One thing I like about projects is that they are mini building programs. Ever onward, ever upward, step by step, plug along until you finally see the fantastic results.
Go Karts as you know are those types of projects, but as you well know too, once the go kart is done, then what? Well of course another go kart, or tweaks on the existing go kart. But today I am going to seek to expand your horizons into other areas.
One thing that go karts do is teach you mostly physics, mechanics and some minor electrical. I remember growing up and my Dad was saying that electronics was the next wave. In fact I had my choice, I could have gone into Mechanical Engineering or Electrical Engineering, or even become a Doctor…but I chose what I was comfortable with: Mechanical Engineering.
I chose Mechanical Engineering because it was something I could touch and feel. To be quite honest I never was introduced well to the field of Electrical Engineering, other than by those who said “It is really hard, very math based.”
Needless to say, by the time I was half way through college I could see I could probably do Electrical Engineering, but I probably would not be as happy there, so I stuck with the mechanical world.
But this article is about opening up new horizons. DIY Home School Projects are an excellent format for exposure to many high tech fields. The downside to conventional education is the 8 hour day restriction. Additionally, the restriction on free thinking or stepping outside the box is generally discouraged. With many public schools shrinking their budgets in the tech areas and deferring their tech courses to colleges, the actual ability to get your hands dirty and do some tech stuff will not come until it is time to get a full time paying job.
And that is the Catch Twenty Two (or bite in the rear you did not expect) the business owners are looking for experience, especially in these tech jobs.
So let’s be real where to you get tech experience? Where do you get your hands dirty?
Projects are the backbone to any career choice. Or more specifically can show people what you can do with your own two hands, or your two brain halves.
The go kart project when done right gives you an edge in a world of mechanical design. Also fundamental to go karts is engine repair and upgrade. (We don’t go much into that on this site, but I am planning on releasing a book on engine diagnostics. Whether it will exhaustive remains to be seen. )
The project I am proposing involves multiple disciplines, mechanical, computer, and electrical. The nice thing about the times we live in is that pioneers, ones that I went to school with, developed software and wrote programs that are extremely useful to a mechanical engineer. Additionally, the electrical engineers for the most part service the mechanical world providing electrical plug-in solutions to a complicated mechanical problem.
For example an electrical engineer may provide a cam actuation package that involves servo motors and other electronic goodies versus a complicate cam profile that is fixed. You may not understand that last comment, “fixed cam profile.” But the best a mechanical world can muster is a one stab approximated solution, whereas the electrical world applied to the mechanical world opens the world of variables to the engineer.
With a push of the button a cam profile on a starving engine can be changed with a network of electrical sensors and computer mapping programs, or even better yet get real time data and give the best solution to the combustion problem at that moment.
What does that mean to the mechanical world? More Power! More speed for less weight. Moooore!
Okay just what is this project? The project involves like I said is multidiscipline but is yet in the young person’s grasp.
Okay what is it?
Well I can tell you what it isn’t…
It isn’t boring, it isn’t going to sit in the corner and never be used. It isn’t a go kart, but it could make go kart parts, perhaps….
Alright I almost let the cat out of the bag right there…
It is a Do It Yourself 3d-printer. There are about three different manufacturers of ready to build 3-d printers. They can be either ready built or they can be assembled by yourself.
A 3-D printer is a printer that instead of just printing a sheet of paper with a .0001 inch of material (such as ink on the paper) prints over and over again and starts building off of the paper and makes a stack of ink. Typically a 3d printer uses a nozzle or syringe to dispense material down and then build upon that material to make a 3d object such as a human skull or a carburetor intake for a go kart, or better yet supercharger component for the racing enthusiast.
Another way to look at 3-d printer is that they are the inverse of CNC machines. Instead of starting with a chunk of material and wittling it into a shape like a CNC machine, the 3d printer builds up material and makes the shape at the first.
These projects are not for the timid, or those that give up easily. These printers are projects that tax the mechanical genius to be efficient, the computer geek to use his skills and the electrical guru to come up with something better.
I have been watching this DIY 3d Printer field for a while now. What has spurned this urgency for this field is that though CNC machining is powerful, I believe 3d Printing has more power to it.
From a set up stand point there really is none, other than turning the printing on. With a CNC mill you have to be very careful and have everything homed in and placed carefully. Additionally the CNC mill is noisy and messy, the 3d printer is much, much quieter and there is less dust and waste.
So our project is going to be Project 3d Printer and we will see where it leads us.
You may be wondering why the change in focus? This is a go kart site. Unless you think I have lost focus fret not….remember what you can do to go karts? Supercharge them? Fuel inject them…the 3d printer can get us closer to that goal in less time that a CNC machine, because we can make mistakes without fretting. Do a redo overnight….
The next article will be comparing the different types of 3-d Printers and the directions that a DIY 3-D printer enthusiast can go with relatively low cost….