April 21, 2015

Margvelous Issue #4: So You Want to 3D Print?

1. You Want to Get Into 3D Printing?

So did many of the attendees at a 3D printing class I taught this weekend at Forest Park Library! What printer should you get to start out? What software should you use? Where do you find other printers, people, and designs to begin dabbling?

I've already listed some of these things in past issues, including talk on Rhino for Mac, Cura for interfacing with printers, and more. There are tons more great resources out there to answer those questions, though, and I've curated some of them in this short informational sheet.

2. How do I Start a Makerspace?

This is a question I get asked often, and many times in conjunction with questions like "how much space do I need," and "what kind of tools should I have" to get started? When I spoke at the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs Conference, I answered a few of those questions. Even now, when the daily or weekly email comes in with aspiring makerspace leaders looking for answers, I send them the same reply: It's not about the space, and it's not about the stuff.

The most important thing about a makerspace is the people; the community. If you’re going to invest any money in anything to start, invest it in a Meetup group (about $15 a month).

Meet in coffee houses, your home, garage, wherever. I’ve seen makerspaces started in 100sq/ft places and 2,000. Some with no tools, or many tools. None of that matters; all that matters are the people.

3. Funny Amazon Products

  • Hutzel Banana Slicer: "As shown in the picture, the slices is curved from left to right. All of my bananas are bent the other way.”
  • How to Avoid Hug Ships: "Capt. Trimmer's advice would have been immensely beneficial to humans, fish, seabirds, and other animals, but I am none of those things. I'm a big rock."
  • Uranium Ore: "I purchased this product 4.47 Billion Years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty."

4. Lots of Data

Data is pretty easy to come by these days, but a recent quandary that I've been facing is finding *free use* data that's interesting, large in size, and easy to use. Here are a few places I've been digging around that are a start:
  • Open Science Data Cloud - Hundreds of megabytes, hundreds of gigabytes, and hell, even hundreds of terabytes of data. All free-use, no matter what you're using it for.
  • Despite some recent questions about the reliability of open government data, there's still some good stuff in there! If you want to investigate some of the terabytes of data that the federal government is now releasing on a continuing basis, check it out here.
  • Contagio has some really good data on malware and botnet intrusions on networks. Real data!

5. Big Data Outbreak

Several months ago I collaborated with some folks on designing a conference badge set: the result was Big Data Outbreak. The project held a lot of promise, and so we decided to revisit it again for an upcoming game that I'll be announcing soon.

In the meantime, here's a video walkthrough and blog post that I recently published on the MapR site that goes into the original Big Data Outbreak design.

6. 3D Printed Stuff

  • Dog attempt 1 - Didn't print right in the end. The printer filament gummed itself up and the supports didn't work out right. So, onto #2...
  • Dog attempt 2 - Let's make this work! Cookie cutter with a dog shape. The daughter will love it. Didn't work.
  • No attempt 3 this week. I need to check the calibration settings on the Lulzbot Mini. I believe something may have gone wrong in transportation to and from the Forest Park Library this weekend.