Pencil Plotting

HP 7580B Plotter

Oops. We’ve got another pen plotter at Interlock.

HP 7580B Plotter

I mentioned before that I’ve been tinkering with said plotters and webcams and some minimal computer vision noodling. Eventually, I’d like to implement some of my own software (likely using Processing) to do some more in-depth sketchy-yet-robotic drawings.

As such, I had been trying to think of easy/cheap ways to get a pencil working on the device. A normal pencil will only get so far before it needs sharpening, and none of my plotters have yet become talented enough to lumber over to the pencil sharpener. Soo…

Pencil Plotter

Tada! Did you know they make mechanical pencils that auto-advance their lead? I didn’t, until this was mentioned on a mailing list I’m on for discussing the Chiplotle python plotter library (and plotters in general).

A quick Amazon Prime-ing of the BIC AI mechanical pencil and away we go. I stuck it into a hollowed out plotter pen, as demonstrated above, and it seemed to work fine and auto-advance the lead whenever necessary. Sweet.

Pencil Plotter

So for the two of you out there interested in pen plotters, now you know. For the rest of you, maybe you’ve got an Eggbot or a Makerbot Unicorn or some cool sort of homebrewed plotter… go get it running with some genuine 100% lead mixture of graphite with clay binder. And if you’re into drawing and/or robots and/or software, you should stop in and play with the plotters someday. I’ll get you started, so bring in some vector artwork, and maybe some paper, and we’ll see what happens!

from on February 24th, 2012Comments0 Comments

Interlock RepRapchester

First Print!

We’ve got a 3d printer! It’s still a bit “in progress” as far as building and tuning it goes, but anybody interested in small-scale hobby-level 3d printing should stop in to ogle as our new eMaker Huxley RepRap prints out whistles and gadgets and geegaws all night long.

The build was pretty involved, but with a group of four folks we managed to get the majority of the work done in one long Sunday, a time-lapse of which follows:

That resulted in the following structure, which just needed to have its nozzle and build platform installed (and quite a bit of wiring).

RepRap Huxley Build

With surprisingly little calibration and tinkering, we finally got our first fully printed part last Friday, the semi-traditional whistle model. The quality is really good already, and will get a bit better once we tweak some settings and really get the machine purring.

First Print!

OpenSCAD Interlock Logo

I think the nozzle is clogged now, unfortunately. So my goal tonight is to clear that out and get plastic extruding again, and then try to print out the interlock logo, which you can see above, extruded from a DXF file in openSCAD. Come visit, and bring a model you might want to print! There’s plenty of inspiration and/or finished “things” on Thingiverse if you don’t know where to start, and we’ll have a class soon on how to go from and idea to a 3d print… so stay tuned!

from on December 6th, 2011Comments1 Comment

New Space!

The Workshop

It’s true, we’ve managed to move all of our gear and junk into a new space. We’re in the same building, but we’ve now got over twice the space, and some delineation between a workshop sort of room, and other rooms that are more office-like. Above, you can see a shot of the new workshop. It’s pretty close to the size of our entire previous space, and we’re excited to fill it up with useful tools and fun projects. The first step though, was painting:

In addition to having more space, we also finally got roof access. That, plus a particularly motivated new-ish member (Walter), means that we already have a respectable antenna farm installed up there, perfect for the roughly 50% of our membership with ham licenses.

Antenna Farm

We’ve set aside a whole room for all the ham gear and a secondary electronics workbench (although it’s already surpassing the main bench as far as sweet gear goes).

The Ham Shack

Hammy Shack

The network goons have a server closet now, so normal humans can be isolated from the constant whine of small fans and hard drives.

Server Room

There’s a large room set up as a classroom or conference room, perfect for some upcoming classes that are in the works, and nicely isolated from other noisy activities in the space. I reckon we can accommodate a dozen people per class, if they all need hands-on desk space, and more if it’s just rows of chairs.

The Classroom / Conference Room

There’s more to the space that hasn’t been shown here. Three more rooms in fact… some of which we’re not quite sure what to do with. If you want to see more pictures, there’s always our flickr group, or better yet: come visit us in person! Check out our calendar for a schedule of events and open nights.

from on November 22nd, 2011Comments0 Comments