Make Lehigh Valley Make Hardware, Make Software, Make Art


(Mis)Adventures In Laser Cutting

Member Katie has started a blog on her site Crafty Kitsurou about her (mis)adventures in using our laser cutter.  Katie is doing really cool stuff with halftones and engraving photos that we've pictured here in the past month or so.  Check it out below!

(Mis)Adventures in Laser Cutting

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What’s up @MakeLV! (6/22/2017)

I thought maybe I'd try a new title as our updates turn out to be a little less frequent than weekly :)  Plus that's our twitter thing.. see what I did there?

The newly-appointed board met for the first time on 6/14 and it was certainly a busy meeting. You can take a look at the complete minutes here.  Some important highlights:  We've been discussing the purchase of a new 3D Printer for the space, and are trying to narrow the field selection-wise as well as determine how much we're going to spend.  We've fired off a discussion on our mailing list (join!) and are hoping to get some consensus prior to our 7/12 meeting at which we're planning to make the purchase.

DSC_1134_sm   (sad face)

We also scheduled our next Space Pride Day for Saturday, July 8th beginning at 12PM.  We use these days to clean up and improve the space as a group.  At some point during the day MakeLV will be buying everyone lunch!

We had a pretty small crowd at the 6/15 Open Hack, but here is what happened Thursday 6/22!

A busy Open Hack, Katie is burning photos into wood and making some other small ornaments, Ed is modeling a trailer for his quad and golf cart in SolidWorks, Jeff is troubleshooting an inexpensive CNC controller he picked up for a robotics project, and Twilly is working on a Frankenstein skirt.

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This week-ish at MakeLV (5/15-5/25/2017)

I'm batting 1.000 on putting up some news on a weekly basis, aren't I?  It's been a busy few weeks at the space;  we had our Annual Meeting, BBQ and Elections on Saturday May 20th (minutes here) which was a ton of fun and some well-attended Open Hacks on those few Thursday nights in there.

In case you missed it, our new Board of Directors is as follows:  President Jared Steckel, Quartermaster Ed Kilburn, Secretary Will Weik, Treasurer Jonas Wood and Director of Public Relations Danny Mardis.  All honors and thanks to Mark Benning (Former President) and Alex Cloak (former Quartermaster) for their service and many accomplishments this past year.

DSC_1094_sm  Danny, Will, Ed and Jared

Here's some more from a few nights around the space!

A bustling Open Hack night, Dave is building a desktop air conditioner for his desk at work out of some spare parts lying around, tron is reclaiming some valuable parts from some electronics scrap, mobius is working on rebuilding an old air compressor, Jonas is scrapping an old refrigerator (not to worry, we have refrigerant reclamation equipment!), Jeff shows a power connection and some wiring he's made up for his awesome sign on the steps, and Ralph troubleshoots (successfully!) a partially-functional LED strip.


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This week at MakeLV (5/1/2017)

One of the most common things we hear from visitors and newcomers is that we don't update our blog and there aren't any pictures of what goes on here, etc.  I don't want to make all sorts of commitments I won't keep, but I recently got my first DSLR and am enjoying taking photos of whats going on.  So, for the first time in years, here are some actual pictures from this week at MakeLV.  From left to right are the descriptions below.  I promise to learn a nicer way to throw these into a post with descriptions, honest 😉

Photon got an old Pentium 166 loaded up with DOS 6.22, Windows 3.11, and a copy of ImpuleTracker and was playing some old MOD audio files.

Mobius was working on our audio system in the space, adding a 15" Dayton Audio 350W (RMS) sub in a custom-built folded horn box that stands waist high.

Photon jumped in on the stereo work and replaced the caps in an Altec Lansing single-channel 31-band EQ destined for the sub.

Ed started assembly on an enclosure and bench for the CNC mill he and Tronwizard have been working on.

Ed and Ben are working on some Python on a Raspberry Pi 3 which is using the pygame library to produce some graphics for an upcoming project.


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MakeLV T-Shirts

MakeLV is proud to announce that we are offering T-Shirts for sale to members and non-members. Available by pick-up only, the shirts are on a soft, light material, and cost $15. Check the sidebar for ordering information.

mlvshirtback mlvshirtfront

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World Maker Faire Bus 2016

We're excited for our annual bus trip to World Maker Faire in NYC, come ride with Make Lehigh Valley!

We have a luxury coach reserved and will be leaving from DaVinci Science Center at 8AM on Saturday October 1st to head to NYSCI in Queens for the Faire.  You can park in the DaVinci lot while we're gone, and we'll be returning there around 10PM the same day.

Details and tickets available at the link below.  Purchase your tickets by September 29th 2016 at 6PM!


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Trading Card Sorting Machine


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Although I've been working on this project since I joined the makerspace back in February, this will be my first blog entry on my quest to design and build a Trading Card Sorter.  Here's a little background on the project:

Since I began playing Magic: the gathering back in my senior year of high school, I've acquired boxes and tubs full of cards just lying around my room in precipitous towers with zero organization.  I also noticed that game store owners spend many man hours each week sorting through the thousands of cards they get each week by hand just figure out what they even have in stock.  So to make both their, and my, life easier, I'm attempting to build a prototype of a this card sorter and try it out in a game store.

Since I started, I've gotten up to a simple design for the 3 axes and shape of  the sorter, with only a general idea of how I'm planning on actually picking up the cards.  The base frame will be like any XY gantry system, being driven by stepper motors on a frame make of 80/20.

Above are pictures of the X axis drive, with a rickety platform from which I was planning on mounting the Y axis assembly.  The mounting plate, driven by a stepper with a belt, will be guided on side rails of aluminum rod using bearings press fitted into covers with a triangle curve to "grip" the rods.  It's a very WIP prototype, as the plate will need more support in order to take most of the load off the bearings.

Later this week I'm planning of remaking the plate since it'll need 3 bearing mounting holes to properly constrain it and finishing up the frame from aluminum plate, 80/20, and some nuts/screws.

That's it for now, I'm planning on posting each week to help me stay motivated, continue working on it each week, and keep a record of my journey to create my first homemade machine!





Member Project Update: Filament Extruder Project Update

Hi All, the following is an update the Make Lehigh Valley Filament Extruder Project. This update is dedicated Matt Schwarz who recently passed away and who was a co-organizer of Make Lehigh Valley makerspace. Matt was an early proponent DIY 3D printing, filament extrusion and completed prior work at the space in the extrusion of filaments, building of the the space's first 3D printer and other initiatives. Matt's presence at the space will be missed by all.



Current activities in the filament extruder have focused on the refinement of the heating element and the motor. The oven element heater has been replaced by fiberglass covered nichrome wire powered by a repurposed inverter transformer. The output of the transformer is 6 vac which powers parallel strands of nichrome wire.

A 'slo-sync' 72 rpm motor has been installed to power the extruder. Testing has indicated that this is a little slow and work is underway to either speed up the motor via a variable frequency drive or replace the motor with another type.

Extruder screw modification (3) (Large)

Nichrome heater element with insulation removed

Extruder screw modification (4) (Large)

Overall view of extruder including 'slo-sync' motor

View of extruder auger with housing removed

View of extruder auger with housing removed

Extruding filament at the space testing temperatures and feedrates

Extruding filament at the space testing temperatures and feedrates

Next steps including installation of thermocouples at several locations on the extruder body and building an Arduino circuit to read and display the temperatures. Additional testing will done to refine location of nichrome heating elements and assess whether multi-stage heating of the extruder assembly is warranted. The motor drive is also being redesigned to achieve higher extruder speeds.

Frank Lyter


Member Project Update: Frank’s Filament Extruder (WIP)

Hi All, the following is an update the Make Lehigh Valley Filament Extruder Project.  Thus far, the concept has been demonstrated successfully with production of several meters of ABS filament!!!

The emphasis on the project at this stage is determining fundamental parameters for operation of key sections of the design.  Key sections of the project include; nozzle design (nozzle diameter, length, inlet & outlet shape), material heater body design (single stage vs. multistage heating, heater element design including material, voltage, current, insulation), extruder design (length of extruder, hopper geometry) and drive mechanism (gear reduction, clutch, drive motor options).

Safety is a key design consideration for the project.  For example, low voltages are planned for powering of the heater element along with interlocks to protect against extruder or motor overload.

Next steps include; refinement of the heater element, incorporation of automatic heater control and testing of motor drive options. Once these items are tested satisfactorily, more sophisticated automation is planned.  The automation is expected to include an integrated control scheme incorporating heater controls, clutch slippage detection, drive motor controls and hopper feed sensing and controls.  Control platform and sensor options are still under review with the emphasis on safety, open source, simplicity, availability, cost and reliability.

Additional project details are provided in previous posts.

Comments and suggestions welcomed!

Frank Lyter

Prototype heater used to refine heater design requirements

Repurposed oven heater element - prototype heater used to refine heater design requirements

Final over heater fit up to nozzle

Heater fit up to nozzle - one of several bend configuration under consideration

Extruder heater test to evaluate operating voltages and currents

Extruder heater test to evaluate operating voltages and currents

Extruder heater testing for voltage and amp evaluation

Autotransformer used for voltage and amp evaluation

Heater element attached to extruder - subsequently covered in fiberglass insulation.

Heater element attached to extruder - subsequently covered in fiberglass insulation.

First filament production!!!  Evaluating various temperatures and pressures - sections with bubbles are when temperature was too high

First filament production!!! Evaluation ongoing for optimum temperatures and pressures - sections with bubbles are when temperature was too high


Member Project Spotlight: Frank’s Filament Extruder (WIP) Updated

Frank just sent us another update on his filament extruder. Some progress has been made, and he's almost ready for testing. This is shaping up to be one of the more ambitious projects from one of our members and we're excited to see it in action.

"I am nearing completion of the clutch for the extruder and have completed the adapter to be able to turn the extruder with a variable speed drill.  My thoughts on the clutch are to place hose clamps on each side over top where the slots are cut.  The tighter the clamps the higher the torque until it slips (that is the theory anyway).  If I need more torque applied, I am thinking of a steel can with bolted flanges to tighten down on the plastic coupling.  There is a floating steel rod inside (not shown) that maintains the alignment between the aluminum halves.  The plastic is a PVC pipe union connector with slots cut so clamps can compress the plastic coupling. Progress has been slower than I hoped due to other projects, but I am getting close to being able to conduct the first trials which I plan to do at the space. "

"The clutch assembly is complete and the extruder end has been drilled for a pellet hopper and a small aluminum hopper added.  My plan is for a full-size hopper would set on top of aluminum block.  The only thing I need to do to allow an initial test is to make some nozzles to fit in the "T" connection.  I am going to try to drill some brass plugs with a 1/16" drill as a start.  1/16" (0.0625") may be close to what is required to get a 1.75 mm (0.069") figuring it will swell as it comes out the nozzle."

Extruder Assembly (1) (Large) Extruder Assembly (2) (Large) Extruder Assembly (3) (Large) Extruder Clutch Assembly (1) (Large) Extruder Clutch Assembly (2) (Large) Extruder Clutch Assembly (3) (Large) Extruder Clutch Assembly (4) (Large) Extruder Drill for Testing (Large) Extruder Overall View (Large) Drill Adapter Extruder Clutch (1) Extruder Clutch (2) Extruder Clutch (3) Extruder Clutch (4) Extruder Clutch (5)

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