Tuesday, October 18, 2016

DIY Halloween: Unicorn Light Up Hoodie

This tutorial is a combination of the DIY unicorn hoodie tutorial I found on Pinterest and Adafruit's light up unicorn 3D print tutorial. I used some supplies from Adafruit's candle bows that we made a few years back instead of buying new materials. You can buy the sewing conductive kit separately on Adafruit without the bows.  I won't go through every excruciating detail but here are some tips that they don't mention and a few workarounds that worked for me based on my supplies. 

Supplies needed from both tutorials: 
Hoodie (dress in my case)
3D printed Unicorn Horn with LED base
3D printer with clear PLA filament (I didn't use flexible as the tutorial calls for and it was fine)
1 LED (11mm tall X 7.91 mm wide)
Conductive Thread
Needle (small enough the fit through the battery holder brass side holes. In the Adafruit kit, I used the smallest needle on the right)
Battery Holder
Regular Thread
Felt (not necessary but handy- see bottom note)
Safety Pin

Unicorn Horn

Step 1: Make sure that the LED works. I placed the battery in-between the leads, matched up the sides of the LED to the positive/negative sides of the battery and squeeze. ++/-- It should light up. 

Step 2: Label the positive lead of the LED with a marker. It will make your life easier later. The positive lead is always the longest one but once you bend them it's hard to tell. 

Step 3: Place the LED in the 3D printed holder and bend the leads out in opposite directions, Attach unicorn horn on top by sewing regular thread in the printed holes first to stabilize the horn. The LED leads should be sticking out in opposite directions. 

LED leads poking out from under the holder

Step 4:  Using conductive thread, sew the LED leads separately. One thread should wrap around the positive lead of the LED through the positive side (labeled brass hole) of the battery holder. Another separate thread wrap around  the negative lead of the LED through the hoodie to the negative side of the battery holder (labeled brass hole). Wrap it around each lead few times back and forth. Make sure it is tight. The positive thread and the negative thread shouldn't be touching or the circuit won't work. The battery holder is directly underneath the unicorn horn on the inside of the hood. The conductive thread is the silver, regular thread is the white. 
view from the top with LED lead wrapped in conductive thread

view of  battery holder from inside the hood

Step 5: Unlike me, make sure to take your tutorial pictures BEFORE assembling. This is the part where I would add all the yarn hair in (despite seeing the above pictures to the contrary) and this tutorial does a great job in walking you through that piece.  I used tri-colored yarn and wrapped 30 times around my hand rather than 3 separate spools of each color 10 times for each "pom pom". It took the whole package including making the tail which I just attached to the back of the hoodie with a safety pin. I also hand sewed each "pom pom" on the seam of the hoodie while the tutorial says glue gun would work. I didn't trust it!

In hindsight, I should have sewed (or glued) it all onto one long felt strip that I could easily take on and off with velcro or a button from the top of the hoodie. Now I have no way of washing the hoodie but if it is just meant for one day then it doesn't matter. Another word to the wise, I purchased this hoodie dress discount at Sears for $3 and thought that the lilac color wouldn't matter. However, when making the ears I had a terrible time finding a matching felt color so I ended up cutting off the front hoodie pocket and hand sewed ears. I should have gone with a white color! Alas, seam ripper you are a good friend today.

Monday, October 17, 2016

More 3D printing opportunites

Think of all the kits in your collection that may have been thrown away because the parts could not be replaced! I recently designed a replacement xylophone mallet for a circulating children's kit. Thanks to the digital caliper I was able to measure the dimensions from the old one on the right (was it chewed!? these mysteries bother me) and added some upgrades like a handle using premade shapes in Tinkercad to the new one on the left. Since printing in PLA isn't as strong as the typical ABS plastic, I made a thicker bottom. This printed in 2 hours and took me 15 minutes to create in Tinkercad. Just another example of staff using the 3D printer in their daily lives!

Speaking of which, Halloween is coming up so this year's costume was inspired by an Adafruit tutorial on lighting up a unicorn horn.   The library staff has decided to be storybook characters this year so it was right up my alley. The free horn, including a bottom to fit an LED and sew-able clips, took 2 hours to print with clear PLA on our Ultimaker 2 Extended (I did not have flexible filament and it worked just fine). We have leftover conductive thread and LEDs from the adafruit candle bows we had made a few holidays ago which I sewed into a hoodie rather than soldering or buying any more materials that the tutorial suggests.  I then went back to my days of hand making pom poms out of yarn and VIOLA! A more detailed tutorial including a picture where it actually lights up will be posted next week.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

DEMCO has a makerspace section

DEMCO, a huge retailer of all things library, released a makerspace section of their website that offers furniture solutions like makercarts, portable storage cabinets and even popular science kits like littleBits! For libraries having a tough time buying from outside vendors, this would be a viable solution, albiet a bit pricier than other vendors. Libraries usually have a DEMCO supply account especially if they have bought furniture in the last decade. I'm drooling over the 3D printer cart as we speak.

Even if you couldn't afford DEMCO prices, maybe there is someone handy on staff that could DIY some of these furniture ideas onto stuff we already have. If I could buy anything in my dream makerspace, my top 3 would be: 3D printer cart, STEM cart, and some mini folding flip tables.   I'm really into everything being on wheels lately. Our library's makerspace isn't "dedicated" so the thought of having roving carts and tables that are easy to cart around our 3 floors is very appealing. A librarian can dream can't she? :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Halloween 3D Printed Pumpkins

I can't take credit for this one. I subscribe to the Newton Free Library events calendar because they have lots of great examples of STEM programming and this one particularly struck me. This October they are virtually "carving" pumpkins in Tinkercad. Thanks John Walsh!

The skills learned in Tinkercad for this project are holes, grouping, using multiple workplanes and rotating shapes. TIP: Make sure to leave plenty of room between the eyes and the mouth or it won't have enough solidity to print properly. I left 11mm distance between the end of the eyes and the beginning of the mouth. 

Step 1:
I imported a pumpkin shape from the web and added a sphere from the pre-made shapes on the left sidebar of Tinkercad.

Step 2: I added a new workplane on the front center of the sphere (now orange grid appears). I used the roof for eyes and the round roof for the mouth out of the pre-made shapes. The shapes needed to be sized and rotated. Then grouped it all together.

Step 4: I made all of it a hole which is the essential "carving" of the pumpkin and moved it into the center of the white pumpkin. This would make the inside hollow for the most part and cut down on printing time. Plus it will add dramatic effect when a light is shined through it.

Step 3: I grouped everything together.

It took about 4 hours to print a 50 x 50 x 61 mm (ish) pumpkin without any supports besides the brim. (Supports are a PAIN to get out of the pumpkin this small). CURA set up was for "normal print" with print speed of 50mm/s.

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised that my second one was a cat!

Monday, September 19, 2016

3D Printing Food Safe Items?

I wanted to throw this one out there to the makerspace/Ultimaker community. Has anyone had experience printing food safe items?

I just stumbled upon Cookie Caster, a free website to make your own cookie cutters and thought it would be a great program for the upcoming fall/winter holiday season. However, with some introductory research from one of my co-workers, it seems like we might have to go with buying food safe filament.   Granted most of the plastic people use still has harmful chemicals like BPA even though it was FDA approved but that's a different rant for a different day. So the question is, if it is just a one time use cookie cutter, printed in regular PLA, with take some safety instructions, will it be OK? or should we venture food safe? Or should we just wait for more research......I think use-able bowls and cups are definitely out for the near future.

On a fun food end note, our custodian is leaving who LOVES Cheez-Its so we're 3D printing him a bowl with fake cheez-its as a going away present. I couldn't find an already made print (go figure) so I designed one in tinkercad. The file is available for public use in case anyone else wants to have a low calorie version of the delicious snack food. They're making me very HUNGRY.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Practical 3D Applications Part 3

2nd attempt
I have a glass water bottle that is very hard to clean because it has a small mouth opening. Normally I clean it with a paper towel attached to a chopstick. One of our staff found me cleaning it one day and said, "Why don't you 3D print something?" Why indeed!

My idea was to take 2 toothbrushes, measure out the width and length of the bottom of the brushes with my trusty digital caliper, then make a long attachment so I can reach deep down without using my hand. I used pre-made shapes in tinkercad.

My first attempt was a dud. It didn't fit inside the bottle! My second attempt with the entry holes very far down offered no support to the brushes and they just went willy nilly everywhere once I got inside the bottle. Now granted I could have taped them together or used elastics but this was not the point.

all attempts
So I figured, why not just use one toothbrush? The third attempt was a one hole design but the hole was too far down and the brush still needed support so my fourth attempt elongated and thickened the stick itself.

And tadah! My one concern is I didn't account for trying to clean the very bottom. That will be a challenge for next time.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Integrating the 3D Printer Into Program Giveaways & Marketing Promotions

Need to make an award?  Now that we have a 3D printer readily available, there are so many opportunities for customized giveaways/prizes that we would normally have to go out and purchase through companies like Oriental Trading.

For our first egg drop last summer, we 3D printed medals that we designed in Tinkercad for the winners. Egg drops are really fun and low stress program since all you provide is the eggs and a tarp. We dropped contraptions kids made from home out the 2nd story window to see if their egg inside survived. Since that went over so well, next spring we made a Peep Award for our Book themed Peep Dioramas. This was another stress free program as kids worked together at home to design the Peep dioramas and brought them in for judging and viewing. These shapes were very easy to combine in Tinkercad. I think in hindsight it would be nice to put lettering on it to say Duxbury Free Library and the year.

During the annual summer Lego Contest 2 years running, we 3D printed award trophies (81 mm tall) to put beside the creations. This one was a combination of shapes in Tinkercad as well as uploading a pre-made Lego block that someone else had designed. This is also another program that requires little prep work as kids make their Legos from home based on a theme and submit them for viewing on a specific week.

We are currently printing team medallions to hand out to those who show that they caught a Pokemon  at the library through the Go app. I'm still obsessed with the game by the way (LEVEL 24! Go Team Valor). These files were found pre-made and printed in bulk depending on the team. 4 printed in about 4 hours (about 47 mm x 53 mm) and I have been printing every morning for the past month (when I remember) in preparation. Files can be found here if you'd like to make them. Not to mention the entire catalog of possible 3D printed Pokemon themselves that I haven't even begun to dive into.

What's great about the 3D printer, among other things, is you can make things the day of. So if 10 extra people sign up last minute for the egg drop, no problem! We can just quickly print more awards without anyone having to do a last minute run to iParty or paying extra for shipping through Oriental Trading.  In addition, they will never be out of stock or discontinued. Once you have designed them the first time, which could be as time consuming as you want it to be, you can just change the year and reprint.  Usually the Tinkercad community has a wealth of pre-made shareable items that you can use as a base like I did with the Lego award. Here is the link to my shareable files. 

Addendum 9/7: Here is another idea I found posted on Facebook this week. Reader's advisory for all ages changes from a sticker/bookmark to an eye catching 3D printed thumbs up

Monday, July 25, 2016

Podcast on Pokemon Go

Here is our podcast on the subject starring myself, Beth (circulation/tech services) and Suzanne (reference/YA) As we keep playing, we start to learn the finer details behind the Pokemon Go phenomenon and explain it for non-users or the curious. On a side note: I am now level 19 :)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pokemon Go Update: I Just Won Our Gym!

I had been out all weekend walking around catching Pokemon and all that worked payed off as I came into work (EARLY a first) just so I could see if I could win our library gym. I easily defeated the yellow team that was in charge of the gym and now it has become a red team training area. So what does that mean?

All weekend I have cavorted around downtown Plymouth, MA and areas of Boston, MA to catch common Pokemon like Pidgeys and Weebles or a few more alluring rare ones that popped up like this Scyther (it's on the Charles River BTW).  By catching even the most common Pokemon duplicates, I earned stardust and candies to evolve my stronger Pokemon to begin taking over gyms.

When you first visit a gym (you have to be pretty close to the site in order to battle) you choose a color: red, yellow or blue. Once you have chosen, it is a forever solidified choice. Now I can go to gyms marked RED to train my Pokemon and earn my gym prestige. If I am in charge of the gym, earn coins to buy extra items. If the gym shows up another color, I can try to battle the Pokemon that lead the gym with my strongest Pokemon, in this case CP 535 and a few other stronger ones, into battle. You have to fight and win against all the people who have placed Pokemon at the gym. Once you have defeated all of them, the gym turns grey and you have to click in it again to claim it for your color (Red in my case) and leave one of your Pokemon there to defend it.  I immediately posted on our social media sites that I had taken over the gym and challenge others to come try to take it over or to train on team red. If you haven't made an account yet, you might want to have your screen name say your library so everyone knows that you have won.  I just used my email address and now I regret it.

I left my 3rd strongest Pokemon there as I can keep battling against myself to earn prestige with my stronger Pokemons and try to level up the gym. Once the gym's level has increased, more Pokemon can be left there by others on your same color team to defend the gym. How do you battle? Just tap your Pokemon on the phone screen and swipe to dodge attacks. If you hold your finger down long enough and release, you can do a special attack.

If any library has circulate-able mobile hot spots now is the time to advertise. This game eats through your data plan and some rural areas get very little signal. Having a mobile hot spot in your pocket (or setting one up at a gym or Pokestop nearby) will increase the stability of the game play.

While I was playing this weekend, I was surprised by the number of people (20-30s mostly but I did see some parent/child teams) out playing.  At Pokestops, people can drop "lures" which look like petals or confetti falling from the stop. The lure attracts Pokemon to the area for 30 minutes. When I observed lures being dropped you always knew the spot because there were 30 people milling about on their phones each looking up and talking to each other as we realized that we are all playing the same game. If your library is a Pokestop, rather than a gym, you can drop lures and advertise on social media the time and the place.  If your library happens to have a special rare Pokemon in the area, Boston Public Library had one but my phone died, it's worth telling people. #pokemongo is already up and running as well as many Facebook pages like Pokemon Go Massachusetts.  For those in the south shore, Pokemon Plymouth, where users are connecting and sharing tips and scheduling meetups. The site, reddit is also full of tips.

I have to admit I've been to Boston numerous times and never once knew there was a Houdini plaque to commemorate his jump in 1908 on the side of the Harvard Bridge leading to the Charles or ever visited Paul Revere's grave near the Boston Common until they were Pokestops.  This game encourages exercise (as my Fitbit has given me much praise for the 15 miles I've clocked in 2 days) and a bit of history. Not to mention, it got me socializing with strangers!We are in the next generation of gaming. Librarians put your thinking caps on as we can try to embrace and promote this in our communities while the "iron is hot".  I'll let you know how long it takes for me to be "dethroned" meanwhile here is me posing with Psyduck on Atlantic Ave in Boston.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

We are a Pokemon Go Gym!

In game play with the red marker being a GYM stop for the library
I was pretty excited to walk into work today to find out that the library is a Pokemon Go gym. What's Pokemon Go? Well my Facebook feed has been flooded with it this week as libraries and my friends in their 30's discover its magic. This free app, with in app purchases, debuted this week
for both iOS and Android devices. Pokemon Go is everything you loved about the original Pokemon games only better because this is a real live scavenger hunt. You turn the app on, you physically walk around wherever you are (and walk, and walk and walk..seriously I did 4 miles just yesterday looking for Jigglypuff) and Pokemon pop up to catch. As long as you have a Pokeball, you can capture it. Once you reach level 5, you can bring them to a GYM stop to train and battle.  Depending on the color of the gym, you can leave a Pokemon there to "protect and claim" it. Right now we have someone guarding our library gym spot with a level 157 Pidgeyoto so I'm not going there just yet.  I only started Saturday and I'm level 6 with a level 144 Oddish. You can level up just by walking but capturing Pokemon is faster.

 A quick 5 minute walk outside the library brought up 3 Poke stops where you can spin a virtual picture of the spot for free items like more Pokeballs or potions. These stops are usually near historic sites around town. One stop I have never noticed in 3 years yet I walk by it all the time. If your
library isn't a stop or gym just yet there's nothing you can do about it. At this point they are pre-generated.  You need to download the app (or ask someone) to figure out what you are. Once you are close enough to a stop, the cubes on top of the stops will change to a circle and you click on the circle. Once the picture comes up, you swipe your phone to spin it for items.

I caught a Pidgey at the library
Different Pokemon pop up at different locations. Near water you are more likely to get water Pokemon or you can wait till night time when some nocturnal Pokemon come out. There is a rustling of green leaves on screen to hint where Pokemon might be. By right clicking on the bottom right of your screen bring up a map of foot prints (1,2,3) to signify how close you are to a creature. Your phone will buzz to alert you if anything pops up so you don't have to walk with it in front of your face the entire time. Once you tap on the Pokemon that has appeared, your phone's camera opens and you see the creature "in real life".  This is a feature you can turn off with the AR switch. You swipe across the screen with your Pokeball to capture. When you hold your finger down over the Pokeball, a circle will appear on the Pokemon. Orange means they are a bit feistier and you might need to feed them some razberries or use a great ball. Keep capturing the same Pokemon repeatedly so you can keep the highest leveled one and trade back in the rest to the professor for candy to evolve them. Mostly I keep finding Pidgeys, Rattatats, and Weedles but certain areas have special Pokemon with urban areas being more of a popular hot spot.

You don't have to physically go into a buildings, as a cheeky police station has already posted, as long as you are a few feet "near" it. So people can use your library if it is a gym even during closing hours depending on where it is placed. I found a few inside my house, a Psyduck even popped up in the bathroom this morning. I feel bad for this poor guy. 

So what can the library do? Well this is IMHO virtual making. The Pokemon you collect can be trained here to get stronger and evolve if your library is a gym. Maybe a contest to highlight who claims the gym on different days? Maybe a scheduled meet-up where Pokemon Go players can talk, team up and share what they collected. For example: WHERE DO YOU FIND JIGGLYPUFF? I STILL NEED TO KNOW! I made the top graphic in Photoshop to put on our library doors and plastered it all over our Facebook and Instagram with the #pokemongo hashtag. I'm already looking forward to all the conversations I have with kids that come into the library and connect with them as we compare what different kinds of Pokemon we caught.

As I became an adult with much more responsibilities, it became harder to find time to sit and play really involved video games but this one is great.  I can just turn my phone on when I'm walking around already. Keep in mind when you have the app open your data plan is being used. The competition between my friends has gotten fierce to see who is the highest level and it is only day 3. It encourages players to be physically active and aware of their local historical sites. It brings the community together of all ages (Pokemon has been around since the 90's!) and the library can easily be a part of this pop culture phenomenon in the latest step in the evolution of the Pokemon legacy. So download the app and buy as many Pokemon books and DVDs as you can! Who's hosting a Pokemon party?