Unknown Domain

What would makers make?

I am currently working on ideas for my final project at Royal College of Art, and have agreed a subject area which interests me, taking the maker movement and imagining and designing a new project that a maker might make either now or in the future…

Examples of projects already done by makers that fit the bill:

  1. 3D Printers – RepRap / Ultimaker / MakerBot
  2. Laser Cutter – Lasersaur
  3. CNC Machine
  4. Cola – Open Cola
  5. Micro-controller Platform – Arduino
  6. EEG – OpenEEG
  7. PCR – OpenPCR
  8. Electric Car – eCorolla

There are many more, what can I make then?

London Transport Museum Depot – Open Day

Every year that goes past it becomes harder and harder to think of gift ideas for my parents birthdays, it just so happened that the day after his birthday was the London Transport Museum Depot open day. We met early near the entrance to the depot and were able a quiet morning viewing.

As we walked in we noticed several control panels that had been saved from some kind of electrical control station, waiting to be moved and categorised, on one such panel was a label detailing the power ratings, a jaw dropping 2,000–33,000 amps! At any voltage that is an epic amount of power, but based on the normal voltage of trains (660V) that could be as much as 22 mega watts of power, who knows if this is right but either way that is simply unimaginable power (muwhahaha!).

The depot is literally a treasure trove of interesting objects from London’s history. There were several entire platform booths, previously hosting small businesses selling sweets, drinks and newspapers. I found it amazing how much work went into the simple construction of some of the historical parts of London Transport, the booth was a beautiful wooden installation, while some of the older carriages were almost like human sized antiques.

We had a really fantastic day out, and I know my dad really enjoyed it too! Among the vast number of signs we managed to find a West Ham sign, which most certainly made him very happy as a fan of the team, I would recommend going along for a visit to anyone, it isn’t great for those who aren’t so mobile and there are no labels on any of the exhibits but it was a great day out and we really enjoyed it!

Interestingly there was a couple of chaps from the ‘friends of the museum’ group who were demoing their signal mans booth simulator which resurrected a old fashioned signal booth from Marble Arch and accurately simulated traffic which responds in real time to the signals from the old booth. While I didn’t snap any images of the original control panel, I did manage to get a sneak peek inside the simulator which was a mass of relays driven by a computer, quite amazing really!

Not bad for 71.42857143 pence!

I don’t think I mentioned this in my post on Designersblock but outside the exhibition were a number of stalls some were selling items, and one was offering 7 prints for £5 or £1 each, some of the pices were a bit dull, but others were really good, clearly some were prints, but one piece caught my eye…

…it turns out emailing the artist just this evening that this is a one off, original, which I suspected looking at the brush strokes that made the piece. He has offered to send me a certificate of authenticity, but told me that the actual piece was probably made at an event called Pick Me Up as Somerset House, Aldwych, London. I asked why it was produced on such a bizarre paper and he explained that it was just what was supplied.

Anyways, I think it’s a great piece to treasure and not bad for 71.42857143 pence, considering similar pieces by him sell for £45!

Thanks Ian Stevenson!

Snow Flake Decoration

Whilst sharing ideas with a friend I came up with the idea of a computer generated Christmas decoration, laser cut out of frosted clear acrylic, and designed to be illuminated by a small white LED, the design as shown above slots together, pinching the LED right in the middle, with the legs either side, a CR2032 coin cell battery sits in the plastic between the legs of the LED and the legs are pushed onto the battery by the other snow flake slotting over.

The initial design didn’t take into account the fact that the LED is 5mm wide and the plastic and therefore the slot are only 3mm wide, however I plan to buy a smaller 3mm LED to try again.

The idea came from a childhood memory of a plastic toy by a company called Galt who made multicoloured plastic octagons that slot together called Octons.

The Octon Images are copied from Stephanie Says, I hope she doesn’t mind!

Meeting

So for those that don’t know I started studying MA Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, London in October 2010. I should have graduated in July 2010 (just past), however unfortunately I don’t think the course was quite right for me and I didn’t find the right project, the resulting work wasn’t up to standard and they referred me – This means I have to do another one more terms worth of work to graduate this year.

I met with my tutor today to discuss what subject to grapple this year so I can make the best of it all. I have decided to work in the realms of maker culture, something that I find interesting, and currently I am trying to select a project that would fit in this culture but that is informed by a greater sense of design.

Todays 3D printing efforts #instablog

via Instagram

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto

Multi-mushroom risotto

After todays 3D printing morning and Electronics Club I thought I might blog my mushroom risotto recipe, which is basically that off the back of the packet from Riso Gallo, and it’s most delicious!

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 340g Risotto rice
  • 40g Butter
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 1.2 litres Vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100g Parmesan
  • 300g Mushrooms (or more if you are a bit partial to eating them as you cook!)

Preparation:

  • Fry the onion (chopped finely) with the mushrooms in the butter until softened.
  • Add 340g of risotto rice and cook until translucent.
  • Add the white wine and cook until evaporated.
  • Whilst simmering and stirring regularly, gradually add the stock until cooked and creamy with the desired consistency and bite.
  • Stir through grated Parmesan cheese.

Source: Riso Gallo

Waiting for the Design Museum last night, time flies with a view like this. #instablog

via Instagram

V&A Prism – London Design Festival: Day 4

Today before work I visited the V&A to take part in a behind the scenes guided tour of a part of the V&A and an installation piece called Prism which is installed in the highest parts of the museum, something I relished as I have a massive interest in the behind the scenes, subterranean oddities of London (and cities in general).

The exhibition is part of the London Design Festival the installation is by Keiichi Matsuda, the installation features internally projected panels generated by a series of internet connected computers that react to the local environment. The panels were designed and coded by invited programmers.

Looking down from the 6th floor before we go up into the roof:

Looking up, a sneak peak of the exhibition:

Preparing for the ascent in the corner of gallery 140:

Making our way up:

The roof of the dome:

Above the dome, the Prism looks as if it is an crashed space craft in the roof of the V&A:

One of the many panels, this one showing the live energy usage of 10 downing street:

Looking down into the gallery from where I just came:

It is hard to capture the sense of the scale of this installation:

The top right corner reveals another spiral staircase that we are about to ascend:

It’s hard to believe this area has never been open to the public with spaces like these:

And views like these, Battersea Power Station just off to the left of the horizon:

The London Eye and Shard in the distance:

A peak inside the installation as we descend back into the main public area:

What a fantastic and exclusive view deep inside the V&A, it was really enjoyable and a great opportunity to feed my senses, try and get down there before it is gone forever.

Making your own PCBs – Brighton Digital Festival

Today I made the pilgrimage to Brighton again, this time not for a Mini Maker Faire but to Build Brighton, the Brighton Hackspace, who as part of the Brighton Digital Festival are running some workshops including the one I attended today ‘Making your own PCBs‘.

The workshop was run by Chris, one of the members who started the day with general introductions, followed by an introduction to some freeware design software called Express PCB, however not being a PC user and not being interested in learning that software I opted for EAGLE which I already know to a degree. After 13:30 another member came along who was more familiar with EAGLE and started showing me some of the more advanced techniques that I was missing previously such as buses and creating new components.

As the day wore on we printed our circuit board designs onto PCB transfer paper using a laser printer, which using a few passes in the laminator was transfered over to the blank copper board, prepared by sanding the surface to increase the surface area for the etching to act on and the toner to stick to. There were a few patches left over which were blotted with a permanent marker.

The copper was then washed under cold running water to cool it to a safe handling temperature, at this point we then peeled off the backing of the transfer paper to leave behind only the the toner which would protect the copper from the etchant.

The copper boards were then put into a solution of about two table spoons of ferric chloride crystals and warm water, to a thick brown (not yellow or orange) consistency. The boards are left in the solution whilst being agitated, until all the copper is removed.

The boards are then washed and dried to remove the remaining etchant and the sink must be throughly washed to ensure no concentrated amounts of etchant are left that would damage the pipework or surface of the sink.

Finally using a small 0.8mm drill bit the board is drilled and the board is ready for use, there are instructions on Hack A Day on producing a DIY solder mask for those who want a bit more of a professional finish.

The design we produced was a kit designed by Build Brighton’s own members, my design had an error in it but etched perfectly, I now feel much more confident about etching my own boards in future, here is the botched build of the kit using Build’s PCB design rather than mine…