Sledgehammer Model Build

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Sledgehammer has been my favorite ride at Canada’s Wonderland ever since it debuted in 2003. It’s a fun ride, but, for me, it’s an extremely interesting piece of machinery and engineering that I enjoy just watching and listening to.

One evening, I decided to dive into my small stockpile of foam core boards and try to build me my own miniature model of the ride. It’s the first time I’ve done a model, or this much work with foam core.

Use the photo above as reference as you go through the build photos!
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There wasn’t much planning with this project. Most of the parts cut out were simply sketched out directly on the foam core, then duplicated by tracing the first part cut out.

After some cuts, I got the arms and their central piece together.

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My plan was to make the model posable. At this point, it was with the help of pins.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t stay as cooperative as the build continued. Eventually, I gave up on making it poseable and glued it into this position. At this point, I had cut out and put together the entire top half of the ride. I used wooden dowels as the guide columns and hydraulic piston.

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To make the tower, I took a piece of foam core and made even slits down it which allowed me to bend it into a circular shape.

 

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The gondolas were the trickiest part of building the model. Each one is made up of several small parts that had to be duplicated for all six gondolas.

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After a while, they started coming together pretty good. I made a small support stand to keep things together as I glued the pieces.

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Once I got them into place, the ride took shape…

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… And once some color was added, it really started to look good.

For my next model, I will definitely paint the parts before they’re put together, even if I may have to go over them with a second coat since there will probably be some scrapes and visible unpainted glue in the process. It was difficult to paint this model, especially when trying to navigate a paintbrush between the dowels in a tight space.

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Even with the difficulties painting the top half, it was about as hard trying to figure out how to paint the lower half of the model since it doesn’t have such a straight forward paint job there. I don’t consider myself to be very talented when it comes to painting so I needed some time to figure it out. You can see the checkered red and white pattern covered up by the yellow paint…

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In the end, I used a marker to draw out the outline of where I wanted the paint, and then broke up a sponge paint brush so I could have finer control over the painting. From afar, it looks great, but it gets a bit more cartoony and rough as you look closer. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the way this project came out and am looking forward to doing another one again!

Revisited: Bluetooth Speaker

20160804_172458 In the last little while or so, I found myself using the Bluetooth speaker I made last October. There were a few minor things that I wanted to address so I went ahead and made the modifications.

20160804_173243The main technical modification was adding an on/off switch to the power supply. I would have to keep plugging and unplugging the unit which got a bit annoying after a while having to do that almost daily whenever I wanted to use it. It was very easy to do since the electronics are completely accessible from the open underside. I simply cut the positive power line and soldered a switch in place.

20160804_175950The other modification was purely aesthetic. I removed the label and painted it all grey. My original choice was blue but I didn’t have that color paint. Either way, I think it looks good.

It’s always nice to revisit old projects with new techniques and materials. Stay tuned as I’ve revisited another project as well!

DIY Cork/White Board Mount

This post is brought to you by the letter T. (For “tape”.)

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I picked up this combination whiteboard and corkboard from Dollarama (a Canadian dollar store) a while ago and has been sitting in awkward places as I decided where to mount it properly. I decided that a good place to put it was where my desk originally had the built in CD rack (tells you how old this desk is!). The rack was made out of plastic and could be popped out easily.

Anyways, with lots of tape and a dowel, which was also purchased from Dollarama, I mounted it up on my desk.

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On the sections of tape where it makes contact with the dowel, I put another piece of tape to prevent it from sticking. This way, the board is able to swing out so that I can still use the space behind it to store things. Despite how cheap everything is, and the fact that there’s so much tape involved, I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

Hopefully it won’t turn into the thing that does bump in the night. 😛

Maker Festival 2016

Last weekend, the Toronto Reference Library hosted the Maker Festival for another epic event and, for my third time, I volunteered to teach people how to solder. The way this event has grown is astonishing and it really was their best to date.

After I finished a morning volunteering shift, I took a tour around to see what exciting things were on display this year. Here’s a quick video I made of just a few of the things to see this year:

The entrance atrium was full of color this year, with hanging origami and streamers floating above the crowd. In addition, there was a smooth looking LED matrix and chaser LEDs lining the main staircase.

 

There are always grand demonstrations and displays. This year on the main floor was a sphere that just kept growing. I never got to see the final result though.

 

This was a project made by Steam Labs, a local makerspace. It’s like one of those High Striker carnival games where you smack a pad with a mallet as hard as you can. In this project, they used a force sensor and had people press it has hard as they could. I found it interesting because I had a similar concept in mind for a project… 🙂

 

It’s always great to see kids getting their hands dirty and having fun. The build-your-own-boat workshop and the accompanying boat race in the entrance water feature seemed like a hit once again.

For all of my pictures, visit the photo gallery on my website here: http://www.mwhprojects.com/gallery/Maker-Festival-2016

I expect to be back at the Festival next year. It’s become a life goal to have something on display there at some point… 😉

DIY Clock Project – It’s finally alive!

After months of putting this project off, I finally focused for a weekend and put together a first prototype of my DIY real-time clock. To bring you back up to speed, the clock circuit is on a custom designed PCB which will control another set of custom PCBs that form four large 7-segment digits. It uses an Atmega328p microcontroller, a DS3231 RTC IC to keep the time, and some 74HC595 shift registers to control my custom 7-segment display PCBs.

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The boards were soldered without any issue. I’m quite pleased with the look of both of the boards, so much that I wanted the control board to be in plain view in this build.

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Once I got the boards ready, it was time to program. My first test would be to try upload something the microcontroller and to test out the display. It worked as well as I could have hoped.

One thing that I could have done better with the control board was to use an FTDI header instead of the USBtinyISP since you can’t print anything to the serial port to debug. Thankfully, I didn’t need that anyway.

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After setting the time on the DS3231 IC using example from the Sodaq_DS3231 library, I wrote some code to the form all possible digits for each 7-segment digit. Then, with some more code, I was able to print out the hour and minute on the display.

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I thought about putting it into a good enclosure but I’m considering rebuilding this project a second time with a cleaner look.

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I’m not so crazy about using the female-to-female jumper wires in the final build but it does kind of look neat.

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The display is very nice to look at in all lighting conditions. The not-so-bright LEDs and the simple blank white paper diffuser results in a display that is easy on the eyes.

Overall, I’m glad with how the project turned out. Unlike many of my other projects, this is one that I actually use on a daily basis.

Thanks for reading!

A throwback of sorts… The Buzzer Box!

Back when I was around 11, I strolled into a Radioshack and bought some wire, a buzzer, and a battery pack. I had a weird fascination with my elementary school’s fire alarm and wanted to recreate it. Completing the simple circuit by tapping wires together was enough to satisfy me until the project was lost. Fast forward about 15 years later, I’m revisiting the project that started it all.

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This circuit is slightly more complicated than the original, I’d say. I used a 555 timer to get the pulse that would buzz the buzzer on and off at roughly a 50% duty cycle. In the end, I ended up using 9v instead of the original 5v I had planned, but it worked just the same.

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The project was put into this small enclosure. I drilled a hole for the button that is pressed to activated the buzzer alarm.

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Here’s the circuit on a breadboard to test and experiment before soldering the circuit permanently.

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A close-up of the circuit on the perfboard.

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A close-up of my soldering.

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After soldering the components to the perfboard, I soldered the buzzer, battery, and switch into the circuit.

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After some musical chairs with the components, and then some hot glue, everything was set into the enclosure.

Here’s the Buzzer Box in action…

Who needs a life alert when you have this… thing… #diy #electronics #shittyrobots #buzzer #alarm

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It was a simple [and useless] project but I’m the kind of person that likes to revisit the past in ways like this.

Thanks for reading!

 

Desk Lighting Project v2.0

Two years ago, I hooked up some 5mm LEDs all around my desk to illuminate parts of it. Looking back at that set up, it looks very clumsily done. Now that I have better tools and materials (even some salvaged from other things!), I thought I’d give it another shot.

Materials

  • String of lights from a battery-operated product, which I had previously used in another project.
  • Switch, which was taken out of a broken power bar.
  • 5cm x 8cm x 3cm enclosure.
  • 5V 2A rated power supply.
  • 8-Ohm 1W resistor.
  • 22AWG solid-core wire.
  • Heat shrink.
  • Hot glue.

Putting It Together

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The switch’s back measured roughly 26cm by 13cm so I drew the outline of it on a piece of paper and taped it on the box.

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After locking the box into a vice, I drilled 1/8″ holes on the four corners… They weren’t exactly precise but it’ll work.

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I then used my rotary tool with a cutting wheel attachment to cut out the rectangle. The excess material becomes brittle which makes it easy to clean up.

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On one of the sides, I drilled two holes which the power supply and light wires would pass through.

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I brought the box to my soldering station to put together the simple switch circuit inside of the box.

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The switch interrupts/completes the positive connection. A resistor limits the current for the LEDs.

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After soldering and shrinking the heat shrink tubing, I applied some hot glue to keep exposed connections insulated and in place.

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I screwed in the back plate of the enclosure and then hot glued the box to the side of my desk. The string of LEDs are taped behind the decorative wooden piece above my computer monitor.

The switch works like a charm and, as simple as it is, is really one of my more polished completed projects. I hope I can say that for every project moving forward!

Thanks for reading!