Friday, 30 December 2016

Seed Packet with Print Alignment


The kids grew some pretty epic sunflowers over the summer and we harvested the seeds to grow some more next year (third year running actually). We decided to share the seeds with people for Christmas and I laser cut a load of packets to go with them. The details were printed onto the paper with a standard laser printer, as you can see from the close ups the cut lines were incredibly close to the printed lines. The trick is to let the laser cut a hole to show you where to put the sheets of paper.






Sunday, 25 December 2016

Cephalopod Dice Game


I ran across this game called Cephalopod on the Mark Steere Games website. It's a fun two player game that doesn't take too long to learn. I built the play area with indents to hold the dice in location and I build a tray underneath large enough to hold all 48 die, I put a little spacer into the tray to fill the void where the 49 die would be and to stop them rattling around. (svg here)(rules here)




Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Xmas Everybody - Slate


Slate is one of the materials that I knew could be laser engraved but I just never got round to doing it (I've had some slate coasters for years but we have a functional old table and don't use coasters). So when I was asked to do a house sign I jumped at the chance. It's a simple design but it came up lovely. I even marked where the holes should drilled (but decided not to drill it myself). The best thing is that I was sent 2 pieces of slate in case of accident and I got it right first time so now I have my own piece to play with (or leave on the shelf for years with the coasters).

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas Baubles


I wanted to up my game and make some really fancy tree decorations this year. Laser cutting is very popular this year but a lot of the designs you can buy are just cut straight onto laser ply. I opted for real woods this year, 3mm thick, Spruce, Bass and Mahogany. I test these in ply and then cut them in wood and realised that the best way to make them stand out would be multiple woods in each design. With 3 base colours I could also mix and match a few designs.  (svg here)

As you'll have noticed the blog is a bit slower than it used to be while I work upon the vanillabox but there will be good things coming in the new year, so until then merry Christmas and a happy new year. 



Monday, 19 December 2016

Rotational Symmetry Line Drawings


I recently saw someone using the Amaziograph app for the iPad, it allows you to create drawings with rotational symmetry and people were making really fancy doily shapes by swiping their finger across the screen. I knew it would lend itself well to line art but as I investigated these apps I discovered they were all raster based and wouldn't easily give vector artwork that could be cut so I had to find another way. 
It's fairly straight forward to replicate in Inkscape. Inkscape allows you to clone an object and the clones all update when the original changes. I drew a simple line and then cloned it dozens of times, arranging them all with rotational symmetry. As I modified the base line, all the other lines updated and these interesting patterns grew in complexity. The drawing was already vectored so it was easy to get it across to the laser. The whole pattern was cut in a single laser line so I filmed the process too. (svg here)






Sunday, 11 December 2016

Cross Box Puzzle


About a week ago I made this puzzle box as a prop for a LRP event, I've kept it back just in case someone saw it in advance. It's a great little build and a good puzzle, I won't expand on the details yet because I may be working with the creator to make more puzzle boxes via kickstarter but in the meantime you can get an idea of it from this video (and that's enough breadcrumbs if you really want to know more).


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Knuckle Dusters


I end up making some pretty odd things with the laser and these 'Bump & Grind' knuckle dusters rate pretty highly. It's LARP related (obviously) so they're made of foam to be soft enough to wear. They still need latexing and they're probably too small for anyone with sensible sized hands but the joy of the laser is that you can scale things up easily.


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Christmas Tree Star


Eli and I spent the week slowly making a death star model. It's largely paper mache and paint but we did laser cut some cardboard baffles to go inside the middle of the sphere. We even wrote an Instructable about it.


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Cobbled Streets


A lot of my friends are into wargaming so I tend to get asked questions about how I would do things. In this instance somebody had engraved a section of cobbles like this for use as a road, it took 25 minutes and he was keen to do it faster (and therefore cheaper). I suggested it would be better as a low power cut with the laser out of focus, this would give you wide lines that would look like an engrave. The equivalent cut took 7.5 minutes, over 3 times faster. 

Defocusing the laser is a straight forward process, I simply put varying thicknesses of material under the height tool and set the laser up as usual. In this instance I achieved a suitable line thickness when the laser was 6mm out of focus.

I built the cobbles into a Z shape which can tessellate easily but also makes it harder to spot where the overlap pattern is, especially if you mirror and rotate the pattern as you go along. If you'd like to use this cobble pattern in your own designs, please feel free (svg here)





Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Denim Sample


Dominic and I just attended the first Kitronik Teacher Evening to help demonstrate laser cutting and laser cut stuff. I was looking for some cheap materials I could have for a sampler and I remember seeing that you can laser etch onto denim. A sacrificial pair of jeans and 10 minutes later I had etched this pattern onto the surface of the material. It's quite impressive how much colour contrast you end up getting.


Friday, 25 November 2016

Sliced Skull



There are a couple of laser sliced cardboard skulls online but none that seem to be sharing the files so I decided to make my own for the Kitronik teacher evening. I found a 3D model of a skull in the Autodesk library and used 123D make to slice it in the desired direction. The result was slightly lopsided because the software slices from left to right rather than the middle outwards so I took the first 14 layers and mirrored them to make sure my skull was truly symmetrical. The whole thing was cut from corrugated cardboard 5mm thick (svg here)




Sunday, 6 November 2016

Halloween Costume


Halloween feels like a long time ago, but I did make Eli a costume for the night. I copied the rocket man costume that's been floating round the internet. The rocket pack was made from 2 coke bottles and the turbines on the top were laser cut and painted. The fabric for the flames was all laser cut into flame shapes and then sewn onto a spare pair of trousers.

For further house decoration I laser cut some eyes into cardboard and rolled them into tube shapes. A glow stick inserted into the middle of the roll illuminated the eyes and I placed them in the hedge row. Finally I programmed a string of neopixels to give a few flashing effects and that really brought the clown face to life.




Saturday, 29 October 2016

Halloween Decoration



It's nearly Halloween and I had an afternoon of building fun with the kids trying to make a new decoration. This scary clown will be mounted over our doorway on Monday night ready to greet the trick or treaters. It took about 2 hours all done, 45 minutes drawing, 15 mins cutting and an hour painting and assembly. The face was drawn and split into several different layers which made it easy to give the kids one part and one colour of paint plus adds to the 3D effect. It's just corrugated card and poster paint which makes it cheap and we'll hope for a dry night. (svg here)




Sunday, 23 October 2016

Laser Cut Cryptex



This is my laser cut cryptex. It features 28 different characters and 9 rings, giving a total possible 10.5 Trillion different combinations. I took a bit of time developing the design so that I could add some nice features. This cryptex file is laid out so that you can have any number of rings in your own design. The best feature is that the codeword is changeable, each locking ring has an outer letter ring that can be placed in any one of the 28 different positions. Once the rings are back in place the ring locking bars can added and they prevent the rings from being modified until the box is open again. It's a bit hard to explain so I made a video showing how it all work (svg here)

It took a long time to assemble this so I lived with my initial design choices but if I were to remake it I would adjust the file to make the ring locking bars out of 6mm ply and maybe put some blind holes onto the code rings to prevent the code being brute forced.






Friday, 30 September 2016

1000 sharks in the making

The 1000th project for this blog very much took on a life of its own. I knew I wanted to make something big and impressive so the idea of making 1000 of something had a lot of appeal. The laser makes it very easy to churn out 1000 identical items so I also wanted to make something that needed assembly, something where I had specifically touched all 1000 things. So I built this little shark model, it had a few iterations and eventually ended up with five ribs and a flexible tail.



I managed to tessellate 60 onto a sheet of poplar ply and I set the machine to cutting out 18 sheets, each sheet taking just over an hour to complete. In between sheets I would pull the parts out of the laser and scoop them into boxes for later assembly. I spent many nights sat in front of the TV assembling parts and in full flow I was assembly one every 45 seconds, so it was roughly another 18 hours for shark assembly. This left me with two,80L crates full of sharks and lots of time to figure out what the next step should be



Arranging the sharks into some kind of sharknado was appealing but it would need a sturdy framework. Suspending 1000 sharks inside a fish tank would be cool but there would be a lot of strings so I hit upon the idea of sticking the sharks together to form a larger shark. One big thing made from lots of smaller things would look pretty good so I set about making one giant shark from all these pieces.

The first step was to create a former to make sure I got the right shark shape. Thankfully with a laser cutter you can change the scale of things pretty easily and in no time at all I had a full sized model form corrugate card. This allowed me to check it for size in the final tank and gave me something to work around. I just started gluing sharks into location on the side of the cardboard, putting them between the ribs and making sure that the shark picked up the right shapes in the right proportions. Because the card was flexible I was about to add a bit more shape into the design as it evolved.



Each shark was built in several stages and took about 40 hours each to complete. The first half of the shark was built against the cardboard former. All the sharks were packed as tightly as possible and hot glued together. Two more layers of sharks were added on top of that giving the body some shape. Next the fin was added to the top and sides and the tail made last. Because the tail was the thinnest part it was the first thing built on the other side when the cardboard was removed. The flexible corrugate spine allowed me to add some curves into the body shapes.



The first shark only used around 500 of the smaller sharks which left me a problem, I had to build a second shark to use up all 1000 sharks. The second shark was built in the same manor but it gave me a chance to put the shark in a different pose.



To make the shark tank I took the laser crate from a Greyfin laser cutter and very carefully extracted the laser trying not to dismantle the box. I secured the lid back down and had full access through one of the side panels. In the walls of the tank I cut holes for the portholes and screwed them in using Dome nuts to give them an extra nautical feel. I used the large Just Add Sharks Stencil to spray paint the company logo onto the side of the tank taking care to mask off the red and black areas as required.



The inside of the tank was painted white to hide the footprints and marks left from the laser cutter and the whole thing was illuminated with a water effect lamp. The sharks were suspended from the ceiling using fishing wire and hooks screwed into the sturdy points of the roof.