Makers Local 256 is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit of like-minded individuals who have created a hackerspace located in Huntsville, AL.

One of our members, Robert, needed to replace a cracked door on a popcorn machine in order to get it back up and running.

We grabbed the calipers, fired up the large laser cutter, and got to work! We started off by measuring the size of the door and the locations of the holes for the hinges and handle. We then used those values to make a simple design in Adobe Illustrator:

After double-checking our measurements, we imported the design into LightBurn, a new piece of software for controlling laser cutters like ours, and set the power settings for the piece of acrylic sheet we would be using:

We loaded in the sheet of acrylic, and started the cut! After a minute or so, we had a brand new popcorn machine door! It looked as good as the original so you couldn’t even tell it was replaced. We needed to make a small tweak to the tolerances to get the door to sit correctly on the hinges, but after that, it was as good as new:

I love being able to use the tools at ML256 to save the day in scenarios like this, and I hope we continue to see many more similar success stories and learning opportunities!

As part of my continuing pugmill project, I decided to build a bigger smithing forge!

I started with a 50 gallon water heater tank that I shucked (Thanks Greg!)

the stuff in the back is insulation



I measured the tank based on the height of the rock-wool insulation, and then cut it down with a diamond saw blade.

tank cut to size



I then welded up a frame and legs from angle iron, it took 1 1/2 x 20′ bars. They run about $15 apiece from a local metal shop. I got lots of help with the brainstorming and design from Paul!

volunteer measuring the cylinder for the hinge



I used the plasma cutter to cut out circles for the door and rear part of the forge, and also a fire hole for the propane burner, then we welded up the hinges and inserted the rock-wool.



The rock-wool was secured to the door and tank with nichrome wire (another donation from Greg)

note the stitching around the door



I then welded a frame for supporting the propane burner on the side of the forge.

The side supporting frame



Then it was time to test it!

fire is fun



All in all this was a successful project.

(more pics here)

When my mother was 10 years old, my grandfather purchased a rotating tree stand.  They don’t make them like this anymore.  It’s sturdy cast aluminum with a brush contact for powering the lights, and strong enough to rotate a real tree.  It ran for 56 years, but last year when I turned on the lights, it wouldn’t make a full rotation without throwing the house circuit breaker.  Pictured below is my Karosel Model R-100-B manufactured by the Kresky Manufacturing Company.

I opened it up and performed an inspection:

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Our event last week, Make Ornament, was a huge success! For one thing, I only wasted one ornament learning to laser-engrave. But also, we had a great turnout! Thanks to everyone who visited and shared holiday cheer with us.

Here are some of the ornaments people made!