Planet Nottinghack

28 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Marble Run

I copied the classic kids toy to make some of my own marble run pieces. It's a simple design which goes together with a little glue, it's scaled for 10mm ball bearings. I added round disks to the top and bottom of the pieces, this allows them to be rotated to any angle to create more interesting structures. The whole pattern was set up to be one long thin strip, this means it can fit into the skinny scraps that are left over from most projects. (svg here)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 28 May 2016 09:36 PM

Material Storage Shelving

I made the most of a sunny day to pull everything out of my garage and restack it into a sensible order. I bought some shelving a few months bock and had all the materials on them but because they were crammed at this end (where the crates are in the photo) I was unable to actually pull sheets out of them, I shuffled them round and gained myself a whole bunch of material shelves. Some of the materials do stick out a little but nothing too serious. I even managed to empty 4 crates which is why there is a such a big stack.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 28 May 2016 09:01 PM

27 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Latching Box

This box from thingiverse user Noloxs features a latching lid and angled hinge arrangement to hold the lid open at an angle. I scaled it to 3mm and made it from poplar ply. The hinge arrangement is a little bit sticky but definitely works to stop if from falling back. I'm not sure about the latching arrangment, as soon as I pushed the lid onto it the pegs snapped so that definitely needs to be stronger (or have less force on it) I'm still learning a lot about what works and what doesn't. (svg here)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 27 May 2016 04:30 PM

25 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

SD Card Holder

This little container for SD cards has a sliding lid with latching detents to hold it in place. It's a nice little idea and I had seen someone with one at a maker faire before. MDF is a fairly nasty material for these things as soon as I push the lid into place the detents actually tore slightly (the bottom photo shows the weak points). The case I saw at the faire was actually one of these remix cases made in acrylic which is a better material and the detents are about 50% longer. Because the originals aren't shared in the svg file format I took the liberty of extending the detents in my copy of the file. (svg here)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 25 May 2016 09:19 PM

24 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford


I was looking for inspiration when I stumbled across this U-Box from Stanford Graduate School of Education. It's an interesting project with some great features, I didn't calibrate things correctly so my box is a little wobbly and loose, the assembly clips are definitely clever. The files are shared in multiple formats on their site but as ever... (svg here)

The lid rotates round 270 degrees on these large disks, the lids can fold down flat against the side of the box which is a very neat feature. 

An extra shim of material is affixed to the underside of the lid so that it fills the gap when the lid is closed. In the closed position the lid clips into place with a slight friction fit. 

Here is one of the assembly clips, it springs into place once into the gap and a second spring on the top pulls it out of the gap so it pulls tight.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 24 May 2016 09:20 PM

23 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Working Dice Tower (with plans)

The final challenge for the dice tower was to make the baffles stay in the tower when picked up and to make them extend into the new catchment tray. The solution came in the form of a living hinge, a small flexible section at the bottom of the baffles that could slide out into the tray. Small lips on either side stop the baffles from falling out of the tower, but are small enough that the tower can still fold flat. I'm sure there are many things that could be improved upon so please let me know if you build one or make any changes (svg here

by (Martin Raynsford) at 23 May 2016 10:10 PM

22 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Collapsing Tower

More excessive use of pin hinges allowed me to create a collapsible tower. The previous designs spewed dice all over the table which was a bit irritating so this one had a catchment tray to stop the dice. Some of the pin hinges are 'L' shaped which allows the second layer to fold over on top of the first one. This first collapsible tower exhibited a few fundamental flaws. With no base to the tower there was nothing to stop the baffles falling out the bottom when it was moved. Also with the new catchment tray there is nothing to stop the baffles from sliding out of the front of the tower either. I made one last revision to solve these issues and tomorrow I'll share the files (thanks for being patient)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 22 May 2016 09:12 PM

Group Symbols

I was asked to make a stencil for a group called the Wardens in the Lorien Trust, I pointed out that the design had lots of islands and wouldn't make a very good stencil but as they wanted to paint them onto their shields I noted that I could laser cut the foam instead so here we have laser cut foam symbols to go onto shields (in two different sizes so they can see which works best)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 22 May 2016 07:46 PM

21 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Massive DM Screen

After posting my dice tower prototype to my geeky gaming friends on Facebook I was asked to make a DM screen. The idea fit well into the existing tower design, I could make a double tower, one pointing in and one pointing out, and separate them with the actual screens. Once the screens and baffles are removed they can all fold up neatly and be placed inside the tower. This design makes copious use of the pin hinge and is way too time consuming to be put into production, it needs a new hinge type integrated into the design 

by (Martin Raynsford) at 21 May 2016 08:28 PM

20 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Baffling Improvements (Dice Tower 2)

I knew I could get the baffling to be a lot flatter, in theory the thinnest it could be is the same as the material thickness. I replaced the hinges with some of these pin hinges that I've used previously. These were a bit of a faff to build but very effective at slimming the design down. These baffles fit the test tower perfectly and we very easy to remove. 

by (Martin Raynsford) at 20 May 2016 08:01 PM

19 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Dice Tower 1

Way back in July I was trying to make a dice tower, there are a lot of laser cut dice towers available online and they all suffer from issues in one way or another. A lot of them use friction fits which will eventually wear down, some use expensive magnets and still take a while to set up so I started looking at my own design.

A dice tower is just a box that could potentially fold flat, the only thing that stops it folding like a regular box are the baffles that the dice fall down. I built a basic box tower but made my baffles removable. When inside the box the baffles push against the sides of the box and holds the whole thing rigid. When removed the baffles fold flat alongside the box.

As a concept it worked fairly well except the baffles didn't fold particularly flat which is why I carried on developing the idea rather than blogging it at the time.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 19 May 2016 07:52 PM

Vale Box

Ruth drew me an amazing piece of art to go on the top of my vale box, vale happened at the weekend so now I feel like I can show it off to you guys. It's done with traditional pyromancy rather than lasered but it's lovely, exactly what I wanted for the box.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 19 May 2016 08:49 AM

17 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Geek Cake

This is the cake that the flux capacitor ended up in, it takes elements from lots of scifi series and shows. There are lots more pictures over on facebook. Halfway down the cake you'll notice some coloured pillars between the layers, we realised that we could turn the transparent cake frame into mini lightsabers so I illuminated them with neopixels and made them turn on/off over time.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 17 May 2016 08:56 PM

Welsh Masters Belt

As a very rush job last week I made a belt for the welsh regionals of colossal mania. It was last seen headed off to be painted and glued, when a photo surfaces I'll post it up here too.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 17 May 2016 08:40 PM

12 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Quick box

I wanted a quick box for Vale this weekend so I knocked this up from 6mm poplar, the joints are all a little bit tight and I have a weird feeling my laser isn't cutting vertically again. I wanted the lid to be secure so I put two more hinge points onto the lid. I'll gloss over the inscriptions as its too complicated to explain :) (svg here)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 12 May 2016 07:55 PM

11 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Right Angle Brackets

Dominic has been a fan of these assembly brackets for some time now, he even went as far as making a set and posting them onto thingiverse. I had to glue some wood sheets at right angles to each other and these seemed to be the right thing for the job so I cut myself a set too and glued everything appropriately. Pretty useful but mine were only 6mm thick to tended to flick themselves flat until I got the second clamp into place.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 11 May 2016 06:27 PM

09 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Drawing To Engraving

The third and final project from this years maker faire was a webcam capture program that would easily digitise children's drawings and then send them down to the laser cutter for engraving. The webcam holder with led lighting to illuminate the drawing. I used a c# wrapper for the open CV library to capture images from the webcam, a little bit of filtering to remove pixels that weren't black enough. The image was then converted to G Code, and transferred to a GRBL controller that was wired into the Greyfin laser cutter. The G Code simply drives the laser to the next black pixel and burns a single dot for each pixel, repeat for each black pixel in the image.

The program ended up being a bit of a mess as it evolved throughout the course of the weekend. It's got some nice features though such as the ability to capture or load an image for engraving, automatic detection of GRBL devices on the serial ports and free text sending to control GRBL directly. I've attached the code here should you want to achieve something similar (Source code)

One good thing that did come from the code was a simple program to save and load GRBL settings to a controller or a text file. I managed to overwrite my settings by accident and this program allows me to save them all in a text file and then send them to the controller in a few clicks, similar things probably exist elsewhere but this is my version. (Source and Executable)

Below the cut is a veritable rogues gallery of all the artwork that was done over the two days
Read more »

by (Martin Raynsford) at 09 May 2016 11:05 PM

07 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

vanillabox Prototyping

Over at Just Add Sharks we're building our own laser cutter and that means design revisions and multiple prototypes. I'm sure you all saw our previous version built over the course of a weekend and intended to test several design choices, such as the gantry mounted tube and the grbl/visicut software combination. We threw together an acrylic box full of interesting curves and features but when I got it home it felt very impractical. The curve on the lid was pretty wonky and I felt we needed to go back to the drawing board to design something we could actually build in quantity. With two weeks to go till the maker faire and a broken laser it was a pretty big task, but I'm very happy with this new revision.

The first significant change was to rebuild the gantry, the previous build used a large box section but that was replaced with a single sheet, the rail gives it strength and the stepper and drive belt can be fixed to it with minimal change. The laser tube mounts on the back half of the gantry, I flipped the tube to fire to the right so that the origin can be in the top left hand corner (like computer coordinates). The wires were routed in different directions leaving all the high voltage and pipes running through a cable guide on the right hand side and the signal wires running through the left hand side. On the right hand side the water/air pipes can just run straight out the back of the box.

The gantry rails were moved onto the side walls of the cutter, this makes it fair easier to lift the gantry up to the top of the machine and gives a nice large cutting area free of obstructions. The two walls of the laser cutter hold the rails, stepper motors and belts, all of the electronics are mounted on the reverse of the wall. The three main precision parts of this build can now be cut from simple flat sheets of metal. The laser cutter is actually functional with just 2 walls and a base to hold them apart, it would be very wobbly but all the essential alignment items are held tight on the gantry.

The design splits up the electronics into the two pods on the left and right of the machine, all the mains powered things are in the right and all the control electronics are in the left. The only wires running across the box are 24V supply for the steppers/controllers and the right hand Y axis stepper motor wires. A single curved panel over the pod provides some style as well as easy access to the internals when required. Lights mounted on the walls provide good illumination throughout the box.

This version of the vanillabox is functional, we're due to get some cutting videos up shortly. The final box will obviously be made of metal (due to wood flammability issues). The lid will undoubtedly change and be replaced for a metal piece with a laser absorbing window. My challenge now is to get the box drawn and professionally manufactured so we can finalise the price tag.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 07 May 2016 11:16 AM

05 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Wooden Spoon

With most tournaments the last place person gets the wooden spoon prize, 'Insert Funny Name Here 3' is no exception so I duly engraved the inside of a spoon again. I was impressed by how well the laser coped with the curved surface.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 05 May 2016 09:04 PM

04 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

More Trophies

Last week I ran some more trophies up for a guild ball tournament. The 'Who Cares Who Wins' podcast guys ran their 'Insert Funny Name Here 3' tournament and wanted trophies for all the various prize places. I squeezed them in shortly after I fixed my laser and have held them off until now partly because I forgot about them.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 04 May 2016 09:03 PM

03 May 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Limit Switches

I had a few projects based around this sea bass test rig and the keen eyed amongst you may have noticed that this is actually sea bass 2. This time I needed some limit switches, this is to test the homing functions and software limits available in GRBL 0.9j. I set it up so that both switches are fixed on the framework (rather than x moving on the axis), this means I have to Home the Y axis before the X axis but it works pretty reliably.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 03 May 2016 10:21 PM

29 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Flux Capacitor

I needed a quick and dirty flux capacitor prop so I threw one together from laser cut parts. There are 4 LED's under each arm of the Y shape and they're connected to a Digispark board to make them flash. The whole thing runs on battery power. If I had more time and inclination I'd weather the paint effects slightly, round some of the corners off on the wires and recut the top panel but for now I'm pleased with the effect. (svg here)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 29 April 2016 08:40 PM

Extractor Fail

After doing all those funny materials for the sample wall last week I guess my extractor fan must be clogged, smoke started creeping out the front of the machine and I realised how full the cutter was. I decided to plough on because I needed to get the jobs finished so I opened the lid, bypassed the switch and opened the garage door. This was the vast plume of smoke that came off one of my useless machine kits. So yeah, these things make a lot of smoke and some of it ultimately creeps out when you open the lid. More pics to follow when I get to the route of the problem.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 29 April 2016 01:59 PM

26 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Team Rembrandts Case Modding

Inspired by their foray into laser cutting Team Rembandts came back later in the afternoon to get some more cutting done. This time they decided to cut their logo into the lid of the PC case and insert orange plastic into the gaps. The panel was made from ABS plastic and we only had one shot at it, I overcooked it slightly but the final panel still came out really well. This may also be the last shot of my wooden bowl as I forgot to collect it back from them at the end of the day, no big deal I'm sure it would have been firewood in a few months time.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 26 April 2016 05:49 PM

Case Modding

The guys from Cooler Master UK were exhibiting at the Maker Faire, they were making some amazing case modifications and had cut one of these spars out completely by hand. When they realised we had a laser cutter they bought their files down to us and we cut the rest of the spars for them. There are 2 slightly different designs, I overpowered the cuts and the whole thing took about 20 minutes but it sure beats doing it all by hand.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 26 April 2016 08:40 AM

25 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Sample Wall

There have been a lot of hexes produced over the last week and you're probably wondering where they are all going. We wanted to demonstrate all the materials that could be cut on a laser like the Vanilla box so we gathered them all together and put them onto a sample wall. Each Hex tile is placed loosely into the framework and held in with a wide border. The bottom border section contains a label for the material and where applicable who sells the material. One final hex contains text describing what the wall is about what we're demonstrating on each tile.

Gluing this all together took a whole day, last week was a long week and I haven't even mentioned the 'big' project yet :)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 25 April 2016 03:25 PM

Polypropylene Samples

I did cut all 8 of the polypropylene colours available from Kitronik but I was running up against the deadline and I glued some of them down before I took the photos. Polypropylene is a weird material, it is laser safe and it does cut but the edge is never very nice, it also doesn't really engrave and it tends to warp while cutting. It is a good material when you need something thin and flexible.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 25 April 2016 11:12 AM

Plastazote Samples

These samples were cut from coloured plastazote foam, Techsoft sells a multipack containing all eight different colours. I've cut a fair amount of this foam before with all the LRP weapons and it's my favourite foam material to laser. It actually feels like it cuts correctly rather than melting away from the beam.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 25 April 2016 09:07 AM

24 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Microbit at the Maker Faire

I just got back from the UK maker faire, having a laser cutter on display means we can cut things for people while we're there. This morning Kitronik asked us to make an adapter for their micro:bits. The Maker faire badges had holes for attachments already and this adapter allowed the micro:bit to be hung from the maker badge.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 24 April 2016 09:46 PM

21 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Generic Wood Samples

I've called this batch generic wood because it's available from most places, left to right it's MDF, Poplar and Birch. Be wary of the Birch though, a good batch has the occasional knot in the middle layer a bad batch can be nearly impossible to cut. The additional tile is Illomba veneered poplar, it's a nice material and the poplar core means it cuts really well. I don't know who sells it at the moment but I have a stock pile left over from when Kitronik were accidentally sent a batch.

While the machine is turning these out I've started looking at the framework to hold them all together. Just one day left till the maker faire I have the feeling today is going to be a busy day.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 21 April 2016 08:50 AM

20 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Real Curves

I'm a big fan of curves and real curves are definitely better. I've been making some round sections for a new box and I just knew that living hinge curves weren't going to cut it this time. The living hinge is a straight line approximation of a curve, lots of little flat sections that only look like a curve from a distance. This time I wanted something smooth and continuous so I took some flexible 0.8mm ply, gave it a little bend to see if it could do the radius I wanted and then set about holding it in place.

The sheet is glued onto 7 spars of 12mm thick ply (2x6mm ply), many clamps were used to keep it all in the right place while drying. The result is is one continuous piece of ply with the perfect curve at the top. It was all a bit of a learning experience and mostly I learnt that the framework I was gluing too should have had cross ways spars to hold these spars apart in the right position but it's good enough for now. What the curve is actually for will probably follow at some point this weekend.

There is another way to make a similar curve. You could cut hundreds of those spars and glue them all together to make one long continuous curved section. This is actually much strong than the 0.8mm ply but it really doesn't look as good. This type of curved panel reminds me a lot of FDM 3D printing, it takes hours to make sure all the layers are stuck together properly and what you end up with is slightly ribbed piece of rubbish. This is now destined for my burning pile, it was good of me to go to all that effort, just to show you what not to do. :)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 20 April 2016 10:30 PM

Real Plywood Samples

Stepping away from Kitronik materials for a moment, these materials are 2mm thick plywood made from real wood. It's Beech, Oak, Mahogany and Walnut. I've used them for a few projects on the blog and mentioned them before. They're available from Inspirations but you have to email and ask nicely.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 20 April 2016 08:52 AM

19 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Transparent Plastic Samples

The range of transparent materials from Perspex is a lot darker than the Flourescent ones and the line detailing doesn't pick up quite so much. Kitronik also has a bulk pack for these which is handy for me. The neutral colour is kind of grey and I've also included boring old clear plastic in these photos because that is totally transparent after all.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 19 April 2016 10:43 PM

Greyscale Engraving

I've been writing some of my own greyscale engraving code recently. I have written both ends before (in a project that didn't make it to the blog) but this one is a PC sender program connected to a GRBL controller in my Whitetooth laser. The fun part is that the image was captured from a drawing my wife did for me via my webcam.

Yes, I know it's only on/off and not real greyscale.
Yes, I know the image is mirrored.
Yes, I know it is titchy compared to the original.
It's a really cute picture of a kitty though, now move along.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 19 April 2016 03:23 PM

Fluorescent Plastic Samples

Moving on the Flourescent perspex bulk pack, these five colours really pick up the light, the low power engraving lines stand our from the surface. The pattern on each tile demonstrates high and low power cutting, five different powers of engraving and five different scan gaps for engraving.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 19 April 2016 07:15 AM

18 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Opaque Plastic Samplers

At the coming maker faire we're going to be showing the wide range of materials and colours that can be laser cut, So inevitably we need to get a whole load of material to actually cut. Kitronik being just down the road it seems very sensible to start with their materials. This first batch are the 9 basic opaque colours from the Bulk Pack, the mystery 10th colour is Light Purple, that I previously bought from their clearance stock.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 18 April 2016 08:48 PM

Electronics Panel

I've spent the weekend working on the Vanilla Box laser cutter. It's been a long slow time drilling holes and cutting up pieces of metal so it was really nice to produce this at the end of the day. Once I had figured out where all the holes should go I was able to get back on my computer, draw it out and send it down to my laser for cutting. 20 minutes of drawing and 4 minutes of cutting sure beats a whole day doing it manually. This file could now be sent off to a manufacturer to get this part cut in metal (or maybe we'll buy our own metal cutting laser)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 18 April 2016 06:57 AM

15 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Piano Hinge in Action

The catapult range had some very large panels that fold over into the closed position. The puny hinges on these panels broken pretty quickly and I was in need of something more substantial which was why I invented the piano hinge. I made a really long length of hinge and ran it all the way down the sides of the range, it was a very effective solution.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 15 April 2016 10:20 PM

Times have changed

8 years ago I was making my first CNC cutter on the dining room table and I was just thinking to myself how much times have changed since then. OK, well maybe not that much I'm still making a CNC cutter on the dinning room table (the same table, different room) but I do have a little helper nowadays.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 15 April 2016 10:47 AM

14 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Overdue Hinge

I designed this piano hinge a long time ago but I was holding it back for a special occassion. Since then I've been distracted and the occasion never came so I'm releasing it today. The hinge is made from 2 sheets of material a groove is engraved along the middle and a piece of piano wire inserted along the groove. It's a strong sturdy hinge that can be created to any length you require, the only minor issue is that it leaves the burnt side out, but that can be cleaned. (svg here)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 14 April 2016 09:34 AM

12 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Webcam Holder

I'm working on another project for the UK maker faire but it's tricky given that my laser cutter is still down. While I was at the unit this morning I quickly drew this frame work up and cut it on one of our demo machines. The idea is that you can take a snapshot of a drawing and quickly digitise it for laser cutting. The base plate has a notch to make it easy to put the drawings in the right place, the vertical has a slide adjustment for height, the webcam itself has a ball joint for easy angling and the whole vertical arm slots into the base to make it easy for travel.


by (Martin Raynsford) at 12 April 2016 09:11 PM

Matt Little hackergotchi for Matt Little

LM2574 Voltage Regulator Kit

No image

This is a simple voltage regulator kit based upon the LM2574 step-down regulator IC.

If you have every needed to efficiently step-down a voltage from anything up to 60V DC to 5V regulated then this kit is for you. It can supply up to 500mA of current and is a DC-DC switching circuit which efficiently steps-down the voltage.

It is available from just £7 (including delivery within the UK).


by (Matthew Little) at 12 April 2016 12:17 PM

09 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

New Vanilla Box Laser Cutter

With my Whitetooth currently down, it's a good time to fetch out some projects I've not written up and what better place to start.

I would like to introduce you to the Vanilla Box laser cutter, it's a pretty big project I've been working on and it has been eluded to several times on this blog with new tube mounts and box designs. A whole team of people came together over Easter weekend to build the first working concept of a new laser cutter that Just Add Sharks would like to manufacture. The intention is to build a no compromise laser cutter with all the essential parts but none of the costly frills and we would love to hit the £1000 sweet spot. So if this is something that would interest you, why not sign up to our low volume mailing list to be kept ahead of the developments, or come and see it in person at the. Maker Faire UK on the 23rd & 24th April at the Centre for Life in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

This case is obviously laser cut from 3mm acrylic and is somewhat unsuitable for a final product but the laser cutter allowed us to rapidly develop a case to enclose the dangerous laser beams in a very short timescale.

The design of the box varied on the day, once we had an actual designer in the mix instead of me throwing together prototypes, the rear curves make it look quite fancy. This is exactly the kind of plastic case that you need the Arachnid Labs angled brackets for.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 09 April 2016 04:49 PM

08 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Laser Cutter Down

In case you don't know about these things, a laser tube half filled with water is not a good sign. My laser tube cracked and all the water fell out of the water jacket and into the tube itself. I have to admit I'm not entirely sure how this happened. The tube had 18 months of heavy use so it had a good life.
This obviously explains why it's been a slow news week round here.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 08 April 2016 07:12 PM

03 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Another day, another bowl

This bowl was made with 8 overlapping fingers that spiral around each other. 4 fingers were attached to one spar to hold the basic shape together, the other 4 fingers were inserted into the gaps to create the overlaps and make the bowl shape. It needs a bit of work around the middle and I'm having camera issues so I can't show you what I mean, but needless to say I'll be back on top of it soon enough.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 03 April 2016 11:08 PM

Overlapping bowl

The previous bowl had to be made up from two sets of concentric rings, this was to provide an overlap between odd and even layers. I was wondering if it was possible to make a bowl using one set of rings and came up with this design. By having a wobbly outer edge and rotating the next layer a little bit there were overlapping segments that could be glued together. (svg here)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 03 April 2016 07:58 AM

02 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Egg shaped bowl

There's a lot of egg related stuff at the moment, I meant to make these layered bowls ages ago. You simply start with the base shape and then add rings around the outside until it reaches the desired height. I chose 15mm per ring, and the material is 2.7mm thick so 15 concentric rings provided a decent sized bowl. The bowl is made up from 2 layers with even layers all being concentric and odd layers all being concentric. I drew the maker lines into the middle so I knew how to line the layers up.

Once it was all glued together it became surprisingly sturdy. if I was doing more of these I would definitely investigate ways to make the bowl more curvy, perhaps slicing them with slic3r, but for now these are pretty cool. (svg here)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 02 April 2016 07:02 PM

01 April 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Perfectly boiled eggs!

I used up my laser engraved eggs by having scrambled eggs for breakfast, but I noticed that in the places I'd engraved upon the surfaces the eggs had actually started to cook on the inside. This got me thinking, if I engraved the whole surface of the eggs then I would have a lovely boiled egg instead. I drew up a simple spiral pattern for maximum area coverage and set the laser slow and powerful (2mm/s, maximum power), I turned the egg at the end of every cut to cook the next part. It's not enough to cut through the egg but it certainly did a good job of heating up the innards.

Like all laser cut foodstuffs it's a pretty stinky process but it did leave me with a yummy egg afterwards.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 01 April 2016 09:06 AM

30 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Beautiful Layered Wood

Colin from Liotta Design contacted me after seeing the spiral line drawings, he thought I'd be interested in some of his designs and they are truly wonderful. Obviously I couldn't help but try one out for myself but it's not a patch on his designs. Mine was made with 2mm ply, oak and mahogany, for something technically delicate it feels very chunky. I'm definitely going to be following his stuff from now on, very inspirational.


by (Martin Raynsford) at 30 March 2016 10:14 PM

28 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford


It's still Easter and I've seen a few laser cut eggs in various places online so I thought I would give ti a try too.

I put the egg on a plate under the laser and held it down with some blue tack.

Engraving is not so good, it's hard to mark it the right amount so the rest of these images were done with low power cut lines. 

Kim wanted a Good/Bad Egg and while I'm marking up tomorrows breakfast I should probably give Kim what she wanted :)

They look pretty in the egg bowl and I'm sure the kids will love them in the morning.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 28 March 2016 08:43 PM

27 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Happy Chocolate Day

Since it's Easter and there is an excess of chocolate I thought I should laser cut some for you :)
The background swirls we made by 'smoothing' the chocolate on a warm plate, it's interesting to see the swirls showing up in the engraved areas. All the items were engraved then outlined, as we proved today in the hackspace, you can't really cut chocolate you can only make a melty mess that fills itself in again.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 27 March 2016 08:53 PM

25 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Jumping on the boat wagon

A chance to join in on the latest thing and score a quick and easy blog post, I was all over it. Plus a great excuse to use my super pink and white laminate for signage. In case anyone has missed the current Boaty McBoatface amusements. (I perhaps forgot to mention this isn't my laser cutter, it's a hackspace machine)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 25 March 2016 08:05 PM

24 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Spiral Line Drawings

A friend of mine over on Facebook linked to this video of someone doing a fairly simple line drawing but creating a great effect. I knew it could be laser cut and the output is still pretty awesome but it's also very fun watching the laser in action during. It was drawn exactly the same way as it was cut. the square was split into several sections, a spiral was then drawn inside each section.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 24 March 2016 04:36 PM

23 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Hinging on Success

Big Boxes need big lids and being made out of plastic means I only want to cut this once so I prototyped the hinge fittings. I used standard metal hinge with some M6 bolts, the hinges are actually cut into the back panel so that in the closed position the two edges virtually meet, in the open position the lid of the box pushes up against the back wall, this stops the lid from opening too far and it should rest in a vertical position.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 23 March 2016 08:29 PM

Another Vale Game

I'm pretty busy with the upcoming UK Maker Faire and some Just Add Sharks projects but apparently that doesn't stop my mind from wandering to other projects. I saw this Dice Cup review of a game called 'Battle Sheep' and I thought of an interesting variation which was easily Vale themed. I used artwork from the previous vale game to speed things up and the whole game was made in a single lunch time (blogging always takes extra time) (svg here)

Each player starts with 16 meeple tokens and 4 map sections, including their own 'camp' tile (I made 16 tokens so that you could just play battle sheep rules). Players take it in turn to lay map sections ensuring some variety in the board between plays. Tiles have to connect but can be in any orientation and holes are permissible. Finally players lay their own camp tiles on the edge of the board, this is where players will be starting from.

Once the board is set, players take it in turn to move a single meeple tile as far as they like in a single direction, meeples are not allowed to jump over obstacles so must stop when they encounter other meeples or the edge of the board. The single meeple may be an existing meeple or a new meeple drawn from camp.
Opposing meeples are captured by positioning a meeple on either side of the enemy, captured meeples are stored in the hand and are used to score the game.

Meeples may also be captured by sandwiching them up against the base camp, or by completely surrounding them on the edge of the board.

Meeples may also push other meeples to get out of a tight situation. In the image above the lower sword meeple may be pushed back one tile by the dagger meeple (both meeples move 1 space). The upper 2 meeples may not be pushed. The pushing of a meeple must be a whole action and may not be done at the end of a straight line move.

The winner is the person with the most meeples captured, the game typically ends with both sides forming an impenetrable defence line. In the case of a draw the winner is the person who has the most tiles on their side of the line.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 23 March 2016 12:00 AM

20 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

Prototype Box 3

Ok, apparently I couldn't let it lie without trying the box with 2 curved edges. Now I have all 3 shapes prototyped in physical boxes and I can't decide which one I like most. Good job I have other people to decide for me.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 20 March 2016 08:43 PM

19 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

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)

by (Martin Raynsford) at 19 March 2016 08:51 PM

18 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

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.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 18 March 2016 10:30 PM

17 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

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.

by (Martin Raynsford) at 17 March 2016 10:28 PM

16 March 2016

Martin Raynsford hackergotchi for Martin Raynsford

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.


by (Martin Raynsford) at 16 March 2016 11:18 AM