Aeroponics Study Comes to Life

During my Youth Works employment at the Digital Harbor Foundation, I created an Arduino Hydroponics System.

I first began by researching hydroponics. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without using soil. There are many different forms of Hydroponics. They range in size and complexity. Here are a few different styles:

Image result for different indoor hydroponics

I choose to do the Aeroponic variation of Hydroponics. Within this sector, I picked the five-gallon bucket configuration. It requires the least amount of space, money, time, and upkeep. It looks like this:

Essentially the bucket is filled with water and the pump sprays the roots of the plants with nutrient enriched water. After conducting some research I found a website with steps on how to build this project. To access this website click this link: https://gardenpool.org/online-classes/how-to-make-a-simple-5-gallon-bucket-aeroponics-system

The next step was to create a project proposal and action plan. My action plan included the materials, their costs, and step by step construction of the buckets. Next, I began to assemble the buckets. I used the hole saw and a power drill to put holes in the top of the bucket. I could not find the guide for the hole saw, which complicated the process of drilling holes. The incorrect guide kept falling out. I thoroughly rinsed and sterilized the buckets to remove any debris. I cut the bottom out of the net pots with an Exact-o knife so that the roots could hang. I rinsed the hydrotons, which are clay pebbles used as a soil alternative, to remove all of the residues. The pump was placed in the bottom of the bucket and the cord was fed through the hole in the top. I filled the bucket up with water and added the nutrient solution into the water. Then I placed the net pots filled with hydrotons into the holes in the bucket. I plugged the pump into a timer so that it would turn on at certain intervals. When assembling the bucket, make sure to rinse all plastic shavings, dirt, and residue from the bucket to keep the water clean.

The buckets needed to be placed somewhere with space to hang the grow lights at varying heights. The area should have enough space so that the buckets are out of the way. At the tech center, I chose to locate the buckets in the kitchen. There wasn’t a place to hang the lights so I created one. My supervisor helped me use the circular saw to cut some wood. Then we placed wood blocks up and down two vertical planks with space to slide horizontal planks in between them.

To control the lights I created an Arduino switch. Shawn showed me how to use a simple blink program that turns the light on and off every twelve hours. I planted tomatoes, rosemary, peppers, curry, basil, and thyme. This is the final result:

 

After two weeks:

To take care of the plants you only have to check the pump and add nutrients every two weeks. Just make sure the roots do not grow into the pump and water is reaching them.  After I my session at Youth Works ended my plants died. The nutrients I was putting in the water were not concentrated enough to maintain mature plants. I had to completely scrap the buckets. In February of this year, we planted some strawberries in the bucket. we made some changes to the feeding schedule and the nutrients being placed in the buckets  The strawberries are doing well and we even ate some of them.

 

Youth Project: Raspberry Pi Touchscreen

Hello again, this is Bella Palumbi, back today with another recent project I’ve worked on at the Tech Center. If you’d like to check out my previous post, you can see it here: Raspberry Pi Time-Lapse Camera.

This project was to connect a Raspberry Pi to a touchscreen. The idea was to be able to run a 3D printer through a Raspberry Pi through a touchscreen. Right now, each 3D printer at the Tech Center is connected to a Pi, but they are still interacted with through a desktop computer. It would be convenient if every printer had a touchscreen connected to it, or if all the printers were controlled from a single, large touchscreen. There is a program called OctoPrint that the Tech Center uses to run its printers through Pis, and OctoPrint has a touchscreen mode that could be used in this project.

First, I had to assemble the screen. I was using a 7 inch display.

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Image from: Element 14

There wasn’t any soldering, but I had to unscrew a lot of small screws, as well as use wires to connect a few components.

Then, I installed the Pi in the case. It was a little difficult because the screen wasn’t attached yet and kept falling out of the case while I was trying to put in the Pi. For this project I was using a full size Pi instead of a Zero, so it was a little easier to work with.

Once the Pi and the screen were properly installed in the case, the next step was to install and boot up OctoPrint. That wasn’t too hard. Then, the device was connected to a 3D printer. It actually worked! Then I added some scripts to the Pi that would cause the OctoPrint interface to start up on launch.

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That’s it. It was pretty fun, especially the first time the Pi connected to the touchscreen, because it was so much easier to interact with a touch interface than a computer one. I think that it would be really neat to arrange a system where all the printers are controlled by one touchscreen, so maybe I’ll work on a project like that in the future!

Youth Project: Raspberry Pi Time-Lapse Camera

Hi! I’m Bella Palumbi. I’ve been a member of the Tech Center for almost four years now, ever since I was eleven. In that time, I’ve worked on lots of different projects, including iPhone apps, websites, virtual reality experiences, and much more.

Recently, I made a Raspberry Pi Time Lapse Camera. A Raspberry Pi is little computer that you can program to do almost anything you want. They’re great for small projects because they are cheap, light, and versatile. For my project, the idea was to make a camera that takes a picture every few seconds. You can play all the pictures in a row to see a time-lapse of the user’s day.

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The first step in the project was to burn the correct .img file onto the SD Card, which would be inserted into the Pi. An .img is an operating system. I used a program called ApplePi Baker because I was using a Mac computer.

The next step was to prepare all the wiring. I needed to solder together many different components including a button, a switch, a battery, and, of course, the Pi itself. All the wires and components had to be connected in the right way. The Raspberry Pi is very small, and I was actually using the Pi Zero, which is even smaller. So it was hard to be extremely accurate with the soldering iron. I probably spent most of my time soldering and re-soldering the wires!

It’s cumbersome to carry around a jumble of electronics and wires, so the tutorial came with a 3D design file to print a case for the time-lapse camera. The easy part was printing the case. The hard part was fitting all the pieces inside. I spent about an hour rearranging little tiny components in a little tiny plastic box. A couple times, the solder holding the wires together broke and I had to re-solder them. When I finally got the box closed, I was praying that it would work.

It did! When I turned the device on, after it booted up, it started taking pictures every 15 seconds. That didn’t seem often enough, so I took out the SD card, plugged it into my laptop, and brought up the code. By changing just one number, I was able to set the time interval to 10 seconds. Then, I booted up the Pi again. Still too slow. So I set it to 5 seconds. That seemed about right. Just for fun, I also tried a 1 second interval. The LED that blinked whenever a picture was taken was solidly lit now. The Pi couldn’t process fast enough, and was barely able to shut down. Finally, I set the interval back to 5, the number that worked the best.

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All in all, it was a fun project. I’m sure there will be some really amazing time-lapse videos of projects that we work on at the Tech Center.

Family Make Night: Screenprinting

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For July’s Family Make Night, families had the opportunity to decorate their own t-shirts by learning how to screenprint! This is the first time we’ve done this for a Family Make Night, and the first time that I have led a Family Make Night event.

Each family was able to design their own t-shirt with pre-cut vinyl stencils that we had prepared ahead of time. They applied the stencils onto screenprinting frames and then squeegeed ink which transferred their design onto the shirt.  

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In preparation, we cut over 250 vinyl stickers and made 10 frames which took weeks of work, but it all paid off in the end when we were able to see the excitement of the families while they were making!

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If you missed out on this Family Make Night, instructions and a tutorial that you can follow along to can be found hereYou can also see more photos from the event by visiting our Flickr page.

About Family Make Night:

Family Make Night is our monthly family-focused workshop. These workshops are designed for families up to 6 people (including at least one adult) to work together on a project. There are sample projects to work from and all materials needed to complete the project are provided. Each month is a different theme and project. Learn More about Family Make Night

How To: Multi-Colored 3D Printing

People are always interested in how they can create 3D printed objects with multiple colors. Sure, you can buy a printer with multiple extruders, but those are costly and not always reliable. Using three methods, I’m going to show you how to make some cool colorful prints!

There are three different methods: Filament Switch, Sharpie-Coloring and Spray-Painting Filament.

Filament Switch

The Filament Switch process is something I figured out a few years back. Someone asked if I could I print in multiple colors without a dual-extruder. I answered “Maybe”, because I wasn’t quite sure, and eventually I figured out an easy way! Using this method, you are able to get a look similar to this:

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So all you need is at least two different colored spools of filament, and a printer of course!

I have some Hatchbox purple and orange filament

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  1. Load your first color and start your print. Once you find a point where you want to change colors, pause the print.
  2. Go to the Controls and raise the Z-axis up 10mm.
  3. Then retract the current filament from the extruder and replace it with the next color.
  4. Extrude just a little bit until you see some filament seep out.
    • Do all this without moving the printer or else you’ll ruin your print!
  5. Now lower the z-axis by 10mm.
  6. Continue the print and repeat those steps as many times as you want.

This is how my print turned out using the Filament Switch method to achieving multi-colored prints.

froggy_opt(For Reference, I’m using this file on Thingiverse, a Garden Frog.)

Sharpie-Coloring

Using this method will give you some cool vibrant multi-colored layers. All you need is few sharpies and white or clear filament.

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To get started, print one of the marker holders in the picture (above).

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So you just stick the sharpies on the side and insert the filament through the middle hole as shown in the picture (above). This technique puts you in complete control of how your print would look, which is awesome!

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Here’s how my print turned out, I switched out sharpies every 15-20 minutes and it turned out pretty sweet.

Here are some pictures from a cool guy who took Sharpie-Coloring to another level, Tom Burtonwood.

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(Instagram:Tom Burtonwood)

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(Instagram:Tom Burtonwood)

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(Instagram:Tom Burtonwood)

He created a cool little gadget using a Arduino and a servo which turns the sharpie in increments. You can check it out on Thingiverse.

Spray-Painting

Lastly is the Spray-Painting Technique, this is something I came across a few months ago. I’m pretty new to this technique so I wouldn’t highly recommend this one yet. So far, I’ve gotten pretty good results.

I did only one coat front and back. You don’t want to rush the drying process, spray paint doesn’t take that long to dry but, I sat it to out to dry for a few days to eliminate any fumes.

Spray Paint also has a flammable property, aerosol, that you shouldn’t have to worry much about, it evaporates pretty quickly. Just use it in a well-ventilated area (outside is best) and give it to time dry!

Here’s the final results:

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File from Thingiverse: Giant Crystal

3D Printing Landscapes

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If you’re an geography enthusiast or looking for a cool project this might be the project for you!

Github user, JThatch, created a web application that generates landscapes into 3d models. The application is called Terrain2STL; it’s pretty easy to use!

If you’d like to try this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open up Terrain2STL in a new tab; the creator uses Google Maps to search around for landscapes.
  2. Click and drag around the map to find a selected area or you can input coordinates.
    1. *Tip*  Rocky terrains works best.
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  3. Once, you find an area you like, click the ‘Center to View’ button to make the red box appear.
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  4. Then, you want to increase the box size by dragging the slider towards the right and then drag the to red box to where you want it.
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  5. Once you’ve done that, you can almost ready to print. I’d increase the Base Height to 2 or 4.
  6. After that click ‘Create STL File’ and then click download.

 

There’s also a Moon2STL if you’d like to print pieces of the Moon!

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iPhone Case Printing Tips

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Having trouble 3D printing an iPhone case? Well here are a few tips to help you out!

iPhone cases are fairly easy to print on your Printrbot Simple’s Matter Control settings that you may have used in the 3D Printing for Educators workshop.

If you haven’t downloaded MatterControl, download it here.

Then, download the settings here.

Now go to MatterControl > Settings & Controls > General > Options > Import

Find ‘No Support Settings (v1.2)’ in the Downloads Folder or wherever you have your download files stored on your computer.

Under the Settings tab, you want to make sure Support Material is turned Off and Fill Density is set to 20% or 0.2.

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Next, go into the Advanced settings. Then change your print Speed to 40mm.

If you are printing an iPhone 6 Plus case, you will want to lower this speed to 20mm.

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So now that you have your print settings, let’s get to printing your iPhone case!

From past experience, I recommend these templates for printing iPhone cases:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1146452/#files

Unfortunately, the iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus won’t fit on the Simple but if you have a Printrbot Plus or printer with a large bed you’re in business!

One more thing, you want to make sure your case prints horizontally on the platform.

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To do that, you want hover over your file and then click View and then Edit.

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The view window should pop up. Next, click the Rotate tab on the right.

You want to rotate the Z axis by 90 degrees. Enter 90 into the box and then press the Z button.

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Now save it.

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And now you’re already to print!

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Simplify3D Review

 

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Overview

Simplify3D is a very powerful 3d printing software that’s easy to use!  No need to hassle through multiple softwares to print objects, Simplify3D has a built-in slicer and file repair. It supports dual-extrusion and provides a new way of adding supports. Once you get a handle on it, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Functionality

Navigation – Simplify3D has done a good job with the navigation throughout the whole software. All of its primary features are easily accessible from it’s main interface and it also has a list of keyboard shortcuts you can use.

Control Panel – This may seem overwhelming if you’re used to MatterControl but, is pretty much an upgrade to those who have used Cura with the Pronterface plugin but, don’t be afraid. I say this because MatterControl makes it easier to locate the control panel and looks easier to use.

 

MatterControl_1_4 Cura_opt (1) S3D_opt

 

Some Cool Features

Supports – Simplify3D provides the ability to add and remove supports where you want it. They’re not the first to do it, but they made it by far one of the easiest methods out there on the market. It’s a brilliant idea with good implementation that I take advantage of and use quite a bit

Printing Profiles – Printing Profiles are preset settings you create for a printer. Simplify3D allows you to create hundreds of printing profiles that have different settings for your printer or another printer. It saves time and eliminates the hassle of changing the printing settings for different files or filaments.

  • For Example: If I was printing with NinjaFlex, I’d create a new profile and set the settings so that the printer prints at the correct temperature and speed settings specifically for NinjaFlex.

S3D_printingprofile

 

Slicing – According to Simplify3D, it’s slicer is lightning fast and is the fastest on the market. This may be a bit of an overstatement, but it’s pretty fast!

I wanted to actually see how fast it actually was so I compared it to MatterControl equipped with Slic3r. I started by slicing a calibration cube on both software tools. Both Simplify3D and MatterControl sliced it instantly.S3D

I went up to a bigger print, this Cute Little Elephant. Simplify3D showed that it’s top dog, clocking in at .88 seconds and MatterControl coming in at roughly 6 seconds.

 

Multi-Part Printing – Simplify3D allows you to print separate files at once. Some software doesn’t allow for this. This is beneficial if you’re printing pieces that interlock because it can improve printing time and print quality.

You can choose to have it print layer by layer or in sequential order. You can also adjust the support, infill, and temperature for each part if needed.

 

Overall

I’d give Simplify3D an overall score of 8/10. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an software that’s easy, fast, and reliable. Despite the cost of $150, it supplies a lot of features allowing you to get the most out of printer.

 

3D Print Dispensing Gumball Machine

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A popular attraction for the youth at DHF is our 3D Print Gumball Machine. They go crazy over it everyday asking for tokens. Even some parents enjoy it, too!

Instead of dispensing gumballs, it dispenses 3D printed objects created by our staff, youth, and folks from Thingiverse. You can join in on the fun by creating your own!

We got all of our components for this project from the Gumball Machine Factory. Those components include:

  • Toy Capsule Vending Machine 20″
  • 500 tokens
  • 2” Toy capsules

You can choose the coin mechanism for the machine. In my opinion, the token coin mechanism seems like the best option. At DHF, we usually give out tokens for free, but if we wanted to sell them we could. However, If you go with the quarter mechanism, you won’t have that option.

Once you have ordered your parts, you can start 3D Printing!

This can be a fun project to get your youth involved in!. They can contribute by designing prints in Tinkercad or 123D Design, as long as their prints are no larger than 40mm x 40mm. If you choose to put items from Thingiverse in the Gumball Machine, always give attribution (see below for details on how to do this)!

Don’t shy away from files because they are too small or too big, you can always scale the prints to fit your capsules. I’m going to show a few ways to do that below.

I want to print this file, Santa’s Reindeer, for the Gumball Machine.

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I’m now going to download the file and scale it (to what size) in order to fit the capsule.

There are multiple ways to scale your design, but I’m going to show you two ways that might be familiar with you using Tinkercad and MatterControl.

Scaling in Tinkercad

In Tinkercad, create a new design and import your downloaded file.

You want to click “Helpers” in the sidebar menu and drag the “Ruler” onto the workplane.

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In this case, the file is too small to be printed.

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Now you’re going to change both the X and Y axis to 40mm.

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Using this method doesn’t always scale correctly. Here is another way to do it in Tinkercad.

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To scale hold the shift key, click any of the four corner points and drag inwards. Scale down until the largest side is 40mm or below.

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Now download the .stl file and you’re ready to print.

Scaling in MatterControl

In MatterControl, import your file by clicking the “Add” icon and select the file.

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Hover your mouse over the file and then click “View”.

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Next, click “Edit” and then “Scale”.

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You want to make sure that the Lock Ratio is unlocked. And then change both the X and Y axis to 40mm.

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Click “Save” and you’re ready to print.

About Attribution

If you’re going to sell your capsules, be sure you are the designs you are using from Thingiverse have a Creative Commons License that allows you to sell prints. If you’re not going to sell prints you can include those that are tagged Non-Commercial.

To find the license information, go back to the file on Thingiverse and scroll down the page and look for the Creative Commons.

Commercial
Commercial
Non-Commercial
Non-Commercial

Now you want to give attribution to the owner of the design. Under “Give a Shout Out” click “Print Thing Tag”.

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Then, print the Attribution Tag.

Place the tag and the print inside a capsule, close it up and now you have your first gumball print!

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