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Showing posts from November 10, 2019

Large Scrolling Display

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I've been slowly upgrading my Christmas lights over the last few years (and apparently not really blogging it). What started as one 300 pixel string has crept up to four pixel strings last year and I was going to add a fifth this year. The 'From Shadows' event approached with a strong venue that has power throughout and suddenly I was able to take along my light strip and put it to use displaying messages in the gaol. I purchased two more strings (because it's easier to make fonts with 7 lines) and I bought an Teensy Opto adaptor to make connecting them all up easier.


I tried previously to hang up the strips at various intervals across the distance but there was always a lot of droop in the middle and it was tricky to get all the strips lined up horizontally. This time I attached the whole length to four back boards and cable tied them every 15 pixels. This ended up with a very sturdy system where all the strips stay in alignment despite being moved around.

The softwa…

ARC Prison Facility Door Locks

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The 'From Shadows' event was held at the Gaol in Oakham and as you would expect from an urban air soft site held in an old prison there are still actual cells available for playing in. Looking for a futuristic way to indicate if a cell is open/closed and being unable to actually lock people in cells I was asked to make these 'door locks' for the event.

Each door lock is a simple arrangement of batteries and LED's, keeping them cheap allowed me to make ten locks within the budget. The state change from locked to unlocked is done with a micro switch that becomes activated once a key card is inserted into the slot at the top of the unit. Once I started pushing cards into the slot though I realised I would be able to do something much more clever for minimal effort. By taking a number of notches out of the bottom of the card and having a similar notch arrangement inside the slot I could set it up so that each card would only open the appropriate door lock.

The notches…

Ley Line Crystal

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Not everything can or should be laser cut, but the laser can usually help you make the right tools for the things that can't. This ley line crystal is a perfect example. From Shadows asked if I could make a large crystal prop that represented the crossing point of several ley lines. I had a serious think about my options and almost completely forgot that I actually own a vacuum former which is nearly perfect for this job. I could simply vacuum form two half shells of a large gem, paint them and stick them together to form a suitable prop.

The vacuum former is a great tool for turning plastic sheets into fancy shapes but you need something to form over, if I could go down the shop and buy the right thing to form over I wouldn't need to be doing any of this at all, this is where the laser cutter comes into it's own. I found a suitable looking 3D model of a gem online, from there I used Pepakura to unwrap the model into 2D flats with tabs in the appropriate places. I exporte…