2016 Houston Mini-Makerfaire

George CarlsonEvents, Making, News

Imagine the Possibilities, our theme for the Makerfair It was crazy!  The Mini-Makerfaire was held at the George R. Brown convention center on November 12 and 13. We had a 20′ x 20′ booth with lots of small projects for the kids to work on.  To select the project, the person would operate the large switch on the MakerBarn Robot Control Panel.  A large version of Makey would spin his “Wheel of Making” and randomly select a number for the project. We had around 200 – 300 kids (and some adults) build the projects Greg created.  The booth was very crowded both Saturday and Sunday. With all the clattering from Makey, and the constant use of the Aztec drum, we had to be the noisiest booth at the show.  Another big attraction was the Van de Graff Generator.  After a transfer belt change on Sunday morning, the generator was producing 10″ sparks. … Read More

Our new Powermatic Tablesaw

George CarlsonNews, Tools

This is a Powermatic 66 built in the early seventies.  It was in very good condition, considering the age, when we got it.  The purpose of this saw will be to cut dados and box joints.  This can be done on the SawStop, but the brake cartridge needs be be changed if a dado blade is installed.  This will save our woodworkers alot of time when switching between normal and dado cuts.  The saw is pretty heavy, just ask Greg.  Once we got it in the shop, it was cleaned and the bearings and belts were replaced. Here’s the machine all cleaned up.  The machine has a 3HP three-phase motor.  Since we don’t have three-phase power at the barn, I installed a VFD (variable frequency drive) to provide the three-phase power.  One advantage of using the VFD is that it allows the start and stop time of the motor to … Read More

More Additions to the Shop

George CarlsonBuild Log, News, Tools

It’s been busy lately. John Buckley and I built a high-tech router table. The machine uses a 3HP water cooled router spindle and an Arduino controlled router lift. The computerized lift makes making precision cuts easy. We are also in the process of rebuilding a Powermatic 66 table saw. This a heavy-duty industrial saw that will be configured for making dado (wide slot cuts) cuts and box joints. This means we can make dado cuts without having to re-configure a saw. A wonderful time saver. Lastly, the RoboChop has arrived! The RoboDhop is a 27×48″ High Precision CNC router. It has a 3HP water cooled spindle and high precision ball screws for positioning. It is on-loan as a way to see if we would like to purchase our own CNC Router. Shortly I’ll announce classes to teach Vectric V-Carve software and how to use the machine.

A new addition to the shop

George CarlsonNews, Tools

One of the latest additions to our arsenal of tools at The MakerBarn is an abrasive blasting cabinet. Since we have a large air compressor and the entire building has been plumbed for compressed air, installation of the unit was easy. “Sand blasting” can be quite messy, but with the sealed cabinet, the operation is quite clean and comfortable. Parts to be blasted are brought in through a door that seals. The operator’s hands go into large gloves in the front of the cabinet and a window allows the operator to see inside. A shop vac keeps the air inside the cabinet clear of dust. The unit has been supplied with 100 grit snow-white Aluminum Oxide abrasive. This is a fine abrasive that looks much like sugar. It works well for quickly removing rust and paint from metal surfaces. It also works well for texturizing a surface, or etching glass … Read More

New .org Domain & Website Hosting

Clay McGovernNews

As you may have noticed, we recently switched our domain to emphasize our non-profit status as a part of Extraordinary Education. So when visitors type the old .com domain, they will now be automatically directed to our new themakerbarn.org domain and website. In addition to the change in domain, we also moved from a hosted WordPress solution to a full service website hosting solution. That change will give us a great deal of flexibility in terms of the services we can offer through our website. We have future plans for a member forum and a wiki. All in all the process was pretty painless and went forward without any major glitches. Hopefully I’m not jinxing us by writing this!

The Hegner Scroll Saw

George CarlsonBuild Log, News, Tools

The Hegner Scroll Saw We’ve been watching school and government auctions for items to equip The MakerBarn.  We have gotten some great deals on high quality tables, cabinets, and chairs.  On one of the auctions sites, I noticed a school district down near Victoria was auctioning a Multimax scroll saw and a Delta bandsaw.  Both looked fairly rough, but I placed some bids just to see how it went.  Victoria is a long drive so I hoped by bids would be fruitful. I won both auctions.  This meant driving 300 miles, but with luck, it would be well worth it. The Delta bandsaw was fairly recent vintage.  It had been the victim of a student brawl and had been knocked over.  But the upper and lower trunions were broken, but everything else survived.  A few used parts off eBay and some new tires, and the bandsaw tuned up beautifully. The … Read More

The Woodworking Show

George CarlsonNews

Thanks goes to Ed Draper for getting us a booth at The Woodworking Show. The Woodworking Show is a nationwide show that visits the Houston area once a year. We had people from as far away as Austin and San Antonio visit the booth and learn about makerspaces and The MakerBarn. There were several woodworkers from our area who said they were very happy to hear about us and would come by for a visit.

Electronics at The MakerBarn

George CarlsonNews, Tools

We aren’t all woodworking and machine shop; we also have a wonderful electronics lab in the works. The lab centers around four tech stations.  Three of the stations will be configured for experiments and testing audio and other low frequency work including micro-controllers.   You could use one of these stations to work on anything from tube amplifiers to Arduinos.  The forth station is equipped for work with RF (Radio Frequency) devices.  If you are into Ham Radio, this will be your favorite workspace.  Ever wonder what the spectral output of you WiFi router looks like?  The 9594E cover spectrum up to 2.9GHz. The normal tech stations will each be equipped with a Tektronix 2246 100MHz oscilloscope, BK Precision 5MHz Function Generator, lab multimeter, and power supplies.  The RF station will have an HP8640B signal generator, an HP 8594E Spectrum Analyzer, and an HP 5328A frequency counter.  All tech stations will … Read More

Major Milestone Reached in Barn Renovation

George CarlsonNews

Today marked a major waypoint in the building of The MakerBarn.  The upstairs fur downs are framed out, which marks the end of all the framing work.  The fur downs are structures that drop down the ceiling to hide A/C ducts, beams, and plumbing.  In our case we were covering the roof support beams that run the length of the building.  The beams were, well, ugly and crooked.  A little 2×4 orthodontia, and the ceiling will look fine. Next is completing the electrical for lighting, install the insulation, then hang sheetrock.  Start getting those party hats ready for grand opening!

Our Roll-In Metal Cutting Band Saw

George CarlsonNews, Tools

We just finished refurbishing the Roll-In Metal Cutting Band Saw. This saw was donated to The MakerBarn. It was in pretty rough shape because it had been sitting in a storage warehouse for many years. The machine was stripped down to nuts and bolts. Bearings were replaced. Paint was stripped and repainted. A few parts had to be fabricated, and the rubber tires were replaced. The vise needed quite a bit of machine work, but it too came out fine. The motor was rebuilt, and new electrics installed. The machine even has MakerBarn’s MACS system installed for safety. It’s all ready for some metal cutting action!