Good news, everyone!
I decided to take the summer off, and what better of a way to spend it than here at my favorite Hackerspace. That being said, there's generally someone here everyday after noon until close (sundown or later). Come by and brush up on your welding skills, or take some time and do some machining lessons from myself or one of our members. Need something fabricated? You can do it yourself, you can seek the guidance of others around you, or you can bribe me to do it for you with a worthy donation. We can handle everything from large steel frames to wooden arcade cabinets, retrofitting Ford hubs, building quadrotors, or network address teledildonics. You'll have to ask Dano about the last one, that's beyond my expertise.
Here's some of the parts we've machined lately:
These are 6061-T6 aluminum fittings for a phase-change beer chiller that was entered into the DEFCON Beverage Chilling Contraption Contest last year. Hearken and myself collaborated on this project together and came up with a surprisingly effective project. Turns out that aluminum performs very well under cryogenic conditions, so much so that NASA uses aluminum for liquid oxygen storage tanks. The wall thickness was .125" (3mm), it only needed to handle 175 psi, so we figured what the heck. It worked VERY well, chilling a beer from 100 F to 40 F in 4 seconds, as long as it took for the beer to travel down the tube into the cup.
Erik Burrows dropped by the shop with an interesting project a few weeks ago. He had the bright idea to adapt a camera tripod to work with hiking poles, a brilliant weight-saving adaptation. Instead of bulky, extendable legs on a normal tripod, he only needs to carry one extra pole. With two in his hands, he is able to reduce the weight of his setup from 7 lbs to 3 lbs, and also transferring most of that weight from his pack to his hands. Erik, like Hearken, had a great idea that seemed within reason. Both very smart guys, they both also lacked experience working with the materials. When we put our heads together and worked on these projects, they came together elegantly, efficiently, and on the first time too.
Working with metal is definitely an art form, it takes time and patience and lots of practice. It's too bad that technical and trade skills aren't emphasized nearly enough in today's society. A generation or two ago, everybody had exposure to auto shop, welding, and metal shop while they were in high school. The focus of public education today has shifted from learning things you can make a living with, to being effective standardized test takers. Where DOES one go to learn a trade like this? Even better, where does one have a place to go to learn such a trade, free of restrictions of teachers, of bosses breathing down your neck? At 23b, there's only one catch: you have to deal with Goons in their natural habitat.