Saturday, February 6, 2010

Looking back at this week with the makerbot, we have made significant progress with it's construction. This week I finalized the soldering of the endstops. Last week we assembled the endstops and gave everyone the opportunity to build the endstops and learn to solder. Last week Alex, Alexis, Cristina, Kate, myself, and even Beth! assembled them. After that Alexis, Kate, and I soldered our boards together, but didn't have side cutters to trim the excess leads off. When I arrived to the research group this week, it Cristina had already soldered the other 3 endstops. Everyone did a great job soldering and I was fairly impressed since everyone stated that it had either never soldered before, or it had been a while since they had soldered. After clipping off the excess leads and ensuring that all the solder joints were solid I moved over to help Alex assemble the plastruder.
While I was working on the end stops Alex commented that he had reversed the polarity of some of magnets that hold the Y-axis plate on to the x axis base. Since the magnets were installed using super-glue, we were worried that we wouldn't be able to remove them, however using an allen wrench we were able to remove the magnets. Alex finished the y-axis platform, then we began working on the plastruder. Since the entire plastruder is constructed of the acrylic we had to peal all the protective paper off the plastic. This process took a significantly longer than I had expected.
Darivanh was a little tired that night, but she did an excellent job creating the makerbot body. She had one problem attaching the bottom to the side of the body. However it was a simple fix and she was able to do a lot of work on it. Alexis and Cristina worked on the x axis of the platform. They encountered some problems when they were attaching a pulley to the stepper motor. They needed to sand down the shaft of the stepper motor before the pulley fit, since we didn't have any sandpaper in the workshop, we had to improvise, hence they used an emory board to make the shaft a little bit smaller.
After working on the makerbot for several hours, Alexis, Christina, and I went to the Dorkbot meeting. I had never heard of this even before, but doing some research I found out that it had been around for a while. Since I'm still not quite in tune with Seattle geek culture I don't have the contacts to tell me when things like this happen. This nights Dorkbot meeting was focused around several key speakers, since I couldn't stay the entire time, I only saw 3 different talks, but there may have been more. While there, we saw first hand a home built version of the makerbot, and Matt's Metrix counterpart the RepRap. The talk was interesting and provided much insight into the other technologies that were being implemented to help the community gain the ability to build 3D models. One of the more intriguing things I had heard that night was the use of flower and glue as a method of 3D modeling. There is a lot of work going into making 3D modeling even cheaper and more available for the general public and the next couple years we should be seeing these machines become more widely accessible for the general public.

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