Friday, November 20, 2009

MicroRax Construction Kits

For anyone interested in incorporating dreams and ideas to reality, consider this recently released construction set called MicroRax. MicroRAX is a set of parts that can easily be used to assemble your latest project. It reminds me of the erector sets I used to play with as a child but much more. I wish I had had something as cool as this when I was younger.

The foundation of the kits consists of 6063-T6 aluminum t-slot profiles and nut plates that slide within the slot so that the various joints can be used to connect another profile. Connecting one of joints to the nut plate is done by using the 18-8 stainless steel, M3 x 5mm screws. There are "L" style joints, corner style joints, truss style joints and a 90 degree joining bracket. Getting started is fast and easy. After cutting your profiles to whatever various sizes you might want, the only tool you'll need is the included hex key to tighten down the screws.

I wasn't playing with my free samples very long before ordering the "Pro" kit, which includes 7 90cm profiles and enough of the joints and screws to turn several ideas into reality. A hex key and vinyl caps are also included. I've been working with my kit for almost a week now, trying out the various joints, making boxes, frames and containers. When I'm all done with an idea, I can disassemble it down to the pieces and start over. MicroRax makes it simple to go from idea to project to an actual device quickly and easily. STL files are available at Thingiverse for the profiles to include in CAD programs.

I looked through several of the blog posts at MAKE Magazine some of the other maker type sites and see where building my own enclosure for many of the kits available would not only be less expensive but by using frames and enclosures built using MicroRax., when the project has outlasted its usefulness and is sitting in a box in a corner with various electronic parts already removed for newer projects, the mechanical parts can now be disassembled and recycled for my latest idea also.

In the coming weeks, I will be posting some of my assemblies, frames and containers as examples of what the kits can do. The Starter kit runs $89.00 and the Pro kit is $192.00. I am more than happy with the variety and number of parts in the Pro kit and look forward to exploring the possibilities. Stay tuned.

I was not paid or compensated by MicroRAX for this review. While I did receive a free sample, this was not special treatment, as anyone can request the sample.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Digi Smart Plug

One of the interesting topics discussed yesterday during the Digi Webinar is a new product called the SmartPlug. It looks like one of the network extenders or routers. It includes an ambient light sensor but also a switch that allows a light or some other appliance to be plugged into it and controlled. In addition to being able to turn the appliance 'on' and 'off,' it will give a status of the appliance and also the amount of current the appliance is drawing, when 'on.' New drivers have been added to the DIA system so the Smart Plug can be controlled. See the web page above displaying the current, power and the on/off switch.

I ordered two of the Smart Plugs and when they arrive I will try them out and post additional information on them. One of my goals in my project for the house is to be able to control an air conditioning/heating duct and be able to close off one of the bedrooms during the day and force the cooler air to an area of the house that is occupied while having it go back to normal in the evening. The Smart Plug would be great at this as it could not only be controlled manually but have it flip the switch automatically based on a particular temperature or time of the day.

There were other topics discussed during the webinar and I will share those in the next few posts.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Digi Webinar

For those of you interested in the XBee controllers and radios, there is a free Webinar on Wednesday, 11 November at 1:00PM - 2:00PM EST. Key Product Focus will be on XBee, ConnectPort X, iDigi Dia, iDigi platform. I will be attending and taking notes.

Away Due to Health Issues

For the past few weeks I have had some personal health issues that have prevented me from keeping up with my projects, including posting to this blog. Thankfully I have worked through the issues and am feeling better and am catching up with all of my projects. My goal is to start posting and due a minimum of one post per day for the next month, with the possible exception of Thanksgiving Day. I am going through my notes and will either start posting later today or tomorrow. I will also answer any outstanding questions from the comments section. There have been lots of cool things going on over the last few weeks that I haven't been able to participate in but will start jumping in immediately.