Saturday, 19 March 2016

Prototype box 2

If I'm testing boxes then I might as well try a few designs out, this one is a lot curvier than the last, it would be harder to build but looks better, decisions decisions (although given the timescale the simpler box is better really)

Friday, 18 March 2016

Prototype Box

I have a project soon that requires a fairly large box, the best way to make sure the box is correct is to make some prototypes. The box is fairly standard, poplar box with a living hinge curves. The lid was made from clear acrylic and the curve put in using a hot air gun. The bend radius is way too tight but it's proof of concept and I learn how not to bend curves into acrylic.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Getting Hammered

After a dozen or so maker faires last year my demo useless machines were looking a little bit worse for wear. The hammers had a tendency to slip on the axle, meaning they didn't have enough oomph to flip the switch. After a bit of thought I replaced the wooden hammers with perspex ones. I still engrave the keyed shaft shape into the hammer but because it's made of plastic it is a lot more resistant to the torsional forces going through it. I've yet to have one of these fail yet.

If you have a useless machine with a yellow motor and a wooden hammer and you would like a replacement, just drop me a line.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Caverna Storage Trays

Caverna is often called Agricola 2.0, it's Uwe Rosenburgs second farming game and it makes some great improvements over Agricola. Consider this a positive review, if you're into games it's a great game and with up to 7 players it comes with an awful lot of parts, ideal for a storage tray solution. This one was a bit tricky, getting everything into the box and closing the lid while still making all the trays large enough to hold the parts. All the tiles are separated into their own sections and I had to put in 0.8mm ply dividers to squeeze it all in there.


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Catan Storage Trays

Another blast from the past, I previously made a tray for the resource cards in Settlers of Catan, the main problem was that it was too big to fit inside the box. In this iteration I split the card trays into two sections and used some of my standard tubs for all the tokens, a little bit of storage for the numbers, dice and ports and I have a new storage solution that fits inside the box and can hold the 5-6 player expansion as well as all my magnetic tiles

Monday, 14 March 2016

Keyflower Storage Trays

Another months old project, my friends bought me Keyflower for Christmas and given the 2 year delay between making storage for Agricola and making myself storage for Agricola I felt I should make the bins for this game quickly. The game is played in 4 seasons and new Hex tiles are drawn for the season so it made sense to separate them into 4 stacks. The other 3 stacks are for starting tiles (upto 6 players), restocking boats and player order. Finally some bins hold all the resources for the game, Iron, Wood, Stone, Gold and Green Meeples. Bins like these really make setting up a game so much faster.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Arachnid Labs Angled Brackets

I'm going to start by saying this is a bad product review, which is very different to a review of a bad product. I was sent some of these angled brackets by Arachnid Labs, it's an L-Shaped bracket with 2 pre-tapped M3 holes and it's intended to hold 2 panels together at right angles to each other. This review will probably come across as overly negative, I had some brackets and no immediate use for them so I had to figure out how to use them and where they will be useful.

These brackets are absolutely perfect for much larger designs and cases, particularly in perspex. I have since gone on to make such a box while prototyping designs for our new laser cutter.

The first thing I made was a simple test brace. This allowed me to check that the holes and slots were all in the right places. One side of the bracket has an extra tab, cutting a slot into the material allows the tab to key into the material and it prevents it rotating. I decided to make finger joints on the material join to prevent the second panel from rotating, this was not entirely necessary as long as the slotted side is longer than the non slotted side. The joint is a lot stronger than I expected, it's very sturdy and has a lot of potential.

With the holes in the right places I tried to make my first box. I used the brackets conservatively and put only 4 brackets built into the base of the box. The first problem I noticed is that the brackets don't hold the side panels at exactly 90 degrees so they started to splay at the top of the box. If you want to make a full box you're going to need brackets on every side and that makes the smallest box possible about 50x50x50mm.

I made a second box, this was intended to be a business card holder for some Archnid labs cards (when I show these brackets to people they will want to know where they can from). The box has a drop down front to access the cards, and learning from the previous box I put brackets all around the sides to stop them splaying. I used 2 brackets to hold the base on and 1 bracket for the lid (I only want to unscrew 1 screw to open the box). The lid works moderately well, I put the slot in the lid panel so when I remove the bracket it isn't in the way of the cards, the fundamental flaw is in the base. Using only 2 brackets on the base means the whole thing leans forward. Another fairly major issue is that the brackets inside the base stop the cards from sitting flat inside the box.

On the positive side of things; 
  • The brackets are well made, the screw threads were particularly smooth.
  • They are a sensible price, about 18p each.
  • They make a really sturdy joint.
I would consider using them in future projects but it has to be the right project. I have several issues which would prevent me using them in most of my projects.
  • I like wood, I make dozens of boxes with finger joints and I glue them together, it's strong, fast and cheap. This is a bracket for use with plastic boxes and materials you can't just glue together.
  • Each side of the box has a protruding bolt, this is just an aesthetic on the sides but on the base you are left with a box that rests on a series of bolt head. There is a good chance it will scratch the surface it is resting on.
  • The inside of a small box is cluttered with the brackets themselves. If you want to put things inside the box you may have to juggle it round the bracket and things can't rest flush against any of the inside surfaces.
  • I thought this might be good for box lids, but if you leave the brackets on the side walls and just take the lid off you have brackets protruding into the opening which are likely to scratch your hands as you reach into the box.
  • There is a minimal size that these brackets would be useful for, these small demo boxes were all too small really which is why this is a bad review.
I've had time to play and learnt from my mistakes and I have said I would still use these brackets so what are they good for? Large plastic enclosures, the kind where you would use real hinges for lids and rubber feet on the bottom of the box. It just so happens I have one of these larger projects coming up in the next few weeks so stay tuned for that because these brackets will definitely come into their own on that project. In the meantime why not buy some for yourself and give them a try, I'm going to make sure I have a few in my toolbox for those moments when they are right for the job.