72 hour of amazing hell is over, now it's your turn!

Ok, so if you've been under a rock for the last week, you may have missed this, here's a recap...

Starting last Thursday, we began participation in a contest with 12 teams across the country, competing in the Red Bull Creation Contest.  At 5pm Thursday evening, they gave us this directive:

In the next 72 each shop must build a game.  It must be playable by the attendees of the World Maker Fair in New York City in September.  The Game design must have a winner, it must fit into a 7.5'x7.5'x8' crate and weigh no more than 2000lbs.

With that information in hand, and about 30 volunteers from around Southern California, we began to design.  In rapid fire brainstorming, we came up with so many good ideas it was hard to dial it down to one.  We did, and It was called BATTLE GOLF.

Two head to head players compete on opposite sides of a mini golf-like obstacle.  The goal of the game is to have captured the most number of holes at the end of the time period (2 mins), each side has 5 holes.  There's a catch though, the holes on each side are connected electronically and only one player can 'own' a hole at a time, if the opposite player makes a hole, it ejects the ball out of the first players hole.  That's the offense.

We decided to add a little more game.  Defense.  On the game board are 4 targets, these connect electronically to popup blockers on the opposing players board, when it's struck, it lifts a blocker in front of the hole preventing the opponent from either taking ownership of a hole or kicking you out of your hole!

This is Battle Golf!

Well, 72 hours later, we'd built it.  Our game wasn't perfect when the time was up.  We had to make some hard choices.  But in the end, we built the game we wanted, it looked great, it worked and we were excited.

We presented our game to an online crowd of hundreds over a live streaming link, we went last so they'd looked at the 11 other submissions before ours and we had some amazing competition.  There was a submarine simulator, there was a head-to-head labyrinth style game with trap doors and magnets throughout the game surface, a few games that spun around the players who were required to perform without vomiting and many other amazing inventions.  Our competition IS steep.

Notice I said IS, not was.  This game isn't over!!  There are two ways to be judged and win in this contest.  The first is team choice, all 12 teams submit their vote for the best entry, winner take all so to speak.  The second way is people's choice, on July 25th (two days from now), Red Bull will open up the voting on their (creative but sometimes annoying, I know, sorry) creation web page, http://creation.redbullusa.com/  They'll be showing short 60 second videos submitted by each team and you can vote (once?) for the team that you like.

Did I mention 23b WON people's choice last year?  We reached out to you guys, our friends and families and asked you to Like our entry on facebook, we asked you to ask YOUR friends and families, we asked you to ask them to ask THEIR friends and families…  You get the idea.  Well, you guys rose to the challenge and we took away the prize, a $6000 Lincoln welder that we use ALL the time here in our shop and was deployed pretty heavily during the contest.   We need you to do this again!  We need you to go to the Red Bull Creation Contest page, choose 23b AS HARD AS YOU CAN.  Then, tell all of your friends and families you'll never talk to them again if they don't choose us, then they have to threaten their friends and families with a life of loneliness and solidarity (never talk to them again!), and so on, and so on. 

We're going up against two teams that have a tremendous audience, hackaday and instructables, we REALLY need to step up this game.  We can't rely on simple harassment alone, we need you guys to help us get the word out!  Facebook, youtube, reddit, twitter, G+, slashdot etc.  POST POST POST, COMMENT COMMENT COMMENT!

Now we think you should vote for us, we think think we built a winning game and we THINK you guys like us and want us to win, but there's another reason.  We're the only team that opened our doors to community at large, we put out the call, come to 23b and help us build!  We had an overwhelming response!  I would guess between 60-80 people came and went during the course of the challenge, a hardcore group of about 20 NEVER STOPPED WORKING the entire time, we ate, slept, showered and lived at the shop for the entire 72 hours.  Most of this group would get about 3 hours of sleep a night, wake up, chug an energy drink and get back to work.  We were fed and taken care of by a team of people making food and generally keeping us alive. 

We worked side by side with people we'd never laid eyes on before, total strangers, pitching in and making this happen.  This place was rock star central, the talent was AMAZING.  We had people doing the carpentry work, wiring, circuit design, micro controller programming, game play design, MC's and art, welders, cutters, gluers, painters and solderers.  Everybody was amazing.

So, finally, a MASSIVE thanks to the Southern California Makers/Hackers/Robotics/Artists, you guys rose to the challenge, we couldn't have done this without you!  YOU ARE WE!  Help us, ALL OF US, take this contest to the GROUND, give it a noogie and make it cry a little.  Let's put team 23b on the top of the podium, watch the Red Bull Creation web page, vote for us.  Between NOW and the close of voting (haven't been told when that is), drum up support for us!

Go on now, DRUM!!!!!!!!

Go see pictures here:  http://23brbc.imgur.com/all/


23b is getting it on.. with red bull.. bow chicka bow wow..

FRIENDS (and even people who don't like us very much), the time is here!

The Red Bull Creation contest starts tomorrow, July 18th at 5pm and ends on Sunday, July 22nd

In case you haven't been paying attention, the story is that 23b is competing against 11 other teams from all over the country including teams from Instructables, Hackaday, i3 Detroit and Techshop SF!  The theme is, WHO KNOWS?  Red Bull won't tell us until the start of the competition what our creation should look like.  After that we can build ANYTHING.

We're going to be at our shop in Fullerton the entire time building our little hearts out.  PLEASE, come by!  Come cheer us on, bring us food and drinks, if you're a groupie, for the love of god, come by, we could really use the cheap attention!

We need two things from you guys…

First, resources. If you have access to a laser cutter, a maker bot, a CNC mill or any equipment of that sort, we REALLY want to know.  If you can bring it to our shop, WIN.  If not, we can work something out.  If you have access to solenoids, pneumatics, servos (the bigger the better) and that kind of equipment, you're our new best friend!  In all cases we'll do our damnedest to get everything back to you at the end or cover the cost of it.  Lastly, we may need things like lumber and carpet, paint etc, the kind of everyday stuff that DIY's use.  We have lots of this stuff but in some cases, we may need more and we're not sure what our expenses are going to run.  So, we'll also take donations of cash.  :)  Also, we're allowed sponsorships so we'll be happy to put your name or company name on the camera.

Next, we need a social media campaign.  Last year we won the people's choice award, it got us a VERY nice welder that we use the HELL out of and will certainly be of great value to us this weekend.  We won that because YOU GUYS liked us on Facebook, again and again and again.  We need you guys to help once more and this time we're going up against a couple of teams that run websites with millions of views, they have a clear advantage, we're the underdogs and we intend to FIGHT.  We need you to spread the word, like everything on Facebook, get your friends to talk about us, upload things to reddit, tweet and retweet!

We're the only southern california hackerspace, we're the only hackerspace that's almost entirely made of Defcon goons and we're the only hackerspace that too sexy for our shirts. 

So get ready, you're our army, we're going to depend on you as if you were part of the team in the shop.

"Here we go!"  -- Mario


bicycle cargo rack and milk crate panniers

Recently, at 23b, we've been hosting a DIY bicycle repair workshop called The Bike Cantina.  Orange County has the best weather in the country, and with summertime in full swing, lots of people are out riding bikes.  After visiting several retail bike stores within a few miles of here, I found very few options for cargo racks that looked durable, handsome, and inexpensive.  The least sophisticated racks at Wal-mart are $15, and you pretty much get what you pay for. 

That's a shame.  I'm sure it works fine, but why send another dime to China and Wal-Mart?  With so many useful tools at the shop and a plethora of spare parts, our manufacturing capability is only limited by our imaginations and skills.  At 23b, $30 of vastly overpriced (but still superior) domestic material, a trip to the stock bins, and an afternoon of mindful tinkering, can result in this one-of-a-kind, handbuilt, stainless steel, TIG welded cargo rack.

303 tubing pannier bicycle luggage bewbies
Nice rack!

 But what good is a rack alone?  Not a problem.  A spare milk crate graciously sacrificed itself to the Sawzall Gods

plastic bicycle luggage box
No match for an angry Sawzall

Here's Tati assembling the panels for her panniers.  In the scrap pile, we found some leftover fiberglass honeycomb sheets which have an amazing strength to weight ratio, high stiffness, and it's surprisingly easy to work with.  Band sawed,  a few holes drilled along the edges, then bound with zip ties, the crates stiched up nicely.

bicycle assembly requires great peace of mind

The crates are now solidly mounted to the rack with an army of zip ties.  Another useful iteration of this would allow us to quickly remove the crates, and then be able to quickly and firmly re-mount them to the rack.  



Recent machine shop projects

It's summertime and 23b Shop is in full-swing.  Fully-recovered and detoxed from Layer One, ID4con only a day away, and DEFCON on the horizon, there's lots of action happening around the shop. 

machine shop produced clamp on bridgeport
Key machine clamps
Our ILCO key-making machine has been in need of some serious attention for a while.  An old cast iron bearing was worn out and needed a sleeve, and a clamp was missing.  These clamps hold down the key to be traced and the blank to be copied.

The key machine is a model of an unknown vintage, but judging by the patina and wear on the parts, it's easily 50 years old.  The same model is still produced ( >$600!), so we figured it would be worth repairing our machine.  The bearing was re-sleeved with a brass bushing, on our Smithy mill a few months ago, and the spindle was removed, built up with bronze brazing rod, then turned back down to the proper diameter of the bushing.  After a few failed attempts at manufacturing the clamps on the anemic Smithy, the project was shelved until the Bridgeport received a proper shake-down. 

This project tested the accuracy of our Bridgeport and the lathe, both of which turned out to have a repeatability of .001", as accurate as our measurement equipment is.  These parts are so accurate that they're interchangeable with one another.  Not too shabby, considering we were using a machine from 1955 with no digital readouts (hint: BUY US SOME DIGITAL READOUTS so we can have better shop classes).

engine turning 130 BCD bike cranks
The reflections are dynamic with the viewing angle
We've tried doing some engine turning in the past few weeks, as well.  This is a decorative surface finish applied to metals.  Surprisingly, this is skillful technique which doesn't have too many resources available on how to actually produce the finish.  After some research and practice, here are a few of the attempts at the technique.  The bicycle crank to the left was buffed out with Scotch-Brite to a smooth finish, and then subjected to engine turning with a stick of rubberized abrasive (Cratex) in the mill.  The results are adequate, and the finish maintains its luster nicely even after months of exposure to the elements and a greasy bike chain.

Next is a timing chain cover from a Yamaha Virago.  This little piece was one of my inspirations for coming to 23b in the first place.  Several years ago, I was restoring this motorcycle, and realized that this part would look fantastic with a nice surface finish.  I took it to work, polished it on a buffing wheel, and then encased it in wax to protect the finish for future use. At the time, I was working in a machine shop that had very strict rules forbidding the use of shop equipment for personal projects, those draconian bastards.   Frustrated with my lack of access to equipment, this was put on a shelf and forgotten.
polished engine turned 1983 xv750 cam access port

Fast forward a few years, and after cleaning up some boxes in my garage, I came across this piece, still encased in wax.  "Oh boy, now that I have a mill to use, why not?"  Off to the mill we went with years of daydreaming about the process, finally able to be put down on a physical part.  The basics of the technique are simple, these marks are spaced .200" apart with a .100"  vertical offset for each horizontal row.  I've used a wire-wrapped stainless steel brush as well, but  prefer Cratex for its quick cutting action under light pressure.  I'm happy with the results, although lots of practice is definitely warranted.

Lately, we've taken on a few commissioned projects.
This was a project spotted by Arclight on the hackerspaces.org mailing list.  We were asked to modify a waffle iron to say "FAIL" for the DEFCON fail panel this year.  After speaking with the project's commissioner for a grand total of 5 minutes, we found a suitable vintage waffle iron the very next day and completed the project.  See for yourself here, or at DEFCON this month.
fail panel DC20
FAIL waffles!
Not only are they tasty, the machining turned out unexpectedly well also.  The irons might benefit from additional modification to the "F" and the "L" to make them appear more legibly, but the project is complete to the owner's satisfaction.