August 2022 Newsletter

Monthly Membership Meeting

September 7, 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Purcellville Workday - 9/3 9am
Leesburg Workday - 9/10 9am

There's something for everyone - get those volunteer hours in!

President's Message

Adam "Squirrl" McClintock

Greetings fellow makers!  I am Squirrl and I would like to thank our board for approving my appointment as President of Makersmiths.  Many of you know me but if you don't do feel free to come say hi if I am in the space.  I'm easy to spot at 6'2" with a shaved head and often wearing a squirrel t-shirt.  Please bear with me while I learn the ropes and I will do my absolute best to fill the position. See you at the next members meeting on Wednesday the 7th of September at 7:00 PM.

Education News

This summer, Makersmiths kicked off family-friendly Tinkercad workshops in July and now in September, we are offering a Saturday morning workshop that will be held two Saturday mornings on basic electronics and soldering at MS-Leesburg. The registration for this workshop can be reached at This means for every adult registering and coming to the workshop with their children, they can bring up to two children ages 10-14, or in grades 4-9 this school year. This will allow us to have 8 families working together to learn basic electronics and soldering skills in the main room at Makersmiths Leesburg. This location has an electronics workshop and Geof Hoffman, our electronics steward, will be leading this initiative. So please register now while you can, before the announcement goes out in a few days to all our members and folks on the Makersmiths contact list.

KidWind sponsored me to attend a ReCharge Academy at Santa Fe Community College this summer. I am now a trained coach of the coaches for I will not lead a KidWind team this year, but will be busy with the regional challenge and helping coaches in NOVA area. Will Makersmiths host KidWind teams this year? You bet there is interest! Learn more about KidWind at Makersmiths by going to

This year, Justin McMillen will be the coach for a high school KidWind team. Contact him at Justin McMillen please if you have youth in grades 9-12 this year interested in joining a team. Last year the 8th grade team won first in state for their solar smart house. Who knows what these students will do now that they are in high school! They are looking for additional team members!

Makersmiths members, Adam Pricer and Robert Shirley, will co-coach a middle school KidWind team. If your child is in grades 4-8 and is interested in joining a middle school KidWind team this year, please contact me ( so I can start assembling a list of participants for them. Last year one of our middle school KidWind teams was named Virtual National Champions! See the team on the National KidWind website at

I will hold an information meeting about KidWind at Makersmiths on Saturday, November 19 for new KidWind participants who want to join Makersmiths KidWind teams. Stay tuned for a later announcement about the specific location and time, but do let your friends, neighbors, school acquaintances know in case they might want to join us for KidWind at Makersmiths. We hope to kick off KidWind 2022-2023 in early December with the Regional Challenge tentatively scheduled in Winchester at Shenandoah University on March 15, 2023. 

Other Makersmiths initiatives will involve Arduinos. Interested in an introduction to Arduino (microprocessor) workshop? Please let Dave Bock know at who wants to host one at MS-P, and let Robert Shirley know if a MS-L location is desired.  We are hoping to get these family-friendly Arduino workshops going again this October.

 Ralph Pugh would also like to know if there is interest in learning about STEMLingo. This Arduino kit is especially helpful for educators or other adults since the kit has wonderful training videos that are great for those learning about how Arduinos work.  He has several kits that he can use at Makersmiths if there is an interest among our adult users in having a workshop. Let Ralph know, please, if STEMLingo is of interest to you.  

Setting Up A Reaction Time Activity in STEMLingo

Another Makersmiths member, Adam Pricer and his 10 year-old son are interested in doing KidWind this year, but they are also interested in robots. Contact Adam Pricer if your youth has an interest, too, in robots.

Please contact if you have any questions. Otherwise, follow the links above to contact the specific Makersmiths members heading fall initiatives to ask specific questions about their involvement at Makersmiths. Also, be sure to register NOW for the electronics-soldering workshop in Sept before spots are taken! 

Making a Carbon Fiber Suitcase...From Scratch!

with Bo Wernick

Have you wondered what we do with the CNC machines? Recently, new member Bo Wernick and his team of summer interns gave both the Big Red and Big Blue CNC machines a lot of love and attention! The team used them to cut large foam blocks to make a composite mold for a carbon fiber pelican case.  
The 2-inch-thick foam was cut into slices and stacked to make the shape of the case. The crew then added layers of epoxy filler to the surface to strengthen and smooth it for casting. The final product looked great and is being used for a drone prototype which will be on sale later this year.  
Total machining time was 7 hours. Total project time was 50 hours. 

thanks for sharing this project, Bo Wernick! We love seeing new members dive right in

Cutting the foam sheets on Big Blue 

More foam sheet cutting on Big Red

Stacking the foam sheets and gluing them together with epoxy

several coats of thickened epoxy surface coat and a LOT of sanding

The composite materials being added to the mold after a healthy dose of release agent

The final part came off without a hitch! This one was fiberglass to test the process. It will look great with a coat of bright orange paint

It's Hammer Time!

Jim Waldron

Sunday September 4 is the first of 6 Blacksmith Power Hammer Red Tool Sign-off Workshops. Completing this workshop will give you unrestricted access to the Power Hammer in the Blacksmith area.To say it's a Beast would be an understatement. It hits fast and hard. 

Andrew McKinney originally proposed the project suggesting an electronic valve control, but after some discussion and research, we opted for an all air pneumatic design

This is a makerspace made tool. 

To get started, we salvaged some old big (BIG) I-beam from an old bridge structure, welded it together, and attached pneumatics. As an interesting side note, there was quite a bit of calculation involved in the build. How big should the pneumatic cylinder be? How long a stroke? How much air pressure would be needed and what flow of air in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute)?

Here is a transcript of a note I sent to Dave Painter just before we started:  

OK. Time to get out your pencil and sharpen it up. I need someone to confirm my calculations. Numbers are rounded and/or decimals dropped. I made great use of approximations. (i.e. area of pistion on extend is larger than on retract due to the area of the rod)Assume the hammer weighs in at 80 pounds. 

Assume we have 100 psi of pressure. 

Assume we use a 2 inch pneumatic cylinder with a 12 inch stroke. Area of piston 3.14 sq inches. Volume of cylinder 38 cubic inches 

Assume 1/4 inch nylon tube supplies 11 cfm of air at 100 psi. (The cylinder has 1/4 inlets - I might like larger, but that is what they are)

Target max strokes per second is 3, 2 is acceptable

1 cubic foot of air is 1,728 cubic inches. Cubic inches times supply is (11 x 1728) 19,000 cubic inches 

Convert that to seconds (divide by 60) is 317 cubic inches per second 

Divide by capacity of cylinder (38 cubic inches) indicates we can fill the cylinder 8 times in 1 second. 

Since the cylinder needs 2 fills per stroke (one out and one back), we have enough air for 4 cycles per second.

But it's not instantaneous, so we need to calculate acceleration. Hang on... (gotta convert to metric).

Force on the piston is 100 psi times the area of the piston (3.14 sq inches) of 314 pounds. 

This equates to about 2,000,000 Newton's per square meter (100 pounds per square INCH is 890,000 Newton's per square meter, times 3.14 (the number of square inches of the piston)) But that's per square meter - got to convert back to the size of the piston (in metric) 

Area of piston in cm is 20 square cm, or 1/50,000 of a square meter 

Divide that into the 2 million Newton's gives 40 Newton's

80 pound hammer is about 40 Kg

Divide the Newton's (40) by the mass (40) yields about 1 meter per second squared of acceleration.

This acceleration is about straight line (at least for the distance we are going). 1 meter is about 3 feet, so 1 foot in about 1/3 second.

This would result in 1 and 1/2 cycles (or a little more) per second.

I get about 1.7 full cycles (out and back) per second when I keep the decimals and conversion factors a little tighter and use a perhaps better estimation of the hammer weight)

So, close to the 2 full cycles per second target.

There are probably other losses and gains that I have not considered. For example, there may be other friction losses for the air in the plumbing (I de-rated the numbers - enough?) which would slow operation. Also, the hammer may not operate all the time at full stroke, increasing the number of cycles per second. Air pressure may vary (more pressure=faster, less pressure=slower). I did not take into account any mechanical friction, nor did I take into account the affect of gravity on the down stroke.

The 5 way valve we've chosen has a max rating of 5 cycles per second, so that is not a limiting factor.

Please let me know your interpretation of these (ok, I'll be gusty enough to call them) 'Calculations'.

We could go to a larger diameter cylinder (more force) at the expense of longer fill times due to the increased volume) 

We could go to a smaller diameter cylinder, less force but potentially faster cycles. 

(But I have to say that I think 2 inches looks like the sweet spot for a hammer of our selected weight). 

I'll close with this blurb I found on a pneumatic calculation site: "If either of us remembered our physics, we could calculate the rate of acceleration but we’d have to convert lbs to mass and some other ugly stuff. The easy way to do this is to make sure you can produce double the force needed to balance the load (i.e. 20lb load; provide enough pressure to produce 40lbs force by the cylinder)... Unless you’re talking about a big cylinder being fed by a tiny (or very long) line, the time to extend the cylinder is next to nothing. Most times, you have to put some kind of flow control on the outlet to slow the cylinder down to keep from slamming it too hard."

Conclusion.Our 314 pounds of force working against our 80 pound hammer would seem to satisfy the 'double the force' proposition.

You can read more if you like one the #power-hammer-build channel in Slack.

I sent these calculations to the supplier we were going to use for our cylinder, valves, and plumbing, asking them for a sanity check, but only got back a reply, 'We don't do or comment on any engineering calculations'. Not helpful. But, with faith in our illusions, we went ahead with outbuild.

Some of the materials, beyond the I-Beam, were easy to source, some not so much. We had a lucky find at Winchester Metals - a big circle of 1 inch steel in the scrap bin. This became our anvil sow block. The big piece of 4 inch by 4 inch 2 foot long steel we needed for our 80 pound hammer was another problem. The only local supplier I found with stock was BMG metals who normally only sell a full length of stock. 20 foot long stock. However, they agreed to sell me a 5 foot length. More than we needed, but.....  (We have some left over if you need some.)

Assembly was uneventful, just time consuming. Initial trial was....impressive.

The Power Hammer uses a cam design driven by the hammer itself. As the hammer falls it triggers a valve that swaps the airflow to the cylinder to pull the hammer back up. As it travels up, the other end of the cam triggers another valve to send the hammer back down. A foot treadle moves the cam to trigger the first valve. They cycle repeats as long as the treadle is down.

Subsequent tests confirmed the design 

Earlier this year we poured a concrete base in the Blacksmith area for the power hammer and a few weeks later moved the beast to its new location. Placing the hammer on its base went well. 

The lower building was plumbed for compressed air and the last two tasks, getting the air compressor hooked up to power and the local Power Hammer connections, were completed.

This tool, as suggested above, is a Beast. It hits fast with a lot of power. We actually had to add a pressure regulator to rein it in a bit.

A note from the Red Tool Workshop syllabus:

"NEVER EVER let any part of your body get between the Hammer and the Anvil."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but body parts caught between the hammer and the anvil will be turned into pudding.

Safety Glasses are a must, and you will probably want hearing protection as well. (The impact of the hammer with the anvil makes my ears ring.)

We currently have fullering (rounded) and flat dies for the hammer. And, we can make more for as need arises.

Tool will make drawing out operations much faster and a lot easier on your hammer arm.

We also have a hydraulic press in the Blacksmith area. But it is an automotive type press with an air-over-oil jack to supply the 'push'. This is not ideal for metal fabrication. It could be used, but it's quite slow and requires manual release to get the press ram to retract. Current consideration is to replace the jack with a regular 25 ton cylinder and hydraulic pump. For controls, I'd like to try both a manual and electronic control set-up very similar to the Coal Iron Works presses. And, we'll need some new dies. I feel a new project brewing. 

RoboLoCo Represents Loudoun County

Diane Painter

There are a number of Makersmiths members that are interested in supporting K12 STEM initiatives and Charles Makai is one such member. Last spring, he answered the call to help send RoboLoCo, a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team representing Loudoun County Public School’s Academies of Loudoun, to the FIRST World Championships in Houston, Texas!

What is RoboLoCo and how did the team qualify for a world championship? The RoboLoCo team was founded in 2013 by a group of students at the Monroe Advanced Technical Academy (MATA), and since then, the team has brought together unique and diverse youth from all over Loudoun County to inspire students to become future STEM leaders. To achieve this, the team engages in various outreach programs - showcasing their projects at STEAM nights, advocating robotics to Virginia state representatives at the National Advocacy Conference, and running its own podcast, Robocast, to bring awareness to STEM education and to promote such initiatives to underrepresented communities in Loudoun County. This past season, RoboLoCo won the FIRST Chesapeake District Engineering Inspiration Award and represented Loudoun County at the FIRST World Championships in Houston!

FRC is an international robotics competition for high schoolers where students are tasked with designing, manufacturing, and programming a robot in six weeks that can accomplish prescribed tasks. See how this happens by viewing this video of the 2022 annual “game”.

Recently, Makersmiths member Diane Painter joined Charles Makai to meet with three RoboLoCo team members. They asked the team members to highlight what it meant to them to be participants in the world championships. This was their response:

Attending Worlds was a formative experience for our team members, allowing us to not only compete against world-class teams, but also collaborate with students like us from international teams, learn from the Founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen, and attend workshops on everything ranging from marketing to CAD. It was a major milestone for our team, being the second time in team history we had gone to Worlds. This opportunity, however, would not have been available to us without the support of our community, including Makersmiths members! To make our upcoming season possible, and to hopefully represent Loudoun County once again at Worlds, we are looking for sponsors/donors who would be able to support our team financially or as a mentor.

If you would be interested in becoming a sponsor/donor/mentor for RoboLoCo, please contact

For any questions, please contact

For more information, visit our website at and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Instagram: @roboloco_5338

Twitter: @team5338


New Marketing Committee Chair!

I'm Jason Gilligan, and I've just been appointed as the marketing committee chairperson. I've been a member of Makersmiths for the past three years, and have been a marketing professional for the past five years with an emphasis on video, content creation, and digital marketing. I currently work at Autodesk as a technical marketer for Autodesk Construction Cloud. My focus in this position is going to be on increasing our social media presence by providing additional content, and on improving our internal marketing for internal events and member engagement.

Any member can join the #marketing channel on Slack

Did you know...

Makersmiths has a blog on their home page? 

Makersmiths is on Instagram?

Makersmiths has a YouTube page?

You can support Makersmiths using Amazon Smile for your purchases?

Visibility in the Community

Members Natalia Burrus and Diane Painter represented Makersmiths in early August at a soap-making and essential oil workshop at the Middleburg Library, generating interest in other areas of our organization. Thank you to Laura Ogleman for helping to arrange this event at the library!



Electronics Night - 9/8, 9/22

Intro to Basic Electronics and Soldering - 2 session class 9/17 & 9/24

Laser Cutter Intro - 9/13

Big Red CnC Operation - 9/14

Red Tool Woodworking - 8/16


Intro to 3D Printing - FDM - 9/1

Blacksmith Power Hammer Red Tool - 9/4, 9/9, 9/10*, 9/11*

Red Tool Woodworking Adv - 9/22

Red Tool Metalworking Basics - 9/8, 9/21

* 2 classes offered these days

Be sure to check out the new family-friendly Introduction to Basic Electronics and Soldering workshop where participants will learn about basic electronic components, tools, and circuits. They will practice soldering by constructing a simple electronics lab (it goes home with you!) to use to practice building circuits. Parents registering can bring up to 2 youths (ages 10-14). Please register by 14 Sept to allow the instructor time to prepare the materials.

check back - new classes are offered all the time

Board/Officer Name



Brad Hess

Board Member


Bev Murdock

Board Member/Secretary


Dave Painter

Board Member


Jessee Maloney

Board Member


Jonathan White

Board Member/Chairperson


Scott Newman

Board Member


Mike DeWan

Board Member


Adam "Squirrl" McClintock



John Dubelko



Makersmiths Leesburg: 106 Royal St SW, Leesburg, VA 20175

Makersmiths Purcellville: 785 S. 20th St, Purcellville, VA 20132