Field Trip: Rotblott’s Discount Warehouse

Ever since the closing of Active Surplus on Queen, I never really know where to go for certain things. There are always big-box hardware stores like Lowe’s and Canadian Tire but the selection and variety can’t come anywhere close. It was a rainy day in the beautiful city of Toronto, but I was determined to check out Rotblott’s Discount Warehouse, a hardware store I found while searching Google Maps.

Just west of Spadina on Adelaide, you’ll find this brightly colored place. Appropriately colored because I felt like I hit a goldmine for certain things I could use.

With the project I’m currently drafting up, I was happy to see that I just found myself a supplier for wheels! There are a few different types and many sizes. I ended up walking away with a few small ones to get started with.

I was on the look out for are swivel ball-bearing joints. (Not sure what the actual technical name is.) These higher quality wheels had some swivel bases with excellent ball bearings but I’m looking for just the base without the wheel. If anything, I’ll probably edit my original plans so that I won’t need that since I don’t really want to shop for something like that online. I want to be able to handle and test it out in person.

They have tubing which I can use for my fountains, whenever I get back to that project.

They’ve got a nice selection of metal hardware, including pulley wheels which I will need for my project. The scale of the project is still up in the air, but with some of those wheels in hand, I hope to get some plans worked out so I can figure out what size of pulleys, among other things, that I’ll need.

Some rope to go along with those pulleys.

Since I was in the area, I decided to check out Lee Valley which I also saw on Google Maps. I didn’t find anything in there for me since they seem to mostly do with actual home and garden projects and didn’t carry any materials that I could use. It seems like a very high quality place though!

I left the city happy with my new discovery of Rotblott’s. I also left realizing that I don’t care much for Pokemon Go anymore, considering where this photo was taken is Toronto’s goldmine for PokeStops and I didn’t bother taking advantage…

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed taking this virtual field trip with me.

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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… 😉

Maker Festival Toronto 2015!

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Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto.

The Toronto Mini Maker Faire leveled up this year to the Maker Festival, a week long maker celebration with events around the city that wrapped up with exhibits and workshops at the Toronto Reference Library over the weekend. Here are a few pictures I took from the event:

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The giant cardboard Preying Mantis greets visitors near the Maker Festival entrance.
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“Monsters in the Lake” is a workshop where kids race their own hand-built boats in the Toronto Reference Library’s entrance water feature.
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R2D2 greets visitors at the entrance to the Maker Festival.
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The “Glowatorium”.
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Cool LED dresses in the Glowatorium.
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The Metro Marine Modellers of Toronto had some of their incredibly detailed models on display.
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Humber College makers showing off some of their creations, including what appears to be a giant Lite Brite (nostalgia!).
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There were plenty of robots on hand at the Maker Festival. They varied in size, from table-top Lego robots, to this metal mobile robot that could pick up tennis balls off the floor.

See you next year, Maker Festival!

Toronto Mini Maker Faire 2014

Over the weekend, I was at Maker Faire at the Toronto Reference Library teaching people how to solder. It was such a great experience that I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year! Here are a few pictures I took:1I didn’t know there were Maker Faires in Toronto until last year, and that was after the event was over when I saw it on the news. I made sure to note when this one was happening and immediately jumped on the opportunity to volunteer when registration opened (again, can’t wait to do it again next year). This was the largest venue they’ve had for the Faire in Toronto and I hope it gets even bigger next year.2As you’ll see in these next few pictures, there was a good emphasis on 3D printing at the Faire. I still haven’t gotten into 3D printing yet so it was great to see all of these on display.3This shelf of Makerbot 3D printers was used for a workshop where people were taught how to design and print little flower pots. In hindsight, I probably should have signed up for this. Maybe next year!4The Toronto Reference Library has a dedicated area for creation tools called the Digital Innovation Hub which includes 3D printers. I find this type of 3D printer (“delta” I think it’s called?) to be very… elegant. Cool stuff.5Moving along, there were some exhibitors that had laser cutters. This was something I’ve never seen in person so it was cool to see a couple of them doing it’s thing.6Some very neat remote controlled robots were at the Faire…
7… including R2-D2. It’s so cool to see something this big just casually rolling about.

8A large LED cube on display.9Battlegrounds is a laser tag system built with open source stuff like 3d printed parts, Arduino, and Xbee. It just goes to show that if you’re dedicated enough, there are tools readily available for anyone to build pretty much anything.
10You feel like a kid at this event with all of the playthings on display, so you can only imagine how exciting is it to be an actual kid there. There were many things for kids to get hands-on with, from building boats and rockets, to soldering with me! Watching young kids get all excited when they see the solder flow is so awesome.

I cannot wait for next year’s Maker Faire! A huge thanks and congrats to everyone who made this event a success!

Solidworks subway station

I wanted this to become an “every Friday” series, but with my habit of rushing and then giving up, I’m not surprised I’m making this post on a Tuesday. Anyways, this week’s model project was a subway station.

This is the first point where it started taking shape and looking like a subway station. When I was doing the pillars down the center, I realized the platform was too small, both in width and length. I tried using some of the dimensions from the T1 trains that run in Toronto and adding a little more length to all of the dimensions but I guess I was a bit off.

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Next was adding the running rails and third rail.

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This is the first rendering of the station with rails and everything on both sides.firstrender

I was really happy with the way the model looked so I wanted to add a staircase that led to a whole concourse level and even to a bus bay. I added a staircase and extended the tunnel to make more room on the top. As soon as I extended the rails, Solidworks started lagging so I couldn’t go any further than just the staircase.render1 render3

So that’s the model for this week. We’ll see what next week brings (and hopefully my computer will be up to it).

Back to school. Sort of.

I’m enrolled in the continuation of the Programmable Logic Controllers program at George Brown College (Toronto). This new program covers a newer system from Allen-Bradley, RSLogix5000. I’ve used it before when I was at Seneca, programming a CompactLogix PLC that was apparently sitting there for years unused until our section came along. It wasn’t even in the syllabus but I was lucky to have a good professor. I had completed the first PLC program (that covered RSLogix500 and SLC500) before I took that course at Seneca  so I found the Seneca course to be a little underwhelming and basic, but I got some good troubleshooting experience by helping out other people in the lab. Seeing as I felt that course to be basic, I was interested in doing this second program because I’m sure I missed out on a lot of things for this newer system.

I don’t have anything else to say, and I don’t have any of my own graphics for this post, so here’s a pretty picture from Wikipedia…… Bye.

English: This is a picture of one PLC or Progr...