09 October 2018
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.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 09 October 2018 09:23 PM
08 October 2018
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.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 08 October 2018 09:01 PM
07 October 2018
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 :)
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 07 October 2018 07:48 PM
04 October 2018
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.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 04 October 2018 09:08 PM
03 October 2018
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 then the user can restart the device within a specific time frame (indicated by the on board LED) and the device will start a known network with no password.
There are several other wifi managers
that allow the device to connect to home networks as well as start local access points but I needed reduced functionality for my own gadgets.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 03 October 2018 11:23 AM
02 October 2018
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 satisfying to watch.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 02 October 2018 07:00 PM
28 September 2018
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, the 100W machine can do it at >50mm/s. I have to use the > symbol because at 50mm/s the laser head is moving at it's maximum speed, the laser power is only set to 50W. If the laser head tries to move any faster it will occasionally skips steps while moving and if the cuts are misaligned to the engraving the whole tile is ruined.
All of these tweaks make the whole thing a lot faster. The other minor thing I've been asked about is why I cut the grass blades before engraving the grass area. The laser beam is focused to the surface of the material, when I cut on the engraved areas the laser beam is slightly out of focus. Doing it this way round keeps everything nice and crisp. A secondary advantage is that the engraving takes away all the smoke marks made by the low power cut.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 28 September 2018 08:11 PM
27 September 2018
I finally dialled in my new laser cutter
this evening, I had some minor issues with the bidirectional engraving lines not quite lining up. I also spent some time testing out speeds and powers to see exactly what it's capable of, now I just need to figure out how to take better pictures in the evening.
The tile on the left was cut on the old laser cutter (100W glass, 600x900mm) and the tile on the right was cut on the new machine (30W metal, 300x500mm). Both tiles are actually very comparable, the 100W obviously makes deeper and darker lines. The engraving colours are close enough and with a little more effort could be identical. The 100W slightly breaks through the sheet on the corners where the head has to slow down to change directions. There are more cut marks on the underside but that's because the 100W honeycomb is filthy.
Even with these two tiles being so comparable there is one hugely significant difference. The old laser cutter cut the tile in 2 mins 13 seconds and the new laser cutter cut the tile in 58 seconds. That's over twice as fast, tomorrow I shall video a side by side comparison of the two cutting.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 27 September 2018 09:07 PM
25 September 2018
I use the Wemos D1 Mini
for all of my wifi based projects, such as the remote control Strandbeest
and the Stranger things light board
. It's a powerful little board that exposes the ESP8266 via a USB to Serial converter and it can be set up to run from the Arduino environment
. It's also really cheap and can be bought
for less than $2.50 so if you want to make something remote controlled it's a bit of a no brainer. The trouble is that the board doesn't have any mounting holes so it can be hard to attach to a project.
While looking to affix my board securely to my projects I realise that there was a gap to the left and right of the ESP8266, either side of the antennae that didn't appear to have any copper or tracks running through the area. The board is only a 2 layer design so it should safe to drill directly through the PCB and use this as a solid fixing point. A quick test later on a sacrificial board showed that this was indeed possible and although adding screws next to the antennae may restrict the maximum range, the maximum distance I require is 25m and it seems to still run fine. I used a 2mm drill bit to make the holes and I routinely use M2 x 6mm machine screws to fix the boards to my projects.
Once some suitable mounting holes were identified I had the problem of drilling holes in dozens of boards for my kits. I've talked about jigs
a lot before and this is no exception, making a jig to hold the boards in place and show me where to drill the holes is the best way to ensure each board will fit into any kit. It's also the fastest way to drill 100 boards in a single sitting.
I started off with a single board design, by flipping the wemos upside down and I can use the ESP8266 board and metal can to align it into the jig. This ensures that even if the ESP board is slightly offset the holes will still be equally spaced on either side of it. I scaled my jig to eventually hold four boards at a time, allowing me to drill more holes between changing boards over. I'm sharing the files for the jigs so that other people can drill similar mounting holes should they need them (svg here
) (dxf here
Here are some assembly photos for the 4 board jig, I added some feet onto the bottom using scraps of wood but I have now included some feet into the spaces cut from the jig.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 25 September 2018 01:34 PM
24 September 2018
Given that I have to clean my extractor fan every six months I'm surprised that I can't find a post about it. There is a grill over the front of the extractor fan which clogs surprisingly quickly when cutting wood but this time round, cleaning the grill didn't seem to improve the extraction so I had to dig a little deeper.
Inside the extractor fan is a large impeller blade, this sucks are in to the middle of the fan and flings it out to the edges, it rotates around the edge of the fan and then out the hole at the bottom. The smoke contains vaporised wood particles which is surprisingly sticky, this coats every surface inside the laser and eventually reduces the efficiency of the fan.
The impeller blade is held in with a single bolt in the middle. The motor shaft and corresponding hole in the impeller are 'keyed' so that they turn together. Do not lose this key when you take the blade out. With the blade removed it is a lot easier to clean up the blade and areas of the housing that are normally under the blade. I just ran a wire brush over everything until it looked clean enough. I hoovered the dust out at regular intervals.
As you can see once the whole thing has been cleaned it looks a lot nicer but more importantly it works a lot better. All that is left to do is close the fan back up and reconnect it all to the laser again. Next time I'm in the machine I'll get a picture of the external grill to show how quickly that clogs.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 24 September 2018 09:48 PM
18 September 2018
My new laser cutter arrived at the start of last week, I feel a little guilty for not posting it sooner especially as I've been teasing it on Twitter all week but here it is, in all it's glory in a single post.
It's a 500x300mm cutting area with a 30W metal RF tube. Everything about this machine is designed for speed and in quick initial testing I've managed to take it up to 1000mm/s and it seems to run fine without skipping steps.
The laser head is super light weight and the belts are nice and thick which helps to avoid bounce when changing direction.
Mirror 1 has a beam combiner for the red dot light, another bit of weight off the gantry.
Proper linear screws on the Z axis make for very smooth vertical motion and inductive limit switches on all axis to avoid mechanical wear.
Finally the laser itself is a 30W metal RF tube. There are a lot of websites which offer information about Glass vs Metal tubes
, now I have both I can compare to see which is best.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 18 September 2018 10:26 PM
16 September 2018
Saving my best for last were these signs that were mounted on the containers to indicate who was exhibiting inside them. They were engraved onto Fluorescent Acrylic so that the caught the UV lights positioned all around Cybar. My initial intention was to side light them with my own UV led strip but that didn't arrive in time so I was lucky that there was enough UV left to go round. The photographers clearly liked them too and there are some amazing shots floating round out there.
There were 6 signs in all, I could swear I've seen a 'puzzle hunt' image somewhere and my own 'chop shop' sign which didn't fluoresce quite as much as the others due to it being blue.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 16 September 2018 05:24 PM
15 September 2018
Last on my list of big props for EMF Camp are these pair of central reservation barriers
they're quite common in cyberpunk street depictions so I thought it would be cool. More Sheets of MDF were cut down to the right sizes, a jig saw was used to cut out the end angles. The sides were reinforced with pallet wood to give it strength, in case people decided to sit on them. The Polybius logo was embossed on each side using a router with a 45 degree bit. The paint effects were achieved by applying successive layers of grey paints with a paint scraper rather than a paint brush. The darker colour around the base was spread using a rag and wiped down to blend with the greys. Obviously the orange Polybius was added using spray paint and a laser cut stencil.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 15 September 2018 06:40 PM
14 September 2018
In the many glass cabinets at Cyberdog were lots of laser cut acrylic bangles and spectacles. I thought it would be cool to make some of these things up at camp but in the end I spent the whole time cutting badge cases (literally 12 hours a day). I did make this one prototype though which somebody loved enough to take home again. The arms were bent using a hot air gun, although I have done 'off focus' laser bending before it's definitely quicker doing it this way.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 14 September 2018 01:40 PM
13 September 2018
Given that the Null Sector comprised of 10x 20ft shipping containers, there was a fair bit of scope for making some larger props to go in the area. A quick flick through google images
shows various scenes of neon lighting and roofscapes adorned with pipework and units. I had the idea to make some faux aircon boxes to mount around the camp. As you can see some of these units crept into the back of shots and proved to be quite useful to cover up the name plates on the sides of the containers.
The basic box shapes were made from 6mm MDF straight from B&Q, I spent a good 20 mins their annoying everybody else who wanted sheets cutting down to size but it's generally easier to pay a bit more money per sheet and have someone else cut it down into chunks that A) Can be assembled immediately and B) fit in your car. Some additional holes were cut on the laser cutter, it's a bit sticky as materials go but if you need a tri pronged hole quickly the laser cutter is a great way to go.
Fans and slats were made using the laser cutter and more traditional laser materials (the fan blades were obviously cut from the fan holes. Each blade was mounted to a central hub which set it at an angle but also housed a bearing, because of this each fan was able to spin freely in the casing once it picked up the wind. I definitely saw a few people who noticed this detail at the weekend.
All the units were painted grey with some cheap masonry paint. The fans and slats were given a second coat of shiny silver paint which was applied with deliberate streaking. The units really came alive though with the application of some rust effects. It was such a simple technique that really added character to the units and made them all very unique.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 13 September 2018 07:23 PM
12 September 2018
With my recent builds for EMF camp I had an opportunity to try some new weathering techniques. My skills are a bit lacking and there is lots of conflicting advice/techniques online and my time was short so I went straight to Eldritch
and Simon gave me some definitive answers on the subject of rust. I thought I'd write the info down here so that it can hopefully benefit someone else.
You will need.
- White vinegar and salt, available from any supermarket and you probably already have them
- Hydrogen Peroxide, available online or I got mine from the Boots chemist. They were unsure they even stocked it so it may pay to be a bit persistent and ask them to actually check the drawers. You'll be asked why you want it but when you have a legitimate reason like this the conversations are always fun.
- Iron Powder, this is pre rust and not the same as Iron Oxide Powder (post rust). I bought 500g on ebay and now have about 450g left over.
- Super glue, I opted for a large bottle of high viscosity glue so build up the ridge effects. Always handy to have excess glue spare for other projects.
Mix the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together, I used a 50:50 mix and add a sprinkle of salt into the liquid. I decanted the mix into a spray bottle and filled a second spray bottle with water, this will be used for the super glue.
- Apply a healthy does of super glue to the area you want to be rusty.
- Spritz the super glue with water, this will cause it to dry with a texture effect.
- When the glue is dry, sprinkle the area with some Iron Powder, it helps if the area is flat. When working at an angle I found that spray the glue with some acrylic lacquer helped the iron powder stay in place.
- Finally spritz the iron powder with the chemical mix, this will start the rusting process. Once the area was sufficiently tarnished I sprayed the whole thing again with another coat of lacquer.
That was how I did my rust effects on the Aircon units and the Semiotic signs
. I'm sure things could be done better and with a bit more experimenting it could be much more rust like but I was happy to find a quick process that covered large areas and looked great.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 12 September 2018 05:24 PM
11 September 2018
I wanted my container to look like a workshop/shop and sleeping area. I visited Cyberdog
in Camden market and was quite taken with their rows of glass cabinets containing items for sale. Following on from David's assertion
that Ikea is the only store that survives into the cyberfuture I acquired myself some second hand Detolf cabinets
It turns out that flat packing and repacking cabinets is a bit of a pain and trying to transport 8 large glass panels in the back of a Luton van is a bit nerve wracking. The cabinets were packaged well with card and tied up to the railings to stop them falling over. They fit really well with the aesthetic and they served impeccably to display my kits for sale.
With my newly installed cabinets came the need to create display stands, having a laser nearby solves those issues though. I built a quick stand to hold all 4 different fractal puzzles vertically within a cube and I built some small price tags (always a good indication that stuff is for sale). One minor annoyance is that I lost all the screws on the way home but thankfully the amazing Ikea is sending me more fixings, once they arrive I'll be able to sell the cabinets onwards and break even on the whole cabinet adventure.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 11 September 2018 08:26 PM
10 September 2018
It's finally here, the files and the back panel for the EMF Camp badge 2018. That officially took too long to sort out after EMF but I used all my plastic up at the camp and it took me several days to reconnect my laser this year. So, now the excuses are out of the way, I have completed a back panel and stand offs to go between the two. This panel holds the battery down securely and protects the antennae. (svg here
) I'll also put it on thingiverse
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 10 September 2018 07:19 PM
09 September 2018
Once the semiotic standard was established and a few legends were scattered around the Cybar camp, it obviously made sense to put a few signs up on the containers. These were cut from Polypropylene and painted badly by hand (because it was faster than airbrushing). They only started to look like real signs once I had applied some rust effects and other weathering techniques. I'm particularly pleased of the rust and there will be more of that to come.
Signs were scattered all around camp and after pointing them out to a few people they seemed to blend in too well, people kind of assumed they were part of the containers anyway, which I guess is a good thing.
My favourite has to be the shots of the DJ booths in which you can clearly see the 'laser' sign on the doors just behind the DJ's. particularly apt given that they had nearly 100W of visible laser light amongst all of their machines. This photo was taken
by Sophie Garrett
and she has lots of awesome EMF photos over in her Flickr Album
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 09 September 2018 05:29 PM
During the build up to EMF Camp I was sent a hand drawing of the Semiotic Standard
, a series of icons used in the Alien movies. I thought these were wonderful and I just had to draw them out in vector format so that we could do something with them. Of course if I had spent less time drawing and more time looking I would have found loads of people who had already done the same thing but at least I had fun.
Once I had recreated the whole thing digitally I had some glossy posters made for me by Braunston Print
(5 stars for quality and service). These posters were put up in strategic places around the container village to add to the overall set dressing.
I almost forgot to share the file in case anyone else wants to use it (svg here
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 09 September 2018 08:35 AM
07 September 2018
In keeping with flavour props for the cyberpunk area, I made a handful of small items that could be quickly and easily scattered around the camp to make it feel more futuristic.
First I made half a dozen CCTV cameras, the regular participants of EMF camp are potentially wary of CCTV so these had to look plausible but fake. A simple perspex hemisphere over some basic camera shapes would suffice. The cameras were then 'destroyed' so they definitely look non functional.
Simple 'microwave' dishes were made on the vacuum former
which allowed me to construct a whole network of mini antennae. Magnets on the back of these items which allowed them to be placed upon the sides of the containers quickly and easily.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 07 September 2018 07:40 PM
06 September 2018
I had to fill the pinboard with details and I stumbled upon this amazing artwork by Vasily Khazykov
, I borrowed a few of his print outs to go on the wall but I also wanted something a bit more physical to go alongside it. I chose a few items from the drawings that I could turn into physical props with a fast turnaround and I spent a day last week putting some parts together. As props they look a little bit wooden and I should really spend more time on finishing. As quick decoration pieces I think they definitely added flavour to the board.
I also made a spinning hard drive gadget which I totally forgot to take pictures of, you can just about make it out on the bottom of the board here.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 06 September 2018 07:11 PM
05 September 2018
In my workshop container
for the weekend, I was keen to add some set dressing to the walls so the idea of a pinboard for projects and a tool wall were born. The pinboard is a simple framework outlined using some left over pallet wood which is why it has the nice scoop shapes. Laser cut brackets around the corners keep things vaguely square. The tool board was 12mm ply sheet I've had around for ages, I wanted to give it a nice graffiti style paint job so I put my airbrush to use in a variety of colours. It's the first time I've used my airbrush seriously and I think it came out ok.
The lettering on the tool wall was achieved with a lot of masking and painting of layers over several days, it was definitely a fun project and I really enjoyed trying lots of different style and techniques on a large blank canvas.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 05 September 2018 07:38 PM
04 September 2018
This years EMF Camp
had a large cyberpunk themed area featuring art installations, a bar, DJ and lots of other interesting things. It takes a lot to set this kind of thing up in a field though for a weekend, and the team pulled out all the stops to produce an epic experience. The 'Cybar' or 'Null Sector' really came alive at night time though when all the lights came on and the lasers and flamethrowers came out.
The base encampment was laid out using twelve shipping containers, the whole campsite was circled with security fencing with tarps making it hard to see inside the camp. Truss and scaffolding was placed along the edges of many containers and between containers allowing power and lighting to be run overhead and down into each container. A large metal dome was built in the open area and a 10ft container was stacked on top of another 10ft container to provide an elevated DJ booth. Once the basic structures were in place the whole area still needed decorating according to theme. I made a selection of props to go in the area which I'll detail over the next few days.
After some initial discussion about me running my laser cutter from the back of a Luton van the team was actually kind enough to let me set up a workshop in one of the 10ft containers. I'm a bit of a sucker for a theme and decided to go all out with my setup. For the basic 'workshop' aspect of the container I just took my laser cutter and some work benches but for the shop aspect I decided I really needed to get some Detolf glass cabinets from Ikea. A quick ebay find later and I managed to get hold of a pair of the worst possible furniture items to take to a field.
I built a few other items to go inside the container, took my wooden crates
and bar top
, I also strung 1200 neopixel lights across the roof to give the whole place a nice glow. I'm pleased with how well my space turned out and the the whole area was a fantastic thing to be part of. The flamethrower on the roof of my container did a good job of keeping it warm. Because I was cutting badge cases
I was pretty popular all day and all night so I was glad I made the extra effort to fall in with the theme.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 04 September 2018 09:53 PM
03 September 2018
I just got back from EMF camp and I spent most of my weekend cutting badge covers for people. Sadly I forgot to take photos for myself and I've had to steal others from twitter.Marneus
chose the vibrant orange and riley
had a yellow case, I also cut in Red, Green and Blue. I'll post some pictures once I've recut on of each at home.
If you failed to get a badge cover at EMF camp you can now pick one up from my store
I will also be sharing the files too but I want to cut and test something and that means emptying my Van back into my garage before I can start again.
Dominic took the files and modified them to cut his own leather version on his laser
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 03 September 2018 08:42 PM
28 August 2018
I am running a beginners workshop on the VCV Rack moduler synthesizer simulator at EMF Camp 2018. Currently scheduled for 11.20 am on Sunday in Workshop 1. If you are at EMF Camp and want to join please bring a laptop and headphones.
Here are some resources for the event:
by Iain at 28 August 2018 06:42 AM
27 August 2018
EMF Camp 2018 just released details about the badge for this years camp and it looks incredible as always (Hackaday has a great summary
). It's a full blown smart phone which can be used on site using the local network or on a standard gsm network after the event. Like a lot of camp badges though, despite amazing innovations it's still just a bare circuit board dangling round your neck ready to short out against objects (like the metal of the laser cutter) so there is a bit of a need for a case to protect it.
I'm one step ahead of the curve this year and hopefully I've produced the first badge hack of 2018. I initially cut a nice wooden case to show off the fine details that a laser cutter can produce and then I cut one in florescent plastic to glow under the UV lights of Null Sector. Finally I realised I could patch into the 3.3V that is one the board itself to produce a fancy edge lit case (hard to take a good photo of it though).
If anyone is interested in getting a case for their own EMF Camp badge I'll have my laser cutter set up and running in Null Sector and I'll have a stock of surface mount LED's so if you can handle the micro soldering you can make yours glow too (I'll have a fine tipped soldering iron and all my other tools there too)
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 27 August 2018 08:20 PM
26 August 2018
But firstly a divergence into glue.
I have a few kits available in my shop
and some of them require glue for assembly. It's always been a bit of a sticky subject for me. I recommend Evo-Stik weatherproof wood adhesive
because it grabs quickly and dries solid/clear but I've seen people try to assemble kits with school PVA, superglue or even hot glue (which never works). With this in mind I try to design kits that don't require glue at all, the useless machine
went from a glue heavy box
to a completely glue free box
(and it only took 4 years apparently).
This new kit
has one awkward part that must be glued and because it connects the drive shaft to the motor it needs to be glued properly. It's four layers of material and is the kind of part that should be manufactured a different way but time is not on my side. Instead of building each one individually I realised I could build several at once to speed things up. By leaving a row of them held together on a sprue I can glue a whole row at the same time, the sprue even helps with aligning the layers accurately. Once the glue has dried I can just snap off one at a time and insert them into the kits.
This allows me to ship another 'glue free' kit without driving myself mad with assembly, which is nice.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 26 August 2018 07:24 AM
25 August 2018
Feels like a long time since I put together a new kit but I'm pleased to announce this little WiFi controlled strandbeest is going to be available at EMF camp this coming weekend and shortly after it'll be available online. It's a mash up of the plastic strandbeest kits and my recent ESP8266 experiments so it can be driven from any mobile device.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 25 August 2018 01:54 PM
23 August 2018
I had a spare day and an opportunity to go on a royal icing course so I thought it would be fun to try, plus another thing to learn about that compliments the rest of my cake
stuff. I learnt loads of interesting things about types of icing sugar and technique for piping icing, the brush effect on the flower is particularly effective.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 23 August 2018 08:30 PM
20 August 2018
The bar itself for Vale also had to be portable to get it out into the middle of the quarry. This poses a bit of a challenge because it's a large item. The wooden crates
I made are so sturdy that they could be sat on so they were an appropriate place to start. The top itself is just several pallet planks sanded and connected together with a few batons. The surface then bolts into the crates with 6mm screws and wingnuts to make it fast. The whole thing goes together quickly and it all still fits on the trolley. It's a little bit low but it's functional.
I've been asking for pictures of the bar in situ but it doesn't appear anyone got one which is a shame. The whole 'setting up a bar in the middle of a warzone' thing got a bit serious almost immediately after we arrived (we were hoping for a little bit of time before anyone noticed us). It was good fun though, would definitely do it again.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 20 August 2018 09:37 PM
18 August 2018
I really wish I had more photos of this. I made a sign for a bar that we ran at Vale, we set up a bar right in the middle of the quarry (hence the crates
for moving beer). All good pubs need a sign and ours was no exception. The lettering and outline were coloured using paints, the areas were masked before cutting to allow a neat paint job.
The picture itself was transferred to the wood from a colour printout. There are lots of online tutorial that suggest all sorts of glue to use. The gist is that you print out onto a sheet, cover the whole thing in glue and stick it ink side down onto the wood. Once it has dried, you then wet the paper and slowly rub it off of the ink. The trouble is there is a very fine balance between not rubbing enough paper off and rubbing the ink off. In this case the blemishes work well with the style.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 18 August 2018 08:33 AM
16 August 2018
I have a lot of green plastic crates but I wanted something a little more rustic for events. I re purposed some pallets I acquired from the local industrial estate and turned them into these simple boxes. I put some small feet on the bottom that allow them to stack inside each other and they don't immediately slip off the trolley when you move them around. Not laser cut but I do rather enjoy my new mitre saw and it makes chopping planks so much easier.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 16 August 2018 10:05 PM
14 August 2018
The culmination of knobs
, bubble rods
were these two new panels to go into the machine at vale.The first panel has all the input devices, when each lever is flipped or slider moved then all the LED's built into the board change colour, the rods change flash rates and the dials also move. Nothing specific just general interaction to indicate that something has changed. The second board is very much like my Stranger Things
messaging systems. The board has 50 leds built into it and they have been shuffled to display letters at random (even I don't know which LED is which letter). You can connect to the board via wifi and use it to send messages back from the machine to the players. It was used last event but I wasn't there to see if it was successful, I hope it went ok.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 14 August 2018 06:22 PM
12 August 2018
I made a collection of dial and switches for Vale at the start of the year. I've done similar things before
but this time they're all functional. The plan was to put them all onto a board and allow people to actually interact with the infernal machine this year.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 12 August 2018 09:29 PM
11 August 2018
I've had these 15mm bubble rods from Kitronik
for quite a long time, I thought they would look good when side lit. I used a single neopixel on each end of the rod and illuminated both ends with the same colour. The colours slowly fade on/off and at different frequencies. 22mm copper pipe fittings make perfect end caps and the the laser cut adaptors to go between the two.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 11 August 2018 07:31 PM
10 August 2018
These demonic seals were cut in ye olde MDF for that genuinely realistic appeal. The disks were painted with metallic acrylic before engraving so it was easy to wipe the dust off. These seals were going to be used as decoration on the vale machine (and were made way back in May)
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 10 August 2018 06:47 PM
Just a sample for a coaster, I masked the acrylic with vinyl transfer tape before engraving to ensure that I got a good clean cut. I didn't realise it was a coaster otherwise I would have rounded the edges and engraved it on the reverse so that the engraving was on the underside and less prone to damage during use.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 10 August 2018 09:39 AM
09 August 2018
This chits were made for the LRP Game, Age of Aether
. I believe the top disk is copper, silver or gold and the larger bottom disk is red, green or blue to denote different groups and weightings. I would normally paint a sheet before cutting but because the exact combinations required were unknown I left them all blank.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 09 August 2018 07:25 PM
13 July 2018
In one aspect of Vale I'm making tech
to keep the node system functional, from the player side of things I'm trying to find ways to hit as many nodes as possible and collect all the stuff. While you're waiting at a node it would be really useful to know how long it had been since the node last spawned. There is a 6 hour window for 3 spawns so it's going to be roughly every 2 hours. I thought it would be handy to drop these counters near the node so anyone can update the time then, if you arrive 10 minutes after the previous drop it's worth going on to the next node.
They're based on this wound counter
design but two concentric rings allows me to set the hour and the minutes separately.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 13 July 2018 09:13 PM
09 July 2018
I'm deep into fulfilment for my kickstarter puzzles. Roughly 600 puzzles to make in total and I'm turning over about 50 a day which is pretty good progress. Obviously it's leaving me a little bit of time to blog this month which is why I'm catching up on posts.
The high quality BR grade plywood from Kitronik
is really worth the extra money. 1 in 10 sheets has the tiniest of knots but because each ply is only 0.5mm thick it still cuts through cleanly. All the inner layers are equally high standard. If your working on a project that needs better materials this is the stuff to go for.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 09 July 2018 07:11 PM
07 July 2018
The fathers day lorry
is very similar to most of the cars we've already done but to really make it feel like a proper truck is needed some mud guards over the wheels. It would be hard to laser cut something directly to go over them but thanks to the vacuum former I can laser cut some moulds and make some plastic arches to go over them instead. Now the arches can be covered with sugar paste to match the rest of the cake.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 07 July 2018 07:58 PM
06 July 2018
This item wasn't actually designed or drawn by me, I did help out though. Eli was tasked with designing a Roman shield based on his trip to the Lunt Roman Fort
. He chose to make a horseman shield which is rounded to protect the horses legs. He drew the whole thing in inkscape, picked the colours and we took it to the laser. The wings were actually drawn 7 years ago
so it was nice just to be able to drag the files out of my archives and use them again. The shield boss was made from vacuum formed plastic.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 06 July 2018 06:02 PM
05 July 2018
A quick laser cut from way back in May, this cake topper was to celebrate Daniels Confirmation (obviously). The spikes are a little bit fragile and spiky but it only has to go into the cake once right.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 05 July 2018 08:05 PM
19 June 2018
Way back in February, Dawn
had the idea of making a cake based lorry in the same style as the Cake cars
we're been doing. It was a great idea but I knew to shift all of the additional weight of a trailer we were going to need four driving wheels and motors. The majority of the weight would be spread over the rear of the trailer so those wheels and axles were put in place with bearings to reduce the rolling resistance. The pivot point was again made with a bearing to ease turning friction. Other minor changes included a reversing beeper and a second set of brake lights on the trailer itself (with curly cable between cab and trailer). The whole thing worked well for this quick demonstration.
The problems came when I loaded the trailer down with any weight. I ran my tests using 10kg of weight which the cab was able to pull but the steering was totally ineffective. All the weight was pushed into the drive wheels making the steering light, the sheer power of the four motors just ploughed the cab on in a straight line. At this point I was lucky with some previous design decisions. Using different motors for left and right wheels allowed me to implement a software differential between the wheels. By making the left turn faster than the right, the whole cab will steer right regardless of what the steering is doing. A little bit of tweaking got the two to line up so that the whole thing turns the right amount based on the user input.
This major problem with the lorry has been back propagated through the cars. It was only a minor issue on the cars but now it's completely gone and the cars drive much better because of it.
Dawn eventually turned the lorry into a Carlsberg van
capable of dispensing beer (from a 5kg keg) hidden in the back and it's probably the best fathers day cake in the world.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 19 June 2018 07:16 PM
18 June 2018
My Kickstarter puzzles
all need to be dyed and oiled before I can put the final assembly together. Obviously they can't be stacked up while they're drying so making a drying rack to store all the sheets without touching each other seemed to be a sensible idea. The whole thing was coated with some spray lacquer to stop the burnt edges of the rack marking the sheets. The whole thing works just as intended.
Another tool for the job was made without going anywhere near the laser and it's as simple as a stack of wood. A dozen planks of ply were cut to each hold a single puzzle and it's pieces. The front panel of the puzzle gets glued to the back panel and the whole thing is put on the bottom of the stack. The weight of the boards, stiffness of 12mm ply plus some extra weights from my screw boxes hold all the puzzles perfectly flat while the glue dries. When the puzzle comes out of the top of the stack it's ready for it's paper coating and it can then go in the pile of completed puzzles. Simple but effective.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 18 June 2018 08:46 PM
12 June 2018
From Shadows LRP
ran it's first event at the weekend and by all accounts everybody appears to have had a good time (I was really quite keen to attend but sadly couldn't, true story). I did manage to get all of their currency cut in time though. I had previously made
a few sample to demonstrate what was possible and I made a few tweaks on the final set. The colours now run in rainbow order which makes them a bit more cohesive and it allows me to keep the blue fluorescent for a higher value. I also rounded off the corners a lot more, the previous ones were a bit sharp. The tessellating design allowed me to cut whole sheets at a time with minimal wastage and even though there were a few alignment issues with the number engraved on the reverse it was still visible through the window so just about acceptable.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 12 June 2018 08:31 PM
09 June 2018
The previous displays
I made for Vale
were pretty straight forward, an arduino nano
was connected to a DS3231
real time clock chip and at the appropriate time they displayed a number on an LED matrix display
. The whole thing was powered from the mains with a 5V PSU. This year they wanted the same thing, but on the nodes, out in the quarry and this mean battery powered and waterproofed, there had to be some fairly significant changes to the system.
Firstly, if you want a battery powered item to last for a whole weekend, LED's are a bit of a no go. They're quite power hungry and illuminating a whole display of them is going to eat through batteries. The other problem with LED's is that they can be hard to read in the sunlight and blinding in the darkness. ePaper displays
however can be read in direct sunlight, can be illuminated with a torch and many only consume electricity to change the image. They seem ideal for an application like this. I opted for these waveshare 2.9 Inch epaper modules
, no particular reason but they fell into a price bracket and are large enough to display a decent number.
The next design choice was to use the arduino pro mini
instead of the nano. The nano has a built in USB->Serial device this chip is always on and always consuming power, the Pro mini uses a separate device to program the controller so it takes less power. The pro mini has several options too, I needed the ATmega328P for the extra RAM and memory but epaper display runs on 3.3V and the 3.3V pro runs at a slower clock speed uses less power than the 5V version so that seemed a sensible choice.
The DS3231 RTC has it's own battery back up and is designed to run at extremely low power for years. The prototype used the same clock from the previous display and it's still accurate after a year. The controller only needs to change the 12 times in a whole day so it'll also be in low power mode most of the time. The ATMega is able to wake itself up from a deep sleep using it's own internal timer but that has a maximum delay of 8 seconds, longer periods of sleep are often achieved by adding those together but there is a better way.
The DS3231 has an alarm mode, you can program with a specific date and time and when the clock gets to that time it will change the state of one of it's output pins. This signal line can be connected to the interrupt line on the ATMega and used to wake the arduino up. This means the controller will only be awake once every two hours to change the display and then it can go back into deep sleep again. Finally, both the pro board and the RTC chip have power LED's on them, by physically removing the LED's on each of them the whole system should be reduced to a very minimal power consumption.
There are many incredibly useful discussions
online about the different things you can do to reduce the power consumption of these board. A deep sleep mode with an LED consumes around 3mA, without the LED that's down to 30uA so 100 times less power. After some simple testing and current measurements, my estimates suggest that, given a screen change every 2 hours, the 3x AAA batteries in each node should now last for around 1000 hours, more than enough to cover the 60 hours they're required to run over the course of a weekend.
As for making them waterproof, well I would say they're water resistant. I would go hosing them down with a pressure washer but when they're mounted under a lip of a box or on the trunk of a tree they should be fine. There is a window of 3mm acrylic in the front of the box, this is sandwiched in 3 layers of birch ply and glued in place the overlaps should stop any ingress there. The box has standard finger joints held with liberal amounts of glue, not ideal, but inside the box these seams were closed with lots of hot glue any leaks directly through the fingers should be stopped by that. The back of the box, where the battery access is, was held on with 4 screws. It's finger joints again but there is a 3mm plate with protrudes into the box which means the inner isn't directly exposed to the joint. This should be ok when the boxes are mounted on that surface.
Next time I'll give a breakdown of the code used to drive the boxes. I had to make a few interesting choices there to make it all fit into the space available.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 09 June 2018 08:49 PM
06 June 2018
I ramble about Vale
on the blog
quite a lot, it's kind of hard to explain LARP to someone it's much more about being there than talking about it. I've talked about nodes and games and so on but here is the crux of the whole thing. Vale LRP is played in the vast 170 Acre site of Huntely Wood
, it's a former quarry so it has woods, lakes and some serious slopes. There are two camps for two different sides of a war, the shortest route between the two camps is 1km, the long path between the camps is 2km and you can extend that exponentially if you go down all the side paths.
Out in the Vale are a bunch of different 'nodes'. These strong boxes contain game items that can be collected at various points throughout the day. This is intended to encourage groups from both sides to wander around the site and potentially bump into each other and ultimately fight over the prizes. Each section of the node is locked with a combination padlock and can only be unlocked with the right code.
Last year I made some devices
that release the padlock number at a specific time, these could be loaded with a whole weekend of numbers and alleviated all the manual effort of giving out numbers at the right times. This year the number system was changed to put different numbers on each node and also to give out the numbers at the nodes. This means people have to wait out in the Vale for the numbers to appear rather than waiting in camp and trying to run to the node fastest.
The next post is going to be about the new number displays and the complications that went along with them.
If anybody would like to come along to an event then I would be happy to help set that up. New players get a very reasonable rate and I can easily put together some costume bits for you.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 06 June 2018 07:00 PM
05 June 2018
I quite like to be challenged with commissions and this one certainly did that. I was asked to make a black briefcase to hold potion bottles. It also needed some space underneath it to hold cable ties and cards and other things that might need to be attached to the bottles. The whole briefcase had to be black (although I think the brown edges add to the appearance). A red cobra logo was requested for the lid, the red wood was inlaid through the lid so that the logo showed through the lid and could be seen from both sides.
The suitcase could hold 50 potion bottles and the lid closed down tight enough to stop the bottles from rattling around. The handle was built into the racking system for the bottles to ensure that it was strong enough to pick the whole case up. The hinges were laser cut which required me to add some small feet onto the bottom of the case to allow it to stand on end.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 05 June 2018 08:39 PM
01 June 2018
Another year on
and I got to make the rune tags for the LRP Hospital again. I like to bring a little variation to the design so this year I gave it some shape as well as the year number.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 01 June 2018 09:49 PM
31 May 2018
I believe these stencils were used to airbrush the logo on cub scout blankets. Given that there are lots of cubs and these stencils wouldn't be needed for more than a weekend it made sense to knock up a dozen from thin card instead of mylar.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 31 May 2018 10:59 PM
At the time of writing my Kickstarter campaign
has nearly 200 backers which means I need to make about 500 puzzles in June. With those kinds of orders it's worth making some jigs to help speed the process up. First thing for me was this large tape dispenser. Each puzzle gets a covering of vinyl transfer tape to protect it during transit but also to hold all the pieces in place. The roll is 200mm wide and 100m long so it needed something a bit more sturdy than the average tape dispenser. M8 bolts and bearings were salvaged from a very old CNC machine I built (before I bought a laser cutter). It's overkill but at least it's effective.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 31 May 2018 05:37 PM
30 May 2018
My kickstarter campaign
received a very welcome boost yesterday when it was reviewed by Mr Puzzle on you tube
. I now have twice as many backers as I did yesterday which is a great boost for me. This also led to a discussion about other space filling curves and ultimately a new puzzle for the collection in the form of the Terdragon curve. I will release this file in due course but it seems only fair to keep it as a kickstarter exclusive for now.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 30 May 2018 10:03 AM
22 May 2018
While I'm slowly piecing together all the different projects I've been working on over the last few weeks for blog publication my Kickstarter
for fractal puzzles has been slowly ticking away in the background. It even reached it first stretch goal and I'm now offering the same puzzles with a Mahogany or Oak dye to add a bit of a colour.
It's not too late to join in if you fancy it and if you act quick you'll notice that one of the early bird rewards has become available again due to dropouts.https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/680177334/wooden-fractal-tray-puzzles
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 22 May 2018 07:01 PM
12 May 2018
A while back I found myself on one of Dinkydoodle Designs cake course where I made a moving BB9 cake
, it taught me a lot about the cake making process and I used a lot of that knowledge in making this new Toothless
Dragon cake. The electronic parts are simply a servo, arduino, neopixels and a sound recorder, all fairly common parts but I learned a lot making/baking my own cake.
A 9 inch round cake was baked
, cut and modified to form the basic shape required. Two crescent shapes were cut and moved up to form horns, the two eye sockets were added to the cheeks to pad them out a bit.
Chocolate Silk sugarpaste
The cake was covered in chocolate ganache
to smooth out the lumps and bumps and firm the design up. Larger dollops of ganache further filled the gaps between the horns and the head.
was used to cover the whole cake. A large rolled sheet was stretched into place, smoothed and trimmed down to the board.
Details were added using rolled up balls of sugarpaste as scales and modelling tools for dimples and nostril details. This part of the cake stops at the top lip so I didn't need to worry about adding a mouth.
The whole cake was sprayed black. I used a water based airbrush paint but I'm informed an ethanol based colour would have gone on better and dried faster. It did suffer from a little beading on the surface but that all kind of added to the dragon skin texture.
The eyes were inserted into the cake at this point, made from white sugarpaste
, they were painted green with a brush to deliberately add converging streaks. The black iris was sprayed on top using a hastily made stencil and the shiny spot made by masking off a tiny square before doing that.
Eye lids were added over the top of the eyeballs and the whole thing touched up with more black spray. There was a little over spatter from my poor painting skills and some black streaks up the eyeballs from the paint brush but they all added to the details on each eye.
A lower jaw, row of teach and tongue were formed onto the moving base plate for the whole cake. An adafruit neopixel stick
was placed into the back of the mouth to illuminate the mouth when it was opened.
A 12 inch board was covered with more sugar paste and effort was made to make it look like paving or a rock formation.
The Toothless head and jaw mechanism were added on top of the board, the mains power supply and Arduino were hidden in a cardboard box under the board, which tidied the whole thing up somewhat.
Hazel absolutely loved it and it went down very well at her party this weekend. The death by chocolate cake is very tasty.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 12 May 2018 10:35 PM
10 May 2018
My kickstarter campaign
has now been running a week and has a healthy number of backers, there is still time to grab one of the rewards though and get yourself a puzzle.
If you like my blog then please do share the link on your own social media channels for me. I'm going to have a busy June making puzzles but it's definitely a good way to be busy.https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/680177334/wooden-fractal-tray-puzzles/
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 10 May 2018 03:52 PM
04 May 2018
I launched my kickstarter yesterday and this morning I awoke to discover it was 100% funded. This is great news so I shall now be making a bulk batch of Fractal Puzzles for people. There's still lots of time to get involved though, I'm even open to stretch goal suggestions if anyone has any ideas.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 04 May 2018 08:01 AM
03 May 2018
I have just launched a Kickstarter Project
for the fractal tray puzzles I made many moons ago. These tricky little puzzles are going to be made of BR Grade Birch Plywood and sanded to a fine finish before polishing with Danish oil so they'll look really good. I'm pleased to be offering them in this high quality finish and fingers crossed the campaign will be successful.
For my regular readers with their own lasers who saw this many moons ago, I would ask that you please share the Kickstarter link somewhere so that I stand a chance of success. The more people that see it, the better.
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Raynsford) at 03 May 2018 11:02 AM
30 April 2018
I don't mind admitting I was a little bit unsure about Maker Faire this year. I felt like it came around really quickly and I hadn't actually made that many new things since the previous year. I don't like showing the same stuff off again so I had to wrack my brains about something new to take. Clearly I was having a dumb moment and I ended up taking Dawn to the Faire
and a selection of the cakes
we've been working on. I needn't have worried Dawns work is fairly unique in maker circles and throwing in some moving designs was enough to gain a blue ribbon.
It was great meeting so many blog readers and old friends, thank you all for coming over to say hi. I shall endeavour to post more of the things I'm actually making as soon as I'm able to rather than leaving it all for months. Hi to all the new people just tuning in, hope you don't get too lost down the rabbit hole of previous posts (check out the gallery links at the top of the page).
There's is one thing I won't miss now that this years Maker Faire is over.
"These are our remote controlled cakes"
"Is that really a cake?"
"Is that one a cake too?"
"How about that one?".... and so on.
Finally proof for anyone who asked for it, I did make it out to the Angel of the North by 7am on Sunday morning, a nice simple 10 mile run if anyone fancies it.
by email@example.com (Martin Raynsford) at 30 April 2018 08:11 PM