Thursday, July 9, 2015

Nitty gritty details of Arduino installations....

Here's one of our Arduino interactive mural installation elements.


The challenge for us is to find the balance between getting our Maker-in-Residence to install a few elements to give us a sense of what is possible and "jump-start" the installation but not doing the whole thing for us.

We want our young patrons to build and explore the artistic and technological possibilities and learn the building blocks of 3D printing and programming for microprocessors. We have our work cut out for us and there may be some post-session mopping up to do, but that's okay.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My new favorite 3D Printing tool

I'm in love.....

Digital Caliper Tool

We tried to print an iPhone case twice and still did not get the exact measurements right because we were using a regular ruler. With the Digital Caliper, we can now get an exact reading which will help with persnickety items like a phone case. It's available through Amazon for only $30.  This is also a quick and easy way to show kids what the actual size of their object is before printing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Starting the Arduino interactive garden mural

We are starting to paint our garden, designed and facilitated by Duxbury artist, Sally Dean, on the plastic blue partition wall. The garden elements are being 3D printed by the kids and teens and today we will begin learning from Kevin Osborn, how to write Arduino code to make the servos that power the interactivity work!

This is a big, on-going project, which is just the kind of thing we feel sparks creativity and BIG thinking in a Makerspace.

Tools and equipment:

  1. Portable Partition from Minnesota company
  2. Acrylic paints, brushes, drop clothes, etc.
  3. Gridding out the garden design with a wax pencil
  4. Arduino kits from Sparkfun
  5. Lots of extra sensors and stuff from Adafruit

Riley thought to glue gun details on that she had 3Doodled.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jewelbots, a new way to engage girls in coding?

The next step in engaging girls into coding could be jewelbots. Jewelbots are friendship bracelets that will allow girls to communicate with each other while Bluetooth syncing with their iPhone and friend's bracelets. They remind me of a girl's hair elastic they are so thin (which might be a design flaw). The bracelets are not available just yet but you can get on the email list.  These bracelets will allow girls to send messages between synced bracelets or get message updates about social media or texts from their phone. So how do girls learn code? The program is Arduino open source based and the website alludes to being able to program a multitude of different commands into the bracelet. reports girls will be able to send messages through Morse code in the bracelets. Another merging of old technology and new!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Our interactive wall is underway!

Last week, when we demoed our 3D printers, one mother asked me, "Why is this at the library?" I think projects like our summer interactive wall will be the answer to her question. Thanks to the help of local artist Sally Dean Mello ,"maker in residence" Kevin Osborn and students from our Tuesday Tinkering Lab, we've begun working on an interactive wall that can be wheeled around the library. Our goal was to have a painted mural wall that patrons can touch with 3D moving aspects.

We started by buying a plastic screened wall which Sally designed and outlined a garden scene. We decided upon this wall because we could move it around the library, or maybe even take it on the road, rather than using one of our permanent walls. For the past 2 weeks, students have been coloring it in with acrylic paint during our Tinkering Lab. We invited art students from the high school to come over and now we have a few newcomers to the Lab. 

While this has been going on, we have also been designing 3D printed moveable parts like butterflies, bees, flowers, and fish to bring the garden to life with our Ultimaker 2, Cube Printer, and even 3D Doodler.  Some students designed their own items while others found already created files on thingiverse or tinkercad. Just the act of selecting what items to print was exciting for them especially for students intimidated by the software.

For the month of July, Kevin will be training students to use the Sparkfun Arduino Inventor's Kit to make the parts move using motion sensors, servos, and sound mp3 shields. Students will learn electronic skills of bread boarding, wiring, and programming the Arduino in C++ code. This whole project has been a wonderful pairing of makerspace and art. Students who might be reticent to learn 3D printing or electronics could be lured in by the artistic aspect of painting the mural and get hooked. Not to mention the marketing appeal of having a finished project to help patrons understand the applications of library makerspace initiatives that were designed by the community. Isn't that what STEAM is all about? Stay tuned for more updates as we go!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Practical 3D Printing Applications

Many of you might be struggling with patrons or staff saying, "Ok what are you REALLY going to use a 3D printer for? I don't want to print out toys." 

Here's a story:

A staff member's mother had broke the knob off her air conditioner. They tried gluing the knob back together to no avail so she would just have to use pliers to turn the piece of metal left that attached the knob right? Wrong! We can just design something in tinkercad to fix the error.

All I needed was the broken knob in question which I measured out in mm and replicated in the design software using the round roof and cylinder shape.  My main concern was that the hole would fit securely so I made sure to measure the height and width of the hole as accurately as I could. I love that the metric system is in 10s. 10cm=1mm where cm is conveniently on most rulers opposite side of the inches.  It fit like a glove! I recommend using the strong setting in the cube software so the piece is strong enough to turn.

Imagine a few years into the future when these printers become more affordable.  You break a part of an appliance like your expensive vacuum. You email the company with a picture of the part in question and they send you a 3D printer replacement file. You print it out on your home printer (or design the part yourself) and you have found a cheaper (and more environmentally friendly) way to make those appliances last. Besides 3D printing organs, what is more practical than that?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

3D Printing Tips

Here are some go to tools to have when 3D printing: box cutter, needle nose pliers, wire snips

The wire snips are handy when you build any kind of supports or rafts onto your project and you need to carefully cut them off. The needle nose pliers I usually use to remove gunk from the tip of the extruder and the boxcutter was for getting off those 3D printed jobs that have stuck themselves to the non heated plate.

My newest tool: painter's tape. Sometimes the simplest things can make life easier. As I was struggling with my box cutter to pry a 3D creation from our Cube 2 non heated plate, a man went by our table at the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire and said, "Oh just cover the plate with painter's tape". EUREKA! I still have to cover the masking tape with our special glue before printing but now when I try to pull off the creation I just pull at a tape strip and it comes off easily. No more soaking the plate for 10 minutes in hot water or prying it off with a knife (or in the case of the Maker Faire having neither!).

Before the bunny ring, I had printed a chicken and when I tried to pry it off (without the tape) I broke off its legs!!! Nothing like 3 hours of printing for nothing. Luckily a glue gun did the trick to put it back together but the painter's tape would have made it a non issue. 

Check out all the fun things we've printed in our Flickr Album.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Making Makerspace connections at outside events

Well, we went to the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire last Saturday and had a blast.
Our project table of soldering, 3D designing and 3Doodling was constantly busy and we had to force people to give us a lunch break!

Paul Harhen, our Duxbury engineering friend/inventor, showed up in his homemade car that he drove down on the highway. Wow!

Much of the fun was connecting with the other folks at the fair - Chris Connors and his Martha's Vineyard teens, the gentle folks from the Truro and Centerville libraries, and folks who had made their very own 3D printers.

Getting out to non-library events is a must, we feel, to keep up with all the new things coming down the pike.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hosting a table at a Maker Faire

Things can't get much better than having another organization (Cape Cod Makers) promote your library, highlighting in their own words your values, your activities and your outreach.

A goal I am setting for FY 2016: Be a more visible presence in the life of our community. Don't just wait for people to come into the library, bring the library to the people!

If you are in the Southeastern Massachusetts area on Saturday, May 30, swing by the gymnasium of the Cape Cod Community College (Exit 6 off the Mid Cape Highway, Route 6, turn north towards Barnstable, the entrance is immediately on your right.). We'll be there from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along with many, many other cool organizations and individual inventors and creators! There's a kayak made exclusively of duct tape!

"One of the great things about a Maker Faire is the opportunity for people of all ages to learn new things. The Duxbury Free Library will offer Maker Faire attendees the opportunity to learn how to solder.  Soldering is an incredibly useful skill to have for projects ranging from electronics, to jewelry, to crafts.  Maker Faire participants will learn how to solder a Maker badge to make blinking LED eyes, a perfect beginning soldering project.
Ellen Snoeyebos, Young Adult/Reference Librarian, and Jessica LaMarre, Children’s Librarian, have done a terrific job with their makerspace initiative at the Duxbury Free Library, offering workshops and drop-in sessions on subjects such as 3D printed jewelry, littleBits, Lego We-Dos, and Mindstorms, and electronic holiday cards. They have a blog that chronicles their experiences and is a terrific resource for any library or other organization that is interested in creating this type of programming.
In addition to soldering, the Duxbury Free Library will bring their 3Doodler and their 3D printer for live demonstrations. They are also hoping to interview people for their regular on-going podcast.

Libraries have always been community hubs, and makerspaces—places to create, build, and craft–are a natural fit because of the wonderful way that they promote community engagement among people of all ages.  We are glad that the Duxbury Free Library will be joining us."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Summer Reading Poster and Electronics

I was inspired when I saw this month's School Library Journal article about "hacking your notebook" with conductive tape, LEDs and 3V batteries. Last year I used littleBits on my annual summer reading poster that we bring to schools to advertise upcoming programs. This was before I bought "shoes" to adhere the littleBits to the poster without damage so the scotch tape I used (with our building temperature) kept falling down. Also worth noting when I forgot to turn it off I went through quite a few 9V batteries. 

This year I went simple using chibi circuits and conductive tape.  My goal was when the superhero book is pressed, the skyscraper windows light up.  I have previously done this with 4th and 5th graders as an e-card program during the holidays so I still had leftovers.

Hiding beneath the building are 2 lines of conductive tape, one positive, one negative to match the direction of the positive and negative side of the chibi LED hidden in the building. W= white.

This part is covered by the spotlight. The positive side of the battery is facing down and the negative tape line runs through the top of the spotlight and on the superhero book. I'm using once again my favorite resource, scotch tape on the battery but I can't cover the entire battery or the connection won't work. 
When superhero book is pressed the tape underneath the book (which is still part of the continuous negative line of the tape) to the battery. The circuit is completed. By using the superhero as a button the light won't always be on.
With chibi circuits, I have found simpler is better especially since I'd rather not change the battery. I would have liked to light up more of the city windows but that would have required more chibi LEDs and circuit pathways which tend to lessen the power of the 3V battery.  Once you start cutting the tape or deviating from the easy straight path, the LEDs have a tough time lighting up (as we have learned from experience with the e-cards).   Electrons will always go the easiest route.