We are happy to collaborate with the Engineering Technology Center, NEXUS and the Department of Music to present some exciting workshops! Workshops are free (but there may be an optional materials fee) and are on Wednesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Register online at lib.uiowa.edu/eng.
August 29th: Standards & Patents: Presented by Kari Kozak, Lichtenberger Engineering Library.
Do you have a product you want to create? Learn how to search for patents and standards from around the world. Learn about the various resources that can be accessed both on and off campus.
September 5th:Collect & Analyze Data Using LabQuest Devices – John Kostman, Engineering Electronics Shop (EES) & Kari Kozak, Lichtenberger Engineering Library
The Tool Library includes LabQuest Devices and a wide range of sensors. These devices and attachments allow for the collection and analyzation of data for a nearly endless number of possibilities. This course will provide overview of what the library has and instruction on how to use it!
Have you ever struggled with literature reviews? Try some strategies from systematic reviews that may give you some insight into your research topic through a more rigorous and structure approach. Systematic reviews are defined as “a research method that aims to locate and summarize all available evidence for a research question in order to guide decisions and practices” in medical and health sciences. Although systematic reviews originate from medical and health sciences, they are increasingly adopted by education, social sciences and, even, engineering. This workshop will introduce different review types (systematic reviews, scoping/mapping reviews and literature reviews), systematic review process, research question frameworks and search strategy, as well as point you to some available resources and services.
Through the following 5 course series, learn all the steps to make your own mini piano using a circuit board and Arduino. This light weight keyboard allows you to play an octave worth of notes using capacitive touch, no strings or hammers required!
September 19th: Printing Circuit Boards 1 – John Kostman, EES
Learn to create the keyboard circuit board with Multisim and Ultiboard. Part 1 is creating a circuit board from beginning to end. Part 2 goes into detail about special problems and challenges for circuit boards.
September 26th: Printing Circuit Boards 2 – John Kostman, EES
Learn to create the keyboard circuit board with Multisim and Ultiboard. Part 1 is creating a circuit board from beginning to end. Part 2 goes into detail about special problems and challenges for circuit boards.
Have you ever gotten caught up in the romanticized idea of the Wild West and pioneer days? But, now that you are so used to modern conveniences have you decided life back then wouldn’t have been romantic at all? It would have been really, really, hard… Never fear – we have a resource to teach you how to experience parts of pioneer life – while in the comfort of your own home (and using some modern tools and safety equipment)!
Make: Like the Pioneers will walk you through a (somewhat) typical day in the life of a pioneer. A pioneer (and you!) start the day building a fire – no matches or charcoal allowed! Learn to make and use a bow drill – using branches, string, and a knife (or an optional handsaw!) and you’ll never be without fire again! You can continue the morning routine by making bacon soap (yes, soap and not soup)! There are several other morning activities to learn and enjoy – including “kitchen table cider making,” (both fermented and non-fermented). Just think – you can move through the rest of your “pioneer-day” smelling like bacon and drinking cider! Would you like to spend your winter evenings next to the fire writing a book about your pioneer experiences? Then you just might like to spend your mornings learning to make paper and binding your own book!
How about spending the afternoon making furniture?! According to Gordon Thorburn (the author of Chapter 6, “Fool’s Stool”), “Almost anybody can make a 17th-century board stool. In those early, pioneering times, techniques and tools were fairly primitive and ambitions consequently modest, so today, faking the American colonial style requires a do-it-for-fun, cavalier attitude rather than serious precision.” The list of materials and tools needed include, among other things, “cow manure (preferred) or wood stain…” (You can see in the picture [right] your homemade furniture doesn’t have to be perfect!) Perhaps making a “Rok-Bak” chair (from a single sheet of plywood) is more your style… You can also learn to “lash.” Chapter 8 is an entire chapter of full-page, full-color photos showing, in detail, how to build a sturdy platform using only sticks and twine!
Your evening can be spent pickling grapes and beets – or, in preparation for Halloween and Thanksgiving, you can learn to brine and roast a turkey and roast pumpkin seeds! There is also a delicious-sounding recipe for garlic herb butter for rubbing into that tasty T-day turkey!
Once those daily chores are finished, it is time to relax! Many pioneers spent their few leisure time making tools which would make their work and lives easier. Chapter 12 has clear, step-by-step instructions for building a da Vinci Reciprocating Mechanism. Learn to make a table-top version of da Vinci’s mechanism for powering a sawmill with a water wheel!
If you want to go waaaay back – perhaps to prehistoric times – you can create your own oil lamp! Since there are cave drawings from as long ago as 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, experts postulate there must have been a way to light those caves in order for the “primitive Rembrandts” to create those drawings. Oil lamps have progressed over time (obviously!) and the final chapter details how to make your own “Oil Lamp from the Cave Dwellers of Lascaux.” (An interesting fact: This chapter was written by William Gurstelle. Since volume 4, every issue of Make magazine has had an article written by him. We have all the issues here at the library – up to volume 57 now – so come in and check out all the other articles he’s written!)
So, ready to try your hand at living like a pioneer? Or at least “making” like a pioneer? I think you’ll find Make: Like the Pioneers makes it much easier than it was “back in the day!”
Interested in learning more about drones? Ever thought about building your own? We have the resources you need!
The best place to start might be understanding what a drone is. Dictionary.com defines a drone as “an unmanned aircraft or ship that can navigate autonomously, without human control or beyond the line of sight.” “Unmanned” is the term usually applied to drones, however, the term “uncrewed” has long been used by NASA, is gender-neutral, and thus is the term I will use whenever possible.
In the book Make: Getting Started with Drones, authors Terry Kilby and Belinda Kilby differentiate between types of uncrewed aircraft. For instance, a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), refers to model aircraft flown by a pilot on the ground using a radio transmitter. A UAV (uncrewed aerial vehicle) is an aircraft which is flown remotely or controlled autonomously using computer software and GPS. Uncrewed aerial systems (UAS or sUAS for a small UAS) refers to all related processes involved with uncrewed aerial technology.
The University of Iowa UAS Advisory Group says, “A UAS consists of an uncrewed/unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the components necessary to operate and control the UAV. UAS are often referred to as drones. According to the FAA, a UAS is the uncrewed/unmanned aircraft and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft….”
Now that we have a basic understanding of what a drone is, what’s next in learning to build your own? Both Make: Getting Started with Drones and DIY Drones for the Evil Genius begin with a brief history of flight and some basic principles of aeronautics. Understanding basic principles and the 4 physical forces involved in flight – thrust, drag, weight and lift – will help you design and build your own drone!
Make: Getting Started with Drones recommends building a Little Dipper drone first. The Little Dipper design is open source and downloadable, or alternatively, a complete kit may be purchased. The authors walk you through building the Little Dipper with detailed, step-by-step instructions and include color photos and graphics. Issue 51 of Make : Technology on Your Time (Join the Drone [R]evolution) also has step-by-step instructions (with color photos) explaining how to build a Little Dipper.
Ian Cinnamon, author of DIY Drones for the Evil Genius, recommends purchasing the small (fits in the palm of your hand), inexpensive ($15 or $25 with a simple camera) Cheerson CX-10 to learn and practice flying a drone – before designing and building your own. Basic flight instructions are included (with graphics), AND there are instructions on how to learn to flip your drone! Ready to build your own, from-scratch, not-from-a-kit drone? Cinnamon takes you through the process from the beginning (deciding what your drone will be used for – racing? photography?) to attaching LED lights and a radio-controlled switch for night flying! (Check out this review & flight of the Cheerson CX-10 on youtube!)
Interested in using your drone for search and rescue (SAR)? Make : Technology on Your Time (issue 51) has a section on amateur drone pilots (that could be you!) and SAR volunteering. Information on how to volunteer, what gear you need, how to prep – and do’s and don’ts are all included. There is also information about Search With Aerial RC MultiRotor (SWARM), an organization where volunteer pilots can register to participate in SAR.
If you feel creative when designing your drone, you could have a Death Star….
Okay – you are now ready to fly your drone! What else do you need to know? Laws, rules, and regulations!
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website is a wealth of information about getting started, where to fly, resources and FAQs. There is also information about registering regulations, including a link to register your drone online. For example, if your drone weighs between .55 pounds and 55 pounds (25o grams to 25 kg) you will need to register. There are both civil and criminal penalties if you meet the criteria and do not register.
In addition to federal laws, you will need to check the laws for the state in which you plan to fly. A quick state-by-state guide can be found here. This website is current (2017) and at this point in time, Iowa has no drone laws which extend beyond the federal laws.
There may also be rules and regulations on drone use in localized areas. The University of Iowa’s UAS Advisory Committee has implemented a policy on drone use. The new policy applies to faculty, staff, and students – and any UAS which are operated by others on campus. There is a campus-wide “no fly zone” without prior permission. Among other things, it addresses privacy concerns, insurance and liability. It does allow drone usage for research, education, marketing, facilities management, and data collection. Be sure to check out the UI policy if you want to fly your new drone on campus!
If you’d like to learn more about how drones are used in military, civil, and disaster relief, check our many resources. Domesticating Drones covers covers commercial uses (package delivery, movie production, agricultural applications, etc.), uses in emergencies, and regulations in the United States and around the world. There is even a chapter on starting a drone business. Civil and Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems discusses how drones may be used in forest and ecological ways (i.e. forest fires), law enforcement and public safety uses, research, journalism, and more.
Military Robots and Drones provides background and history of using drones in military actions. It also looks at problems and controversies surrounding their use – including a worldwide perspective. Killing By Remote Control: the Ethics of an Unmanned Military lays out pros and cons of using drones in warfare and explores the moral and ethical implications that follow that decision.
Build a drone this summer! Be creative and DIY your own design! We have the resources to help you be successful! Happy Flying!
Perritt, Henry H. Jr., Eliot O. Sprague. 2017. Domesticating drones : the technology, law, and economics of unmanned aircraft. Abingdon, Oxon, UI ; New York, NY : Rutledge. Engineering Library TL718 .P47 2017
Most of us have at least heard of compost, but we really may not know much about how it helps the soil, what should – and should not – go into compost and how to effectively use it once we have it!
So. What is compost? Put simply it is decayed – and decaying – organic matter which improves the soil structure and has other benefits for plants. Humus, on the other hand, is well-decomposed plant and animal matter that resembles dark coffee grounds. It is aromatic, lightweight, and spongy – allowing it to hold water. The terms ‘humus’ and ‘compost’ are sometimes used interchangeably.
Why is composting important? Compost does much to increase the health of the soil. It increases the number of microorganisms in the soil, which in turn boosts the number of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms which become food for predators. The soil microbes help protect your plants from pests and diseases. For detailed information on all the benefits composting provides check out How to Make and Use Compost : The Ultimate Guide.
Did you know there are different types of composting?
Heat (or thermophilic) composting uses the heat released by microorganisms as they break down organic matter. When the compost heats up sufficiently it will kill weed seeds and pathogens. Cool composting may take 6 to 12 months (or longer) to produce usable compost, but has the advantage of needing no maintenance. Even without turning and adding moisture the (cold-loving) microorganisms will continue to break down the refuse.
Then there is vermicompost – a compost pile where certain worm species are used to consume and convert the organic matter into useful organic fertilizer. Vermicomposting can even be done in a simple indoor, household worm bin (yes, really!). There is also sheet composting – simply spreading your organic matter on top of the soil in sheets, where it then decomposes right where you need it.
There are several ways to contain the compost. Building a box or fenced in area is a nice way – if you have the space.
You may purchase compost bins – including ones that are meant to be turned and rotated – to help keep the compost aerated. However, purchased bins can be expensive. Don’t despair! If you’d like to begin composting but don’t have much space or money, here’s an easy DIY for you! The video, below, shows an easy way to make a compost bin using a garbage can. It is recommended that you put your new compost bin on cement blocks to let the air circulate through the holes in the bottom. The gentleman presenting the video talks about a 50/50 ratio of brown to green. For more information about what that means check out the paragraph about what goes into a compost bin!
You may hear that there is a desired ratio of “browns and greens” when composting. But what does that mean? Better terminology would be “high nitrogen” (green) and “low nitrogen” (brown). The terms “brown” and “green” are helpful, however. Browns are plant material that are, well, brown. Fall leaves, wood products, straw… And greens are, well, green. Fresh grass clippings, freshly picked weeds, and most kitchen scraps (even if they aren’t green….). For more complete information about the C:N ratio (carbon to nitrogen) check out Compost, Vermicompost, and Compost Tea : Feeding the Soil on the Organic Farm.
There are things that should not go into a compost pile – don’t add meat scraps and bones – they attract rodents, and no one wants that! Surprisingly, it is recommended you don’t add citrus peels or onions! Onions and citrus are both acidic and can kill the worms and microorganisms on which your compost pile relies. You’ll also want to be wary of composting weeds – you don’t want to replant them when you use the compost! Lay them out in the sun (on a shed roof, a drying frame, etc.) and when they are brown, dry, and brittle – toss them in your compost bin!
There are so many things that can be composted – shredded paper bags, stale crackers and cereal, used paper plates (without a wax coating), wine corks and toothpicks, old cotton or wool clothing (cut into small pieces), newspapers …. For a lengthy list check out 100 Things You Can (and Should) Compost.
Okay. That’s a lot of info about composting. So, what do you DO with all the compost you’ve been diligently making?
Just as there are differing types of compost piles and bins, there are different types of gardening. There are conventionally dug gardens (gardens in which the soil is turned by fork, spade, rototiller…) and no-dig gardens (which are just that – gardens in which you do not turn the soil).
There are advantages to the no-dig garden – besides the fact it is less work! For one thing, you don’t disrupt the earthworm aeration tunnels, nor do you slice the worms in half! By digging your garden you increase the amount of oxygen in the soil which oxidizes more of the carbon which causes carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.
In both types of gardens you can use compost as mulch and top dressing around growing plants. You can also use mulch on plants in containers – including indoor houseplants! If you are interested in learning how to make your own potting mixes check out How to Make and Use Compost : The Ultimate Guide. There are also instructions for compost specifically for cuttings and seeds.
Now, go out and start that compost pile! Before you know it you’ll have great compost and a beautiful, lush garden!
Gershuny, Grace; Jocelyn Langer, illustrator. 2011. Compost, vermicompost, and compost tea : feeding the soil on the organic farm. White River Junction, VT : Chelsea Green Pub. Engineering Library S661 .G45 2011
Bloom, Jonathan. Sept. 15, 2011. Americans Waste enough Food to Fill a 90,000-seat Football Stadium Every Day – What Can We Do About It? Alternet : Food.
Spring is right around the corner – those spring dances and formals aren’t far behind! Are you looking for the perfect, unique, attention-getting outfit? How about a DIY project?
Want your dress or suit to sparkle and light up the party? Make: Wearable Electronics will help you learn how to incorporate LED lights in your clothes. LilyPad was designed specifically for e-textiles and clothing and we have one in our Tool Library! It has all you need to get started!
Starboards are flexible circuits that can be sewn directly into garments. Creator Meredith Scheff also offers low resistance (2.5 ohms per yard) solderable conductive thread. It is a conductive thread that is also solderable and it strong enough to be used like regular sewing thread. Need to solder? We now have soldering irons in our Tool Library!
Wear Space Face Galaxy Light Up Makeup, inspired by the constellation Cassiopeia, and you could be the star of the evening. This spacey headpiece uses 5 FLORA NeoPixels.Make: Wearable Electronics has an example to help you get started using this versatile module. It is wearable, sewable, easily wired, individually addressable, ultra-bright, multicolored LEDs – what’s not to love?
How about ABC (Anything But Clothes)? Perhaps the ultimate DIY clothing project? Found objects around the house can be combined into a one-of-a-kind outfit! Want some ideas to jump-start your creativity? How about garbage bags, balloons, shower curtains, sheets, cardboard boxes, and candy wrappers? A caution tape dress? Use your LilyPad skills to add warning lights. And, there is always the always-versatile duct tape, too! Check out Season 7 of Mythbusters for information about adhesion….
Whatever bright idea you have about that special outfit for that special dance – we’ve got the resources – information on everything from circuits and batteries to conductive materials and how to make your one-of-a-kind ideas wearable!
Valentine’s Day is already upon us! Have you planned ahead? Do you know what you are going to do? How about creating something that is uniquely yours?
Your Valentine doesn’t have to be a significant other – could be a roommate, parent, child, project partner…. No matter who you choose to be your Valentine – we’ve got the perfect DIY project you can tailor specifically to your special Valentine!
To add to the mood lighting – how about making light dance to music? It is possible! Electronics Projects for Dummies will walk you through making it happen! With complete schematics, parts list, photos, and step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to create a personalized light board which will have the lights dancing to whatever type of music the mood requires! Brilliant LED Projects has complete instructions for a color-changing disco light, too!
Is your Valentine the outdoorsy type? A backpack illuminator or a bike flasher might be exactly what they want! Brilliant LED Projects explains how. The project specifications for the backpack illuminator indicate the display comprises 16 tricolor LEDs configured in a 4×4 matrix. Each LED can be controlled independently, colorful flashing images and simple animations can be created, and the supply voltage is 4.5 volts. Parts list, schematics, clear photos, and step-by-step instructions will help light up your Valentine’s backpack – and maybe their heart!
Brilliant LED Projects will also walk you through creating your own LED bike flasher. It explains how to create a “Front LED Flasher,” and a “Rear Red Flasher.” A Valentine’s gift of a bike flasher tells your special someone you want to help keep them safe!
Is your special someone an animal lover?
If you have an aquarium, how about a Raspberry Pi-powered thermometer which will text your cell phone if the aquarium water overheats or becomes too cool! Make: Raspberry Pi and AVR Projects takes you all the way through the project – color photos, parts lists, step-by-step instructions! Want to experiment with a Raspberry Pi before you tackle your project? We have one in our Tool Library! Come in, check it out, and discover all the amazing things you can do!
Love dolphins, but don’t have room in that aquarium? Electronics for Dummies will teach you how to create a wall display of five dolphins, outlined in LEDs, which light up – one after another – making them appear to dance across the wall!.
Does your Valentine like bling? Make: Wearable Electronics will show you, in detail, how to create wearable tech! Haven’t played with material and circuits before? Don’t worry – we have a Lilypad in our Tool Library! The Lilypad has everything you need to explore adding bling to clothing! It includes the LED lights, conductive fabrics, battery, needles….check it out and get creative! (You can even make the LED flash like a heart beat!)
Want to make that Halloween party extra scary? We have the resources to help you do just that with some DIY special effects!
How about a hologram of a ghoul? We have Holography Projects for the Evil Genius. It is a DIY resource which includes step-by-step instructions, helpful illustrations, a list of required, easy-to-find components (and a list of sources!). It not only helps you create – and customize – your own hologram, you’ll also master the latest tools and techniques!
Pepper’s Ghost is a special effects technique for creating transparent and ghostly images! It was popularized in the 1800s by John Pepper. This effect has been used in theaters and haunted house since then! The photo below was created with mostly scrap materials in the Engineering Electronics Shop on the Universal laser. Stop by the Engineering Library and check it out. The images in our Pepper’s Ghost move and it rotates through several images. Makezine has complete instructions on how to make a spooky ghost for your party! While the Pepper’s Ghost below is using a laptop, a computer or special equipment isn’t needed! If you are interested in a more elaborate hologram, How It’s Made : Season 1 & 2(disc 1) will explain how a hologram is created from the beginning to end.
How about creating animatronic eyes? Make : 3D Printing Projects has step-by-step instructions with color illustrations and a parts list! What could be more fun than having a pair expressive, animatronic eyeballs at your party! (We have 3D scanners available in our Creative Space and the Engineering Machine Shop has 3D printers!)
Interested in learning about stage make-up? How It’s Made : Season 1 & 2 (disc 5) has great information and shows the creation process. You’ll also be able to see the transformation of a young woman to an old woman. A full transformation mask can take a month or more to create and cost upwards of $10,000. Perhaps not the most cost effective for your Halloween party!
Been thinking about that perfect Halloween costume? Sure, you could go to a store or online and order something, but what fun would that be? You want something special – uniquely yours, right? We’re here to help you make your very own Halloween costume and light up the night!
Halloween is getting closer and closer and you are planning that Halloween get-together… Looking for the perfect DIY Halloween decoration projects?
Looking for a classic scary pumpkin? How about one that lights up? Electronic Projects for Dummies will help you create the perfect scary pumpkins! You’ll end up with 2 pumpkins – one transmits an infrared beam and the second one lights up and plays a prerecorded message or sound. When someone walks between the two pumpkins and breaks the plane of the infrared beam, the 2nd pumpkin will light up and emit that evil laugh! The chapter, Scary Pumpkins, takes you through the process, step-by-step, complete with schematics, photos (some in color), parts list and detailed instructions!
What party would be complete without a moving eyeball picture? Haywired: Pointless (yet awesome) Projects for the Electronically Inclined will help you make one! Pick out a picture of your favorite monster, zombie or ghoul – the parts and tool lists, step-by-step photos, schematics and concise directions will help you create your very own moving eyeball picture!! Perhaps you would also like to have one that smiles when someone approaches it? Haywired will show you how to make one! The example they show is of the Mona Lisa, but you can easily adapt it to a ghoul or monster with a toothless grin!
Interested in coming up with your own spooky decoration ideas? Don’t forget to check out what we have in our Tool Library!! We have Lilypad for making wearable tech (think of the costume you could make!), a MaKey MaKey kit – create a keyboard using a pumpkin and Hersey Kisses! Play around with the littleBits to come up with some fun circuit projects – and there is always the Raspberry Pi Starter Kit, too!
For 10 more last-minute Halloween decorations, check out makezine.com. Spider-web balloons, packing tape ghosts, and a meat head…. Because what’s a Halloween party without an edible head….
With a MaKey MaKey (available in our Tool Library) you can make some small pumpkins (or gourds) scream!
No matter how you plan to spend your Halloween, remember to stop in and explore our resources which can help you make it more eerie!!
Ceceri, Kathy. 2015. Paper Inventions : Machines That Move, Drawings That Light Up, Wearables and Structures You Can Cut, Fold, and Roll. San Francisco, CA : Maker Media. Engineering Library TT870 .C54 2015
Brown, Casey. Oct. 31, 2012. Hershey Kisses, a pumpkin, and MaKey MaKey create and open source Halloween. Oct. 31, 2012. opensource.com
It is nearly Halloween and goblins, mummies, zombies and monsters are everywhere!
How can you protect yourself??
There are several DIY projects that can help you detect those menacing monsters!
“Monster-B-Gone” can be built in 2-4 hours at a cost of about $30 to $40. Make : Technology on Your Time (v. 52, 2016 Aug/Sept) has step-by-step instruction (complete with color photos) that will teach you how to put it together, program it, and add upgrades (i.e. sound effects!). the perfect accessory to have with you as you creep through that haunted house….
Perhaps laser night vision is more your style. 101 Spy Gadgets for the Evil Genius can show you how to create your own long-range laser night vision illuminator. There are pictures and clear, step-by-step instructions. The author, Brad Graham, does warn, however, about the dangers of working with lasers and the need for proper laser safety equipment. This is part of an entire section devoted to “Peering into the Night,” and it may give you more ideas to help facilitate your monster detection!
Maybe you’d prefer a portable alarm system? 101 Spy Gadgets for the Evil Genius has a portable alarm system that is “a simple yet effective security system that is perfect for temporarily protecting an area or building.” There is a parts list, photos, graphics, and complete instructions. And, if you aren’t worried about monsters and goblins, this alarm is perfect for protecting your luggage and valuables when you travel.
Do you have some basic electronic skills and about $30 to $45? More Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius will help you create your own body heat detector! Could be useful when you are out searching for zombies (wait, do zombies give off body heat?). Don’t want to go search for zombies and monsters? This body heat detector could help you locate that run-away dog or cat! Full of illustrations, photos and complete instructions, More Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius will help you create your very own body heat detector!
These resources should give your creativity a jump-start as you think about Halloween DIY projects!