Sunday, November 25, 2012

Straight Razor Shaving Stand

An important aspect of maintaining a straight razor is ensuring your razor (and shaving brush) dry thoroughly after each use.  Keeping these items dry will prevent the high carbon steel blade from rusting and your brush from deteriorating or building up soap scum.  A shaving stand also helps prevent the razor's edge from being nicked or the brush's bristles from being crushed.  

Stands can vary from expensive store bought models to crudely bent coat hangers.  I thought a stand would make a great laser cutting project so I set out to make my own!  After some online searching, I found a shaving stand design developed for a double edged (or similar) razor at r/wickededge. I adapted the design to accommodate my straight razor and laser cut the pieces from 1/8" cherry.  After a bit of gluing and varnishing my stand turned out looking pretty sharp (shaving pun intended, har-har).  If you're interested in making your own, I've shared the shaving stand design here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Revisiting the METAR Weather Reporter

After a decent number of requests for the source code used on my METAR weather reporter I made in 2010, I've decided to make it more readily available (see below for source).  Shown above is a photo of one individual's version in action.

If you haven't already, you'll need to download the latest versions of Arduino and Processing.  The Processing sketch also requires an appropriate font file to run correctly.  Place the font ".vlw" file in a folder called "data" in the same directory as the Processing sketch and change the font name in the Processing sketch to match the ".vlw" font file name (if you chose to use a different font than the one below).  After this, run the Processing sketch on your computer and load the Arduino sketch onto your board with lcd character display connected according to the pinout noted in the code.  The Arduino will also require a USB serial connection to communicate with the Processing program.  My code is currently set up to report KSAC weather, but it's easy to change the weather reporting location.  Simply edit the airport identifier at the two locations in the Processing sketch to the one you're interested in.  Happy coding and safe flying!

Source Code:
METAR code for Processing
Processing Font Files
METAR code for Arduino

Monday, November 12, 2012

Geogram ONE Case Revisions

Even though I just completed the first case design for my Geogram ONE, I've already designed a new case with many improvements.  The battery now has a form fitting pocket beneath the board so it doesn't shift under sudden moment, the circuit board is secured to the enclosure, the antenna is mounted internally (although the volume of the box only very slightly increased), and I included two pockets for magnets that will allow you to attach the enclosure to an object. I designed the new case in Solidworks, but re-oriented the .stl file for printing using Blender.

 Above is a screenshot of my model in Blender.  Below is the finished case with all the components installed before I seal in the electronics.  I opted to spray paint the outside of the case black and laser cut a black acrylic panel for the front to make the unit more discreet for mounting in my car.

Here is the finished unit hidden away in my Miata.  Personal Lowjack installed!

I've uploaded the build files here:
Geogram ONE revised case
Geogram ONE revised acrylic faceplate
**Note: the new case design requires 8, 3/8" #4 screws 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Geogram ONE

Awhile back I supported the Kickstarter "Open Source Tracking Device" project which later became known as Geogram ONE.  For supporting this project I was given a tracking device circuit board, an antenna, and lipo battery.  The tracking device works by connecting to the GSM cell network and relaying it's GPS coordinates to any phone or computer via text message.  You can set "geo fences" or speed/acceleration triggers to send you automatic alerts as well.  

Because it relies on the cell network, you need a SIM card for it to work properly.  Through online forums I discovered Telna Mobile, which offers 1000 free texts a month for $20/year with no monthly fees or minimum voice usage.  This offer was hard to beat, so I bought my SIM card and fired up the tracker!

The loose circuit board, antenna, and battery didn't have a nice form factor, so I set about designing an enclosure in Google Sketchup and Inkscape.  I 3D printed the ABS base with cutouts for the antenna and USB charging connection.  The face is laser cut and engraved from 1/8" clear acrylic.  If you were part of the Kickstarter campaign and have your own tracker, I've included the models below so you can build your own.

I'm currently thinking of fun projects/activities one might do with a tracking device.  Some of my ideas so far have been: Mail the tracker to someone and record the route it takes; Make a collar for a cat and see what yards it's trekking through; Some sort of cool mobile geocache?  If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Here are the files for building this basic enclosure:
Google Sketchup Model
STL format of above model
SVG of Acrylic faceplate

You'll also need 4, 3/8" #4 machine screws to hold down the face plate.  Happy building!

Monday, November 5, 2012

First 3D Printed Parts


I recently purchased a Solidoodle 3D printer and have been learning about and experimenting with 3D printing!  The video above shows my printer building up a lens cap layer by layer using fused deposition modeling.  ABS plastic filament is fed into the printer head, heated, and extruded into a very fine bead of plastic which slowly builds the part.  Each layer is only .3mm thick so as you might imagine it takes some time for the part to be fully created.

I've designed a few parts using the modeling software Google Sketchup, but I usually check the model sharing website, Thingiverse, to see if someone has already shared a design for an item I want to create.  Below are some of the first item's I've printed including, a lens cap and scuba mask mount for my GoPro (both from Thingiverse) and an antenna cap to protect the car cover on my 55 Ford Fairlane.