First DHMN Work Session - 14 Nov 2010

Sitting in Mike P's family room right now at the work table, with Mike working on his Arduino "you've got mail' project and Erin and Drake are working on their potato gun. The highly focused author Bob is sitting at the kitchen table on his one of his latest Apple acquistions -- the MacAir. Speaking of apples, the cobbler is 'made' and in the oven, starting to permeate the house with a flavorful fall feeling. An undetermined number of kids are running around, along with a dog and a cat. The fish are staying put in the fish tank...but only because they're not one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.

An hour later...well, the apple cobbler and vanilla ice cream is gone (no we didn't make the ice cream, although Make Magazine has a cool project for
making ice cream using dry ice or liquid hydrogen). Erin got a spark in the combustion chamber of the spud gun, Mike's got a feng shui'd Arduino board, Bob W1 has a few more paragraph's reviewed, the kids have gotten themselves a bit worn out, Bob W2 baked the
apple cobbler, scooped it into bowls, added some ice cream and 10 bowls were consumed by the hacker/maker crowd.

Erin and Drake worked on the firing mechanism for the potato gun. The video Erin posted showed a taser being used as the spark source, but apparently those are not only frowned on for potato guns in Wisconsin, they are even prohibited from being sold in or shipped to consumers in Wisconsin. After a bit of research, the QL makers decided to see if they could adapt a piezoelectric gas grill igniter as the spudgun sparksource. After opening the package and doing the mandatory experimenting with various ways to give oneself a shock with the igniter, an internet research mini-project ensued to determine just how a piezoelectric
igniter works. We didn't fully grok the physics involved, but somehow the mechanical stress on the piezo crystal structure generates electrical energy within that lattice and the igniter is designed to discharge that energy as a spark, over and over. Between the Fleet Farm-procured drill bit, some duct tape, a few Wii games and the
indubitable QL magic touch, we were rewarded with the sight of an electric spark inside the gun's combustion chamber arcing across about a 3/8" gap between the ends of two stove bolts.

Meantime, Mike's mailbox Arduino spy device electronics were progressing nicely, although the actual installation on the mailbox will be challenging. His goals are to protect the IR generator and receiver from damage, align the IR units so they properly sense the presence of mail and mount the equipment discreetly so
the mail carrier doesn't freak out and report Mike to the authorities. Since the mailbox is thin gauge metal, one of his next steps is figuring out a good way to use some hunks of wood in which to hide and mount the IR source and sensor.

The next DHMN work session is sure to be interesting and enjoyable. If it sounds like something which you'd enjoy, track down a DHMN member and learn more about hackers and makers. Online you can look at Make Magazine, TechShop, the Fox Valley Tech Fab Lab, Sector67 and the Milwaukee Makerspace, as well as thousands of other informative and inspiring websites.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great time was had by all. Thanks for the cobbler and the write up!

Mike Putnam

10:22 PM  

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