Upgrading 3D Printers

One of the makerspace areas upgraded during the pandemic was 3D printing. There’s been several printer upgrades and we even added a new liquid resin printer to the makerspace.

Rewiring a Rostock Max 3D printer
Ian works on the Rostock Max 3D printer wiring.

The most significant change has been to our delta 3D printer, upgrading our Rostock Max from v3 to v3.2. That included 3 major upgrades; a new printer controller board, upgrading the stepper motors, and a new hot end.

The controller board change went from an Arduino-based RAMBo v1.3, an 8 bit control board, to a newer 32 bit Duet WiFi board for the printer ‘brain’. The RAMBo board is certainly a good one, we’ll probably use it to build another 3D printer, but the Duet has major improvements in both usability and speed. The Duet is also WiFi remote controlled and since the control board is located internally, the former LCD panel and SD card was removal. We recently bought a PanelDue, so there will be a new touch screen control available soon when we make that upgrade next.

New Duet 3D printer controller board installed.

We also changed the 1.5 degree to .9 degree stepper motors. Combined with the Duet control board this reduces the printer noise level dramatically and improves printer quality/speed with the micro-stepping addition. A new hot end assembly also improves the bed leveling sensitivity and heating capability. Bed leveling and the ability to print higher temp materials are a nice improvement for this machine!

There’s been other improvements in makerspace 3D printers, including the Printrbot Metal Simple & an older now modified XYZ printer. We’re in process of setting up a workspace for a MoonRay S100 SLA/DLP 3D printer & will write up more about that in a future post. Come to one of our 3DPO (3D Printer Owner’s) meetups, the next one is 12/30 at 6:30 pm. Or stop by Castlemakers to learn more!

Making Holiday Cards

It was great to be able to offer a Cricut/ electronic cutter class again before the upcoming holidays. We offered the class several years ago, actually before we had the current Cricut Maker at the makerspace. 

Cricut class at Castlemakers.
Laurie showing some of the things that can be made with an electronic cutter.

The class covered the basics by making several gift bags and a holiday greeting card, although the makerspace machine can be used for lighter and heavier materials including fabric and even balsa wood. Laurie Hardwick, who has a history of creating all kinds of things with a Cricut, taught the class and did a phenomenal job – the things she brought in to show everyone were amazing. 

If there’s interest, we can do another Cricut class after the first of the year. If you’d like to make more holiday items, be sure to check out our classes webpage for an upcoming lasercutter class where you can learn to make a holiday ornament.

5th Annual Putt Putnam County

Castlemakers 2021 Putt Putnam County viewed down Franklin Street.
Mini-golf holes were down both sides of Franklin Street during our annual Putt Putnam County event.

The Covid pandemic seemed to unleash a little extra creativity in our community and it showed in our annual Putt Putnam County tournament. We certainly had the largest turnout yet with 14 locally built mini-golf holes at the event held again during Main Street Greencastle’s October First Friday downtown.

Clinton Falls Run mini-golf hole - Putt Putnam County
The skeleton talked & lit up at night.

There were so many interesting holes this year it’s too hard to pick out my favorites. Ranging from the fairly simple “Back and Forth” (why didn’t I think of that?) to our first Halloween themed and a pachinko inspired hole called Plunko. And really, making a piano sounding board with strings into a hole so the golf ball made sounds?

Sounding Board mini-golf hole made from an old piano.
Sounding Board was made from an old piano.

There were even a few apparently stored re-worked older favorites that apparently, including the Kirsch Dental ‘hit the ball through the chomping teeth’ and PCPL’s Alice in Wonderland (don’t go down the rabbit hole though!). There was really too many holes to detail and I can’t do them all justice. If you didn’t make this year’s even be sure to come next year to play through the course. Or better yet, start planning to build a hole and bring it to the 2022 event – Friday night October 7th in front of Castlemakers on Franklin Street!

Edible Art In Gelatin

Learning to create petals and leaves in gelatin.

This last week we offered something completely different – a class on making edible flowers in gelatin. “Jelly Art” is a popular technique in Asia using a syringe to inject natural ingredient colors into a clear gelatin base. With the proper needles and some patience, participants made some pretty amazing decorative gelatin art that they could take home to eat if they wanted.

Flower petals & leaves are made with natural ingredients that are injected into the special gelatin.

For all of us that had never done this before, it was surprisingly easy, although having someone demonstrate how to do it (and help if a mistake was made) was perhaps the most valuable part of the class. If you’re interested in the materials used, we’ve got a webpage for the class that explains the materials used in making the gorgeous flowers.

Special thanks to Weiwei for teaching the class & bringing all the materials to get it done in a 3 hour class. Should we offer another class like this in the future? Let us know!

Everyone showing their completed edible flowers that they made in the class.

Putting Around in Putnam County

Candyland golf hole built by Alice, Bella, & Rebecca.
Putt Putnam County mini-golf holes
Picture of Franklin St as the golfing began to die down…

It’s the time of year to start building a mini-golf hole for Putt Putnam County! This year the mini-golf holes will be on display and playable during the October First Friday from 6-8 pm.

For the annual event youth, families, groups, and businesses create a mini-golf hole to bring that evening as part of the mini-golf course on Franklin Street. There are more details on the event, including building guidelines, on our website project page. We’re also certainly glad to help you build one. We’ve made some of the simpler holes in less than 2 hours, so don’t ‘putt’ off building one!

A Real Solar Gain

Castlemakers is pleased to share the news about our SIA Foundation grant to create a Solar / Photovoltaic Resource Center for the community. The grant will be used to install and demonstrate a working photovoltaic system at our makerspace. The most visible portion of the system will be a solar awning, which has been designed to blend into the streetscape on Franklin Street.

Solar awning that will be on the front of the makerspace.
Solar awning design/artist conception being made by Castlemakers.

Besides the hands-on working solar/photovoltaic system, which will show makerspace power usage & creation, Castlemakers will add resources and equipment to learn more on solar and photovoltaic technology. Besides the solar awning, we’ll have:
– Projects to demonstrate photovoltaic creation for youth and adults.
– Classes & sessions to help everyone to learn about the technology
– Equipment to help with solar measurement & assessment
– A reference library of books and materials.

There’s still a lot to do before everything’s in place; we’re currently designing , getting approvals, & purchasing equipment. But we’ve already started offering classes and will have projects in the next few months – including building a solar generator. We’re excited to help put a little more ‘green’ into the area by encouraging more solar power!

Slow Scan TV

This week the International Space Station (ISS) has been broadcasting images using Slow Scan TV (SSTV) from the Russian portion of the station on 145.800 MHz. It’s relatively easy to pick up the signal if you have the right equipment and can calculate the time it passes overhead correctly.

Audio from Tuesday’s ISS SSTV transmission over Greencastle Indiana.
SSTV image received from the International Space Station when passing over Greencastle.

This happens several times a year and will continue through at least June 26th, so we’re going to try receive and decode the image this coming Saturday morning at Open Shop. Overhead passes start 5:10 am, are about 90 minutes apart, and go through 1:22 pm local time. Stop by during our open hours from 9-12 am and you might get to see an image directly from the space station!

micro:bit Interfacing

Castlemakers advanced micro:bit class.
Our 5/1 class on learning about micro:bit interfacing.

Last weekend we had our advanced micro:bit class that was cancelled last year due to Covid. Ian Girvan, one of our members, taught the class & everyone there learned a thing or two about the more advanced features of this IoT like device. The class was taught using v1.6 of the micro:bit, v2’s released last November are still almost impossible to find; versions are similar enough it doesn’t make a real difference.

Participants learned how to use a breakout board to connect lights, sound, & control a DC motor with a micro:bit. They even got the chance to use a light sensor & variable resistor as input to control a LED.

Our next class, coming up on May 29th, will be a ‘learning to solder’ class where folks make a little jitterbug robot that starts moving when the light sensor detects darkness. We’ll soon be adding a lot more light/solar projects and classes with some upcoming makerspace additions in the next few months.

advanced Micro:bit class

micro:bit controlling a bell & light string.
micro:bit with a relay controlling an alarm bell & LEDs.

Now we’re able to have classes at the Makerspace again, last Saturday there was a free ‘Intro to micro:bit’ class for anyone interested. It went well, with several attendees liking it so much they signed up on the spot for our next micro:bit class which will cover the device in even more detail.

This coming Saturday, May1st at 1 pm, we’ll cover using external devices with a micro:bit, including hooking up light strings, switches, and even a motor to the single board computer given to all 6th graders in Putnam County. This will be an all ages class however, the simple and powerful IoT like device can be programmed by anyone from 8 to 80. We’ll have everything you need for the hands-on class where you’ll learn to control a string of neopixel lights and no previous experience is needed. Learn more about it on our classes webpage.

Making A Custom Bracket

Nomad CNC machining setup at Castlemakers.
Machining the aluminum bracket on our Nomad 883. You can see videos of the CNC in action on our Youtube channel.

We’re certainly excited about the new electronic equipment capability at Castlemakers, but the makerspace is not just electronics. One of our members, Dan, asked about making a bracket for his 2009 Triumph motorcycle to install an upgraded combination gauge for the stock speedometer & tachometer. We’ve only done a little aluminum machining, and it can be a very slow process, but if you don’t try you’ll never learn what you can do!

Close-up of aluminum bracket being machined on CNC.
Aluminum plate machining into a bracket.

The original gauge included some warning lights, which he wanted, but weren’t part of the upgraded combo gauge so they were purchased separately. So Dan needed to create a new bracket design to hold the new gauge and lights.

Finished Triumph bracket Installed on the motorcycle.
Finished Triumph bracket.

I’ll let Dan take it from here:
“I used Adobe illustrator to make a vector file of the shape I wanted, along with holes for mounting the bracket and indicator lights. I made a prototype on the laser cutter, and after a few small adjustments, we made the final version out of 3mm thick aluminum with the Nomad desktop CNC. There are still a few little tweaks I might make to get the spacing perfect (I ended up having to hand-drill one more hole for a button I had forgotten about), but I’m happy with the result. Couldn’t have done it without Castlemakers!”

Greencastle Indiana's Makerspace!