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!