Saturday, 29 December 2012

Lizards for Sale

It came to my attention that I sell the Escher Lizards on Etsy as packs of 20 but I don't sell them on my blog. These charming lizards can be tessellated in all sorts of patterns and styles as demonstrated elsewhere on the blog.

Smoke Staining

There appears to be a bit of a dead spot for smoke extraction on the entire left hand side of my unit. Smoke tends to linger in the air and it's really noticeable in terms of laser power drop off and smoke staining on the work piece. As I was buying some parts from Proto-Pic anyway I happened to notice they had a squirrel cage blower, at the low price of £3.30 it was worth getting one to try. It's a great, tiny unit, that moves a lot of air around. 

I placed it loosely in the corner of my machine and bodged a power supply into it and you can see the improvement for yourself. The left hand wheel was cut before the blower, the right hand afterwards. Yes it's another moving part but it's significantly quieter than the other fans and pumps so you barely notice it running. I'm now acquiring another one for the other corner of the laser to blow across the whole work piece and then I'll get them both wired in and turning on/off with the main extraction fan.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

New Laser Cutter

Nottingham Hackspace had a bit of a whip round at the start of December with the intention of building their own laser cutter to replace their HPC3020 laser cutter. The initial plan was to recreate the basic design from the buildlog website. The pledge pot quickly reached £1000 and some stretch goals were created, within 48 hours the total was up to £2K and the intention is now to build an 80W laser with an 800x450mm cutting area (nearly twice as big as my current machine, twice as powerful but for half the price).

The closest design on the buildlog website (or at least the best documented) is this machine by iGull. We intend to copy that design but adding additional features for our specific requirements. Stay tuned as I intend to blog as much of this build as possible and if the control system works out I intend to replace the innards on my own laser to match the design so there is potentially quite a lot invested in this new design. Information about the build can also be found on the nottinghack wiki

Monday, 24 December 2012

Project #8 Christmas Arch

This definitely started as a slightly more involved project but due to time constraints and deadlines (Christmas) it ended up being a 'get it done' project. The arch itself is a Thingiverse item, I started from the SvenS variant which which was already adjusted for 2.6mm laser ply. I had intended to make all the single line cuts into low power etches to speed things up and beef up the tools as well as moving some parts around. As that never really got complete I'll leave you to download the original files, it's a nice little item anyway.
8 projects/ 11 weeks

Thursday, 20 December 2012

24 hour vague clock

The vague clock came about because people have different names for different parts of the day. Some people view afternoon as 12pm onwards (which it is) but when does midday start and end? So I decided to jot these all down and put the on the one clock face. It soon became apparent that the AM/PM overlap was going to cause me issues to I decided to slow the whole clock down to perform one rotation every 24 hours.
I've left the link as the rather more general pdf format if you want to print your own or just read the witty writings on it, guffaw. (pdf here)

It's a simple modification to turn the clock into a 24 hour clock. Clock modules are pretty much all the same, a control crystal provides the timing pulses, the coil is energised in one direction and then the other, which causes the magnet on the bottom of the smallest gear to rotate, half a turn per second and appropriate gearing from that point onwards to make all the hands rotate correctly. Simply cutting half the teeth off this smallest gear means that it will only turn the onwards gears half the time and the big hand will now take 24 hours to perform a single rotation.
It's a hack, I'm worried about how well it will keep time but it seems to be ok at the moment. There are all sorts of other ways to change the tick length on a clock from changing the crystal oscillator, adding a frequency divider to the coil pulses, to full blown arduino control that might work better.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Project #7 Marble Machine #1

This post has long been the most viewed post on my entire blog but this design has long been superseded so I just want to make people aware that a better version exists 

I present to you my own hand cranked, laser cut marble machine. These are available to purchase as kits, for self assembly and I intend to run some local workshops for them too. The kit includes all the laser cut wooden parts, the nuts and bolts, and enough balls to fill the machine up and spares.

This kit and assembly instructions are available through my shop

A long time ago in a blog not so far away (this one actually) I ran a project where I laser cut one item per day for 365 days. While I was making the machine triggers and before I'd committed to running my own Donkey Kong machine there was a suggestion that I should be making kits like this to sell on the day. I gave it a whirl and failed and if it couldn't be cut in a few days then it was a hindrance to the 365 project so it went on the back burner.

I recently picked it up again for two reasons, one it's a nice idea and makes a fun toy and secondly I need to investigate ball lifts for the eventual recreation of Donkey Kong. In the meantime Michael Henriksen from BustedBricks created this awesome, hand cranked, laser cut, marble machine, which is a great little kit too.
I don't want to steal his thunder or jump on his bandwagon so if you're only going to buy one kit, buy his, but if you're starting a collection of machines then buy mine aswell. (The price is similar for both machines)

7 projects/ 10 weeks

Monday, 10 December 2012

Parcel Shelf Repair

A friend of a friend has a broken parcel shelf, but it's from an older car and a getting a replacement would be impossible. So he drew up the part for me and I cut him a replacement section to go into the gap.

NortHACKton 2012

It was the NortHACKton christmas do this evening, just a curry dinner but good to catch up with everyone. I wanted to give everyone a gift for keeping the group going for another year so I came up with these. They're a little bit Christmassy which is good for this time of year.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Useless Machine Kits

The useless machines kits I've been making for a while are now fully fledged and ready for shipping. The kit includes all the parts required to make your own useless machine (some assembly and tools required)

July 2013: Welcome to all the London Maker Faire people. The useless machine kits received a fairly significant update to the box design including a real hinge instead of the cardboard hinge used previously.

This kit and instructions can be found in my shop here

Enigma Machine Parts

I've been helping Adam Ward make parts for his enigma machine. The build is coming together nicely and I can't wait to see it completed and functional. Keep an eye on the progress over on his blog

More Wedding Invites

I nearly forgot to take photos of this one which is why you get a slightly lacking photo of one card and the parcel they were sent in. A nice little batch of 75 cards kept the machine busy for a while. Based on a previous design, someone saw them and thought they were nice, I was happy to help.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

365 Day advent calender

I present to you my 365 day chocolate advent calender, why wait until Dec 1st before counting down the big day, my calender runs from Jan 1st through to Dec 25th.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Project #6 Advent Calendar

Just in time for December comes the Christmas advent calender. An epic case of squashing to get the design into the footprint of the remaining 3 sheets of MDF I had. Then the large assembly job of 24 little boxes. The layout works well, the star was an additional finishing touch that really helps bring it all together.
I'm keen to take another shot at it before releasing some plans because it was fiddly to stack all the boxes up and it could be greatly improved but for now it's ready to receive gifts for Eli. (svg here, you'll need 24 of these boxes)
6 Items/ 7 Weeks

Monday, 26 November 2012

More Engraving

I've been working on a commission for a new kindle case, I took the engraving technique I was using last week and made this little test piece which I'm hoping the customer likes and is happy to have on the case. I'm also working on a handful of orders of things I already sell, a vending machine, some advent calenders (for the end of the week obviously), the revamp of Donkey Kong as well as the new Laser Cutter design for Nottinghack. Wouldn't feel right if I wasn't ridiculously busy.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Grade Engraving

Greyscale engraving on the laser is achieved by cutting the darker areas for longer, or more densely or with more power. This opens up the potential for engraving height maps, where we intentionally make some bits higher than others. The whole engrave gains a 3D effect which could be used for all sorts of interesting pieces. Here are some examples I cut last night.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Project #5 130 Photo Frames

I've made several references to these already so I'm pleased that they're finally done (the wedding is next week). The frames are made from 3mm Spruce and the Koru swirls made 1.5mm Walnut. 130 frames in total have easily taken 30 hours over the last 2 weeks. They look good though and I'm sure they will be appreciated. (svg here)
5 Items /5 Weeks

Friday, 16 November 2012

Project #4 31 Great Circles

I have several large projects on the go, bulk quantities of the wedding invites and the photo frames. While those parts were cutting I needed something else to work on. My 15 great circle model was inspired by a challenge on the Make blog. When the model got featured on the blog, the new article issued an additional challenge to make the 25 and 31 intersection model, so I duly stepped up and I present to you the 31 circle model.

Made from card stock and 180 separate pieces, this model follows a similar construction to the last one. I used Cinema 4D (yes I know it's an animation package) to subdivide the basic 'buckyball' (football) shape. Then I subdivided each face to get the right number of intersections. This gives me the angles for each of the parts, pepakura unwrapped the model, and inkscape turned it into a sphere for me. Each edge has exactly two thicknesses of card to keep it looking uniform. More photos of the parts and construction technique are included below. (svg here)
4 items /4 weeks

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Project #3 Wedding Invites

I seem to have a few friends with weddings coming up so I like to make nice pretty things for them. My friends wanted wedding invites and they like the butterfly cage so a quick doodle later and I came up with this design. Slightly unusual to have an insert on the front but that's a good thing. The butterflies all fold to stand proud of the surface and the card has a perforated spine. Even with the insert it will be necessary to 'back' the front of the card so that white shows through the wings. I'm happy with the final result and it's that stack of 80 cards (8 hours cutting) that makes it worthy of being included to project 52. (svg here)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Real Wood Koru frames

Doesn't feel like a whole month ago since I made the first one of these. I recently acquired some real wood to see if it looked better and I tried different combinations of Koru and Frame colours. I settled on Walnut for the Koru shapes and Spruce for the actual frame.