Tag: maker

element14 + Build Updates

So it appears that I am this months Member of the Month over at element14. Quite a surprise, no acceptance speech or anything though. Instead you get this old photo

Coming soon is the UK Maker Faire 2013 in Newcastle, I’ll be there, will you?


Build Updates!

The pep build is slowly coming on. Currently onto smoothing out the shell and getting the ears cut and built to go on. Need to find a suitable way to construct the lenses for the eyes.

New project is to build a guitar amp, and as a side project an Atari Punk. This started off well, until discovering I had forgotten to order a few heatsinks for the PSU. Fingers may have been slightly cooked.

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New Project

New project up now! Read about it on Behance

Next versions may be available for sale. Get in touch if you are interested!

Working with Foam: Tools

So you want to work with XPS foam (Typically known as blue foam, pink foam)? First of all you’ll need your tools. This is by no means a definitive list. This is based on what I use and the most common suggestions I’ve seen. If there is something you think is missing, comment!

First up, and most importantly of all, safety!

  • Face mask
    When working with XPS, a lot of dust is generated. Some processes create more than other, for example sanding. This foam, is NOT good for you. Always use a face mask, FFP2 or above should do. Failing that, a respirator.
  • Safety Glasses
    As already established, dust is bad for your lungs, so naturally, it isn’t too good for your eyes too! Any reasonable safety glasses should do, just make sure they are a good fit!
  • Gloves (Optional)
    Our favourite dust can be a bit irritating. If you get sick of brushing it off your hands, or simply don’t like getting your hands covered in PVA, paint, adhesive, get some gloves.
  • Cover alls (Optional)
    As with making anything, it can get messy. I would suggest using some cover alls, or at least some old clothing. No need to spoil your good stuff when you can cover something else in muck! Personally, I prefer cover alls, fewer gaps when the dust starts flying!

Now you have your safety gear ready, its time to start getting your tools.

  • Marker
    Pretty self explanatory. I’ve found a simple black marker is the best thing to mark up your foam. Reasonable felt tip will mark your foam without damaging it (Beyond marking it anyway)

  • Snap-off Blade Utility Knife (Multiple)
    The blade needs to be long enough to go through a single sheet of foam. This is by no means the best method for cutting large pieces from the original sheet, but it works.
  • Bread knife
    Optional, but for larger bit, a thin bladed bread knife can be a great replacement for trying to cut through sheets with a utility knife.
  • Hot Wire Cutter
    Personally, I don’t use one. If you have one, use it, you will get much cleaner cuts that you will from a blade.
  • Brush
    When it comes to it, blowing the scraps out the way is a good plan, however if you have a mask on, its not that easy (Unless you have a compressor handy of course). The solution to this is to have a brush handy. Not only can you move the foam out the way, but when you generate dust from fillers, it can be a great help!  Can’t forget of course, when you go to seal or paint your creation, a brush is always helpful.
  • Sand Paper
    A fine sand paper will do for foam. Too rough and it will just tear the foam. Foam is best sanded when it has been sealed.
  • PVA Glue
    When watered down a little bit, this can be used to seal the foam before sanding and painting.
  • Solvent Free Grab Adhesive
    Unless you are amazing, you will have create things in different parts. A solvent free grab adhesive works wonders for glueing the parts together, laminating sheets and making repairs where you have shaved off a little bit more.
  • Filler
    A general purpose filler is highly useful for filling in gaps and smoothing surfaces where sanding is just not the best option. A scrap bit of foam or some proper filling tools are needed if/when it comes to this.
  • Masking Tape
    Multitude of uses from holding a template down to holding pieces together while the grab adhesive sets.
  • CAD Software
    One thing to sketch up your item on paper, but once in a while you may want accuracy, share your designs or simply print out copies as a template you can destroy. Some basic CAD software can be a great help with that. Should you have access to the equipment, you can also run your foam through a CNC machine.

Something missing? Leave a comment! Stay tuned, there might be some more of these later.


Important news first, Newcastle Science Fest and Maker Faire UK have been announced! Find out more about the Maker Faire at the site http://makerfaireuk.com/

In music news, System of a Down have announced they are getting back together. I’m very excited about this. Not often a great band gets back together. Cannot wait to hear what their time working on solo projects does to the overall sound.

In other music news, the head liners for 2011’s Evolution festival have been announced and include Iggy and The Stooges. Yes, you heard right, Iggy and the Stooges. I for one didn’t see this coming and are in two minds about it. On one hand it could be a brilliant show and as loud as the Stooges should be, but on the other it could just be dull as they all start to feel their age and don’t have the energy to do anything like you would expect. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Then again, at £35 per ticket, maybe not.

In tech news, I must admit something. I got a tiny bit bored and may have started creating another CMS. Not sure why, it just felt necessary at the time…
This particular one is being based on the MVC concept and will also include a brand new authentication system to go with it. Parts may be made open source, but to be honest, getting it working is the priority right now.

Short update over, all is well, how about you?


Use Arduino or another platform and want to make your own PCBs? Even if you don’t and want to use create your own for another purpose?

The first step is to design the board. One popular way for hobbyists is to use a program known as EAGLE. The free version provides the ability to design simple boards to a specification suitable for professional production. At a glance the program can be a bit confusing for new users, however help is at hand.

element14 and TinkerLondon have got together to help out. On Saturday 15th May 2010, the two companies are working together to put on a workshop in London. For £10, you get a full day introduction to the tool.

More information can be found at http://tinkerlondon.com/what-we-do/workshops/introduction-to-eagle-for-advanced-arduino-users

Ada Lovelace Day

Indeed, today is Ada Lovelace Day. If you haven’t already, go show some appreciation. If you already have, do it again!

Not sure what the day is about? Check out http://findingada.com/

So who is your inspiration? As the day is about showing your appreciation and showing support for women in science, technology, engineering and all the other related fields, I’d write a blog explaining why the named few are awesome. However, partly because I’m lazy, and partly because my brain is fried today, I’ve decided to keep it simple and just list them with a sentence or two explaining why.

In no particular order;

  • Mel – A science, a geek and just plane awesome.
  • Kitty – Crazy geologist with a dinosaur. What more can be said?
  • Radina – Brilliant computer scientist, even if its denied!
  • Limor – For showing theres no limits in what can be done, as demonstrated by adafruit industries.
  • Emma – Despite what may be claimed, she is still great at what she does.
  • Hayley – Great science writer, one of the people behind Geek Pop.
  • Steph – Not strictly a scientist, but wishes she was. Good enough for me! Oh and she remembers a biology course, thats enough 😉

This list is by no means complete as there are just so many names that could go on it. In any case <3 to them all!

Blogs! Science! Science Blogs!

So after this weekends MakerFaireUK and the associated Virtual Treasure Hunt, a few blogs and sites have shown up that are worthy checking out:

Any other sites you think should be on there? Comment and they may be added!

Highlights of the MakerFaire include: all of it.

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