Hackers – Disassembling Stuff!

A great way to figure out how things work is to take them apart. In the Hackers group, we unscrewed, hammered, de-soldered and detached the parts from the insides of an old living-room DVD player, a computer CD player, and a speaker from a stereo, to see what we could find.

Group members de-soldered components such as switches and capacitors that we will use in new projects, extracted and examined motors from the CD/DVD players, and got a working speaker from its housing. They powered up the motors with DC batteries to see how they work, and hooked up the speaker to a phone headphone jack (whch worked but would need amplification).

CDs and DVDs are great because they include different high-quality motors for spinning the disc, moving the laser read head forward/backward, and ejecting the tray.

Hackers – Soldering!

At Hackers this week, we learned how to solder. Group members stripped wires and then soldered them together. Next time, we will try soldering components such as resistors on to a circuit board.

There are plenty of videos on YouTube  to demonstrate soldering technique. Here is one by Emer Cahill of GMIT, which is part of their series of CanSat training videos:

Hackers – Arduino Basics

arduino

On 15 Oct, we spent the session figuring out the basics of programming and electronics with an Arduino micro-controller. We had a couple of Arduino Unos (pictured above) and a Genuino 101.

We downloaded the Arduino IDE (integrated development environment) software here: https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software

We then built a simple circuit to turn on an LED, using a breadboard:

Circuit.jpg

After connecting the 5V side of the circuit to Digital pin 2 on the Arduino, we started experimenting with writing code to control it, using the C-based language of the Arduino IDE:

arduinocode

After that, group members started experimenting with more complex programs and hardware, such as pressure and temperature sensors, which they had working by the end of the 2-hour session. I was very impressed with the speed with which they made progress!

 

Hackers – 3D Modelling with SketchUp

roompic

At this week’s session, Kevin introduced everybody to SketchUp, a free 3D modelling program. Models built with SketchUp can be exported to a format suitable for input into Repetier Host, to prepare them for 3D printing.

Incidentally, other options for 3D modelling include Blender (which some may have used previously for modelling) and TinkerCAD (which is web-based so does not require installation).

Here are some notes on getting started with SketchUp – they are taken from an NUI Galway summer camp I was involved in organising a couple of years ago: sketchupnotes

By the way, the picture above is a SketchUp model I built previously of a room.

Important: to export SketchUp models to Repetier, you first need to install the SketchUp STL Extension. Instructions:

  • n the SketchUp main menu, select Window – Extension Warehouse.
  • Search for SketchUp STL (see below), then go through the steps of downloading and installing.
  • Note that you may need to create a Trimble account (Trimble is the company that develops SketchUp).
  • You may see a warning that it is not marked as compatible with your version of SketchUp, but just press OK.
  • After installing the SketchUp STL extension, you will have a new menu item: File – Export STL.

sketchupstlextension

Hackers – tips for safely using a 3D printer

We were very pleased this week to be able to let the first members of the Hackers group take home 3D printers for the week to experiment with them. We will continue to do this in the coming weeks.

Here are some guidelines on safely using a 3D printer, prepared again by Kevin from Boston Scientific:

3d-printer-operating-guidlines (PDF)

Next time, we will take a closer look at building models in a 3D modelling package.

Hackers – Getting started with 3D printers

3dprinter

At the Hackers group, we started learning how to use 3D printers this week. 3D printers are a fantastic technology for turning 3D computer models into physical objects. They are also impressively inexpensive, with the Arduino-based Materia 101 printer that we are using costing about €600.

Thanks a million to Kevin Madden who joined the group to show us how to use 3D printers. Thanks also to his employer, Boston Scientific, who have loaned three 3D printers to us and are also covering the cost of the plastic “ink” used in them. Thanks also to Kevin’s colleague Cathal Egan of Boston Scientific, who initially offered the printers to us.

Here are Kevin’s notes on how to set up a 3D printer: 3d-printer-setup (PDF)

Here are the configuration files needed: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6otj5ok7i00ikds/Slic3r-Materia101-Settings.zip?dl=0

And here also is a diagram Kevin prepared, showing the 3D printing workflow:

3d-printing-workflow

At our next session, we will look at how to do some 3D modelling to create objects we can print. Should be fun!