Wood Working Projects

It’s been an eternity since my last posting, but I am going to use this site for sharing pictures of woodworking projects.

At some point I will expand this post possibly to detail the individual projects, but for now i wanted to show these to a few of you. my captions will hopefully give you a rough idea what each picture is depicting.

Amplifier Header Cabinet

Picture Frame for a Christmas Gift

Wood Burning

Router Pantograph and Signs made from it

Crankie Moving Puppet Show


Majora’s Mask replica

Note: this one is still a work in progress and the pics are only half the story. we are working off this instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Legend-of-Zelda-Majoras-Mask-Replica/?ALLSTEPS

These have been all the wood working projects worth any mention. there’s a few more in the planning stages and I may be gearing up to collaborate on a series of introductory courses.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Current Projects Dashboard

I thought now would be a good a time as any to set out a few things in black and white that are on my proverbial to do list. Some of these are in varying stages of completion and others are simply wild ideas i never really had a chance at being able to find time to do at the time i started.

Here’s a few projects, in no particular order.

Guitar Tube Amp: Finishing Touches:

I have all the materials to make a finishing covering out of a Tolex material, as well as protective corner brackets to install. These will require radiusing the edges of my header cabinet box. Also, I wish to do the same type of work to the speaker cabinet to make it match the bright red tolex I bought for the header. I have the adhesive, I have the tolex a plenty, and I recently got a router with a full set of router bits to make the radiuses (and any other joint under the sun). Now i’ve just got to find a weekend I can spend to make this thing happen. I have to sketch out the shape needed to make the cutout from the tolex material, and plan it all out. Should not be too difficult, but it would be my first tolex work, so I’m going to try it out on a test piece of something before i accidentally ruin my nice box. the project was documented more fully in a previous post here: https://robotorbust.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/amp-project/

Gibson Falcon Amp Repair

I promised I’d look into this, and it turns out all that was really wrong was a bad fuse. However, now it seems like the tremolo feature is stuck on. A friend told me it might be a bad capacitor somewhere, but i’ve got to track the bugger down and that involves taking all the caps out and testing them individually. It’s going to be a long and tedious process. I could just alternatively replace them all but this is just as painstaking. This amp isn’t mine, so this project should take priority once the Pong game finishes. Its a beautiful amp, and I know it can work well again. All the tubes are in great shape and the speaker really kicks it.

MakerBar Pong Game Table

We are constructing a Pong game that can be played physically, with spinner wheels, and a pinball. This will be software controlled, and we are hacking up a prototype currently. I won’t give too much away, but it’s going to be a push to get it to work in time, but I know we can find a way to make it work. More info here: http://blog.makerbar.com/?p=216

Desktop Sized Laser Scanner

So I have always been trying to find an easier way to generate 3D models of objects than the digitizing probes we use at the lab. These tend to scratch the hell out of the parts, as well as needing to be clamped, and being time consuming. Also, it can be difficult to maneuver the probe in tight spaces or over odd shaped objects. I want to make a small laser scanner the size of a microwave (I have a spare microwave to use in fact) and use it for reverse engineering purposes. Platforms like DAVID laser scanner are appealing options because of their availability. I welcome a design for software using Arduino + Processing, but it’s going to be a challenge. Yet nothing worth doing is easy. I need to procure a new line laser for this project, and dissect the microwave for making room for the electronics to house the laser (FIRE ZEE LAZZOR!!!) *ahem*. It would be cool to hack the LCD display and button panel to to control the scanner. More info on David Laser Scanner here: http://www.david-laserscanner.com/. EDIT: What about kinnect? this could always be a compelling option.

Custom Guitar

The next logical step after building a working tube amp: build a guitar to play through it. I have plans already from a book, and I can work together a bill of materials. It’s going to be a costly project, but i can acquire parts gradually while the wood sits in the workshop drying and adapting the moisture levels of the room. This is a long term project. I also need to acquire additional tools to complete this, most importantly, a planer, drill press, long clamps, joiner (optionally use long router trimmer bits for joining), and a few custom tools related to the finishing touches on the hardware. This project once all the tools will be assembled will be one where i’d want a few people to work with.

ROVIO wireless Robot Repair/debugging

I got my hands on a ROVIO not that long ago. It works, but I have a problem where the battery always dies instantly (or very very quickly). I want to hook him up with a battery pack that rocks his socks and makes him run for hours. Perhaps he can be the MakerBar’s new security guard. I have gotten it to work on a wifi network from outside of my home but the only issue again is the battery life. i’d love to play with it more, and it shouldn’t take too long to fix0rz. Info here: http://www.wowwee.com/en/products/tech/telepresence/rovio/rovio/

I’m sure there are many other projects i’ve got on my plate. But most of them are lower priority or less progressed than these listed. I just thought i’d make this list for myself for the time being (it surely is enough to keep me busy for months and months and months).

Posted in Projects | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bottle Rockets Launch Video

The Summer program I launched bottle rockets with this past week put together a short video of the event that can be found here: http://vimeo.com/46660595

Although no animals, rockets, or children were harmed in the making of this video, only one car was impaled by a wayward rocket (the car survived with just a tiny scratch), one rocket lost over the top of the trees and never to be seen or heard from again (probably submerged in a nearby pond), and two or three rockets got permanently stuck in trees. All in all i think there were 27 rockets, and 8 the previous day (the younger kids, not in the video).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bottle Rockets: Launchers

Mk 1 Launchpad

Today has been a day of Bottle Rocket fun. There are a lot of bottle rocket launcher designs out there, from the simple, to the complex, and the cheap to the costly. I remember in middle school my science teacher and Science Olympiad coach gave me the designs for a small launcher I could play with on my own. I since modified it to be able to take higher pressures and launch higher and straighter. This design is a hybrid between two designs that he had used: one that he build himself with a car tire valve and electrical box, and the one design that was given me as a PVC Tee and pipe nipple launch tube.

The resulting hybrid (pictured, left) uses the two concepts in tandem. The  electrical box is hooked to a base constructed of 2 x 4’s and uses a pin to hold down the flange of the bottle onto the launch pad until the pin is pulled, allowing pressure to be built up before release. The wooden base gets staked into the ground to hold the rocket relative to the PVC assembly.

The PVC piping is used to be a pressure vessel and one end of the PVC Tee has a bike tire valve cemented into the end cap. This acts as a one way valve and delivers pressure to the rocket. The PVC tubing is all 1/2 inch diameter, the size that fits insude a 2L soda bottle.

The longer launch tube (12″ nipple) allows for more stability of the rocket as it goes off the pad, and also puts the entrance of the tube above the rocket’s water line, and less water will be leaked this way. (key word, LESS; this doesn’t *prevent* water leaking).

The Mk II is designed to not need stakes into the ground. We needed to develop a laun ch platform that could be deployed in a parking lot. So a piece of scrap plywood screws down a Mk 1 base to act as the ‘ground’, and the launcher is ready to go.

In addition to the longer nipple, this year’s bottle rocket launchers include a removable screw-on cap for the one end, so that water can successfully be drained from the pad before storage. This was very difficult on the Mk I launchers.

of course, a lot of this piping may be unnecessary, but it’s a simple tried-and-true design that I implemented by upgrading the primitive ‘pump till it flies off’ version (just the PVC alone with no hold down mechanism). There are more sophisticated designs out there too, that are very elegant. The best by far has to be the NERDS Launcher (Nebraska Educators Really Doing Science, http://www.NERDSinc.com). Their launchers are machined aluminum with O rings for extra super duper sealing power, and they have fully integrated pneumatic triggering of the launcher. Magnificent tech–for $300. Perhaps a future investment. I was able to build the Mk II for around $20 in parts and ordinary household

Posted in Educational, Just for Fun, Projects, Rockets | Leave a comment

Tube Guitar Amplifier Project

Photo taken by Zachary B.

This is a post derived from an email thanking NYC Resistor for their help in getting me started on this path. I have at this point successfully completed the project, and I’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction from the build. I may be having a more complete write-up later, but for starters, I have a few pics and things to share.

I used a variety of suppliers for different things, but I did stop by Leeds Radio for the tubes and sockets. The transformers I ordered online through Angela Instruments (www.angela.com), and a lot of other parts came from www.tubesandmore.com, and a few parts from Mojo Musical Supply (www.mojotone.com), namely the chassis and a few values of power resistors and a silver mica cap or two. It’s great to have found all these suppliers, because they will be the same ones to supply future builds like this and my aspirations to build my own guitar in the next 6 months or so.

The build isn’t my own design (this is my walking before running stage with tube amps and audio electronics), but I got it from a book, The Guitar Amp Handbook, by Dave Hunter. It has the design in the back for the “Two Stroke” amplifier he designed, meant to be an experimental amp that can have swappable output tube stages to generate different power output as well as different tones.

Here’s a re-hashing, in a few pics, of the build I was sourcing parts for a while back near Easter time.

Here’s the empty chassis, front view

Inline image 1

Chassis from the back view. From left to right, the holes are for: preamp tube, output speaker jack, output stages 1 and 2, rectifier tube. An additional hole had to be machined for the second output stage between the other two octal tube slots. The machinist I work with did me a favor. It’s an exact match!

Inline image 2

Chassis with components test fit for size. Input 2 will be used for a “boost/voice” switch (not pictured).

Inline image 3

Schematic for the amp circuit. Between the two dotted lines is on the bottom of the chassis. The part on top is the front panel and the part below is on the back panel of the chassis.

Inline image 4

Turret board with some components dry mounted (not soldered). Note: in the future, i should use eyelet board. Much easier to deal with. And also, that orange capacitor is in the wrong place. I moved it to the proper place before all this was soldered together.

Inline image 5

More components dry mounted. Note: this board is a fender 5F1 style board and the design pictured in the schematic is a 5F2. Some connection points are missing, but those components will be wired ‘point to point’ off the board. This will be visible in later pics.

Inline image 6

Partially assembled view. Power transformer is mounted, as well as completed circuit board, wired up panel switches and knobs, input jack, output jack, and tube sockets. This picture shows only the 9 pin preamp socket is complete, the other tube sockets are incomplete. I opted for only one output jack for the moment and if I want to split it I’ll use a Y cable from the single output.

Inline image 7

Complete assembly. Tubes are inserted, and I finally got the proper switch sizes (sorta) for “boost/voice” and “impedance”. Those random wires go to the output transformer which will eventually be mounted to the bottom of a header cabinet.

Inline image 8

Output transformer is seen in complete assembly. The other two wires (orange and green) could be used in place of white and yellow to create different impedance combinations for other speaker cabs in the future if needed. The current wiring should give an 8 ohm impedance to match to the 2 6V6 tubes (impedance switch flipped one way) or one 6V6 tube (switch other way).

At first it powered on but didn’t pass signal to the speakers, but I corrected a few minor soldering mistakes and it worked like a charm! I had the output jack wired backwards for one, and pin 2 on the 12AX7 pre-amp (the output of the pre-amp, no less) was grounded by mistake.

Here is the completed working assembly on top of a speaker cab with twin 12″ Radishack paper cone speakers. It’s a beast, that’s for sure. A huge thank you goes out to Don Bragg for the donation of the speaker Can his father made for him many years ago. It really strengthened the project immensely. My last step is to build the header cabinet.

Inline image 9

I did build the cabinet a while later, and made a few glamour shots of it. It’s still unfinished wood surface, but I’ll get around to finishing the outside one of these days.

Inline image 11
Inline image 12
Inline image 13

Let me know what you think. Any feedback is appreciated.

Posted in Audio, Music, Projects | 3 Comments

New Beginnings… Again

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.  ~C. Northcote Parkinson, 1958

With this wise provision in mind, I breathe new life into this site which I created several years ago and only posted to once.

Now that I have a few projects completed, I plan to post a few retrospective overviews to the different projects. The Projects page will feature posts about the latest and greatest things I’m attempting and updates on things past finished.

The first thing to look for is an overview of my Guitar Amplifier build. This was a large undertaking financially and a huge chunk of time (about 6 months from buying parts online to a working completed* model).

Another series of posts will be pertaining to Bottle Rockets and all related topics, including how to adapt bottle rockets to certain age ranges and time constraints. I’ve also accumulated a list of websites that helped largely in developing certain concepts.

In the philosophy of the quote at the start of this post, I won’t dull you with all the thigns I plan to do, partly because it’s somewhat boring, and partly because it’s better to just do it and get it done and then talk about what i in fact have done.

Without further adieu, welcome back to existence, old blog. May I update you more than once.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Out of the Box

"RUFUS" and I in action

"RUFUS" and I at the ASME District A Student Design Competition last April at Drexel University

This semester I will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to compete in the finals of an intenational student design competition.

Unlike any other experience in my life, this will be my chance to prove myself at a level I never imagined I would make it to.

After a long summer of some difficult classes and a much needed vacation, I am less than 10 days away from the start of the fall semester. And this semester will be vastly different from any other, in new and exciting ways.

Firstly, I will only be taking one course this semester: a course in PLC’s and Industrial Robotics. This will leave me with the majority of my time to devote to preparing for the competition in November.

This blog is an experiment. I will post updates here about my progress towards the ultimate goal of winning the 2010 ASME Student Design Competition. In addition to progress with the robot itself, I will also talk about the design process and the problem solving techniques I will use and encounter every day of this project.

Yesterday, I took my robot out of his box and ran some tests on the systems. I’ve begun a list of some design problems and possible solutions to solve them.

In the coming week, my goal is to have this list of possible design improvements completed. Though there will undoubtably be more design problems that arise later on down the line, this will give me a starting point once I get the robot back into the lab on the 30th.

As I take my robot, RUFUS, out of his box for the first time this summer and I look over all the systems, I quickly remember all the effort it took to make the device.

In the coming months, I’ll also be taking all my skills out of their boxes too, and dusting off the mothballs. This semester will be my own personal proving ground as an engineer. In the end, I know this will be a defining project in my career, and also, in my life.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment