First Shovercraft Meeting

Initial Shovercraft planning
Initial Shovercraft planning

We had our 2nd Castlemakers meeting upstairs in the Eli’s Books community room last week; it was the official shovercraft kickoff meeting. It started with a video of a simple home built ‘shovercraft’ someone built and then the kids discussed what might be needed to build one.

Then there was a small demo of a simple hovercraft made with a balloon, disposable water bottle, and an old audio CD (with lots of tape on it). The demo was a hit with the kids judging by the number of balloons used!!

The kids involved got to find out their team members (3 teams with now 4 kids each) and their adult mentor for the project who also helps them on the project. There are lots of possible designs and one of the first thing they’ll be deciding includes: what shape (circle? rectangle? boat shaped?), what type of ‘engine’ (or leaf blower), and chair/no chair. Plus lots of other items, including how to decorate it! Each person there got a notebook to draw and keep notes in – the young designers/makers took off from there.

Our next full group meeting will be on July 10th at 7pm to review how the designs are coming, although the individual teams will be meeting between now and then. We now have a goal for completed shovercraft and either a ‘who goes the furthest’ or hovercraft shuffleboard competition on August 16th or August 23rd – depending on our final location. There will be more information and updates later!!

Shovercraft Build

Basic parts used to make a "shoveable hovercraft"
Basic parts used to make a “shoveable hovercraft”

The mentors have met after our last group meeting and we decided on a Shovercraft as our first group build project. It looks like there will be at least 3 groups of 3-4 kids building one, then we’ll have a competition/race in August.

Our next meeting is Thursday June 12 at 7pm in the Community Room above Eli’s Books just off the square downtown. Please feel free to join us, we have 4 mentors willing to give their time so we can investigate, design, and create these craft for the competition. Even if you haven’t been involved so far, you’re welcome to show up and have your 9-14 year old daughter/son participate in this youth-centered maker club event.

Keep watching our Projects page for more details on how the team builds are going & when we’ll have the challenge/competition for the groups in August.

3D Printers

Smaller RepRap style 3D printer that 3D Parts Manufacturing is offering
Smaller RepRap style 3D printer that 3D Parts Manufacturing is offering.

Many makers have or use a 3D printer. I’m sure there are some here in Putnam County already, but I’d like to see a publicly available one. I’m personally building a 3D SLA printer with some help from some other folks, but would love to connect with other folks near Greencastle that have a 3D printer. Respond to this post or send me an email if you have one. There’s a certain amount of learning in making these work & we can build our skills/knowledge together.

Last week I was able to visit 3D Parts Manufacturing in Indianapolis to see their operation. Neat operation and Kim Brand is doing some real interesting things around 3D printing. If you just look at their website you’d get the impression that they’re mainly involved with the high end 3D printers, and they certainly have those, but they’re also working on creating a program for middle school kids that includes a 3D printer, support, and the lessons to go with it. An IBJ reporter was there the morning I visited and an article on what they’re doing just came out in this week’s Indianapolis Business Journal. I’m hoping to get Kim over here to Greencastle later this year.

There are several different types of 3D printers, explaining some of the nomenclature can help you understand those types.

3D printing is an additive process vs. the traditional subtractive machining used with CNC, lathes, and many other traditional fabrication tools. One of the real breakthroughs in more affordable printers was the open source printers that first started appearing in 2005. Many of these were based on the RepRap design goal to create a machine that could print most of its parts. The RepRap based designs, and most current printers less than $1000, use Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) which extrudes a thermoplastic. But other options are starting to appear including some lower cost Stereolithography (SLA) designs. SLA has traditionally been one of the more expensive 3D printing methods because of the material cost and laser control. I’ll write something on low cost 3D printing methods and the equipment we’re looking at for Castlemakers in a future note.