Since FIRST Tech Challenge broadened the list of possible materials last season, making 3D printed parts allowable, we thought it would be fun to build our own 3D printer as a summer project. When we toured the Backyard Workshop last year, and again at Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire in March, we really enjoyed seeing Jamie Cunningham’s 3D printer in action. The fact that he made his own printer – and his own CNC machine! – inspired us to start thinking about making our own RepRap machine, or something similar. What better summer project, than to make a different kind of robot that will help make parts for our competition robot!
3D printers make things by layering plastic material (“additive manufacturing“) according to programmed movements to create a finished part. The printer has a frame and three axes: X-axis ( left-to-right), Y-axis ( front-to-back) and Z-axis ( up-and-down.) – 3 dimensions! The plastic extruder sits on the X-axis and feeds melted plastic filament onto a platform to make the object. The printer is usually controlled by a by special software that translates a design via “G-code” into the Cartesian coordinates needed to create an object.
The cool thing about RepRaps is that they’re self-replicating! It can make the parts to make more of itself.
3D printers have come a long way since the first ones were introduced in the early 1980s. Those operated on the principles of stereolithographyusing an ultraviolet laser. Personal 3D printing has expanded rapidly in the past few years, with the advent of small more affordable machines like the Makerbot and the open source RepRap, both of which are rapid prototyping machines that make objects in relatively short periods of time, both for use as models and as parts.
And they’re just way cool! We can’t wait to get started on ours.
Recently, Team Duct Tape members joined in an Open House at 8th Light, Inc. ,a Chicago and Tampa based Agile software development company that we met at coolTech. 8th Light specializes in a variety of programming languages for developing “beautiful applications” for web, mobile, and embedded projects, and more to our purposes, 8th Light deeply believes in pride of workmanship, and elegant solutions achieved through collaboration and education. Team members really enjoyed their visit, especially experiencing the Oculus VR goggles the group had on hand!
We thought that was all wonderful enough, and looked forward to participating in future 8th Light Open Houses, and perhaps some programming mentoring for next season. Then we got an unexpected but very welcome surprise – a generous donation to the team from 8th Light!
We feel honored and humbled by 8th Light’s support, and we’re very grateful to count this fine business among our 2013-14 season sponsors. We’ll do our best to represent with the class and professionalism for which 8th Light is known, and look forward to having 8th Light along on our new season journey!
One of our more entertaining projects this spring has been the 2013 Red Bull Creation challenge, in which some of our team members and mentors took part. A collaborative project of our sponsor, Learning is for Everyone, the Red Bull Creation build provides yet another avenue of creative learning for people of all ages. This year’s challenge is called “Let There Be Light!” and the competition package included addressable LED strips and a custom circuit board. RBC teams had about six weeks to “create something awesome with light”, an open-ended enough challenge that resulted in a wide variety of entries.
Our build, which we called the “Spectrapiano” gave us an opportunity to play with different technology. Working with Paul Markun, our Super Mentor from Tampa Technik, we helped fabricate an acrylic “bubble wall” around which we fastened LED lights that were activated by the piano keys being played. Our new friend and mentor, Chuck Stephens, an accomplished and artistic jack of all trades, crafted the case for the whole thing.
The whole light show was controlled by an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi, two devices we hope to continue learning more about. We also learned some cringe inducing physics of water pressure in the thin tank, coupled as it was with a lot of electronics, including a Yamaha stage piano! TDT alumni and programming mentor, Chris Willingham, did most of the programming work, with friend and fellow FIRST alumni JR Weis. They archived the and some CAD concepts in a repository on GitHub , for anyone who wants to tinker around with his or her own Spectrapiano idea.
Extra points were awarded for publicly displaying a build, so we took our “Spectrapiano” to the Land O’Lakes Branch Library’s popular Teen Night, where over 200 people were in attendance. We took Sheldon along, too, so people could play with him.
Between a light up bubble piano, a robot and an all purpose game night, the evening was a huge success! You can see our Red Bull Creation build in action in the video.
[ April 14, 2013; ] [caption id="attachment_3799" align="alignleft" width="300"] A little driving guidance at Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire 2013[/caption] It’s been a busy spring so far! Fresh off the State Championship in early March, we’ve been able to keep Sheldon the Robot running all month, first at the Orlando Regional, then at the coolTECH business expo, and at the Tampa [...] [...]
[ March 23, 2013; ] We’re excited about this weekend’s outreach event, the 2nd annual Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire, organized by our parent sponsor, Learning is for Everyone (LI4E) and being held at the Florida Concourse, on March 23, from 10am-6pm. There’s an awesome slate of “Makers” participating, including a tiny satellite maker, artists, musicians, jewelry makers, inventors, ham [...] [...]
[ March 14, 2013; ] [caption id="attachment_3785" align="alignleft" width="300"] TDT @ CoolTech 2012[/caption] The Tampa Bay Business Journal and the Tampa Bay Technology Forum are partnering for the 2013 BizTech/CoolTECH Awards and Expo, recognizing innovative technology companies in the Bay Area. And once again, with great thanks to the event organizers, Team Duct Tape will be there, participating for our 4th [...] [...]
[ March 9, 2013; ] [caption id="attachment_3779" align="alignleft" width="300"] TDT mentor Chris Willingham finds his dopleganger on FRC team 4769![/caption] TDT sponsor Learning is for Everyone has been helping sponsor a rookie FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team this year, #4769, the Electrodes, based at Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg. Programming and CAD mentor, Chris Willingham, has been splitting [...] [...]
Thumbs Up Duck! TDT with Coaches and Mentor Five years, five State Championships! Team Duct Tape does it again, this time with a brand new crew of 13-16 year old rookies new to the FIRST experience, on our veteran team bringing home the trophies. Thanks in enormous measure to dedicated coaches, mentors and families, all committed heart [...] [...]
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