Fun with Appliqué and Embroidery – multi-tool projects at Nova Labs

Ed note: This article was provided by Jeff Chanesman, a Nova Labs key member and steward in the woodshop, laser lab, and instructor for our CNC embroidery machine. Look for sessions on our Meetup page.

Applique pillowThe embroidery machine isn’t just for embroidery. Suzanne and I made these fun pillows using appliqué. Appliqué is the sewing of fabric onto larger piece of fabric to create pictures. The only thread used in this example is black. All the colors you see are pieces of fleece cut on the laser cutter and then sewn into place. It’s like painting with cloth!!!

This was very easy to do with the embroidery software we have at Nova Labs; Hatch from Wilcom. Shapes are imported or created and the converted to appliqué. This not only automatically creates the stitches to hold it in place but also creates stitch outlines for placing your pieces of fabric. You can then print out a template for cutting out your fabric “parts” or print them to PDF so you can convert them to DXF for laser cutting. I was able to cut out the eye, iris, and mouth for twenty of these pillow guys in less than 15 minutes including setup.

A bunch of pillows

You could easily make all sorts of projects using this technique. From potholders to stuffed animal friends.

I will give you an overview of instructions for doing this below, but remember you need to be signed off on the embroidery machine (and laser cutter if you plan on using it to cut your fabric) in order to sew these at Nova Labs. Hatch software is installed on all the machine in the CAD lab and you are more than welcome to use it but I would strongly encourage you to take the class. It is easy to use but can be daunting at first, especially if you are a first timer, as there are many specialized tools and settings.

Digitize AppliqueSuzanne created the initial design in Adobe Illustrator but you can use anything including Inkscape or CorelDraw (in fact if you happen to have CorelDraw X6 it integrates directly into Hatch). I had her size it to the exact dimensions she wanted and then saved it as a PNG. You then import the PNG into Hatch for digitizing. Using the Appliqué toolbox from Hatch’s left side menu. Digitize your shapes and then use the Object Properties toolbox from the right side menu to select fabric type as well as the kind of stitches to be used. This is also where you can select whether or not you will be using pre-cut fabric, or if you intend to trim in place.

Objects menuFor my project I chose pre-cut. Once you are done with each piece, save and export to the desired embroidery file type. You can then print out the templates to PDF. The machines in the CAD lab have the “Microsoft Print to PDF” as one of the printer selections. Choose this and save the file to a known location.
Import this into Inkscape or similar and save/convert it as a DXF in millimeters for importing into the laser software. If you are using Fleece, 400 speed 70 power works pretty well.

Hoop your fabric and stabilizer on the embroidery machine.

Load and run your embroidery file. The first stitch will be your placement. It will outline the location of where to place your pre-cut fabric pieces and then stop. Spray the piece with temporary fabric adhesive and place onto your fabric. Start the next part of the file which will tack and stitch your cover. Move on to each piece until complete.
Let me know if you have questions or if you would like a class specific to this sort of project.

Applique pillow eyeball

Parts of the eye after the outline (for placement) and tack-stitch were finished. The next step will be a satin stitch to cover the edge and provide a solid outline around the parts.

 

August 2017 Newsletter

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

LFP-featureimg“Team Ethiopia needed a hex driver so I borrowed one from Team Bahamas.” Maria, one of the teen volunteers from Nova Labs, was problem solving at the 2017 FIRST Global inaugural international robotics challenge for youth at DAR Constitution Hall. Maria was aware that there was a spare parts station with a line (staffed by yet another Nova Labs volunteer). Yet she recognized that this inter-team swap was a quicker solution, leveraging relationships she had just formed with these international teams. This is just one exchange illustrating the value that volunteering at FIRST Global brings to teens – teens who rose before dawn to arrive at the competition by 6:30 a.m., five days in a row – and were exhausted, yet eager, for more after the closing ceremony.

At the inaugural FIRST Global challenge, there were robotics teams representing nearly 160 countries, all under the same roof, for four intense days this July. Nova Labs provided hundreds of volunteer hours from dozens of teens and adults over the last several months, culminating in the competition. This newsletter highlights a sampling of the latest efforts. Over the years, Nova Labs, which places a high value on outreach, has fostered collaboration with mentors and robotics teams at area schools, positioning us to step up to this amazing service opportunity. The opportunity shines well-deserved national attention on Marshall High School teens who went above and beyond to make this a success.

FIRST Global President, Joe Sestek, recently shared with the volunteers, “Please know that without you, FIRST Global would not have been the measure it was…you made its reach go beyond our grasp, and I will always be beholden to you for that.” I echo the sentiments of this former Navy admiral and statesman, who expresses so elegantly for FIRST Global, the gratitude I feel for Nova Labs volunteers. Volunteering is what Nova Labs does best. I am humbled by the strength and quality of Nova Labs volunteers that come through for our fledgling organization, time and again, and allow us to realize more than I can imagine.

THANK YOU!

MB_sig


 


BOARD NEWS

This month, the board continued the effort to hire Nova Labs’ first paid position. As you’ll see in this month’s newsletter, we’ve posted the job description. We’re very excited about taking this first step into our next phase of the nonprofit world.

This month, Nova Labs made two capital acquisitions – a new flammables cabinet for the woodshop and a new industrial sewing machine for the Crafter’s Cove. Both should be setup in short order. In addition, the board also approved the purchase of a defibrillator (AED) for emergency situations.

As for internal board news, Jim Sweeney is working with Jim Girardi to transition the treasurer office in the coming months. Also, there is an additional open board position, stay tuned for more updates on that.

As always, please feel free to reach out to the board members on Slack, e-mail, or in person if you have any questions, concerns, or creative ideas (that’s a given!).

>>> provided by Jim Girardi


WHAT’S NEW

HAPPENINGS: Industrial Sewing Machine Arriving

IndustrialSewing_img2The Crafters Cove just got an incredible upgrade, we are expanding our capabilities in multiple areas…with one new device.

The Consew 206RB-5 industrial sewing machine is capable of sewing a wide range of materials from regular fabrics to almost a 1/2 inch of leather. Other materials include all weights of canvas, multiple layers of the heaviest denim, any cordura nylon fabric, neoprene, thick quilts, etc. Basically, whatever that can fit under the foot can be sewn with a few exceptions, of course. So you will be able to tackle and complete a wide variety of interesting projects.

Classes on the use of the new sewing machine will commence around mid-August.

IndustrialSewing_img1Since this machine is able to sew leather, beginning leather working classes using the sewing machine will start before the end of August.

Leather working is a broad area and one class, broken into two sessions, will in no way cover the gamut. It will, however, provide a space for those interested in exploring the wide world of leather work.

>>> provided by Kirk Slowe (including LEATHERWORK)

[ Kirk Slowe, Nova Labs Associate, previously a member Tinkermill, a larger makerspace in Colorado (they have over 450 paying members).]


 

HAPPENINGS: Dog Days of Summer with Nova Labs’ own Robotics Workshops

>>> Provided by Elena Bachman, Workshop Lead and FRC Team Captain 5549

Lead Mentor Elena is in her third year volunteering with Nova Labs Robotics. FRC Team 5549 received national news coverage for their work mentoring Team Iran for the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge this July.

NBC Now: http://www.nbcrightnow.com/story/35912485/story-of-afghan-girls-is-among-many-at-global-robotics-event

NBC Washington: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Va-Teens-Step-Up-to-435027393.html


 

HAPPENINGS: Marshall High FRC Team 5549 Mentors Team Iran at Nova Labs

TeamIran_img1Over the course of the FIRST Global happenings at the makerspace, it was brought to the attention of the volunteers that it was impossible to ship a kit of parts to Team Iran due to tight security and sanctions. Thankfully, local FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5549 from Marshall High school stepped up to lend a hand. Through a series of Skype calls, pictures of designs, and late nights, the team built a robot from the FIRST Global kit according to the designs and strategy of Team Iran.

TeamIran_img2After weeks of work in their school as well as the Robot Corral, they finally welcomed Team Iran at the airport on July 11th. The teams returned to the corral for a Persian feast generously donated by Amoo’s Restaurant of McLean and a happy introduction to the robot. Over the course of the competition, members of Team 5549, volunteering for FIRST global, continued to help out the team as well as the whole event. Team Iran departed on July 25th, having witnessed the experience of a lifetime.

>>> Provided by Elena Bachman, Captain, FRC Team 5549


HAPPENINGS: Volunteering behind the scenes with FIRST Global

Volunteering at GlobalFIRST Global brought to Nova Labs an official competition field in early summer for use in training and demonstration. Not only did officials train on the field in the Robot Corral, it was also used for Team Afghanistan who was denied a visa until days before the competition. Afghan Americans practiced running Team Afghanistan’s robot in the Robot Corral in preparation to stand in for the Afghan team.

A hardy team of volunteers battled the sun, heat, humidity, and birds to install the practice fields on the south veranda of DAR Constitution Hall. It was teamwork of the highest degree (figuratively and actually). There was even a volunteer who answered the Meetup call for volunteers and trekked downtown to assist.

There was a slight delay because the foundation platform on the veranda was not wide enough. We pressed forward to assemble all of the pieces we could, and positioned them for final assembly when the platform was widened. It took a solid team of build professionals to make it all work. Despite the heat, we accomplished much in a few hours. We stayed hydrated and got way cool FIRST Global water bottles.

During breaks, we cooled off inside Constitution Hall. Lots of activity to ready the venue. Country banners galore and serious activity to set up the main stage. Note: the AC works really well inside – it was comfy cool inside.

>>> Provided by David Link

Field Leaves Nova Labs  |   Set-Up Practice Field  |  Inside Field Setup  |  Competition


HAPPENINGS: Portable Magic – Nikki Rooney, Seed Grant Awardee

Have you ever been to an escape room? If so, you’ve probably see the myriad ticks, puzzles, codes, and technology that make them fun and engaging. Nikki Rooney, one of Nova Labs’ seed grant awardees, became involved in puzzle solving and puzzle making almost 10 years ago – this love of code breaking, clue finding, and problem solving inspired her to moonlight at an escape room (right in Herndon!) where she gained experience running the rooms, brainstorming puzzles, and even working on some of the electronics.

Through her work, she realized that the same puzzle theories, combined with available technology, could be utilized to help kids learn, explore, and improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills while, at the same time, having a “magical” experience. Since no such thing existed, she took it upon herself to use what she had learned to create interactive puzzles for her children. And what’s even better? Her kids don’t have to go to an escape room as she’s made them portable – and as anyone who’s traveled with kids knows, mobile entertainment is always a challenge. Like an actual escape room, all the puzzles are connected through content, but unlike an escape room, they are all physically modular. For example, one of her projects, a jigsaw puzzle, when completed, lights up and gives a clue to the next puzzle.

Nikki’s creations use multiple technologies that’s she’s learned about through her work experience as well as through Nova Labs classes. These include Arduino, Raspberry Pi, RFID, reed switches (reacts to the presence of a magnetic field), and more. We’re excited to see the final versions of her imaginative designs.


UPDATE: Board of Directors Service Opportunity

Nova Labs is currently seeking a volunteer to serve as secretary on the Board of Directors with skills in communications. Responsibilities include community building, strategic communications, and strategic planning. Before starting board service, the selected individual must agree to key membership, if not already.

The open term is through 2018, to complete the term of Kelli Kedis Ogborn, who recently resigned. Lieselot Whitbeck is serving as secretary in the interim.

Interested individuals will have an opportunity for a conversation with Nova Labs community leaders, facilitated by Callye Keen. To nominate a candidate, or volunteer yourself, please contact Callye or one of the directors:

Contact Info for Board of Directors  |  Callye Keen


UPDATE: Nova Labs is Hiring!

Nova Labs is hiring its first paid position – a makerspace coordinator! This is an important moment for any non-profit – the hiring of its first paid staff. We’re looking for a customer service superstar who can coordinate events at the makerspace, ensure they run smoothly, make everyone feel welcome, and assist the President with membership management tasks.

Initially, this will be a part-time position of roughly 20 hours per week (position may be shared). We’re excited about this important step as Nova Labs continues to grow and prosper.

Direct Referrals  |  Job Description

>>> Provided by Jim Girardi

July 2017 Newsletter

FIRST GlobalMESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

“Here is the original 3D printed prosthetic hand.” 3D Printer build group lead Paul Chase demonstrated the working prosthetic as we prepared for the FIRST Global Innovation Awards. Next Paul pulled out a newer model hand with missing components that didn’t work. “Why would I want to bring that?” I asked. Paul answered my question with a question “Is there value to iteration?” So I packed the hand to showcase the progressive nature of innovation the next day with young entrepreneurs (John Link pictured leading the demo). All of the participating teams presented innovative ideas that won a spot in the final rounds of the international pitch contest. I asked if anything had changed since the regional competition that led up to this event; Every team had improved on their design.

In addition to Nova Labs encouraging young entrepreneurs at the FIRST Global Innovation Awards, Nova Labs hosted Launch100 — our inaugural pitch event to foster entrepreneurship in the broader community served by Nova Labs. Launch100 is featured in this issue with the focus on the entrepreneurship called out in our mission.

The value placed on iteration is serving Nova Labs well as we continue with the initiative to roll out policy in an iterative fashion, learning and listening as we go. A Safety Policy and Code of Conduct have been approved. The shop is reorganized to better serve our growing needs — a huge effort that affirms the wonderful commitment of the volunteer membership to keeping our space beautiful and functional.

MORE BOARD NEWS

The Board is pleased to welcome Jim Girardi to the Board of Directors following a search to fill the vacancy from the previous treasurer’s resignation. Jim, an enthusiastic maker and member of Nova Labs, brings financial skills and a love of entrepreneurship. Jim Sweeney and Jim Girardi will work on transitioning the treasurer role over the coming months. Please join us in welcoming Jim Girardi to this leadership role.

THANK YOU!

MB_sig



 

WHAT’S NEW

Continue reading

Thermoforming at Nova Labs

About a week ago, maker Eric K. demonstrated plastic thermoforming for an enthusiastic class at Nova Labs. He used the thermoformer he built himself and maintains at Nova Labs. You may have seen the video of Adam Savage’s vacuum forming machine, which works similarly, but Nova Labs’ machine is even bigger, with a total forming area of 2 feet by 4 feet!

Here’s some video of the Nova Labs thermoformer in action during the class:

A thermoforming machine has essentially four parts:

  1. A hard surface with many holes on it
  2. A vacuum pump underneath, which (when activated) sucks air below
  3. A movable platform onto which you attach a sheet of plastic
  4. A heating element

To make a part, you first place an object on the hard surface, and then clip the plastic onto movable frame. The frame is lifted so that it’s close to the heating element, where the plastic is then heated until it’s soft and droopy. You then lower the plastic and frame toward the platform and object, and flip a switch to activate the vacuum. The plastic is then sucked onto your object, wrapping around it.

ThermoformingThere’s a lot more to it than that, and Eric did a great job of explaining the ins and outs of using a machine like this. For example, you want the plastic to sag to about the height of the object you’re wrapping. The object itself should be solid, not hollow, or it could collapse and damage the machine.

Eric was also kind enough to bring a number of small wooden objects, and each student thermoformed their own object. He even showed off several parts that he was thermoforming for large drone work.

Removing a thermoformed objectThermoformer controls

This class — and many others like it — was provided at Nova Labs. Check out the NOVA Makers meetup for many more!

New thermoformer at Nova Labs

Eric with the completed thermoformer Nova Labs member Eric K. recently finished building a large thermoformer that will be co-located in the shops. He gave us some details about the tool and its capabilities:

Proto-Form thermoformer build

Heating elementsThe thermoformer uses 2×4 foot sheets of plastic. The 208v heating oven is divided into 2 zones, allowing us to save electricity when heating smaller sheets of plastic. Each zone is also independently heat controlled, allowing the user to heat plastic more slowly if desired. The oven is equipped with two shut-off interlocks for safety.

 

Safety timerIt has not been fully tested, but it is expected to form plastic up to 1/4″ thick, with up to 12″ of draw depth. It will form ABS, Acrylic, Styrene, PVC, Polycarbonate, and other thermoplastics.

Vacuum guage and heat controlsIt was built based on the Proto-Form build plans available from Workshop Publishing (www.build-stuff.com). It was built entirely at Nova Labs, and will remain co-located there for the foreseeable future.

Circuit breakers

The machine uses a 208v circuit, so it needs some big breakers to keep things safe.

Near-term improvements include: building a plastic cutting jig to help with sizing material, making adapters to use smaller plastic sheet sizes, and running wiring that will allow us to move the thermoformer into the laser lab.

For the time being, only a few people are authorized to use the machine. We will be spending a couple of months testing the machine and its capabilities, and expect to offer the first training class in mid-June. I am usually at Nova Labs Monday and Thursday evenings, and will be happy to discuss projects and explain the machine.

Thermo formed part for plane

A large part for Nova Labs’ Rhinohawk team that was recently tested on the machine.

Nova Labs introduces new Crafters Cove

Introducing the latest development at NOVA Labs, an area located in Orange Bay (the front work room) we are now calling Crafters Cove.

Crafters Cove features an impressive 12-color CNC Embroidery Machine (courtesy of the Chanesman family) as well as the Creative Tools Cabinet and two sewing machines.

ultramatic

The Chanesman’s Embroidery machine is a 70’s era Ultramatic. It has two heads, with 6 needles on each machine head. That means it can support 6 colors on each head. We’re told that it is really great for making your own badges.

FYI – anyone looking to design for the Ultramatic needs to know that it uses tajima dst digitized files. Designing for the machine may take some time, so here is your chance to get a head start while waiting for access to the machine.

Look for more information about learning how to use that CNC Embroidery Machine coming soon. Jeff will be working on calibrating the machine.  Once he’s had a chance to give it a shakedown run he will announce that the machine is up and functional.  If you are interested in helping to maintain the machine or help set up a class please contact Jeff Chanesman.

creative tools cabinet

The Creative Tools Cabinet holds a variety of crafting and art tools. This tool cabinet is an example of re-purposed  / re-claimed furniture that was a project of the Makers Circle & Art Lab (MC & AL) group. The MC & AL group sponsors and maintains the cabinet located in Crafters Cove.

MC & AL Tools are available for all Member and Associate use. A list of available tools and a wishlist is in a binder and will be on the wiki soon. Manuals for the sewing machines are available. However if you are not used to using a sewing machine please ask for assistance from the friday night MC & AL sewing gurus.

NOVA Labs encourages ideas and fosters cross crafting of skill sets across a wide variety of disciplines.

 

crafters cove white board

Brainstorming and planning is an essential part of the process. A whiteboard surface has been added to the back to help with sketching out ideas or task lists. The cabinet can also act as a portable divider; providing form, function and fun.

Crafters Cove includes a Fodder & Supply Center. It houses expendable or single use (used and gone) items. Offering a usable variety of supplies for general / class use. Rules of use are posted.

So come check out Crafters Cove next time you swing by NOVA Labs!

Kickstarter update – 80%+ funded!

80% passed for the Nova Labs Kickstarter campaign

Greetings makers!

Just shy of two weeks into our 2015 Kickstarter campaign, we are happy to announce passing 80% toward our goal (86.4% to be exact)! Thanks to everyone who has backed the campaign and shared the link with friends.

Since the campaign is getting very close to passing the $20,000 goal, now’s the time to start teasing our stretch goals!

Stretch Goal #1

One of the big requests at Nova Labs is welding equipment; our new 10,500 square foot facility has a great workshop just waiting for this new capability. Raising an additional $7,000 will allow Nova Labs to acquire the following:

  • Welding table
  • TIG and MIG Welders
  • Safety equipment (gloves, helmets, and shields)
  • Ventilation and welding curtains

There are many Nova Labs members that are ready to teach welding classes, which should allow more people in the community to learn new skills for their projects.

Back us now on Kickstarter, and stay tuned for stretch goal #2!

The Nova Labs Kickstarter status screen.

NL member Srijay setup this Raspberry Pi to display our Kickstarter status – he even made it open source and posted the code on GitHub!

How-To: Interface a 50’s-Era Teletype Machine with a Modern Day Tablet

2014-03-18-21-00-09-768x1024

The teletype donated to Nova Labs by NYC Resistor at the 2013 New York Maker Faire was put to good use. Hacked by Bob Coggeshall (Sudo Bob), an in-depth how-to on hacking a teletype to be controlled with a modern day tablet is available on his blog.

MAKE Magazine featured the project today on their blog! Read the article here.

Nova Labs Laser Cutter “Mongo” Undergoes Repair

Our beloved laser cutter (affectionately called Mongo due to its immense size) has been a steady workhorse for completing member projects at Nova Labs. It is really a model Charley, named after an actual hurricane like all of Hurricane Lasers’ models.

One day recently, Mongo began tracing the outline that should have been cut instead of actually cutting. No smoke, no cutting. The red spotting LED was visible, but that really isn’t useful because it doesn’t cut anything.

We began troubleshooting with the great folks at Hurricane. There are evidently 3 different power supplies within Mongo, and the one dedicated to powering the 100 WATT tube wasn’t operational – no LEDs, no fan running. We removed the power supply and took it apart, finding a crispy thermistor.

Power supply with toasted thermistor.

Power supply with toasted thermistor.

Burnt components are always a bad thing. Hurricane promptly sent us a replacement, so we desoldered the leads and installed a new one.

Putting power supply back together after soldering in new thermistor.  Hand model is Leon.

Putting power supply back together after soldering in new thermistor. Hand model is Leon.

Mongo worked briefly, but stopped lasing after a few minutes. We suspected that more internal components in the power supply were damaged than were apparent from a visual inspection. Hurricane shipped us a new power supply, while we shipped this one back for repair. Once the new one was installed, we could see the appropriate LEDs lit in operation. Seeing the red LED and observing the fan running was the first step. Turning on the water chiller (it cools the laser tube while in operation) triggers a flow sensor and the yellow LED.

Laser power supply with top red LED lit (powered on) and bottom yellow LED (Chiller operation) lit.

Laser power supply with top red LED lit (powered on) and bottom yellow LED (Chiller operation) lit.

The ultimate test was a cutting job. It was continuous enough that we could capture the green LED, which lights up when the laser is actually cutting.

In addition to power and chiller status LEDs, this shows the bottom green (Laser) LED, which is lit when the laser fires.

In addition to power and chiller status LEDs, this shows the bottom green (Laser) LED, which is lit when the laser fires.

During the cutting, we saw listless airflow in the chamber. This led to a filter-cleaning exercise and later to mirror focus calibration and cleaning. Since cleaning the mirrors, we’ve been able to back down the power settings to almost HALF of what they were – the steady accumulation of slight amounts of deposited soot cut back the effective power.

Mongo was briefly not working the next day, so of course we wondered if we needed to start all over. It turns out the safety switch for detecting the state of the cabinet door is a hall-effect (magnetic) switch. It sometimes gets out of alignment, so was adjusted. We will be replacing this with a standard switch soon, so we can better tell when it contacts.

Back to work!

What’s better than having a laser cutter?

Having TWO of them!

Our powerful 100-watt laser cutter (affectionately referred to as Mongo) has been joined by a smaller laser today. It is a Universal 25-watt laser engraver, and we think we’ll be dedicating it for paper and cardboard so Mongo can be dedicated to larger wood and acrylic projects.

We will be hooking up its exhaust then commissioning and testing it over the next few weeks.

Nova Labs' new 25-watt laser cutter

Nova Labs’ new 25-watt laser cutter

We’ll be kicking off a contest for naming this new one soon.