering.  We then blasted the area around it leaving a relief.  Another thing we noticed was that the "early wood" in the grain pattern (see wikipedia entry on Dendrochronology for wood grain info) which is less dense was removed more easily leaving behind ridges of "late wood" (or "summer wood").  Without knowing it we independently discovered a traditional wood crafting technique called udukuri.  Here's a link to another project that uses the technique.

Alright, now for the new Fredhack award.  As a collective of self-taught DIY'ers we embrace mistakes.  In honor of that, we decided that instead of just throwing away our test piece, we'd make an award to be given to the member that made the most notable mistake, thus becoming the "Stump of the Week".  Russ quickly won the award in the process of making the thing by leaving the bottom hatch of the sandblaster open when reloading it, thereby dumping all the sand straight on the garage floor. Classic!

See the sidebar for "Stump of the Week" winners list.

Here's the sandblasting going down.  This is of course after we swept it back up.

Here's the award.  We decided to leave the vinyl lettering in place because the beat-up look goes perfect with the award idea.  Also notice the raised grain of the "summer wood".

Terrarium Fright

Beth put together this terrarium. Originally she was going to print some images of founding fathers to make a cardboard-backed paper doll diorama or maybe 3D print some other historical characters to insert since she's a history nerd, but then she dropped the eerie wind-up toy eyeball in the scene and thought it looked perfect.

That thick looking freaky plant in the top right is an unspecified succulent which refers to its water-retaining properties that fatten up the leaves. Aloe is a common example. Just like an Aloe, it was ooey gooey inside when she dismantled it.  The creepy stalks give the terrarium a "Land of the Lost" feel which is perfect for monster eyeballs to stomp through.

Here's an instuctable on how to make your own terrarium which is similar to what she followed.  Though terrarium making is widely covered on the net, we think it's all about what you add to the scene that makes a terrarium memorable.  Think "Anecdote of a Jar" by Wallace Stevens.

Glass bowl, dirt, pebbles, plants.  Nothing to it.
It's looking at me!!!!

 A few more of her terrariums presented after the jump.


Model Furniture

I bought a flat pack of dollhouse/model furniture from Michaels hobby store dirt cheap (like 3 bucks).  After assembling the models, I thought, "Why not design my own?"   Of course this called for a modern update.  See below for results. 

Need to get that laser cutter now to test the designs.  Could such exploits turn into making our own life-sized flat pack furniture via CNC router?... oh, I think that's a possibility.  Go to our Thingiverse or GrabCAD for the files.

This is the model furniture from Michaels.  It snaps together well, but a little glue is required.
I designed new versions using ideas learned from assembling the model furniture


Wooden Necktie - The Ultimate Arboreal Accessory

Russ is going all corporate on us and sprucing up his attire.  Check out his lumbering how-to below.

Layout the shape on your wood and cut it in pieces the length of your drill bit.

Number the pieces in order on the side you want to be the front. Mark two lines on each for the cord holes.

Using another board about half as thick, mark across the pieces to get the centers for the holes.

Using an extra long drill bit, drill the holes for the cord. Drill in small steps to minimize side loads and drill drift.

String the pieces with 1/8 bungee to check the fit. Due to drill drift, some pieces will need a bit of sanding to get a good fit.

Run the bungee in a circle back through the parts.

Stretch the bungee and tie as tight as possible to hold the parts for sanding.

Sand off the excess to your profile lines, face sand the pieces to match, and round the sides.

You may remove the pieces for final sanding once you've match sanded them, keep track of the position since you've now sanded off the numbers.

Aluminum Light Bulb

Taking the concrete light bulb Instructable to the next level, we decided to sand cast one in Aluminum.  The metal came from old car parts and leftovers from previous casting all chopped to fit on the band saw.

We hollowed out the light bulb just like for the concrete version, but then placed the bulb in the sand casting mix.  We poured the molten goo in and the glass broke off nicely.

Our crucible wasn't big enough to melt enough Al to cast it in one go, so we ended up with a a few lines and one break.  We're looking for something larger like a 4" pipe or we might give in and buy a proper crucible.


3D Printing and Fossils - Fredhack Member Now Maker Journalist

Garrett has been published before documenting his diving and fossil gathering exploits.  Most recently he put out this article about 3D printing that was published in The Rostrum and then reprinted by The Ecphora, both newsletters associated with the Maryland Geological Society.

3D Printing of Prehistoric Models


Emerging from a printer near you, 3D plastic
models of your favorite fossils and prehistoric
creatures. Hobbyists and professional paleontologists
are embracing this new technology with enthusiasm.
Here’s some background on this fascinating
technology, much of it for the do-it-yourselfer.

For the rest, including cheesy pics, go to page 11 of Calvert Marine Museum Newsletter
Volume 28 , Number 1, March 2013


Corey Doctorow at Busboys and Poets + A New Website

Some Fredhackers loaded up and traveled to Busboys and Poets, a bookstore in DC, to listen to Doctorow at a book signing.  He spoke about the life, death, and accomplishments of Aaron Swartz, the book Hacking The Xbox which is now free in memory of Swartz, and "watching TV the wrong way".  Preaching to the choir for us, but riveting to hear a public voice for many of the issues that concern techsters, hackers, and makers.  Information doesn't want to be free, people do.

Also, we had a few email exchanges with Corey leading up to this event discussing a fan website Fredhack setup using the name of a website from his book Pirate Cinema. The site is: confusingpeachoftheforestgreenbeethoven.

Right now the website is just a placeholder with a few links to hacker and internet activism related sites, but we'd like to do more with it in the near future.

Cory Doctorow speaking at Busboys and Poets

Cory signed Russ's book with a great Hack-a-Day doodle.


Making Mokume - Get your dollar's worth

Russ documented as he and Chris made this tantalizing piece of Mokume.  Having a forge just gets better and better.

Stack quarters and forge weld them into a solid billet.

Drill dents in one side to raise the grain pattern.

Beat the billet into shape, flattening the dents to raise the grain.
Sand it a lot. Notice the colors starting to show.
Sweet woodgrain pattern.


Concrete Lightbulb Wall Hook

Had to try out the Concrete Lightbulb Wall Hook Instructable.  Turned out OK.  Making the mix thin enough seems key.

gotta try to get them smoother next time

Picture Frame - Minimum Cutting

Here's a homemade picture frame.  No router needed by using trim that already has an inset.   Also had to buy "v-nails" online since I couldn't find them at any hardware or craft store.  Miter box with saw and miter clamp came from Harbor Freight.

So after the few bucks for tools, it costs about $1.50 per linear foot of frame. Not bad, but still need to learn to miter cut etc a little better.

v-nails applied
making the miter cuts
trim mold from home-depot.  make sure its the kind with the inset.
miter cut clamp
not dead-on with the miter cuts.  need to work on that.

Fibonacci Cabin

With an ongoing interest in weird architecture, let me present the Fibonacci Cabin.  Turns out the Fibonacci sequence is horrible for making a house plan.  It gets way too big, too fast.  After trying about 8 different starter sizes and iteration counts, it just wasn't working.  The best I could get was a cabin. 

Also, if you spiral the doors, it's a design for occupant annoyance.  Probably makes more sense as a prison where you have to go through a long series of twisting doors to get to the outside.  Or maybe if you like the idea of being cocooned away in your private hole....hmmm.

 I'm going to try to put these plans on thing-a-verse or something.  Files now located on our Thingiverse and GrabCad accounts.  I haven't seen a very good open-source architecture repository.  Somebody should fix that.

As seen on thingiverse.

here it is getting setup with the modeling kit


Terminator FANUC

Russ says:

"Remember the name of the default gcode type, fanuc? It was the control syntax of the original robotic industrial arm.

In the 1984 original terminator movie, it was the control system of the plant in the final scene, shown here as Reese boots up the warehouse. I just noticed that and thought it was cool that they actually used real stuff and not just props. Also that this movie is 30 years old and the same code is running stuff in my garage."

Though there is some other mention of FANUC machines on Terminator Salvation, the only internet reference to this earlier instance I found here, and says:

"This is not a nit, merely a note of realism which most people would miss. When Reese & Sarah enter the factory near the end of the film, Reese activates several switched and a display screen reads, 'FANUC ROBOT, S-MODEL 0, SERIES F30, EDITION 005". This is a genuine display from Fanuc, Inc. manufacturer of industrial robots and other equipment."

Hopefully if the singularity occurs at Fredhack it will immediately notice the mess controlled chaos and program itself into an orginization bot.

looks like at about an hour twenty minutes into the movie.


Sen - Sword Making Tool

Russ has been working on making a sword.  After all the knifes we've made, it was time to ramp it up.  I'll put a link to the post here when the sword is complete.  But in the process, he made another tool called a Sen from an old metal file.

Basically a Sen is like a draw knife but swords blades.  As a metal on metal operation I found it kinda crazy.  "We're supposed to cut this metal blade with another metal blade.... in a woodworking way?"

After making the tool and trying it for a bit, we got kinda bored by it and opted into modern power tools and such to shape the blade, but it was a cool venture into sword making history.  Here's an article about Sen making and what they're used for. (There seems to not be a wikipedia article about the Sen... challenge anyone?)

here's one from the article linked above
Russ did the main grinding on the wheel, then went to belt

here's the sword partially hammered out

that crazy idea of scraping swords in action