Friday, December 14, 2012

Metal forming at TechShop Round Rock

Last week I took the Organic Sheet Metal class at the new TechShop location in Round Rock, Texas, north of Austin.  Our instructor, Matt Quinn of Pipeworx, taught us the basic use of the mallet and sandbag, slapper, T dollies, shrinker, stretcher, english wheel and planishing hammer.  We all formed a bowl shape from 22 ga 3003 aluminum.  I was pretty happy with what I made.
I was really looking forward to learning to use these tools and I enjoyed it so much that I bought a 4x4' sheet of 16 ga (0.063") aluminum the next day and went back to techshop.

I cut a 12x12" square and went straight to work on my second bowl.  I still have a lot to learn but I really like the art of forming sheetmetal.  I plan to make a few more bowls, adding a new challenge/feature to each bowl I make.  My next bowl will be deeper and have a horizontal flange on the outside of the rim of the bowl.  After that I want to figure out how to make/leave a flat spot in the middle bottom of the bowl so it can sit stable.  I've got a few more ideas beyond basic bowls before I move on to a new rear fender for my motorcycle.

I took pictures at each step of making bowl #2.
12x12x.063" plate

After cutting the corners off with the beverly shear.

After using both sides of the mallet.  I also worked the edge with the shrinker.

This is after using the english wheel for the first time.

Above you can see I used the shrinker again.

This was after more shaping on the english wheel.

 After using the planishing hammer.  Then I went back to the english wheel.

 I'm losing track here, but I think the above image is after more planishing.

 This would be after using the english wheel again to soften up the metal.

I wanted the bowl to be deeper, so i used the mallet and bag again to start the process over.

And here it is after using the shrinker again.  This time I made two full rotations on the shrinker.  First at the full depth of the jaws, then at half the depth.  And actually I think I made a third rotation at 1/4 the depth of the jaws to really flare out the lip of the bowl.

This is after more time in the english wheel.

After more planishing.

Here's where I stopped.  I tried to trim the lip and even it out, but there were a few really low spots and I didn't want to go crazy trimming.  I want to make the next bowl deeper so I have more room to trim down the lip.

 This took me about 2.5 hours.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Video for SUY Dudley and Bob

My entry for the Show Us Your Dudley & Bob Contest

I built a sign to advertise the Dudley and Bob Show on Austin's 93.7 KLBJ FM and mounted it in the bed of my truck.  I drove it all over central Texas for more than 800 miles and parked it near major roadways for 31 hours exposing it to approximately 98,937 vehicles.  

The sign was in my truck for 21 days so it was with me everywhere I went.  One of the more creative things I did was to drive the sign to each of the contest sponsors (with a physical address) and take a picture of our signs together.  I covered a lot of ground by simply going from sponsor to sponsor.  This also tied the sponsors into my advertising campaign. I posted pictures of each sponsor to facebook and twitter in real time during my travels.  This was more about logging everything as I did it and less about advertising through social media, although I did get a lot of attention from intrigued friends.  

I used the Speed Tracker iphone app to track my routes.  Screen shots for each day are below.  They show distance, travel time, stopped time and total elapsed time. I'm also including a map screen shot of each route.

All of my traffic data is sourced from the 2010 District Traffic Map, Austin Base Sheets, sections 4, 8 and 9 from this link. 

District Traffic maps show the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) counts on TxDOT-maintained roads. Twenty-four-hour counts, with truck and seasonal factors, are applied. -TxDOT
In cases below where I parked the sign, I calculated the traffic per hour using the 24 hour averages.  For the moving traffic rates, I averaged all of the counts along the route from beginning to end.  I divided that average by 24 hours to get the average per hour for anywhere on the route. Then I multiplied that by Travel Time from the Speed Tracker app.  I did not account for every hour parked in a public parking lot.

This was quite an adventure and I had a lot of fun promoti
ng the show.  Thank you to Dudley & Bob, KLBJ FM and the contest sponsors for the opportunity to promote a show I love and the possibility to win some money while doing it.


Monday 5/14 - Designed the sign.  It's double sided, 4' x 6' and tops out at 9'6" when mounted in the truck. I later found out this was too tall for every drive-thru awning.  Oh well, I guess I'll have to park my giant sign in the parking lot while I eat.  The lettering ranges from 7.5" - 10" tall.

Tuesday 5/15 - Bought materials
Wednesday 5/16 - Started building the sign

Thursday 5/17 - Finished building the sign and went on a test drive.  Later that night, I painted the sign yellow.

Friday 5/18 PM through Sunday 5/20 AM - Painted the letters and logo.  This was the most difficult part of the entire thing.  I wanted it to look good and be readable from long distances.  I traced everything onto the sign, but it was very difficult to paint and stay between the lines.  I ended up taping all the letter edges on one side of the sign and used my paper templates where I could on the other side to make it easier to paint.

Drivers side:

Passenger side:

The finished sign:

Sunday 5/20 PM - Maiden voyage. I started in Bastrop and drove 115.4 miles, visiting 7 of the sponsors.  The hourly traffic average for this route was 3907 vehicles x 3hr 41min = 14,390 vehicles

  1. South Point Nissan @4:20
  2. Amy's Ice Creams South Park Cinema location. @ 4:36
  3. Mercedes Flowers @ 5:08
  4. Don's Paint and Body Shop @ 5:32
  5. Extreme Pita @ 5:58
  6. Spy Exchange @ 6:48
  7. Terry's Burnet Road Inspection @ 7:01
After that I parked at the Crossroads shopping center at 183 & Burnet while I ate dinner.

Monday 5/21 - Day 2 of sponsor visits. I started in Bastrop after work and drove 93.7 miles visiting 3 sponsor locations.   The hourly traffic average for this route was 3663 vehicles x 2hr 19min = 8486 vehicles

  1. Chinatown Downtown @ 6:45
  2. Chinatown Mopac @ 7:20
  3. Amy's Ice Creams Westgate location @ 7:57 
Tuesday 5/22 - I parked the sign on hwy 95 at Hawthorne St in Bastrop while at work, then went to the Nomad bar that evening for the Darkives live podcast recording.  I made some tweets during the D&B show:

According to TXDOT (section 9), this part of highway 95 sees an average of 13,100 people per day.  The sign was parked there for 8 hours, so approximately 4366 people drove by the sign that day.

Later that day I drove 32.9 miles to the Nomad Bar. The hourly traffic average for this route was 1051 vehicles x 36 min = 630 vehicles

During the Darkives 50th episode recording, CJ and Chuy invited me onto the show for a bit and in doing so, CJ mentioned to the crowd (and the future podcast listeners) that I was "the guy driving the giant Dudley and Bob KLBJ truck". 20:45 - 21:02

Thursday 5/24 - Parked the sign on highway 95 between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 resulting in exposure to 2183 people

Sunday 5/27 - Amy's Day!  I decided to visit as many Amy's Ice Creams locations as I could in one day.  I stopped at 7 Amy's locations and had ice cream at the first 6.  They gave me a free bottle of water at the 7th location.  I also drove by the Amy's on west 6th near lamar 3 times but could not get a good parking space.  At each location, I explained to the employees what I was doing and they all replied with encouragement but I also got some weird looks. 

I tried to get people to look for my sign by offering them free ice cream.

I drove 134.0 miles round trip.  The hourly traffic average for this route was 2275 vehicles x 4hr 19min = 9823 vehicles

Amy's Locations:
  1. The Arboretum @ 1:34
  2. Hill Country Galleria @ 3:12 Lunch at the hill country galleria
  3. Mira Vista on Bee Caves @ 4:41
  4. Westgate @ 5:30
  5. South Austinville on South Lamar @ 5:51
  6. Burnet Rd @ 6:36
  7. The Guad on Guadalupe @ 7:07
Monday 5/28 - Brodie Ln and South Lamar. I toured some of the shopping malls on Brodie Ln then headed to the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar for a movie.  I parked the sign so it was readable from the Alamo Drafthouse entrance as well as the Highball entrance.  I drove 42.4 miles during the daylight. The hourly traffic average for this route was 2927 vehicles x 1hr 30min = 4,459 vehicles if you click on this photo you'll see the attention it received because Dale accepted the tag of him in it.

Tuesday 5/29 - Parked on highway 95 from 1:00 to 6:00.  5 hours on highway 95 = 2729 cars drove by the sign.

Wednesday 5/30 - Parked on highway 95 again from 1:00 - 8:00.  I worked overtime this day and the sun did not set until 8:25 PM.  Another 7 hours on highway 95 = 3820 cars passed the sign.

Friday 6/1 - Oak Hill and Beyond.  I drove from Bastrop through Oakhill and about half way to Dripping Springs in the evening.  I didn't post anything on twitter or facebook this day.  76.7 miles total.  The hourly average for this route is 4866 vehicles, multiply by 1hr 41 min and you get 8192 vehicles to which my sign was exposed.  

Saturday 6/2 - Another day on the road.  I thought of visiting competing radio station remotes, so I looked online for upcoming events.  All of the clear channel stations listed a kickball tournament at Kreig field, so that was my first destination.  Next I drove up and down 6th and 5th streets.  After that I headed to the Hancock shopping center on I35 @ 41st.  I ate lunch there and drove around the parking lot a few times.  A father and son approached me and asked if I was Dudley or Bob and if the station was putting on a party. Later, one of my friends stopped by for a visit after seeing my facebook post.  As I was leaving, I got a few honks and thumbs ups from people. 

Next I drove by the casting call for the Machete sequel at Austin Studios.  The sign got a lot of attention as I pulled in.  After that I headed north and drove though the IKEA parking lot on my way to Hardtails.  I took a quick photo at Hardtails then headed to a friend's house in round rock for quick visit.  Next I got on 183 and drove south to I35.  I went north and stopped at Spinners near Wells Branch.  After that I went west on Parmer and stopped at Fry's. Then I took Parmer east to 290 before sunset.

I drove 145.6 miles start to finish.  The hourly traffic average for this route was 5088 vehicles x 4hr 15min = 21,626 vehicles

Tuesday 6/5 - Parked on highway 95 from 1:00 to 6:00. 5 hours on highway 95 = 2729 vehicles passed the sign.

Wednesday 6/6 - Briefly Parked on highway 95 from 8:00 - 10:00.  One of my coworkers noticed some city workers investigating my truck, so I moved it off the highway.  My employer owns the land and I had their permission to park there, but I did not want my truck to be towed. 2 hours = 1091 vehicles.

Saturday 6/9 - Another Austin trip.  This time I ran some errands with a friend.  We stopped at Leif Johnson Ford and Barton Creek Mall. After that, we split up and I circled the mall a few times then drove though the Brodie Ln and Westgate shopping areas.  Then I took a long route to Decker Ln so I could drive by the ROT Rally a few times.  I drove through Manor and Elgin on my way to Bastrop.  I drove 156.8 miles.   The hourly traffic average for this route was 3215 vehicles x 4hr 29min = 14,413 vehicles

That's all folks! (video is in process)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to say happy new year.  I have a new design for a DIY touch screen stylus I'll be sharing soon. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cardboard snowman

As part of my company's Christmas festivities, we are having a snowman building competition.  It rarely snows in central Texas, so the only rule to the contest is that our snowman has to be made of cardboard. 

Mine is pretty much complete except for the nose and the final wiring.  He waves his arm and the corncob pipe houses an LED that fades on and off, simulating a smoldering pipe.  Here's a quick preview.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Here's something I'm working on.  I might do an instructable on this.  More to come...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Iphone Tripod Mount

I wanted a way to mount the iphone on a tripod so I bought a cheap iphone case, some right angle aluminum extrusion and four 4-40 x .5" flat head screws.  The aluminum extrusion is 1 x 1 x .125" and can be found at your local hardware store.  The half inch screws are kind of long but that's what I had on hand.  4-40 x .25" would also work.  I cut two 1.5" lengths of the aluminum extrusion and drilled holes to tap the 4-40 threads into one side and 1/4-20 threads in the other side (your tripod should use a 1/4-20 screw to attach to cameras).  Next I drilled and countersunk the 4 holes into the iphone cover to mount the aluminum brackets.  When you screw the brackets on, the screw heads should sit below the inside surface of the iphone cover.  Cover the screw heads with tape to protect your iphone from being scratched.  Insert your iphone and attach it to your tripod and you're done!  Now you have a stable camera mount for photos, movies, stop motion, time lapse or whatever you want.