The Sick Unicorn [Maker Update]

The Sick Unicorn [Maker Update]


This week on Maker Update, a soap-vomiting
unicorn, two new boards from Arduino, a mini marble elevator, a neopixel thumb war, pool
noodle box bots, Lego pinball, an Android tape deck, a business card stylophone, Hobart’s
entry level MIG welder, and the Adafruit Crickit. Hey I’m Donald Bell, and welcome to another
Maker Update! Man, a lot has happened in the past two weeks
— gokarts were built, Maker Faire Bay Area came and went, I bought a new 3D printer,
and I started a new part-time job at Autodesk, which is why I’m publishing this on a Friday. It’s all good news though, and I’ll cover
more of it in a minute. But first, let’s take a look at the Project
of the Week! Check out this soap vomiting unicorn by Britt
Michelsen. This is a 3D printed enclosure for an off-the-shelf
automatic soap dispenser. You load soap through the horn, switch it
on by pressing the right nostril, and a sensor on its neck triggers the soap dispenser when
your hand is nearby. Britt has a great Instructable up for the
project, walking you through the design, 3D printing, and fitting components. She also has some great tips on finishing
your 3D prints to get a smooth, professional look. It’s a hilarious, yet useful project. There aren’t a lot of parts to print and
the electronics seem fairly easy to hack together. This one’s going on my personal project
list. It’s time for some news. Lot’s of news. First off, for those of you who couldn’t
make it out to Maker Faire Bay Area this past weekend — I’ve got the next best thing. Down in the show notes you’ll find links
to Make’s own wrap-up post and their two live videos from Maker Faire, which are each
around 8 hours long and filled with great talks and demos. In fact, even if you were at Maker Faire Bay
Area, I know for a fact that you couldn’t have seen everything. The links are a great way to see what you
missed. Also in there, I’ve got a link to the opening
sprint race for Power Racing series. This year, I had two cars in the race, Kitty
Grabs Back, and my newest car, Business Lunch, driven by my friend Jordan Bunker. The motors on Business Lunch burned out on
the final lap, but Jordan still managed to get third place. Overall our team raked in a bunch of medals,
ruined both our cars, but had a lot of fun. The big Maker tech news out of Maker Faire
was Arduino’s announcement of the MKR Vidor 4000 board. This is a small, FPGA-based project board
due out in June, price TBD. The FPGA capability allows the code to dictate
the architecture of the chip, so it can be highly customized for your project. That means that every pin can be configured
to be either an input, output, i2c, PWM–whatever your project needs. Massimo Banzi also announced a new generation
of the Arduino Uno with Wi-Fi built in. The new version also includes an integrated
gyroscope sensor so you can use the board itself as a kind of control input. Pricing is also TBD, but the board should
roll out mid-June. More projects, rapid fire. Greg Zumwalt has a new Instructable up for
his 3D printed Marblevatpr Mini Loop. Aside from a 300 rpm gear motor, a ball bearing,
a switch and a panel mount power jack, everything you see here is 3D printed. You can find files for all the parts in the
Instructable. Gary Wells made this dueling button-mashing
game using two arcade buttons, small neopixel rings, and an Adafruit trinket. It’s like a digital thumb war. Two players compete to see who can mash their
button faster. It looks like fun. Another alt-control style project I found
this week is Box-E-Box by Daniel Plata, Simone Pivetta & Samar Gmach. It’s a robot boxing game where two players
get into these cardboard box costumes, with animated LED matrix faces and arcade buttons
on the side connected to a Teensy microcontroller. The boxers whack each other with pool noodles
trying to hit the other player’s arcade button. The first player to three hits wins. Mikeasaurus on Instructables has a fun guide
on designing and printing His and Her razor holders. The guide is based on Tinkercad, and is a
nice inroad for learning how to add more nuanced details like chamfers and lips to your Tinkercad
designs. Lego Man Productions has a guide on making
a working mini pinball game completely from legos and a couple rubber bands. Artur Młynarz created this tapeless tape
deck by retrofitting an Android phone into a vintage deck and creating a custom Android
application to give the appearance of a moving tape. You’ll need to route power and audio cables
for the phone internally, and pop out the plastic cover from the cassette tray to use
the touch screen — but if you can find a cool working deck like this with VU meters
and an integrated amp, this is a cool hack. Finally, Tim Alex Jacobs made this playable
MIDI stylophone business card. The card communicates MIDI note data over
a built in USB connection. Tim walks you through the prototype, the PCB
design, and his trick for doubling up the thickness to create the USB plug. It’s time for another Cool Tools review. This time we’re going to take a look at
my Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder. I bought this on Amazon for $500, and in my
experience it’s the best quality option around this price. I’m going to show you why, and if you want
to pick one up, using the link on the description helps support my videos and the Cool Tools
blog. I just got into welding about a year and a
half ago, and I’ll admit, I was intimidated. Luckily I had a friend to show me the basics
and let me borrow his Lincoln Electric welder to work on my gokart frame for Maker Faire. But after awhile I realized I needed to invest
in my own welder. The obvious choice was to go with a Lincoln
since I was already using one and they’re easy to get at any Home Depot. But after doing some research, this $500 Hobart
had a lot of reviews raving about its quality, so I gave it a shot, and I’m glad I did. Here’s why I recommend this as a great beginner’s
MIG welder. First, it runs off standard 110v household
power. Professional welding setups typically run
off 220, and the ones that run off 110 are often a little weak. This one has plenty of power for getting nice
welds on steel tubing and angle iron. The trade off is that it can’t do continuous
welds for more than a few minutes before it needs to rest. If welding is your job and you’re doing
it all day, that’s an obvious deal-breaker. But for what I do, I’m never spending more
than a minute on any particular weld, so I never think about it. The second great benefit for beginners is
that it comes setup for flux-core wire right out of the box, and includes a reel of flux
wire. What this means as a beginner, is that you
can get welding straight away because the flux wire doesn’t need shielding gas, which
most beginners don’t have on hand. After a few days, I was able to score a tank
of shielding gas and some regular MIG welding wire, which delivers better results for me. When you make this switch, you have to change
the polarity on the welder by unscrewing and swapping two wires. But it takes just a minute, and I think overall
most beginners will be happy this is set up for flux core out of the box so they can get
right to practicing. The third thing that’s great about this
package is that the components are high enough quality that you may never need to replace
them. From the gas regulator, to the gun, the 10-ft
grounding cable, and the extra tip — there’s a higher touch on every little component compared
to what I’ve seen on other entry-level welders. My impression is that to compete with the
low cost Lincoln and Home Depot and Harbor Freight options, Hobart is betting on quality
to differentiate what they’re offering. It works for me. It got me through an intense build with my
latest gokart. And no one from Hobart is paying me to say
this, just to be clear. If you’ve been intimidated by welding, I
encourage you to take a class at your local makerspace or have a friend show you the basics. As a maker, it opens up a lot of possibility. If you want to pick up this same setup, I’ve
got a link for it in the description, along with what I use for a helmet, welding table,
wire brush and gloves. And remember you can see thousands of reader
recommended tools like these at cool-tools.org. I have some more tools and tips to share. Through Gareth Branwyn’s Tips of the Week
column I learned about Voronator.com. The site allows you to upload 3D files, which
are then processed with a Voronoi pattern and sent back down to you. The result are these organic looking, filament
saving designs. For the right application, it’s a neat tool
to have bookmarked. For another take on working with Voronoi patterns
Dan Porter shared an Instructable on how to apply and dial in the effect using Autodesk’s
free Meshmixer software. This week I learned that Mike Warren (aka
Mikeasaurus) from Instructables is offering in person workshops and one-on-one instruction
in the Bay Area, through TryStudio.co. As a lot of you know, Mike’s one of my favorite
makers, and if you’re looking for a guru to help you with 3D design, woodworking, electronics,
or flamethrowing skateboards, this is a cool way to rent his brain for a bit. Adafruit has introduced a new board called
the Crickit that’s a sort of robot platform breakout for the Circuit Playground Express. For $30, you get a bunch of screw terminals
that break out connections for servos, motors, speakers, LEDs, and solenoids — plus a little
I/O breadboard and four capacitive touch pads. I’m eager to see the robot projects that
follow from this. Knowing Adafruit, they won’t suck. Speaking of Adafruit, watching Noe and Pedro
on 3D Hangouts this past week I learned that there’s a GitHub page full of Fusion 360
files for a bunch of Adafruit boards and components. So if you ever wanted to design an enclosure
that perfectly fits a board or button they sell, you can probably pop a 3D model of it
right into your design. Adafruit has also announced version 3.0 Beta
of Circuit Python. This is the software that allows a growing
number of their boards to be programmed using Python code instead of Arduino. There’s a lot of little changes and improvements,
but it is Beta, so there are likely some kinks to be worked out. Maker Faires! This weekend we have Berlin, Germany; Strasbourg,
France; Vilnius (Vil-nyus), Lithuania; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Ljubljana (Lou-blee-anna), Slovenia;
Gibsons, BC; and Kharkiv Ukraine. I think it’s one of the few weekends where
there’s not a faire happening in the US, but if you’re out near one, go check it
out. And that does it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe, leave a thumbs up, or
leave a comment. Pick up that Hobart if you’re looking for
a solid, hobbyist welder. No show next week, but I will send an email,
so get on that email list. And the plan now is to get these shows out
every other Friday. I know I’ve been your wednesday guy, but
my new gig at Autodesk has me in the office Tuesday and Wednesday, and that’s putting
food on the table. So, thanks for being flexible, and thanks
for watching, and I’ll see you soon.

9 thoughts on “The Sick Unicorn [Maker Update]

  1. That tape deck was awesome. I thought it was a real cassette until he all of sudden swept it aside.

  2. Good luck with the new job and don’t sweat the change! I’ll make time for your vids any day of the week!

  3. Congrats on the power racing results, and the new job! They seem like a company that's making all the right moves to interface with the maker community. But you never told us what the new gig is! 🤨

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