Make Lehigh Valley Make Hardware, Make Software, Make Art


Allentown ArtsFest!

Our friends at The Alternative Gallery in Allentown invited us to participate at ArtsFest this year, and we're so glad they did! It was an amazing weekend of art, music, and food. We were set up in the Voyager Tent, a location specifically for celebrating the intersection of Art and Technology. And with two different hands-on activities, we were busy all day long.

Allentown ArtsFest 2018

Big thanks to all our members who came out to help!

"Learn to Solder" is always a hit. It's so great to see someone's face light up when they complete their first working circuit.

make lehigh valley member teaching a guest to solder

And Katie's "Laser-cut Cross Stitch" was a wonderful addition. This project puts a modern spin on a very old craft, using laser-cut wood instead of fabric.

cross stitch of laser cut wood

We met a ton of amazing people and had a great time all weekend. Can't wait to do it all again next year!


Trading Card Sorting Machine


DSC_0323 DSC_0324 DSC_0372 DSC_0371


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)

Our member Frank has been working on a heavy duty piece of hardware for extruding 3D printer filament. This all started when we got a 3D printer and were interested in making filament on the cheap instead of paying someone else to manufacture it. Filaments can be made from many different materials and self producing it can save up to 80% of the cost of commercially produced filament. We had seen several  other DIY machines  to do the same thing, but one of our members decided to take on this project himself and has really gotten pretty serious with it. Here are his progress notes so far and some info on the work that's going into this project.
Work completed:
  • Extruder shaft machined to accept bearings on both ends
  • Bearing supports for both ends of the extruder - hot end is a bronze sleeve bearing, drive end is a tapered roller bearing to handle the thrust of extruding
  • Extruder mounting plate machined to accept the extruder and gearbox mounted and rough aligned
  • Mounting plate for future motor drive / gear reduction assembly installed
MakeLV Filament Extruder (1) MakeLV Filament Extruder (2) MakeLV Filament Extruder (3)-extruder support MakeLV Filament Extruder (4)-bearing housing MakeLV Filament Extruder (5)-bearing spacer MakeLV Filament Extruder (6) MakeLV Filament Extruder (7)-extruder end bearing MakeLV Filament Extruder (8)-gear reduction set
Remaining work:
  • Machine coupling between extruder and gearbox
  • Clutch system between gearbox and extruder to prevent over-torquing in the event of a jam
  • Machine adapter for gearbox high speed end to allow connection to variable speed drill for testing to validate required speeds
  • Machine hole for plastic pellet inlet
  • Machine nozzle orifice - considering using removal orifice similar to jets in carburetors to aid in cleaning if required
  • Design / fabricate hopper - 3D printed in ABS?
  • When this point is reached, it would seem some basic testing could occur
  • Design / install sensor, heater and controller - Arduino based?  probably nichrome wire based similar to existing unit (for initial trials, I am thinking external heating via heat gun may allow for testing)
  • Design / machine supports for gear reduction sets for motor drive - one gear needs a support shaft added to one side of the gear (large metal gear shown in photo)
  • Design / motor supports - with the high gear reduction, planning to use stepper motor to allow adjustment of speed
  • Design / construction motor speed controller - Arduino based?
  • Probably a bunch of other items I have not thought of
Currently extruder section is short, not sure how much length is required to get necessary pressures at nozzle end.  I have other tubing available to lengthen that section if it is determined to be necessary.  The parts are designed to move around to test other arrangements.
We're looking forward to seeing more on this amazing project. Keep up the good work, Frank!

Recent Activity – A Pictoral Tour

If you haven't been around recently, here are a few things you would have seen.


3D printer mini-festival

We had a mini 3D printer fest at Make Lehigh Valley last night along with our postponed Build Night with Sugru. (Sugru update to come, I'm gathering pictures.) The Ord Bot received some sugru to the handle to make it more comfy to lug.

My real joy was sharing the epic fail of printing a twisted ball cage. I made it as far in the print as I have yet. I still can't get the top to print because of the flex of the arms. All the interaction from crowd of makers was great. Jared got his RepRap printing a much improved cube and Jeff made some progress on the space's RepRap 3D printer. He's been polishing the smooth rods that the carriage for the heated build platform rides on for awhile to make sure it runs smoothly.

Space RepRap 3D printer

After much polishing, Jeff has installed the rods that the heated build platform will ride on

Our impromptu mini 3D printer festival

Our impromptu mini 3D print festival, note the blue sugru on the handle of the OrdBot.


Josiah’s Ord Bot Hadron Project

Ord Bot 3D Printer

The Ord Bot 3D Printer Mechanical Platform
by Bart Dring of Pumping Station One

Besides the RepRap Mendel that the space is putting together, I'm putting together an ORD Bot Hadron, the larger brother of the ORD Bot Quantum. It took me a long time to decide between this and SeeMeCNC's RostockMax. The first beta tester, Jeremy, brought an ORD Bot Quantum to Make Lehigh Valley quite awhile and showed off its impressive qualities.

In many basic ways, this is a simplified version of the RepRap based on MakerSlide and without the interest in being able to print as much of the printer as possible. I'm interested in comparing the time of assembly and results with the RepRap. It seems generally agreed that both printers are capable of equal quality. The typical Mendel may require more regular maintenance than an Ord Bot and require more effort to get well calibrated. The rigidity of the MakerSlide makes for a more stable platform.

The Ord Bot design is strictly a mechanical platform. Most kits only include the mechanical platform and steppers to get it moving. The come in various stages of assembly. The kit I purchased was from Automation Technologies, Inc.

Once I had the platform I had to decide what electronics and extruder I wanted to use. I'm going with Panucatt's X3 and heated bed for the electronics. My extruder choice is the brand new SeeMeCNC EZstruder extruder. (I'm sure to regret going with the bleeding edge, but its just so flexible.) I still need to pick up a hot end. I'll probably go with the J-Head when they come back in stock. I understand they usually are stocked at on Friday afternoons at noon and are gone over the weekend.

I'm rather partial to the aesthetics of the Ord Bot over the RepRap also. The nice blue anodized aluminum and sleek smooth lines are nice. The ability to hide the cables inside the MakerSlide is also a great plus and the ability to expand it rather simply with just bigger or smaller pieces of makerslide is another notable feature.

My daughter and I will be chronicling our build in a Build Log and with a picture album on Google+ and more static documentation in a wiki page at MakeLV's wiki.


RepRap Project Progress

Tony Buser LithopaneThe RepRap project is making progress. Check out the wiki page for the constantly improving documentation and watch as we put together the list of things to buy.


We hear Tony already has the plastic parts on the forge to help us boot strap the 3D printer community of the Lehigh Valley. I guess you could say, the reprap is beginning to take physical shape.

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Tour the Home of Make Lehigh Valley, the Hive4A Hackerspace

We put together this video tour for you. We wanted you to come see the latest and greatest of our hackerspace from the comfort of your couch. Enjoy!

Now you've seen it. Come by some Thursday night and get the full-sensory HD tour. You won't believe how much better it is in person!