Max Mahoney (Chemistry) and I have been working on version 2 of some UV LED boxes for use in a cyanotype photography activity.  We’ve been talking about these for a long time, so it’s nice to finally get to building.

Max Makes

Each box will have three 10 watt 380 nanometer UV LEDs arranged on a piece of aluminum bar stock. We were able to build up the prototype in about a day, working out some of the details about the access hatch, and the arrangement of the lights and so forth.


We also used the new laser to engrave one of the side panels.


Today Nicole (student) helped out mass producing three additional boxes (for a total of four).

Nicole Building Boxes

As it turns out, these LEDs get HOT, so we brainstormed some fan arrangements, and settled upon a design.  We quickly developed a diagram using Illustrator, running a paper prototype on the laser to ensure that our measurements were correct before engraving and cutting the final piece out of 1/4 hobby plywood.

Cyanotype Exposure Box End

Looking forward to getting these buttoned up and in use at the end of the week!

Assembled a team of faculty and students to continue work on the Rostock Max v3 (part 1, part 2). As before, the project is nicely modular, so while Max (Chemistry) and CJ (student) worked on the electronics…

Max and CJ Back At It

…Diane (Sociology), Alex Hartigan (student), and Thomas Schmitt (student) focused on the main assembly.


As it turns out, instead of three each of the inner and outer bits that hold the bearings for the carriage, the kit included four and two.  We talked about some options, and the crew decided to mod one of the errant parts to make it work, which involved sawing off a bit of it…

Thomas Monifying a Rostock Max v3 Part

…and drilling a couple of holes…

Thomas and Alex Modifying a 3D Printer Part

…while I contacted the vendor about sending a replacement. We think our modified part will work, but I’m working on getting the right part sent, just in case.

Meanwhile, Taylor (student) dropped by to test the water chemistry of the in-progress aquaponics installation.

Diane and Taylor Talk About Ammonia

We’ve probably got at least another day of work before the printer is finished, and as folks began drifting away, Levi (receiving) delivered 12 new lab stools.  CJ, Alex and Thomas hung around and helped assemble them.

The Crew Gets to Work Assembling the Lab Stools

Still waiting on the workbenches, which should be here in the next couple of weeks.  Lots of energy, and lots of making!

Hosted the second Rostock Max build day today. The crew – mostly the same folks from the first build day – put in a good day of work, and we got much of the hot end done, finished up the base, and made good progress on the top assembly.  We decided to adapt the topping out tradition, aka “signing the beam,” though we aren’t actually finished with the build.


More photos from today’s build…

Max Working on the Hot End

Nathaniel and Rebekah Building

Nathaniel Heat Shrinking

Alex Soldering

Spent the better part of today building – or starting, anyway – the Rostock Max v3.  There’s tremendous cultural and social value in having folks take ownership of their tools.  We ordered this 3d printer in DIY kit form specifically so that we could build it together, following our successful building/bonding experience putting together the X-Carve (part 1, part 2, part 3).  Champion maker educators Diane Carlson (Sociology), Jennifer Kraemer (Early Childhood Education), and Max Mahoney (Chemistry) were were joined by students Nathaniel Adams, CJ Costa, and Alex Hartigan.

It sometimes takes a while to get rolling on a complicated build.  I’ve learned that one of the best ways to kick things off is to get all the participants doing something communal and simple, so we started by collectively picking out all the little bits left over from the laser cutting process.  A low risk/high reward opportunity for the group to gel, visit, socialize, and quickly develop a common purpose.

Rostock Max v3 Build Day

This kind of social busywork seems to scratch some shared primate itch, and reminded me of my favorite moment from last summer’s Making Across the Curriculum workshop, during which folks gathered around to chat and pick the protective paper off of Diane’s Wheel of Voting Rights project.

Collective Grooming - Picking the Sticker Residue off a Laser Cut Piece of Acrylic

That finished, we loosely divided up the work and got to building.  With this particular build, there are a lot of steps that can be completed independently and in no particular order – in other words, not a lot of serial dependencies – so folks were able to dive in and work in pairs and trios without (usually) having to wait for others to finish.  Despite a few missing parts (which turned out not to be missing after all), we made a good start, and will continue building later in the week.

Build day album on Flickr…