I have to catch up a little with last week’s events. I was very busy building a new turbine in Lorain and then I had to travel across the country to Seattle from where I am writing this article.
The Lorain County Community Fab Lab is one of the oldest Fab Labs in the United States, it was the second one to be open to the public after the original one at MIT.
It was very interesting to see all the solutions to everyday problems in a fab lab that can make life a lot easier when running a fab lab and add up to a great experience while working there.
As this was the last Fab Lab I was going to see before getting to San Diego I tried to get done as much work as possible on my turbine. I started with a almost complete redesign which included getting rid of the twisted blades (too hard to make for a one-off prototype), a new foot, approximately doubling the wind-swept area of the turbine, using a different profile for the wings (NACA 0018) and introducing a folding mechanism for an easier transport to the west coast because I was going to travel by plane from now on.
To let the cat out of the bag this is what it looks like now:
The new blades were cnc-machined from plywood on the fab lab’s shop bot which gave me a really hard time because it is an old and stubborn machine that does not like to machine 3-dimensional shapes at all.
In theory the nice thing about digital fabrication is that the machines do the work for you once you’re done designing the part with a computer. In this case I had to babysit the machine for about two days, stopping it about every half-hour to restart the program in order to prevent it from destroying the work it had done earlier.
A very handy tool in this process was the camera that monitors the Shop Bot and that can be pulled up on the big screen in the Lab so I didn’t have to sit in the very noisy machine room all the time.
The area around Cleveland has a lot of fab labs and I was able to do a small excursion to the Ehove Technical High School Fab Lab.
I took part in a digital design and laser cutting class and had the opportunity to talk to students and teachers about Fab Labs at a High Schools.
Upon leaving Lorain got a great surprise present of LCCC Items and a flash drive with all the documents one needs to start a Fab Lab!
I was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the people at LCCC, especially my hosts Kayleen and Angelo. Thank you very much! I hope I’ll see you again soon. The sweater is very useful over here at the West Coast!