Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lego Printing Press

Last weekend I made a Lego printing press. I used a lego board which had a space for an ink reservoir pre-molded on it. I originally designed it to work with silicone bracelets and print on the top but then I used rubber bands instead which print on the bottom. The paper is pulled through by a hand crank but I will try to make it motorized. The top wheel is just to press it down. It prints a stripe on the underside of the paper. Right now it has mostly water and green ink. I labelled all the parts on the picture.

Knitting Machine Monsters

One of Griffin's summer projects was making monsters. He bought a knitting machine at the thrift store (unfortunately there was no choice on the color). When Griffin saw the machine, he immediately knew what it was even though Mom didn't. He said that's because he watched the How It's Made episode about socks. The knitting machine worked well to make short knitted tubes. It did drop some stitches, and the holes gave him the idea to make monsters. Mom crocheted around the edges of the holes to keep them from unravelling further.
Griffin enjoyed experimenting with different colors and types of yarn. The knitting machine came with a ball of red yarn. He tried string, and the result looked kind of like chain mail. He tried variegated camo yarn, variegated rainbow yarn, slippery yarn, and fuzzy yarn. Then he tried fishing line, but when Mom tried to untangle it the yarn guide broke.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fountain Design

Griffin decided that the first 100 degree day of the summer would be a good time to build a fountain. We already had two fountain kits with pumps and sprayer attachments, as well as a metal bucket, pitcher, and saucers from the last time we built a fountain. Griffin reminded Mom that the pump from the old kit was not safe to use because the grounding prong from the plug had broken off and he didn't want to shock birds by accident.

Dad told Griffin that it was a good idea to make a temporary fountain setup. That way, if we ever figure out how to convert it to solar power, we can choose a better location that won't have to be so close to the back door. For the first configuration of the fountain, Griffin attached a length of clear tubing directly to the pump. With the tubing curved around the bottom of the metal tub and held in place by a brick, the water created a whirlpool. Griffin decided that he wanted the pump to be more hidden. Next, he stacked bricks inside the tub on either side of the pump and added a flat rock.  He threaded the clear tubing up through the hole in the bottom of the metal pitcher. It poured water directly onto the flat rock. Then he tried it with a metal saucer underneath. That was Mom's favorite design. We unplugged it overnight because we didn't want a raccoon to knock over the pitcher while the pump was on. The parts are not attached- just balanced so they can be moved around.

The next day, Griffin decided to take apart the fountain and redesign it. He added a splitter so that some of the water goes through the clear tube, and some of it goes up through a sprinkler attachment which sprays water in a dome shape. Griffin found that he could disrupt the smooth sheet of water by sticking his finger in the pathway. He aimed the jet of water from the clear tube so that it would disrupt the shape too. 

One fountain design that Griffin made a few years ago used pvc pipes and a lawn chair in a wading pool. He could sit in the lawn chair and the fountain would shower water on his head. It was a fun idea for a hot day, and he liked it because the recirculating fountain used less water than a lawn sprinkler.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pressurized Bottle

I started with the guts of an air-powered Nerf gun. I took apart the Nerf gun because it didn't work very well. First I used it as a smoke gun to spray vaporized soap. But then I cut it apart to make the air reservoir larger. I saved the valve that fires, the pressure meter, and the pump. I cut the hose linking the pump to the pressure meter and drilled 2 holes in a laundry detergent bottle and stuck my hose parts in to allow air to be transferred. I sealed all the connections except the cap with hot glue

To fill the bottle with air, I use the pump. To fill the bottle with water, I unscrew the cap and put the water in. Then it works as an underpowered squirt gun.

By opening the valve, I let the pressurized air flow out of the bottle until the pressure at the nozzle is equal to the pressure behind the valve. For filling a balloon, I pull the valve and the pressure inside the bottle and the balloon equalize.until the balloon is full enough.

What's Next?
Griffin frequently reuses parts from old inventions or redesigns them. Nothing is ever really "finished". That's exactly what happened with the pressurized bottle/Nerf gun. What would happen if he made the hose longer? Added squirt gun parts? Added a second bottle? Added glow in the dark tubing? Replaced the Nerf gun shell around the end of the hose? Will it still shoot darts? Unfortunately, after answering all those questions, the pump gave out and started leaking. It will go into the parts bin for now, but who knows what it will become in the future.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

McAllen Mini Maker Faire

During a recent trip to the coast, Griffin visited the McAllen Mini Maker Faire.

He says, "I liked that they had three 3D printers. They use special plastic line. Originally I thought that there was only white and black line, but I now know that they can use more colors than that. There was also green, clear, red, and orange.
They had lots of arts and crafts. I made a mosaic glass tile by putting glass squares on a larger glass square with heat set adhesive. They used a heat gun to set the adhesive and waited for it to cool. I saw someone making items out of silicone caulk and corn starch. I want to make a rubber tablet case with it. I made a yellow lady bug out of glycerin soap and I used it at the hotel later that night."
Griffin asks UTPA Science & Math Dept about 3D printer

Weather Station by the Workshop

Griffin decided to add a weather station to his workshop. It measures indoor temperature, outdoor temperature, humidity, and wind speed. He was so excited about it that he installed it all by himself instead of waiting for Mom and Dad to help. He got very frustrated, but didn't give up.

"It measures the outside humidity. It uses a phone-like connector to transfer data from the wind meter to the transmitter. I got it at Cabela's for $8.87. There was a discount on it because it was a discontinued item. There was a fancier one that included what I got plus other stuff like a rain gauge, but it cost over $100. I had some trouble setting it up but what I did was repetitively press the reset button on the receiver and then it worked. It was hard to mount because I didn't use my drill which was in my workshop. I wanted to do it how most people would. The transmitter can be 300 feet away from the receiver if you're in an open field, otherwise it's less. Dad suggested putting it high on the workshop pole because it was in the shade but I wanted to put it slightly lower because it was easier to work on and replace the batteries.  It requires 2 AA batteries in the receiver and 2 in the transmitter which is mounted on one of the poles of my workshop. I think that when the batteries die in about a year I will use my supercharger to charge it."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sewing Machine Repair

Griffin tried to help fix our broken sewing machines. One of Aunt Jennifer’s friends helped him. He took them apart, dusted out the lint and scraps of fabric, and added oil with a small brush. Sadly, they still don’t work, but it was very interesting to see what they look like on the inside and how the parts move.

Round Rock Mini Maker Faire

After exhibiting at the Austin Mini Maker Faire a few weeks ago, Griffin decided that he wanted to attend the Round Rock Mini Maker Faire. This was the first time it’s been in Round Rock, and it was sponsored by Tech Shop. He enjoyed the tour of Tech Shop, and is counting the months until he is old enough to join.

Griffin says, “I want to join the Tech Shop because they have good tools that I would like to use. Some of these tools would be too fancy for most of my jobs. I might use the laser cutter for a job that could be done with a band saw, scroll saw, or table saw.
The Maker Faire was really tiny but it was well divided. One of my favorite things was the computer fan that was raising and lowering a seesaw. The robot arm was cool but I would want to make the gears out of metal because it is more durable than acrylic. The clear acrylic case would make it easy to diagnose problems.

Hand Crank Drill

Before Griffin was old enough to use power tools, he used an old fashioned hand crank drill. He used it so much that the paint wore off the gears. Then he didn’t take good care of it, so it rusted stuck and wouldn’t turn any more. Now he prefers the electric drill, but decided to fix up the old one.

Griffin says “First, we bought rust remover from a hardware store. It is water based, which is completely illogical because water causes rust. But it did remove the rust. We soaked the tool in a container of rust remover. It took a while but it really worked. I would definitely recommend the product that we used. After it removed the rust and we rinsed off the rust remover residue, I sprayed it with WD40 to prevent it from rusting again.”