Vale Hourglass

I've started doing ritual magic at vale. It's generally a 10 minute performance where you create an interesting magic item. To time rituals more accurately it helps to have an appropriately themed measuring device so I bought a plain glass sand timer and built a custom cage to go around it. To line up the curves more accurately with the cage I took a photo of the glass and scaled it appropriately in inkscape, this let me quickly and easily trace around the basic shape to get something that holds the glass securely. 
The decoration was quick and simple, just using some runes from the vale alphabet and their corresponding meanings that might relate to rituals and time.

German Caverna Trays

My Caverna Gaming Trays sell moderately well on Etsy, it makes a big difference to the game being able to pull all the buildings out of the box without having to set them up every time. I hadn't considered the fact that the game would be available in other languages. As a custom request I produced a German set of trays that will now go on sale as a variation in the store.

Custom Initials Carcassonne

I was asked a few weeks back if it was possible to put some custom initials onto the back of the Carcassonne tiles instead of the usual letter 'C'. Since the tile set redux everything is layered up into engravings and line artwork so it was a moderately simple thing to do. First I had to remove the existing 'C' and fill in the engraving gaps so that I could produce a full tile with no letter. Now I'm able to produce any letter I want by subtracting new letters from that completed back. I'm fairly happy with the results and am going to offer them as an option in the web store.

Proxy tokens

I ran through another batch of these wargaming proxy tokens. With like minded friends, I believe it is a quick and cheap way of testing some of the potential armies you may want to play with. You could obviously print and cut your own tokens from paper or card but I imagine there is something nicer about having a solid disk that's easy to pick up.

Puzzle Dividers

At the peak of kickstarter fulfilment I had up to 100 puzzles produced in stock waiting to be packed. with four different colours and 8 different puzzles, trying to keep track of the 32 different varieties was very tricky. I created these dividers to help me stack the puzzles and up minimize their footprint. I was also able to lay out the dividers so that they overlap each other and I could get as many as possible onto a single sheet. One pair of dividers could provide the first and third separators and the mirror image provides the second and fourth.

Fast Remote Strandbeest

The remote control strandbeest have been available in the webstore for some time now, I had them on display at Maker Central and at one point I dropped one onto the floor to try and catch up with Matt Denton. It was was close but ultimately just too slow to make any sensible progress so I thought it would be a fun project to beef up the drive motors and make a one off machine that moves at a sensible pace.

I had a suitable motor driver chip that interfaces neatly with the wemos D1 controller I'm using, it's able to output an amp to drive some sensible sized motors. I found some 1000 rpm motors that fit neatly inside the space available, wired them all up and adjusted the code to use the motor driver chip instead of the servo motors. The trouble is that the motors run too fast, the joints on the legs of the plastic kit shake themselves loose as it moves. It probably moved about 50% faster than the servo version but it still doesn't feel fast enough. I need to figure out ho…

Height Tools vs Touch Probes

I feel like I should preface this article with a mention that I had a natural bias towards height tools despite never using a machine with a touch probe. I personally prefer machines without attachments on the cutting heads because they can move faster. Now I have two machines with the two different focusing mechanisms I'm finally able to write this article from a factual viewpoint.

Why the laser needs focusing

The beam that comes out of the end of the laser tube is actually quite wide, my 100W tube can make a spot size 5-10mm across if I shoot it directly at a piece of material. This beam wouldn't be very effective at cutting material so it needs to be focused down to a small spot. This increases the intensity of the beam at that exact location and allows it to vaporise the material as it traces out the shape of your work.

There is a lens in the cutting head of the laser that focuses the wide beam of the laser into a single spot point on the surface of the material. It's …