Old Projects From The Past Few Years

I’ve made a lot of projects over the years, and I really haven’t captured them in a good, meaningful way. I’ve been intending to write up these projects for years now, but I just don’t have time time to dedicate a whole post and write-up to each project. Instead, I will post pictures of each project and do a mini-writeup for each project.

Circuit Board Christmas Tree

Instead of a Christmas card, This year I wanted to create something fun to give to family and friends.

I created the outline of a tree in adobe illustrator, exported this shape into KiCad. The ornaments were 3D printed and hot-glued together.

The circuit uses an Atmel AT-Tiny chip, red, orange, and green, LEDs, and a lithium cell for power.

3D Printing Brains

My girlfriend Sarah is a Neuroscience PhD student, but we met in the UWM Makerspace lab! She was giving a presentation on Alzheimer’s Disease and wanted to have a 3D print of her brain to pass out to the audience, for reference.

We took the raw files from an MRI she had gotten for research, processed the DICOM files, and converted these into a STL format file for 3D printing!

Antenna Theory Class Project: Hybrid Bi-Quad Yagi

In antenna theory class, the concept of the yagi was fascinating to me. How could passive elements increase antenna gain?! We ended up learning about this in detail, but I still had one question unanswered: is a yagi or log-periodic limited to only linear elements? Could this be done with loop antennas or other shaped elements?

The answer is, yes! I 3D printed wire-guides to hold magnet wire in the shape of a bi-quad antenna, and used these as elements. The antenna has a gain of 10.38dBi. The performance was comparable, but not better, than a traditional 4 element Yagi.

3D Sculpting:

I had gotten a drawing tablet and “space mouse” for use with CAD. These are both incredible tools. To try them out, and to get some practice in, I started with an avant garde art piece. This is “Mr. Bone Man”

I used the program “Mesh Mixer” which is an amazing piece of FREE software. While this demo piece is very silly and strange, the ability to sculpt smooth models is very powerful. I can forsee myself using this for ergonomic prints, for example, handles, grips, or other organic shapes.

Sewing Machine and Masks

I got this sewing machine for my girlfriend, right at the start of the pandemic. It’s an antique, so it took some work restoring it! I mostly worked to oil everything, clean out corrosion, replace broken parts like plastic spacers and springs.

Bonus picture: one of our first masks we made together.

Senior Capstone Project: EM Scanner

This is one project I’m particularly proud of. My team designed an EM field scanner, used for identifying the source of EMF noise and interference, particularly for pre-regulatory testing.

The project uses an RTL-SDR, software defined radio, to pick up the intensity of RF signal, while a CNC gantry moves the antenna around. The intensity of RF signal is mapped over X and Y space.

In the arduino example, the highest amplitude interference is around the crystal oscillator. In the wire example, a signal generator was used to feed current through a wire of arbitrary shape.

Keypad Molding Project

Long ago, I wanted to make a custom keypad device. To keep costs down, I wanted to use a rubber membrane type keypad, opposed to using (expensive) mechanical key caps. I CNC milled the mold out of aluminum and used silicone casting material.

Overall the membrane turned out great, however, I could not find a good way to keep the contact surface conductive. This project fizzled out, but I did prove the concept of making a custom membrane keypad!

Perceptron: Neural Networks Class Project

For my final project in Neural Networks class, I made a real-time perceptron for identifying numbers. It takes the input from an arducam module, python code was running on a raspberry pi.

Dart Parts on CNC Lathe

My friends and I love playing darts. One of my darts got stepped on and the back flight holder snapped off. While I was waiting for my replacement darts to come, I tried using a CNC lathe to make a part.

It worked okay, but largely was unbalanced. It was a fun idea though!

Aluminum Fidget Spinner

During the fidget spinner I used a CNC Mill to create an aluminum spinner. It turned out great!

Laser Cut Puzzle

Getting my feet wet with the laser cutter:

Baltic Birch Plywood pieces on a black ABS base

3D Printed Whiskey Glass Holders

I love whiskey, but whiskey glasses can take a lot of space up if they can’t stack. I came up with a simple print to allow me to stack them!

DSLR Photography Monitor

One of my first projects at the Milwaukee Makerspace was a DSLR photography monitor. Basically, a larger screen to view the picture on, so I can adjust focus and other parameters while the camera is on a tripod.

This project was heavily inspired (or copied 🙂 ) from William Osman, http://www.williamosman.com/2016/01/laser-cut-dslr-monitor.html

Steak Brand

A friend of a friend had a film project, and they needed a good way to brand a steak with the words “Flambe”, the title of the film. I learned a ton from this project, it was one of my first metal working projects ever.

Lessons learned: steak branding should be done with steel, super glue shouldn’t hold items that are HOT, and the brand should have been reversed.

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