Archive for the ‘visitors’ Category

Working The Big Steel

Unrelated to any project here at CATEA but still quite interesting:

Tripp Edwards from the COA’s Design Lab stopped by yesterday to do some work on the metal lathe. He has a roller style single-run printing press. The roller is about 34 inches long and 6 inches in diameter of solid steel. It weights a lot!

Anyways, some of the undergrads in the architecture program heard “press” and thought they could use the machine to press one shape onto another. Ha! Big mistake. Kids were apparently using this thing to press all sorts of metal objects into softer objects to create a relief. Well this is not at all what this machine is for. Its meant to press a printing template onto paper. So as you can imagine these rollers sustained a ridiculous amount of abuse. The surface was covered with all sorts of markings resulting from running anything and everything through the machine: keys, threaded rod, bulldog clips, BB shot.

So we had to turn down the roller enough to take out all the indentions. It was some serious work for two grown men to lift the roller up and mount it in the lathe. We ended up removing the tail stock and sliding the cylinder on from the end. The lathe, being the beast that it was, took the load no problem. In about 3 hours, Tripp had turned down the cylinder and had it looking better than brand new.

Moral of the story: don’t use the wrong tool for the wrong job!


Darrell Huff, “No Buttons Headset” Inventor, Visits CATEA Today

Today, we had a special Innovation Meeting. You know its special because it happened on a Tuesday instead of the usual Thursday. Today Darrell Huff came by to talk to us about his two AT inventions. The first is a modification of a Blue Ant bluetooth headset which removed the existing on/off/sleep push-button with a magnetic proximity switch. The details of the device are available at his site but from looking at and holding the headset, I can really see his craftsmanship. There was zero evidence that he had opened up the original device, which is about the size of a quarter, removed the mechanical push button, replaced it with a magnetic proximity switch, and repackaged everything. Its true when they say “Fit and Finish Sells”.

Darrell’s other invention was a Wiimote hack to allow for hands free navigate of a computer. The user holds in their mouth a modified bite switch with two infra red LEDs attached. One LED is always on and the second turns on when the switch is depressed. The wiimote is stationary and pointed at the user and communicates with a PC via bluetooth. Special software then translated the position of the always-on LED to move a cursor and the relative position of the on/off LED to mimic mouse clicks. A single bite is treated as a left click. A hold bite is similar to a click and drag. The coolest part is that when the user tilts their head and then clicks, the software recognized that as a right click because it senses the presence and position of the on/off LED.

Darrell Huff definitely had his inventions together and most of the meeting was about how to best get his product on the market. Its good to see he’s made it this far and not fallen into the traps that affect many individual inventors.

80/20 Demo

Some cool guys from Carolina Fluid Components came by the shop last Friday and gave everyone a hands on demo of their 80/20 inventory. The demo was basically a big contraption that these gentlemen had built which incorporated almost every piece which they keep in stock. They also demoed some Euchner locks and safety switches. All-in-all, it was fun and informative. We will definitely be buying some things from them. Everyone loved playing with their big adult Lego set. Two of the coolest features they offer are 1.) custom anodization of anything 80/20 2.) a CAD program that will allow you to make anything out of 80/20 and then auto generate a BOM which you upload to their site and they direct ship all the parts you need!