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. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Painting and 3D printing

 So I've 3D printed my earrings, now what?

I decided to try enamel painting with very small model micro brushes. I bought a Testor starter set at Michael's Craft Store (with a coupon of course) for under $20. I will warn you there are a multitude of flammable and "cancer causing" chemical warnings on the front. Maybe OK for teens and up only? I'm sure spray paint has the same warnings but we still use it in moderation so I'll leave that call up to you. Upon further research, you can also use acrylic based paints on 3D plastic with a primer and sealant. The good thing about the enamel is I didn't do either of those things in an effort to save time. I'm sure primer and sealant have a bunch of warnings on them too.

The strong smell is that of industrial nail polish so have LOTS OF OPEN WINDOWS. I still wouldn't consider this quick drying unless you are really precise with the small amount you put on. I wasn't delicate with the amounts I glommed on so it took an hour after my white base coat on the pokeballs to start another coat which would negate my idea for a short 1 hr art program the day after 3D printing to customize the jewelry.  It only took 2 coats to fully cover up the green plastic front and back.  If only I could rig up something to paint both sides at the same time I think there could be a program out of this yet....As you can see from the picture once they did dry the colors are stunning. I ended up with some paint on my hands which came right off in the shower. I can't wait to model them at the library!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Using a Raspberry Pi as an OPAC

Special call out to a super tech librarian over at the Ames Free Library in Easton. Jed Phillips was published for his work on using Raspberry Pi's as OPACs (our library catalog computers). Libraries usually take some of their older computers and recycle them into "library searching" only computers. Libraries have a tough time allocating computers to this quick and necessary need to help patrons locate books or other resources without having to wait in line for a reference computer. These computers require updates and sometimes too much lock down. If a library is buying new computers for them to be OPACs only, the raspberry pi, a much cheaper alternative, is under a $100. Read more on Public Libraries Online.  He even included instructions on how to set up your own. Talk about a time saver! I will be working with Raspberry Pi's as a take home circulate-able makerspace kit for our library. Coming Soon!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Every Hero Has A Story & 3D Printing Jewelry

Today I'm experimenting with making jewelry accessories on the Cube 2 3D printer with tinkercad software.  If you know nothing about the tinkercad software, this brief video will get you through the basics. You can also see an earlier post on our blog.

One thing to note is there's already a bunch of creations from other makers on the site. If you are having trouble designing something from scratch or want to add onto a design, it's an easy search away.  Find the magnify glass on the top right of the screen. That is what makes the maker community great. They are willing to share!

For summer, I'll be making superhero emblems with the 3D printer with grades 5 & 6. This allows for both boys and girls to get in on the action. They can make them pendants, earrings, or just plain magnets. I have to admit I'm having a tough time with everything in MM. I've been Googling it to convert into inches!

Here are the goals of the program:

1. Set up a tinkercad account. Hopefully I will email them all and they can do this beforehand.
2. Make a new design.
3. Learn where the pre-made shapes are.
4. Place a pre-made shape on the work plane.
5. Learn how to cut a hole in a shape. I used a hexagonal prism and then made a hole with the box shape.
6. Adjust the size and color of the shape. Make sure to remind kids the printer prints only one color. It's really just for you as a designer to differentiate between the different shapes.
7. Add letters to the design.
8. Learn to group shapes together. Everything will size down together to scale.  This is the point where I will give them H X W requirements.
9. Save as an .STL file with their name.
10. Import it into the cube software so it's ready to print. This part I might do. 

If they don't finish, they can work on tinkercad at home and bring it in at their leisure. I'm guessing the program needs to be at least 2 hours and only 5 kids to start. 

Notes on printing small items:

Through experimentation, I have already concluded that the Cube isn't good for small fine detail so you have to be careful of the thickness and size of your jewelry.  I would recommend no thinner than 3mm and make sure the ring where the earring will attach matches the width of the jewelry.
Here are some examples of tinkercad pre-made designs I worked with and the results.
The Pokeball earring I took from a pre-made design (2nd design from the right). I liked it because it was flat and I figured I could turn it on the side to be level with the work plane and tad-ah! I found out that it couldn't be level with the plane because the design was crooked. It was also only 2.62 mm thick with a few leveled raised design circles in the middle which might have been the issue too. Needless to say, it did not print well. Which is why every design has to be level with the workplane! So round 2: I made my own using box, cylinder, and sphere shape. 3mm thick, 20 x 19 mm with a 3mm thick torus (ring). It took 13 minutes to print and through later experimentation I should have printed them both at once.

The umbrella earrings were 3 mm thick and printed no problem because it was flat on the workplane. The size of the earrings itself is 34mm x 25mm which was a nice size and printed in under 20 minutes so this will probably be my standard comparison size for the kid designed emblem earrings. I could double that for a magnet or slightly larger for a pendant.

Note about detail:

When I tried to scale down the detailed T-Rex (also premade design) I needed supports and a raft in the cube software due to the delicate nature of the stand up item and the support beam went right through the mouth and thus there were no teeth. The foot also broke off. I'm going to keep trying this to find an ideal height. If anyone has any good tips and tricks let us know! We're learning by tinkering over here at the DFL.Next up, how to paint them?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Week of Making

As we are gearing up for our hands on DIY booth at the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire on May 31st, the White House has decided that June 12-18 is the week of making to coincide with the DC Maker Faire. You can sign up on their website to let them know what events you have in mind that week at your own library. We just so happen to be doing Lego WeDo Robotics for 4th and 5th grade and an Intro to 3D Printing with Tinkercad that week. It's nice to be on the same page! I love seeing that the government is taking a special interest in the maker movement.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Breaking the barrier between techie and artist

Moving library programming from passive to active modes has attracted and revealed many people's dual strengths. We love it when the artistic side of people's personalities meets up with their nerdy, techie side. Regular, reliable times when teens can come in to tinker has opened up programs to many busy teens who may have thought they couldn't possible squeeze in another activity.

Cases in point:

Lauren Matthews, a poet, fan fiction writer, and excellent conversationalist, is also keenly interested in creating sculptures and objects with our 3D printers. She is also a whiz at Garageband and photo editing tools, a useful skill when creating our Radiofaces podcasts.

Ted Wahle is a big, big, music fan. He hosts one of our music-themed podcasts and has become an expert on designing for the 3D printer. He likes to pursue his artistic as well as his techie side.
He's hoping to do some live streaming interviews for us at the Levitate music festival this summer!

At the library, in our open-ended, Hackerlab-style programs, these two talented teens can go as far as they want without feeling like there is a grade or a performance riding on their efforts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Do you want to be a littleBits global chapter?

littleBits has rolled out it's latest collaborative venture, global chapters. Global chapters have an 8 event commitment per year which is easy for any library or school with a variety of littleBits collections and regular after school science programming.  Why not use this as a stepping stone into a year wide goal of science programming?  8 events is not even once a month and we are already planning for 3 events this summer with the superhero theme. In our Mad Science Mondays littleBits will be out for use in setting superhero traps/gadgets and building lairs or hideouts. In our Cardboard Car Drive In, littleBits will be out to add horns and lights as design options for the cars. Kids will watch a short film after they decorate their cars.

In exchange for becoming a chapter, you can get lots of swag, a global resource of educators to share ideas with in monthly support calls, and free event marketing from the littleBits website. The only chapter so far in Massachusetts is the Museum of Science so what are you waiting for? Getting your application ready!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Happy National Library Week!

I was so glad that this year's ALA National Library Week was "Unlimited Possibilities @ Your Library" because I feel that way in my job most days. Today I'm designing displays, tomorrow I'm coming up with a new marketing campaign, and the day after I could be 3D Printing. The profession itself is full of possibilities that can tap into a wide array of talents. I am rarely bored. This year we have made many updates to our collection and the library itself to include checking out hobby/science kits, ROKUs, interactive displays, a Digital Media Lab, and 3D printers to change the way the community sees the library and to invite new collaborators to share in our experiences. We have had the chance to meet inventors and fellow makers due to our Makerspace initiatives that didn't consider themselves regular library users in the past.
In honor of National Library Week, Ellen made 3D printed pins for us and the children's department hosted a science based program to use the #librarymade hashtag component on our social media sites. Our Science Wednesday had to compete with a very nice outdoor day but we still managed to spark some interest by putting up a Ferris Wheel made from the Lego WeDo additional kit on the help desk during our after school rush.  Kids asked how it worked then they could then go to any public computer with a WeDo set and work on their own project. At one point, we experimented with 3 projects going from one computer and they all worked using the same code. I love when tinkering and asking science questions actually WORKS!

It's fascinating to watch all the different learning approaches. We had 2 students who just started picking up the Lego pieces and making their own working machines while others meticulously followed the directions on ready made projects. One student watched another kid make a lion and then he went back to rework his lion and edited the code so he jumped like a jackhammer. A parent who wanted to purchase Lego Mindstorms for her 3rd grader said that this was a much easier entry into the robotics program than Mindstorms for the younger audience.  By only having 3 easy to distinguish control modules: the motor, the tilt switch and the motion sensor, kids are not overwhelmed in the building or coding aspects of WeDo (and neither are parents or other librarians).

Our origami bunnies even went for a ride on the wheel. Talk about high and low tech makerspaces converging.  The word makerspace itself has unlimited possibilities.

Using TinkerCad to build a 3D project

The best way to start designing for a 3D printer is to play with the online program, TinkerCad. This has been our go-to program for our Tinkering Tuesdays in March & April. It does require an internet connection so prepare in advance for any wireless connection issues.

We have been able to go from zero knowledge to creating some funny objects pretty fast using this powerful software. Sign up for a free account and you're ready to build. They have online tutorials to guide you through the beginning process upon your first sign in. My only complaint is they don't have anyway to accurately tell you that you have completed the lesson before moving on to the next. We are fortunate enough to have a account which hosts TinkerCad tutorials too but she talks very fast! Between these two resources, we quickly came up to speed with an accessible program that patrons can work with even at home.

For TinkerCad, it's all about already made shapes (including letters and numbers) so if that's the way you like to draw you are in luck. By combining and manipulating circular shapes, our talent staff member Lindsey was able to make a PEEP award for our diorama contest.

In my opinion, one of the hardest things about TinkerCad is making sure you are level with the work plane (the graph in blue) and each piece sits directly on top of each other.

Always be aware of the size of what students are designing (it is in metric).  We required everyone to stick with very flat designs in the beginning which was easier for our Cube printers to print (since they don't have a heated plate and tend to have issues sticking to the glass plate if the base design is flimsy) and it enabled more kids to get a chance to see their items printed in real time. If a completed print job was over a half an hour they had to come pick it up next class.  When students couldn't finish their project during our hour and a half each week they were able to go home and work on them through their own web browser and internet connection. This was perfect homework motivation because the next week they would be ready to print something when class started and feel the accomplishment of taking it home that very day.

Check out these great keyboard shortcuts-tinkercad.