Professor McCabe is a personal mentor of mine, a great guy, and a really talented engineer and machinist. MachinistBlog.com did an interview with him where he talks about his program, his thoughts on hobbyist machining and making, and its influence on the engineering trade. Nate writes:
Nial got into engineering because of his father, a railroad mechanic born in England. His father would bring home bits of locomotives or other parts for a fascinated Nial to explore.
“I always stood around and watched him doing stuff,” Nial said. “And he was a good sport about it, showing me and my brothers how to do it all. Then when I got to high school I decided I liked the idea of working on stuff, and from what I thought teaching looked like a good job for me.”
In the last few years he has seen a boom in popularity in the hobby, especially among men who work in professional settings. His theory is that most of these people went to college and got degrees in things like accounting or medicine, and never got to do the hands-on work that their fathers or grandfathers did. So now, with more free time and money to spare, this generation is going to Home Depot for equipment and trying on small projects.
For the moment, that means increases in sales and a suddenly wide-open market for internet companies catering to these hobbyists, Nial said. But in the long-term, it could lay the groundwork for a resurgence in engineering itself.
“A lot of hobbyists realize now that it’s fun and they can get into it, and most of the growth we’ve seen in the last 10 years has been from those hobbyists,” he said. “But now I hope there’s a second tier and as they get involved their children or nephews or nieces will be inspired to work in the field of engineering and innovation.”
Thermocouple Amplifier (MAX6675) breakout board. Thermocouples are very sensitive, requiring a good amplifier with a cold-compensation reference. The MAX6675 does everything for you, and can be easily interfaced with any microcontroller, even one without an analog input. This breakout board has the chip and bypass capacitor assembled and tested. Comes with a 2 pin terminal block (for connecting to the thermocouple) and pin header (to plug into any breadboard or perfboard). Goes great with our 1m K-type thermocouple.
Works with any K type thermocouple
0 to 1024 degree C output in 0.25 degree increments
Become part of a dynamic group at ThinkGeek developing custom manufactured retail products. Your primary job will be to design and create electronics prototypes for possible future ThinkGeek products. We’re looking for someone who can take a feasible concept and prototype a functional (though perhaps not beautiful) model in circuit board form. Have your own electronics based ideas to add to the ThinkGeek swirling maelstrom of custom product awesomeness? This is a big plus.
In a nutshell, we’re looking for someone who understands geek culture, loves to create interesting and amazing circuits and can thrive in a dynamic non-structured work environment.If building is in your blood and you want to help ThinkGeek create the coolest most unique geeky products around, then we have a great job for you!
The Teensy is a complete USB-based microcontoller development system, in a very small footprint! All programming is done via the USB port. No special programmer is needed, only a standard “Mini-B” USB cable and a PC or Macintosh with a USB port.
USB can be any type of device
AVR processor, 16 MHz
Single pushbutton programming
Easy to use Teensy Loader application
Free software development tools
Works with Mac OS X, Linux & Windows
Tiny size, perfect for many projects
Available with pins for solderless breadboard
Comes with assembled Teensy board (ATmega32u4 with bootloader preinstalled) and header to allow easy breadboarding. We suggest using AVR-gcc (like WinAVR) with the LUFA library or ‘Teensyduino’ Be sure to check out the multiple resources available at PJRC!
Since this article first appeared in the New York Times, I’ve seen it brought up a number of times on blogs, on twitter, and even on Facebook. Most of the remarks made about the situation imply that she was not following proper safety procedures, or that shop safety in general was lax. I can’t say for sure if this was the case, having no knowledge of the situation beyond the Times article. The only thing we can say for certain is that this was a tragic accident. But there is one line in the article which jumped out at me as the most likely overall cause for this tragedy. (emphasis mine, below:)
On Tuesday, just weeks from graduating, she toiled late at night inside a machine shop in a chemistry lab, as she had for weeks while working on her senior thesis: investigating the possible use of liquid helium for detecting dark matter particles. Ms. Dufault, 22, was killed when her hair became caught in the lathe, whose rotating axis is used to hold materials like wood or metal being shaped.
I’m going to assume that because she was there late at night, it means she had other things to do during the day. This means that she had most likely already put in a full day of classes, studying, and labs before she went to work in the shop. Even when I was 22, a full day of school would have left me exhausted — I don’t think I’d have the energy to then go work in a machine shop. A machine shop is not the place you want to be when you’re tired. Fatigue is the single greatest hazard you have to deal with when using tools, particularly machine tools. Even when you’re clear-headed and alert, machine tools can kill you. When you’re fatigued, all your faculties — your reaction time, your senses, your clear thinking and spatial reasoning — are attenuated. You need all of these working at 100% to operate this kind of machinery. There are no exceptions.
A friend of mine is a toolmaker, and he told me a story about the first shop he ever worked in. He said there was a handwritten sign on the wall with the best shop safety advice he’s ever heard:
“If you’re tired, get the hell out!“
That pretty much sums it up. If you’re tired, you’re a danger to yourself and to everyone else in the shop. Even if you’re taking all the proper safety precautions and wearing all the proper equipment, you will make mistakes if you are suffering from fatigue.
The thing to remember is that it’s ok to just walk away. In the case of this young woman, I imagine she was under a lot of pressure — she probably had a project deadline hanging over her head, and she was on a tight schedule. I can understand and sympathize with that, but really, there’s no college degree in the world that is worth your safety or your life.
So please be careful when you’re working with tools. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel your mind start to wander, or you start to make little mistakes, just stop. Walk away. Take a break or even call it a day.
NEW PRODUCT – 12V 5A switching power supply. This is a beefy switching supply, for when you need a lot of power! It can supply 12V DC up to 5 Amps, running from 110V or 220V power (the plug it comes with is for US/Canada/Japan but you can use any plug adapter for your country, or just replace the cable with a standard computer cable)
The output connects to a 2.5mm DC plug but its a ‘springy’ type so you can use it in 2.1mm jacks as well. There’s a green indicator light to let you know its working
These will be great for people who want to power LED strips or a lot of motors for a CNC project. Using a separate supply like this can be better than trying to modify a ATX power supply because the 12V outputs of a PC power supply is not stable across all current draws, unless you’re also using the 5V supply heavily, as well.
Tokyo Hackerspace has developed a Geiger shield for Arduino, designed to work with the RDTN/Pachube radiation detector project. Akiba writes:
This is an Arduino-based geiger counter shield that makes it easy to upload data to the internet and also interchange tubes. Since it’s open source and Arduino-based, its also easy to hack this to other interesting applications.
You can read the dev history and view the schematics and board layout stuff here. You can also donate to the RDTN kickstarter. It’s been great watching these radiation measurement projects unfold — lots of talented people pooling their skills to solve a problem. I wish them all the best of luck!
The element14 “Do It Together” Blog brings together interesting personalities from a wide range of backgrounds to share their perspective on electronics and engineering. The name “Do It Together” is an evolution of the DIY ethos towards a more collaborative approach. One that enables peers to connect, communicate and collaborate. To challenge and encourage one another.
We’ve gathered a team of students, professional design engineers, hobbyists, enthusiasts and more to educate and inspire. So check back regularly, subscribe via RSS and be sure to leave us a note in the comments.
Make: Live 06 – Bikes, Basics to Extremes
Wednesday April 13th, 9pm ET/6pm PT
Watch at makezine.com/live or on UStream
Please join us in the UStream chat or mark tweets with #makelive to interact live with the show.
We also give away a fabulous prize from Digi-Key to one chat member who can solve our photo challenge. We can’t wait to share some of the joy of making with you, live each 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month, on Make: Live.
Featuring: Get to Know Your Bike
Our own Becky Stern will be doing a bike primer; she’ll show us basic bike parts and will demonstrate a few bike maintenance and repair tricks. And Nick Normal from World Maker Faire New York will be checking in to show off what he carries in his mobile bike repair kit.
William Thomas Porter – PorterCycles
Brooklyn-based extreme bike maker William Thomas Porter of PorterCycles will be showing us around his workshop, where he builds some rather unique bikes. You’ll get a chance to see his flywheel powered trike and something he calls a The Expert Level, which he classifies as a “french circus bike” and takes quite a bit of practice to ride.
3rd-party accessories offer pre-built functionality like GPS location, servo control and battery power. Netduino is also pin-compatible with Arduino shields. 3rd-party drivers are required for some Arduino shields.
Design files included.
Netduino is an open source electronics platform. All design files and source code are included. Learn from the designs. Remix, and enjoy the freedom of open source.
Comes with a free microUSB cable and 4 rubber bumpers For tutorials, files, project ideas and more check out netduino.com