Maker Faire Kansas City: Coming To Grips With The Mechanics Of Dexterity

There is always a great variety of things to see and experience at the Kansas City Maker Faire. This is the fifth year for the event which is held at historic Union Station, a beautiful art deco train depot from a bygone era. With a multitude of booths and exhibits across two floors and a vast outdoor area, there is something for pretty much everyone. Often times, the interesting things are mobile conversation-starting creations. When we saw [Dan] walking around with a giant wooden contraption on his arm, we knew we must find out more about it.

The impetus for [Dan]’s project was his desire to pick up a soda can using a mechanical grip. He now believes this to have been a lofty goal, given the weight of a full can of the stuff. This prosthetic hand is made from wooden finger segments that are connected by small, continuous hinges. Each of [Dan]’s gloved fingers curls around a metal ring to control that digit’s large wooden analog. On the inside of the hand, sections of paracord run underneath strategically placed eye bolts on each finger segment and are tied off at the fingertips. A second set of eye bolts on the back of the hand anchor the network of rubber bands that provide resistance. Although he made it look easy to open and close the hand, [Dan] said that it’s pretty heavy to lug around and somewhat strenuous to use. Next time, he’ll probably go with foam or 3D-printed pieces.

Hanging Table Makes Room for Activities

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[Matt Silver] usually enjoys a cup of tea in the evening. Unfortunately, this habit can be frustrating and dangerous while sitting in bed. He rectified the problem by building this awesome space-saving table, which can be stored on the ceiling of all places! Depending on the supplies you might already have, this could be a relatively cheap build of about $40 or less. [Matt’s] using pine board for everything, but notes you could save time and money by re-purposing an existing coffee table. You will, however, need to make the ceiling frame to support it.

At the heart of this build is our favorite rope—Paracord 550. [Matt] used a single piece to tie the whole thing together, which can cause the table to lower crooked, but [Matt] found he can keep it level by putting a hand on it while it descends. You also get mechanical advantage from the pulleys this way! If you’re not crazy about the potential unevenness, you could redesign the pulley and eyelet layout to allow for four ropes to ensure a reliably horizontal surface.

Why not pair this idea with the portable electronics lab we shared a few days ago? You could have a full series of drop-down tool labs in your workshop. Think of all the space saving opportunities!