Wednesday, January 18, 2012

snow things

Boston weather momentarily stopped being unusual when it snowed a couple of days ago.  It's mid January, and that was only the second snow this year!  Super strange... anyway, there's more in the forecast, and I've taken to preparing.
When I saw that it was snowing a couple of days ago, I immediately went into sled mode.  2x4s were hastily cut and screwed together.  No measuring necessary!
I even cut out some steel flashing and screwed it to the runners to (hopefully) make it slide a bit better

In other news, I went to MITERS this evening for the Balancing Things Colloquium!  Charles talked about Segfault and LandBearShark, Jordan showed off her (somewhat) balancing skateboard, and Shane demoed his extremely low budget segway.  The drivetrain is nothing more than a couple of cordless drills zip-tied to a piece of wood.  The wheels even go in their chucks!  4PCB was also present as a controls example.  There was lots of talk about PID loops and tuning, which was awesome!

But wait, there's snow much more to talk about:
 While the talks were happening, I got to work on another project.  Not too long ago, I crufted a lonely looking skateboard deck.  When it snowed, I took it outside to play around with.  Being very slippery, it showed great potential.  The only problem was that it was hard to keep oriented in one direction, let alone steer.

  At MITERS, I found a couple sections of aluminum tubing.  I figured I could attach them lengthwise to the underside of the deck to make it travel straight.

 I had to bend the sections to fit the contours of the board.  The nice upturned tail begs to be manual'd

I flattened the ends of the tubes, then drilled holes to bolt them to the board.  This is only really to keep the ends in place while I slather the thing in epoxy
 The tubes flexed a bit in the middle, so I drilled some more tiny holes in the board to poke wires through.  I looped the wires around the tubes, then twisted them on the top of the board to snug the tubes down against the bottom.  I'll remove them later after the epoxy cures.
  And here it is epoxying over the MITERS trash bin!
The epoxy was unlike any epoxy I've worked with before.  I mixed a small batch, and it was very runny.  I waited a few minutes for it to cure, checking on it every minute while I listened to the balancing-things talk.  It was heating up normally, but still runny, then all of a sudden, the whole thing turned to gel -- Like very hard, chewy, sticky Jello from hell.

After being totally taken by surprise, I mixed up another batch and applied it to the board, still runny.  That's why the board is over a trash can.  I didn't want it to drip on any nice things.

And it looks like the epoxy will have just enough time to cure before the snow starts.. sweet!


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