Iris Revamp

I made this 5 point Iris way back in 2015, it was entirely wooden and given that it has been stored in containers and moved in and out and around for each event I'm surprised how well the whole thing has held up. Now that it's time to revamp the machine I wanted to keep this piece and turn it into a much more central part.
The Iris previously led to a hole in the wall which could be (but never was) used to put things in and out. It always had the feeling that you were staring into the heart of the machine when you opened it and looked through (mostly because you could see the backstage junk through it). With my recent work on Infinity cubes it was fairly obvious what needed to go back there. This leaves a minor problem though, any large box on the back of this panel is going to be quickly destroyed as it gets moved in/out of storage.

The solution to this tricky problem was to build a cube that could unfold and lie completely flat. The final back panel of the cube could just b…

Hidden drawers

For another machine panel I wanted a way of passing smaller (smaller than person sized) objects in and out of the machine. The idea was to have a few different sized drawers in the panel, so I cut a few random sized boxes and looked to install them. This was the point where I had a much better idea and had to scrap those boxes. I have a tonne of 39mm squares from my caverna storage trays, they've been accumulating in a box waiting for something to happen to them. I realised they would look great on this panel and then the drawers could be in unit sizes and they would hide amongst the squares. I set out to fill the board leaving gaps for where I wanted the drawers to be and I alternated the grain on the squares to make a very subtle checker board pattern. It was a pain sanding and shimming each drawer down to fit exactly in the gap as required but ultimately worth it because it's hard to see where the drawers actually are when they're closed.

Another Treasure Chest

Another custom Valetreasurechest. I like to make them all slightly different because it's still not a massive game and these boxes are likely to be in similar places at similar times. If they were identical it would be really obvious. This one has internal storage trays, utilising some of the space above the smaller resources. The trays secure into place with little dimples to stop them from sliding around on the shelf. There is the usual hidden compartment under the shorter trays too. This is the smallest box so far and has the most space so I'm quite pleased with it.
The lid is cut from two sheets of 3mm poplar, the dragon pieces were removed and painted before being reinserted onto the top layer. There are fine dragon details carved into the black areas using a low power cut, it's hard to see in the pictures but they're definitely noticeable on the lid.

Hatching a plan

As part of the revamp of the vale machine, I was asked to make several new panels. I had an idea for a very large hatch that could be used to send big things in and out of the machine. I wanted it to have a sturdy metal feel so I decorated it up in metallic paints with rust effects. The whole hatch is hinged so it lifts up and allows things (or people) access to the inside of the machine. When/if this gets used it'll be fun to see what happens, for now it's bolted shut with a few hex bolts so it's not immediately easy to open.

Sliding Tile Pipe Puzzle

I wanted to make a puzzle for the Vale machine that could be used for various different scenarios, lots of different configurations that can be adjusted and connected as required. I decided upon this sliding puzzle with a pipework theme, the goals can be created as required to connect the points around the outside. After a good hour of faffing with routes I ended up just filling the board with at least one complete solution, all points connected and no endless pipes.

Each tile was engraved along two edges which allow it them to have enough slack to slide along each other. With large slide puzzles you can pull on all the pieces at once and generate enough slack to pull them out of the puzzle. To eliminate any possibility of that happening I glued every other tile into position, the puzzle can still be solved by moving round these islands but now the parts can't be pulled out by accident. 
The frame was made with a 6mm gap around the outside so that it can be inserted into the mach…

Cake Poppers

I have to admit I'm still a bit bewildered by some of these crazy cake contraptions. In this instance, these cake popping stands are used to make gifts 'pop' out of the middle of cakes. For an upcoming exhibition I was asked to motorise two of them so they can be seen going up and down automagically all day long. After a few tweaks and a redesign I ended up using non captive stepper motors pushing TR8 rods up and down. The whole thing uses a simple stepper motor driver and who know the Wemos D1 would be my preferred micro simply because of it's convenient mounting holes. The only other component is a 7805 regulator to supply the 5V to the Wemos board.

Ape Stencils

The second set of stencils I cut for Ape index were based on their logo. The design has a few islands though, parts that are not connected to the stencil, which made it trickier to cut. The solution in this case was to create a bridge piece that held all the islands in the correct place. The bridge was a little bit too flexible when made from thin card but could easily have been strengthened by folding the top over 90 degrees.