Interlock is a non-profit organization that provides space for its members and the local community to develop and share their interests in science, technology, art, and culture.

familab visit

We were delighted to receive embassy from FamiLAB during our weekly Open Night on Tuesday in the person of John S, who stopped by on his way through town. We had a great time talking about his awesome business making good use of high voltages, and about all the cool things Familab does, and showing him around Interlock’s new location.

Roboalex is all fired up to lead us into doing soldering classes with the MintyBoost kits, following FamiLAB’s example. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, it’s great to learn that FamiLAB has recently expanded and seems to be going from strength to strength, including their plans to host the Orlando Mini Maker Faire coming up May 26.

from on March 8th, 2012Comments0 Comments

recycled paper origami

Giftmas origami balloons made out of wrapping paper.

One way I kept on an even keel during the recent holiday season was by taking every opportunity I could to practice making these origami cubical “balloons” using scraps of wrapping paper. I made in excess of a dozen, and that was the high point of my recent kick to practice enough to be able to do this pattern from memory.

From a maker-theory perspective, even with the digital revolution and the move to e-texts to replace things, like books, that have traditionally used paper, paper as a material is still ubiquitous and cheap. Its ready availability means that one can cultivate the maker state of mind just about any where–I started out on this recent origami journey after lunch one day a couple of months ago, using the coated-paper basket liner at a burrito place.

Paper fast-food tray liners and place mats do pretty well in a pinch, and making something then and there is a great way to entertain a youngster or to open a discussion with an indulgent friend, co-worker, or even a stranger, about the fun to be had as a hacker and maker.

Amongst different types of paper, paper sold as “origami paper” can be a little more hard to find and more expensive. I also try to resist that tendency projects have to lead off with “first, go out and buy something”. So I set out to figure out a way consistently to convert randomly-shaped scraps of paper into squares suitable for use with traditional origami patterns.

More recently, at my last turn on door duty for Interlock’s “Do Night” I worked on expanding my repertoire a little bit, learning how to make these open-topped boxes. Also, Reggie was a pretty ggod sport about taking some instruction from me about how to fold up his own balloon made from wrapping paper I pushed on him.

So far, I’m not that enthused about making little animals. Also, I had my paper airplane phase as a kid, so that doesn’t hold a lot of appeal for me at the moment. Mostly, pure geometry, as in the balloon-cubes, and potentially useful knick-knacks, like the candy box, are what I’ve been after. With the holidays gone, my interest may fade for a bit. We’ll see.

from on January 22nd, 2012Comments0 Comments

Dashing through the thermoplastic

It’s that time of the year, again, when families across the country are messing with long strings of electrical wire, crazy light bulbs, and LEDs plus all sorts of weird objects made of ceramic, glass, metal or plastic. I was inspired to offset some of my Grinchiness by using our put-up-the-decorations day as another opportunity to use one of my new favorite materials.

Our Christmas tree stand has this nifty tiered collection of what are, essentially, big set screws, designed to hold the trunk of the tree upright in the center of the tree stand. Problem is, over time we’ve lost the little plastic caps from the trunk end of several of the set screws. This means the set screws tear up the bark of the tree trunk more quickly, and dig more easily into the trunk of the tree.

That can’t be good.

Also, another of our tree stands, smaller, with only one tier of set screws, has a nice little conical stand-off built into the bottom of the stand, to help keep the bottom of the tree off the bottom of the stand. That way water can get into the bottom and up through the tree. The larger stand that we like to use, with two tiers of set screws, has no such stand-off.

So, I made little caps out of PCL (polycaprolactone, aka Shapelock aka Friendly Plastic, about which perhaps more some other time) to replace the missing ones.

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from on December 1st, 2011Comments0 Comments