Saturday, 27 September 2014
It's a bit of a work in progress but I've started to list the places that I buy my materials from. I get asked a lot about the poplar wood ply and I guess a blog post is only relevant for a week before it disappears off the bottom of the page (much like this will). So you'll note the new materials page in the header which will take you to the ever changing/growing list of materials I'm working with.
I'm actually still looking for laserable bamboo if anyone knows where to get some
Friday, 26 September 2014
Every so often (OK quite often) I do things 'just because'. I saw Jordan's Facebook page for White Knight Design pop up on my feed the other day and I thought this material would work well for it.
What I really like about this project is the complete overkill. I started with a silver sheet and etched all the background away, leaving the logo proud. I love the matt surface left behind by a high resolution etch. It took an hour to etch 288x114mm so it's completely impractical and for that I love it.
Ed Saperia (of Heredox fame) introduced me to the wonderful pen and ink artwork of Iain Macarthur with the best of all questions, "can it be laser cut?". Move forward 6 weeks and while I was exhibiting at the rather quiet Leicester Creator Faire I finally found the 2.5 hours I needed to devote my laser cutter to engraving one of his pieces in sufficient resolution. I love the way the wood grain shows through on the etched patches giving it some extra depth amongst the intricate details. Sadly I fear that the stark black and white of the original does this piece far more justice than the cream and burnt colours of the laser but it was a fun piece to etch and the visitors enjoyed seeing the laser do all of the hard work..
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
I loved guardians of the galaxy and I was inspired to make this veneer portrait of Rocket and Groot. I used layered veneers on Groot to make the different sections of his body stand out. If I were to remake it I think I would add a little more definition to Rockets gun to make it seem a bit more 3D (svg here)
I'm always happy to try new materials that people send me to see if they can be engraved and this time it was the turn of Quartz crystals. Slate, Sandstone and Marble all engrave so there was always a chance this could work and as you can see from the image it wasn't a complete failure but the quartz was chipping away under the laser beams so it makes for some very rough edges to the engrave. It's not good enough to warrant doing again but at least it has been tried now.
Sunday, 21 September 2014
Over the next few days I'll be making some changes to the blog and adding some content to the bar at the top. I'm starting with the galleries. Underneath the blog I've been storing all my images in several picasa photo albums (they tie in nicely with the blogger interface). Now that the blog has grown to 700+ posts it's hard to randomly browse it all to see all of the things. This way you can browse the galleries directly and more easily find your way to the good stuff. Happy browsing.
Oh and btw, having just browsed all the galleries myself, this Iron Man wood veneer is my current most favourite item of all time (subject to change of course)
This is the cake that dinkydoodle designs made, on top of the cake stand that I made. In a rather disappointing twist the stand worked perfectly during testing but failed when it was fully loaded up with cake. The customer was unaware of the rotating potential so nothing really hurt except a bit of pride. More photos of this wonderful cakey creation can be found on their FB page.
Monday, 15 September 2014
I thought I was at the end of the 'things made at EMF camp' but then I remembered I actually cut some stuff for myself while I was at EMF camp. It's probably because I prepared most of the things in advance but they were cut and assembled at EMF camp so that counts right?
I've made flavoured vodkas before by dissolving boiled sweets into vodka and coming up with some pretty tasty flavours. This year I thought I would go one step further, I made 5 sweety flavoured vodkas and 1 nasty flavoured vodka and being a field full of tech geeks I figured they would appreciate a mechanism to automatically select a flavour for them. In brief, an arduino uses the random function to pick the appropriate bottle. A row of surface mount LED's illuminates the bottle selected and these are driven simply with a ULN2008 driver chip. The LED's spin round in a circle and fade in and out as they are selected. The rotation slows down and picks one bottle to end upon.
I'm not sure the random seeding from the A->D is particularly effective and I was basically resetting the power each time to make it spin again so it had this weird habit of picking the nasty, Horse Radish, flavour every time but that just all adds to the fun.
Sunday, 14 September 2014
"Alex Bailey requested a laser cut gift voucher for his dad, Adrian" ;)
So that was basically it, but I realised it was a good idea and agreed to make him a little laser cut item to represent a gift card. This all happened weeks ago but given the recent spate of catapult fiddling you can see how the two get connected. You get some instant gratification in the form of a mini catapult which you can assemble while you wait for me to ship the item you pick from my blog (this includes customised items).
If you would like a giftcard
Both giftcards and catapults are available from the same listing
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Parametric Design is the generation of files from an initial series of variables. The pattern is described in terms of these variables and when the values are changed the whole design is adjusted. These variables can typically be used to store things like the material thickness and object size. Something like this tabbed box maker offers true parametric design but it's an extension that is written in python so you require some programming skills before you can write your own. For something like this mini catapult design where we only want to change one variable a full blown extension would be overkill so there is an easier way.
I spent a lot of time working on the variants of this catapult so forgive another post centred around it. When I scaled it down to half size a lot of the press fit joints no longer fitted together because the material was a little bit more than 3mm so I realised there was a quick and easy solution to changing thickness.
When the design consists of entirely laser cut parts you can cheat the parametric design process. When the catapult is scaled all the parts stay sized relative each other, so I created a version of the file where the material width is considered to be 1 unit. Any tab or slot that relates to the material width is 1 unit wide (in my case mm's). When I want to cut the item in a new material I take this base file and scale it by the material width. When I have 3mm ply I scale it up by 300% and I'll save that file and run with it, but if I get some thinner stock, say 2.9mm, I can go back to the base file and quickly scale it by 290%.
This trick only works for items where most of the parts are laser cut. It wouldn't work with something like my marble machines because the marbles are a fixed size and the holes to mount the motor need to have the right spacing, but it will work for some designs and it is a lot quicker than recreating the whole thing parametrically.
Here is the catapult file scaled and ready for conversion to your own material thickness if you would like to give it a try. I recommend something like 0.5mm nylon chord for the string to go with it, you can work out exactly the right length of the string by wrapping it around the notches in the edge of the board. (svg here)
Catapults, large and small can be bought from my shop