Robot Build Sessions

With the Model-2 robot trainer ready, it was time to work with the public schools.  On two Fridays, February 6 and 13, students from Mr. Seldomridge’s class at Granite Falls Middle School came to FCW for a robot build session.

With assistance from Rich, Michelle, Bruce, and Gene, each student assembled a Model-2 robot, which they could then keep.  There were a total of 24 students in the two classes  of two hours, and all were successful builds.  Starting with the “fun” of snapping the servos into the side panels, the students added the tail skid and internal braces, then bolted the chassis together.  They then added the circuit board and assembled the wheel “sandwiches”.  With the addition of the battery pack, they were ready to go.  Many of the students took the robots to the common area for them to roam.  It looked like giant roaches running around as up to ten robots roamed around the room, avoiding obstacles and dancing in sync.  With terms like “awesome” students had a great time with the hands-on experience and left with smiles on their faces.

On Thurdsay, February 12, twelve students from Mr. Bingham’s class at South Caldwell High School also had a robot build session.   The older students needed less assistance, but still had a great time   Mr. Bingham joined his students in building a robot and obtained  additional units for use in class.  These students were given the assignment to develop additional programs for the robot during the remainder of the school session.

FCW is pleased to be able to help the schools with STEM projects and plans additional sessions and projects for the future.  Similar sessions are available to homeschool groups, scout troops, etc. as well.  If you have a group that would be interested in the robots or STEM in general, contact FCW for details.

Ham Radio Class/Exams

FD-2012-croppedFCW will offer a preparation class for the Technician (entry) level Amateur (Ham) Radio license.  The class will cover FCC rules, station setup and operation, best practices, basic electronics, antennas, and radio theory as required for the Tech exam.  The class will be three consecutive Sunday afternoons, March 1, 8, and 15 from 2-4PM.  The class is free and open to the public.

VE exams for Ham Radio licenses will be held at FCW on Saturday, March 21 at noon.  The class does NOT have to be taken in order to take the exams.  All levels will be tested.  The exams are open to the public and the processing fee is $10.

Robot trainer availble

FCW is pleased to announce the availability of an affordable robot trainer kit.  The Model-2 was designed and fabricated at FCW with the idea of creating an affordable platform for a simple robot and embedded processors.

Features include:

  • Arduino nano processor
  • Laser cut chassis
  • Ultrasonic “sonar” distance sensor
  • Servo driven wheels
  • Piezo-buzzer
  • Radio for coordinated activites
  • Includes manual and programming cable
  • Pre-programmed with example programs

The Model-2 was created with education in mind and the first run of 50 is being used by Granite Falls Middle School and South Caldwell High School for technical oriented classes.

It includes an example set of programs that allow testing of the platform, a “roaming” function that avoids obstacles, and a sample “dance” to demonstrate swam action using the radio.  It may be programmed using the Arduino tool http://arduino.cc/en/main/software with Windows, Linux, or Mac.

The retail price to the public is $39.95 with substantial discounts available for education.  The project is open hardware and open software.  Full plans will be available on the FCW website soon. Contact FCW for more details.

CAD Class on Feb. 28, 2015

FCW will hold an introduction to CAD using  Draftsight on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 from 11AM until 2PM.  Draftsight is a 2D CAD package produced by Dassault Systemes, the producer of Solid Works.  Draftsight is free to download and use and is available for Windows, Linux, and Macs.

The class will be taught by Ross and will cover the user interface, coordinate system, draw and edit commands, and best practices.  Emphasis will be placed on using CAD to create drawings for CNC applications.

Participants should bring their own computers and have Draftsight already installed.  Draftsight may be downloaded from

http://www.3ds.com/products-services/draftsight-cad-software/free-download/  Registration is required for the free download.  A mouse is highly desired.

The class is free and open to the public.

Blender 3D class Jan 4

FCW will be offering a class/workshop in Blender 3D on Sunday, January 4 at 12 noon.  Blender 3d is an free, open source 3d modeling package similar to Maya  and 3d Studio Max.  It can be used for 3d modeling for printing, illustrations, walk-throughs, video and animations.  It includes a physics engine, a gaming engine, and a video effects engine.  More info on Blender 3d can be found at http://www.blender.org/

The class will be instructed by Dave, and will be about 3 hours in length.  This is an introduction class and will cover getting started with Blender 3D:  installing, the user interface, navigation, creating and modifying objects, and using some of the tools included in the package.

Participants should bring their own laptop and should have a keypad and 3 button mouse.  Blender 3d is free and can be downloaded from http://www.blender.org/download/

This class is free and open to the public.

New Space Opened

FCW recently acquired some additional space adjacent to the “cave”.    The space consists of two rooms.  One is 20×24 ft and the other 20×20 ft giving a total of 880 sq ft of additional space.  Both rooms are on an outside wall, giving an additional 6 windows for external access.  As seems to be our lot in life, one of the rooms has no power at all and the other has a single circuit that is at least 50 years old.  Also, there is no control over the lights, so one of the first tasks will be to wire the area.

There have been several suggestions as to what to put in the new area including: an extension to the woodshop; the science lab, glass shop and ovens; a prop/costume shop,  a small office; and others.  It will be used for supply and project storage until the wiring and remodeling  occur.

With this space, FCW has averaged an expansion every 13 months, with the initial space Sept. 2011,  storage area Nov. 2012,  Lab Nov 2013, and new space Dec. 2014.  Now it just needs a name.

Open House, Dec 5, 6

Open house dec 2012-1It is time for the semi-annual Open House at FCW. This Christmas, the Open House is on Friday, Dec, 5 from 5-9 PM and Saturday, Dec 6, from 10AM to 6PM.

Though visitors are welcome at FCW any time, at the open houses we make special effort to show off the various areas to visitors.  This year, the railroad will be operating, sample projects will be on display, the electronics and K4FCW ham radio station will have activities, and there will be demos of the CNC routers, 3D printer, and laser cutter.

Highlights:

  • Food
  • Tours
  • Demonstrations
  • Games
  • Activites
  • Check out the additional space recently acquired
  • Active projects

Several items designed and built at FCW will be on sale and there will be special deals for new members.

This event is free and open to the public.  Call (828) 351-HACK for more information.

 Railroad-closeup-1-compIMG_2769-1024x768Openhouse dec 2012 CNC router demo 1

Fright Night is Coming

Fright Night 2012- electric Chair
Electric Chair at Fright Night

It is that time of year again — days are getting shorter, leaves are turning, and Halloween is around the corner.  FCW’s Horror Master, Ross is at it again and has designed a Fright Night event.

This event will be in the building next to FCW and includes a hayride, dark forest, mad scientist lab, electric chair, haunted room, and a live autopsy, along with other “attractions” design to induce bad dreams.

Fright Night is being done in conjunction with South Caldwell High School Drama Boosters, who are using it as a fund raiser.  The details are:

  • Dates: Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 24, 25, 31, and Nov. 1
  • Time: 7PM – 10PM
  • Where: Foothills Community Workshop, 10 Falls Ave, Granite Falls
  • Cost: $3

Check this website or call 828-351-HACK  (4225) for directions

A Hackerspace for the NC Foothills