Demo of my hackathon to recommend which elevator to select at work.
Demo of my hackathon to recommend which elevator to select at work.
Val and I recently got a new car – a Subaru Outback. The 12 year old Subaru Forester was still doing ok, but it was time to get a new car with better safety features. However, the new Outback was a bit bigger – length and width. And since we’d used up a significant portion of our garage space for Tinkurlab’s workshop, I wanted to park the Outback as close to the garage door as possible to leave maximum room in front of the car to walk between the workshop and our house. What to do? Hang a tennis ball from the ceiling? Not for a maker! Time for a new project!
Introducing Tinkur Park Assist, a project to help you park your car irresponsibly close to the garage door, with only inches to spare.
“a project to help you park your car irresponsibly close to the garage door, with only inches to spare”
Tinkur Park Assist is pretty simple, consisting of an ultrasonic range sensor to determine the distance between the wall and the car, a big LED for feedback about the distance of the car from the sensor, and an Arduino to make sense of it all. I initially used an IR distance sensor, but I found that an ultrasonic sensor works much better for the car which is highly reflective and curved. It seems accurate to within an inch.
I also had the opportunity to design my own housing for the project to hide all the messy wires and electronics. I chose to 3D print the housing, which was much easier vs. previous housings that were constructed of acrylic milled with a CNC machine. After a few iterations of the 3D model design, I was able to create a housing that has openings in all the right spots and has an easy to add / remove snap-on lid.
Tinkur Park Assist continuously monitors the distance between the ultrasonic sensor and whatever is in front of it. If the distance hasn’t changed in a while, the LED light turns off. When the distance starts changing, the LED light turns yellow as the object in front of it gets into close range (< 5.5 feet in this case) and turns green when the object is in the ideal range (30 to 38 inches from the sensor in this case). If the object is too close (< 30 inches), the LED turns red. Tinkur Park Assist also saves the 3x last distance values, using the median value for making decisions to reduce false positives from random fluctuations in data (ex. a person walking in front of the sensor).
I’ll give some time to test Tinkur Park Assist. I think likely iterations may include:
Check out the docs and source code at https://github.com/TinkurLab/TinkurParkingAssist.
Check out the 3D model at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2836728.
It’s helpful to have a well-organized workspace. Knowing where to find a part or a tool saves time and frustration (not to mention saving money by not purchasing a tool only to realize you already had one). And having a clear area to work helps me to focus on the task at hand and improves the quality of the result. I’ve been working to create a better workshop space since we moved a few years ago. It’s coming along nicely with a workbench, pegboard, lots of storage, and an increasing number of tools and parts.
That said, I still need to find a home for a few things – small screws and fasteners, a few hand tools, and especially microcontrollers and associated small electronics parts. There was extra space pegboard and I decided I wanted to hang some frequently used hand tools – files, small screwdrivers, etc – for quick access. What a perfect project for TinkurLab’s new 3D printer!
I started by trying some existing 3D models from Thingiverse, however, these didn’t fit into my pegboard which is 3/16″ holes spaced every 1″. So I decided to do what any maker would – design my own 😉
A co-worker who also has a 3D printer recently told me about using Tinkercad for creating and editing 3D models. Tinkercad is an entirely web-based CAD editor which works on the premise of using simple shapes – boxes, spheres, etc – combined to make 3D models. A shape in Tinkercad can either be sold (additive) or a hole (subtractive). Combined with a few simple tools for aligning, joining, and measuring, Tinkercad seems like an easy to use tool for most basic 3D modeling needs.
Knowing I’d likely need to iterate on the design a few times (aka trial and error), I decided to start by 3D printing the pegboard hooks on a small connective box. This allowed me to test the riskiest assumption quickly – the design, size, and spacing of the pegboard hooks. By only printing the hooks, I was able to print the part much more quickly without wasting 3D filament or time. After testing, the hook size and spacing was correct but the hooks needed a bit more vertical material to ensure they’d stay attached to the pegboard.
After adjusting the model, I printed a full 3D model of my small tool holder which was intended to hold small screwdrivers and drill bits. The full 3D print was a success with clean and sharp edges. However, when trying to hang it on the pegboard, I realized the hooks were too low on the back of the part. So as to not waste more time and material, I used a saw to remove a bit of the extra material and adjusted the 3D model for future prints.
I hope to make a few more pegboard holders over time as the need presents itself. With the pegboard hook design validated, I can now quickly iterate on existing designs to meet additional needs.
You can find all my 3D models on Thingiverse, including the pegboard holders:
TinkurLab finally has it’s first 3D printer – a Anycubic Kossel Linear Plus. It’s a $300 kit build-it-yourself printer. Learning to use a 3D printer is a journey. It takes trial and error to learn about a printer and find the settings that work best for different types of 3D prints. We’ll be keeping notes and 3D models on GitHub at https://github.com/TinkurLab/TinkurLab-Anycubic-3D-Printer. Follow along!
Demo of my hackathon to create an interactive LED display that allows people to add and remove words to a public wall art installation.
Demo of my hackathon to create a Pull Request bumper for Hubot that shows open GitHub Pull Requests that were mentioned in a team’s chat flow.
Demo of my hackathon to create a Jenkins Build Watcher for Hubot that watches an active build in Jenkins and provide updates when the build completes.
I haven’t shared many new projects recently, but that’s because I’m been hacking at work – at CA Technologies (formerly Rally Software). Every 3 months, we take a week to hack on something that we feel is valuable to the company. The following are a few of my most recent hacks. Enjoy!
Demo of my hackathon to create an Out of Office for Hubot that lets people know when you’re out of the office or busy:
Last week, I attended the O’Reilly Solid Conference, focusing on solid – the intersection of hardware + software + physical things. While hardware and software have existed for decades and are mature in their own rights, it is often the intersection of disparate things that creates innovation though collisions of innovation. And so over 1,400 curious people gathered together to collide.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of conference. I am passionate about hardware + software and the new possibilities for interactions and solutions that it enables. And while wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, it surprised, delighted, and taught me, leaving me hopeful and inspired in the future of solid.
While I’ll share some focused takeaways and observations in the remainder of this post, perhaps the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the diversity of the attendees and speakers. From professors to mechanical engineers to startup founders to artists to hackers to industrial designers to the just interested, solid is well poised to collide ideas to enable new and unexpected outcomes. It will be interesting to see the collisions it creates in the future, as well as who composes the community in the coming years.
After attending a diverse set of sessions and chatting with many attendees, the following takeaways standout for me: