Anna Lindgren-Streicher along with her colleagues Lydia Beall and Ryan Auster from the Museum of Science Boston will share work they've done around engaging girls in maker / engineering activities. They have written a paper about this research project that you might be interested in seeing (currently this is only available to CoP members, see info below about joining the CoP).
Register for the session here - http://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/655259015
Are you wondering what a CoP hangout is? It’s a Community of Practice that we recently formed around Making and Tinkering Spaces in Museums through ASTC – anyone can become a member (for more info - see this link).
Today I discovered a new way to play with the mirrored pixel table. I brought over different objects from the light play area, placed them on the RGB light source and checked out some amazing patterns. While moving hands and feet below the table can make some beautiful shades, it's also nice to put a stationary object in the light at observe the unique shadow/reflection.
I picked five objects from the table and placed them over the light like this. Try and guess what object or type of material made each pattern. If you need a hint, here's the complete set.
Luigi recently blogged about a broken down slow moving motor. I wanted to take a crack at repairing it and had visions of machining a faux gold tooth out of brass for it....
This is what happened instead.
Our laser cutter and design software came in handy. They allowed me to sketch an initial version, and then try and try again until it fit. I thought a piece of acrylic might do the trick. Calipers were really helpful when transferring dimensions into the digital world.
The result was a smooth, click-free, working motor and a nice sense of achievement. Like Luigi said, these motors are discontinued so saving them when we can is a good idea. Who knows if the repair will last, but at least we know the the end is NOT the end when there is a tinkerer about.
For someone who is afraid of the dentist this was a safe way for me to practice tooth replacement. I'll save these loose practice teeth in case I need them. Maybe I should open up my own practice... mwah ha ha ha.
In preparation for April's After Dark we've been messing around with ways of tinkering with clothing and the concept of "wearable tech." One idea that we had was that it'd be fun to work with t-shirts, but suspected it would be challenging to make a sewn circuit at that scale in the time frame of an After Dark event. One thing Ryan and I tried was making a scribbling machine with fabric markers that could color on items of clothing. We used some leftover canvas bags from our Tinkering Social Club with Grace Kim as a testing surface.
Our first test with a scribbling machine with an offset motor worked out great! I tried making one where the motor of the scribbling machine touched the fabric to make it go, but it seemed like there was too much friction to move around and create a pattern.
We still wanted to try making something that incorporated sewing and thought that perhaps conductive paint might work as an alternative to stitching the whole thing. After poking around on Bare Conductive's site to find out if the paint works on fabric, we discovered that it's possible to screen print with it (depending on your fabric). My first experiment was proof-of-concept test to paint a pattern onto a bag by hand. I ended up using two pretty thick coats because my tests with a multimeter showed it as not conducting. I couldn't figure out why since the line looked solid and there weren't any cracks in the paint. After much deliberation on why it may not be working, we decided to try it with a battery pack and LED anyways, and it worked! I'm still not sure why the multimeter couldn't read that the paint was conducting but we were really excited to discover that it was conceptually possible.
The next test was to try screen printing it onto a bag. I made a simple S-shaped pattern on a screen masked out with some scrap vinyl as a test. It didn't produce the cleanest print since paint was able to get past the adhesive in some places, but it worked well enough to make a few bags as testers. The first one came out a little patchy, but as I got the hang of the process they started coming out much better.
After letting the paint dry overnight it was time for the final test - sewing on components! I found it easier to sew through the paint than to sew through some conductive fabrics since it didn't leave little holes behind. Other than some smudging on my hands (since the paint is water based) it worked really well! As a next step I'd like to try making a better silk screen pattern and testing on a real t-shirt. The Bare Conductive website mentioned that you could paint over the conductive ink with acrylic paint. I like that idea as a way of customizing a shirt or bag once the LEDs are sewn on to bring the design to life. I'd also like to try using a snap fastener for making the battery pack detatchable.