Make Lehigh Valley Make Hardware, Make Software, Make Art


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!

Large LED Clock from Recycled Components

Finished Clock

Finished Clock

One of the first things I noticed after joining Make Lehigh Valley was that there was no easy way to tell what time it was if you weren't near a computer. After discovering a box of LEDs that had been recently donated to the space, I decided I would fix that problem. The LED clock itself is made of mostly recycled and donated parts. The 7-segment displays are made from laser-cut cardboard and tissue paper as the diffuser. The LEDs were rather unusual in that they were arrays of dies in a rectangular metal package; this lent itself well for the 7-segment arrangement.

Control Board

Control Board

The control board is about as simple as it gets. The Atmega328 communicates to two MCP23016 16 bit I/O expanders and a Dallas DS1307 real-time clock chip via I2C. Also onboard is a DHT11 temperature and humidity sensor. This allows the clock to function like one you would see at a bank. The display cycles through time, temperature and humidity - three seconds each.


Testing the Drive Method

Testing the Drive Method

Since the LEDs are actually small arrays, they have a forward voltage of about 7v - I was thinking I would need to multiplex the display and use additional transistors to handle the voltage, but the LEDs were plenty bright enough at 50mA (the output rating of the IO pins on the expander IC) so I was able to use a dual rail power supply to power the LEDs with the IO expander directly (well, with current limiting resistors anyway). The LEDs are connected in a common anode arrangement to the +12v rail of a power supply scavenged from a 10mbps ethernet hub. The logic runs from the 5v rail. When the pins on the IO expander go high (+5v), there is only 5vdc across the LED and so it stays dark. When the pin goes low, it gets the full 12v through 220 ohm resistors, limiting the current to about 22mA.


Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Hacker’s Phone Charger

This project starts a few months ago when one of our members was putting together a class for a girl scout troop. He was teaching them using adafruit trinkets and needed a fairly powerful 5v supply to power them. His Solution was to use some old rear pci slot mounted USB jacks, similar to the image bellow, connected to the 5v supply line of a PC power supply.

USB PCI Header

One day at the space someone needed to charge their phone so they plugged it in to the jack connected to the power supply. I liked the idea and decided to take it a bit over the top. I used openscad to create a box to hold all the USB jacks along with binding posts that connect to the +12v, +5v, and +3.3v coming out of the power supply. I printed the top and bottom of the box on the 3d printer. and now have an over-the-top hacker phone charger, raspberry pi and everything else power station. Two of the PCI USB slots had status LEDs on them. I added an attiny85 to blink them around in a cycle as just a fun extra feature.

Without further ado here is the finished product.




Here you can see the lights in action



The arduino code along with the stl and openscad files can be found at my github here

Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment

Standing Desk Mod

Standing desks have become pretty huge lately. They are said to be a great way to avoid the long hours of sitting that accompanies many jobs. After using one for a few weeks when I was working in Germany I understood the hype and when I got home I had to have one for myself.

The first thing I thought was that I didn't want to just make a tall desk. That would have made it so I was always stuck with a standing desk. Sometimes you need to just sit down. When I looked for pre-made convertible standing desks I found out that they were ridiculously expensive. I knew I needed to make my own desk or modify the one I had.

I racked my brain for a while thinking what to do. I thought of some ideas that would put a new top on my desk that could be lifted but that seemed like a big task. Then I came across an eBay listing for 18 inch stroke linear actuators that run at 24 volts and could lift 600lbs. They were being sold by Each actuator was about $45.

Using 4 linear actuators, a 24V linear power supply, an arduino, a relay board with 8 relays, and a few other components I created a convertible standing desk.

Check out the video below for a tour of the desk.

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Should a Maker go to a Hackathon?

We invited Tim Lytle of LV Hack (among other things) to share his argument for why a hardware hacker should join an event that is traditionally for software hackers. They're really interested in having more hardware guys around to bring new ideas and make new things possible. There is some fun to be had! -- Josiah

What's a Hackathon?
First things first: A hackathon is an event - generally a few days on a weekend - that brings people together to build interesting things, all the while learning about new technology and sharing experiences. People may 'hack' on something: take a technology, exsisting product, or open source software, and repurpose it into something else, add features, or explore new uses. Other's may 'hack' something together: take various building blocks, APIs, hardware platforms, and create something completely new and unique.

What's a Hacker, and a Hack?
It's probably safe to say that most makers wouldn't raise an eyebrow at those terms - but in case the definition is a bit fuzzy, a hacker is simply someone really good at solving problems and overcoming limits in ways that may not seem obvious to most. Paul Graham has said that a hacker is "someone who can make a computer do what he wants—whether the computer wants to or not." And a hack is the imaginative, clever, and perhaps crafty output of that hacker. "Whether the result is a quick-and-dirty patchwork job or a carefully crafted work of art, you have to admire the cleverness that went into it" is how the Jargon file distils the meaning.

If you think that sounds a little like the software version of a maker - well, you'd be right.

But hacking is not really limited to software, and making is not really limited to just the things we can physically touch - so I'd venture to say that a hacker and a maker are pretty much the same thing.

But Why a Hackathon?
That's a fair question. Whether you're tinkering on a robot (or laser), working on some software project, or building something with a microcontroller - there's weeknights after work, open hack nights at the makerspace, and every other weekend. What makes a weekend hackathon so different?

It's for all those ideas that you're not working on yet. The ones that would take more than just a few nights to test the potential, or that need another set of eyes, a second pair of hands, or a few more heads to really figure out. And even when it's not your idea, it's a great opportunity to see what's bouncing around in someone else's head, and end up making something that inspires your next idea. 

The people you meet at a hackathon can become lifelong friends, partners on projects, and even at times the team that takes a hack of an idea, and turns it into something much bigger.

And while traditionally people think of hackathons as a place for software developers, that distinction is becoming less and less true. From software to embedded devices to mechanical engineering - we've seen a variety of hacks at our hackathons over the past few years. And we expect even more variety this time around, as our venue is the Wilbur Powerhouse with a assortment of printers and prototyping tools.

So yes, a maker should definitely go to a hackathon - and fortunately for you, there's one going on in just a few weeks. See you there?



Tune in live to A Slice of Pi!

Tune in live now!!

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Class: Paper Craft for Beginners

Join us this Thursday (July 19th) for our Paper Craft for Beginners class held at the Hive4A makerspace (905 Harrison St., Allentown) from 7-8:30pm.

Cost is $5.00 per participant.

Children must be accompanied by an adult as we will be using X-acto knives.

Please register for Paper Craft for Beginners on our WePay page.

This isn't your grandma's origami!  ...actually its just cutting and gluing from elementary school taken to a whole new level.  The basic technique is the same for any paper craft model.  Templates for models to practice on will be available as well as some more advanced models that will probably take more time then we have for the class.

Ellis and Mark will demonstrate their Paper Craft techniques with tips and tricks and then help you figure out what your personal technique is.  There will be an array of glues and miscellaneous tools available for you to try and see what works best for you.

With just paper, there are so many things you can bring to life in 3D.  Among the more common creations are:

  • Scale Models
  • Props
  • Halloween Masks & even entire Costumes
  • Oversize Game Pieces
  • Decorations
  • Cards
  • Prototyping for materials that are more expensive or harder to work with
  • The first process for custom Halo Armor is Paper Craft

Tagged as: 5 Comments

Mitch Altman’s Pictures from Visiting MakeLV

Mitch shared some of the pictures of his visits from Hoboken's MakerBar, our Hive 4A and in Philadelphia from the last few days.

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

New Profile Posted to SchoolFactory

If you are just getting involved, been thinking about visiting or simply are curious, this write-up over at The Space Federation website might be worth reading over to get an idea of what the association is between Hive 4A and Make Lehigh Valley along with some other details about us as a group, what some of our next steps are and some of what we envision for the future.

We are Make Lehigh Valley, a community of hackers, makers and artists who meet and use the Hive 4A Hackerspace facility. The space is provided by Hive 4A which also provide a co-working space across the hall in an old Mac Truck factory in a facility they call Bridgeworks. Both are owned and operated by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation. They are interested in promoting creativity especially around manufacturing in Allentown and generally in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. The same facility has been operating as a manufacturing business incubator for many years. Their are great opportunities for a maker to start ...

Read the rest at The Space Federation website.


Science Festival of the Lehigh Valley

Make Lehigh Valley is looking forward to being a part of the Science Festival of the Lehigh Valley. We're also looking for members to be involved at the booth. We have a few that will be around for the day, but there is room for more.

The event is happening Saturday, April 14th 2012 and will include a ton of other local organisation participating. It should be a good time for people of all ages.

Download the Flyer Here