Powder Press

EMF Camp always throws up lots of interesting opportunities and discussions. Apparently in the world of DIY cosmetics there is a shortage of presses for powder compacts. I laser cut a few samples from my acrylic off cuts with varying 'gap' sizes between the tin and the press. The downside to EMF is that I have no idea if these were actually any good for purpose but it was an interesting morning and discussion anyway.

Edge lit badges

One of the EMF projects that didn't make it to completion were these edge lit badges. It uses a similar technique to my own EMF badge (black spray paint over fluorescent perspex) except this time the UV led and coin cell is built into the badge. The reason it didn't get to completion is because the led needs a hole all the way through the badge but the LED has to be covered otherwise the eye can't see the subtle fluorescing (the LED is too bright). The prototype used a piece of black tape but it's not exactly an elegant solution. I also tried to cut the whole first, then engraved through a black label over placed over the whole thing but I couldn't get it to cut clean enough.

Wedding Schedule Pallet

While I was making my wooden crates I ended up having a conversation with a neighbour about a pallet I was eyeing up. Turns out they were keen to make a Wedding Schedule Pallet but didn't know how they were going to burn the words on, laser cutter to the rescue. 
I ended up fashioning a whole new pallet from half planks, it was easier to cut some planks short to deal with the damage caused by plank removal. Each plank was sanded smooth (but not too smooth because I wanted to keep the rustic effect). Planks were masked with paper tape and then put under the laser. I tried two different lettering effects, the brown letters were simply engraved, the black letters were outlined and then spray painted black through the masking. In the end the plain engraving looked nicer. The whole pallet was engraved really quickly and as you can see the wedding was yesterday so I can post it up today :)

My EMF Badge

I made a lot of different fluorescent coloured badge cases for EMF camp this year, I always like to keep some of the rarer materials for special people. I made these badge cases for the core team working on the Cybar installation. It's fluorescent orange perspex which has been sprayed with black acrylic paint. The laser then cuts through the paint and into the material so when the material shines under the UV lights the letters glow through the paint.

Access Point Configuration

A lot of my ESP8266 work creates a local access point rather than connecting directly to the internet so I thought I would release this source code that allows me to do that. It's a simple arrangement that opens an access point and creates a webserver. Once started you're able to change the SSID and Password for the access point from within the browser and if it all goes wrong you can revert to an open network with a known name with a few well timed button pushes. (source here).
A lot of my gadgets only use a local access point, I have this fear that if I gave the 'cake owls' full access to the internet someone will figure out how to hack them remotely and there will be a botnet of cakes before I can stop it. The devices also need to be user friendly because I can't assume anything about the technical skills of the people using them. The admin web page provides a friendly way to input a new SSID and Password for the network but. If the user forgets these values th…

Hive Board Game

I've been meaning to make a set of Hive Game Tiles for some time, it's quite simple to learn and it's very portable. I intend to introduce new people to the game too so I thought it would be quite useful to have a brief movement hint on the back of each tile too. These tiles were cut from 9mm Poplar ply, stained mahogany for the red tiles and then sanded a coated with some acrylic lacquer. The first red tile was sanded back a bit too hard but once I made all the tiles the same I quite like the look. The insects are engraved and then outlined, the text is just a low power cut using a Hershey font. (svg here)

Each tile was sanded to within an inch of it's life using 800grit wet and dry paper, this makes some really fine sawdust that snuck into all the gaps of the tile. After becoming light headed from blowing the sawdust out of the gaps I realised that I now have an airbrush/compressor that can do that for me. I took a video of all the process too because it's quite…

Laser cutter speed difference

Here is the video of my two laser cutters cutting the same tile side by side. It prompted a few people to ask 'how come the 30W tube is much faster than the 100W tube?'

I picked the new laser cutter based upon speed. It had a few specification stats that suggested it was fast and the photos showed a fairly lightweight head etc. Now that I have the laser in my possession I can see all the design decisions that make it fast. In the case of these Carcassonne tiles I only need the full power of the laser when I'm cutting the tiles out.

The low power engraving lines are done with minimal power, only 8% of the 30W tube. The metal RF tube gives me much more control over the low end power, the head can fly around at 100mm/s, twice the speed of the larger machine. The engraving can be done at 1000mm/s, again nearly twice the speed and empirical evidence suggests that it is actually moving at that speed.

The 30W laser can easily handle the 3mm poplar ply wood at a sensible 35mm/s, t…