26 January 2015
I had a custom request to make these wooden disks from the Age of Enlightenment expansion for Settlers of Catan. They had seen my previous Catan Disks and felt that the expansion needed the same wooden token treatment.
21 January 2015
The webinar is available online here and will hopefully be translated into Spanish and French.
They are hoping to run one webinar a month relating to small wind turbines and development.
20 January 2015
It’s a mystery.
I've got a large pile of useless machines sat in the garage taking up space and I'd like to move them along so I've dropped the price and they're now on sale for £15 each (maker faire prices).
18 January 2015
from Sunset Magazine, December 1961.
You can build one of these yourself… Instructions here:
17 January 2015
I wish Disney would actually produce t-shirts and the like based on things like this instead of me going to Redbubble, but they would rather sell lavender and glitter shirts.(Not that I mind that shirt that much, just, compared to this one…No.)
I love this shirt because it is so freaking nerdy. I mean, look at it. It’s a patent design for a car in an amusement park ride. That is then used in a haunted house dark ride that I’m in love with.
16 January 2015
We intend to be making a few announcements and featuring the work of our customers (and some of it is absolutely amazing) but we'd also like to feature work of other people. So if you have a hot tip for us on any laser cut item then we'd love to know about it. Let us know what you're working on and who else inspires you. Just send your emails to email@example.com
So the parts for the first of 12 projects just arrived. This is probably the one that's furthest from my normal stuff, but it will bear relevance as we go through the year. I'm planning a serious build day next week where there will be unboxing and assembly photos and probably even some stop motion of the day. Fun times.
15 January 2015
So you might remember a blog post I wrote last year about a proposed “Flagship” Maker Faire for London in Continue reading
13 January 2015
09 January 2015
I've been wanting to play around with sending data via a mobile SIM card and, after needing to do it for another project, here is a short post on my attempts at getting it all going.
I used an off the shelf GSM/GPRS module (the SIM900).
I tried this using both the Arduino Uno and the Arduino Leonardo.
Here are the results from my tests.
07 January 2015
- Animations that are based on a single 'brightness' value so the patterns can be dimmed.
- Animations are intended to be 'non blocking' so the arduino can be used for other things at the same time (partial success with that).
- Animations are based on the number of LED's so by changing the constant a shorter or longer string can be used easily.
The software is all based upon the FastLED animation library, you will need to download this before the code will compile. (Code here)
06 January 2015
I was wanting to make an interesting lampshade as a specal Christmas present this year. I set about searching Instructables for inspiration.
This used a repeated unit which was cut out of polypropylene using a laser cutter.
05 January 2015
04 January 2015
For the past week I have been at the 2nd Wind Empowerment conference in Athens.
The conference was an inspiring mix of interesting presentations, hands-on workshops and social fun. Around 45 people from at least 10 countries attended.
Here are some notes and photos from the event.
01 January 2015
Following on from the rather successful 365 projects in 365 days and 52 projects in 52 weeks it does look like I'm going for 12 big projects in 12 months this year. These won't all be purely laser cut and potentially some of them may not include laser cutting but I'll photograph, document and share as usual. I made a list this morning of the big projects I want to complete this year and I'm already up to 8, I'm pretty sure the other 4 will just appear before the end of the year.
(edit: I already remembered another 2 I promised to do)
I promise I'll also find time to squeeze the usual amount of laser cutting around everything else too.
29 December 2014
A recent discussion started with the simple question “When is it New Year?”. Well, 1st January, right? The stroke of midnight on 31st December? Depends where you are on the planet? [depends what planet [if any] you are on]. It depends on which timezone you are in.
So, we settled on it being at the stroke of midnight for each of the timezones around the world. Which, surprisingly, is 30. Less surprisingly, they cover a full 24 hours.
Upon discovering this, the only decent thing to do seemed to have a drink to toast New Year all around the world. So, this year, I’ll be getting together with a few friends to see in the New Year – all 30 of them! If you want to join us, you can use the list below, or follow Brisbane Clock Tower on Twitter as it announces them live over the 24 hours.
If you do join us, please let me know where in the world you are and use the hashtag #NYEoClock in tweets!
Cheers and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Yay for Christmas, I have lots of new toys and lots of new exciting things to do in the new year. I also have new products working their way through and (vast) improvements to old products, but if I'm so busy why no posting? Well Christmas happened so I had to move all my secret stashes of junk from places like the sunroom into the garage and then this morning I had a customer visit so I had to move all the crates out of the garage into the sunroom. It's not turmoil, more like organised chaos. The upshot is that I have some space in my garage to sort out this massive pile of junk. I'm going in and I may be some time.
Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy soon to be New Year.
28 December 2014
I’ve been neglecting this blog recently due to various distractions but have several projects I want to write up. Around April I found myself with the urge to build a multicopter. In the end I settled on a tricopter design as it’s a little unusual and because the wider angle between the arms allows plenty of clearance to mount a camera without getting the propellors in frame.
To keep costs down and because I enjoy designing things I ended up drawing and laser cutting my own plywood frame. This was loosely based on the folding arms of David Windestål’s design, with a lot of modifications to fit the size and shape I wanted and to fit the parts I had chosen.
The arms of my tricopter are cut from 3/8″ birch engine bearer stock, as sold in most model shops. I bought 3 12″ lengths which I cut off centre to make a set of 7″ arms and a set of 5″ arms. In the end I was happy with the 7″ arms so I’ve not yet tested the 5″ version.
The frame is designed to have two 3mm ply lower plates that the arms are sandwiched between, held together with 2mm machine screws. The screws are tightened so that the arms are held in place by friction when unfolded, but they can still be folded relatively easily without any adjustments or tools.
Following David’s pattern, the landing struts and motor plates are attached with cable ties. These hold everything firmly in place but will hopefully give or break before the frame components if too large an impact is applied.
Above the two structural plates of the frame there is a third plate with a large number of cutouts. This sits above the frame on laser cut plywood standoffs and serves to protect the electronics that sit on top of the frame. The KK 2.1 flight controller I’m using has a build in LCD display and buttons for configuration in the field. All of the buttons and the display are accessible through a cutout in the top plate. Additionally the plate helps with cable management, wiring being attached to the frame with cable ties and velcro straps to keep it neat.
Because I went for a tricopter design I required a swivel mount for the rear motor. This consists of a modified motor mount plate with two tabs on the bottom through which an M3 bolt is threaded. A pair of bearing carriers are formed from two layers of ply parts that slot over the rear arm with appropriately sized holes to trap a pair of bearings through which the bolt runs. The rear landing strut was cut with an appropriate cutout for the metal gear servo that moves the rear motor mount. This turned out to be a weak point and is so far the only part I have broken. A new design has been drawn up but has yet to be tried as the replacement rear leg is still going strong after many more landings (with slightly more care).
Electronically the tricopter is fairly simple, though there is a small hack to power the rear servo. Each speed controller includes a voltage regulator which normally powers the other equipment that needs 5 volts. Since there are multiple ESCs in a multicopter, only one of these is required. People cut the 5v wire to prevent the regulators from fighting (probably only necessary with switching regulators). The KK 2.1 board simplifies this as the first ESC connector powers the board and radio reciever while the 5v pin from the other 7 are isolated so no wires need to be cut. This does mean, however, that no power is provided to the servo. To work around this I modified the rear ESC by desoldering the 5v wire and removing it from the connector. I then soldered a 3 pin header to the voltage regulator output to make the 5v and ground lines of an additional connector. The 5v wire from the original connector was attached to the third pin of this and at the other end plugged into the signal pin from the servo output on the KK 2.1 board. This provides a connector on the rear ESC into which the servo could be plugged, providing power and the appropriate signal to drive the servo (see diagram).
Very few changes were required to make the tricopter fly nicely, with the exception of increasing the proportional gain for roll and pitch without which the controls felt quite sluggish.
I have some video from an early test flight shot using a cheap 808 keychain camera. I’ve since bought a Mobius and added an appropriate mount but haven’t had chance to get any footage with the new camera due to weather. The downside of building the tricopter from wood is I don’t want to get it wet!
Reciever: Hitec Optima 7
Flight Controller: KK 2.1
ESCs: Turnigy Plush 10A
Motors: Turnigy Multistar 1704-1900kV
Rear Servo: Turnigy TSS 10-MG
Battery: Turnigy 1000Mah 3S 20C LiPo
I’ve made the drawings from which the tricopter was built are available to download and I’d enjoy hearing about it if anyone uses them in a project.
27 December 2014
Just in time for the holidays: An archival container for Chesterwhite, the UI Libraries’ first web server (1994-1998), now taking up permanent residence in the University Archives.
THEY ARCHIVED THEIR SERVER.
IT HAS A CONTAINER AND A CATALOGUE NUMBER AND EVERYTHING.
MY FEEEEEEEEEEEEEELINGS. I WANT TO HUG IT FOREVER AND REMIND IT HOW IMPORTANT IT IS.
26 December 2014
Annie Easley on the cover of NASA’s Science and Engineering Newsletter, circa 1960s. Easley’s career at NASA spanned 34 years, where she developed computer programs related to alternative energy solutions, including wind and solar power, energy conversion, and vehicular batteries.
25 December 2014
Santa in space
23 December 2014
Reynold’s aluminum, 1960s
22 December 2014
Olive the Owl, from the most recent Let’s Knit extra.
I like how the fan and feather pattern works so well to make the horns and the body, and I’ve never actually tried it with striping colours, and it works really well.
Although I used the free yarn to do the body, arms, and wings, I did need to change the colour of the wings due to running out of yarn, and I got out some yellow for the beak and slightly-thicker black for the eyes.
19 December 2014
18 December 2014
17 December 2014
After Fraggle Rock we moved on to the next cake. This was another moving cake for the after show party of a Snow White Pantomime. A lot of the mechanism were re purposed but there were a few new parts as well.
The mirror was made from 6mm ply and has a row of LED pixels hidden around the edge of the mirror to provide some colour changing illumination. An Arduino Nano drives the LED's using the fastLED libraries. The front panel is detachable so it can be decorated with cake while flat and then put into position.
I was asked to build a BIG LED display for a pedal powered cinema for a film group in Brussels (more about that in another post).
I found these huge displays from Embedded Adventures and had wanted an excuse to have a play with one of them for a while.
This is a post about getting the display working with an Arduino Uno.
16 December 2014
Eldritch has just finished up another laser cut sword and it looks fantastic. Sure it took a recut and way too long to get done but it was worth it. Hope it's new owner really enjoys it.
In other news it appears he's also found someone else to do laser cutting for him, I guess this is one of the perils from selling mutual friends their own laser cutters
13 December 2014
Margaret Hamilton is a computer scientist and mathematician. She was the lead software engineer for Project Apollo. Her work prevented an abort of the Apollo 11 moon landing. She’s also credited for coining the term “software engineer.”
Those stacks are the code she wrote for Apollo 11. Incredible.
12 December 2014
At last years model engineer exhibition we had a knob 3D printed for the Blacknose Laser cutter. I thought I'd made a bit more of it at the time and at least included a photo but apparently I didn't. Anyway... We had a whole bunch of them 3D printer and started shipping them out with the lasers but if you get poor adhesion on a layer and a slightly stiff Z axis you can snap the 3D printed ones in half.
So just in time for this years expo I took on the challenge of laser cutting a better knob (literally just in time, I should have been in bed 2 hours ago). The knob needs to fit onto a 5.5mm square shaft. Wood is nice to hold but it shears off pretty quickly so I used a mix of wood and acrylic. The acrylic core runs vertically and absorbs a lot of rotational torque, the square and shaft also mates with the Z shaft well. The knurled top of the knob makes it easy to grip.
06 December 2014
04 December 2014
I saved the best for last. I'm really pleased with the stripey candy effect and the blue ribbon.
03 December 2014
02 December 2014
This is the same tree from the Christmas Trio but obviously much smaller. Too small in fact, the dots are 2mm wide and the strips are 1.5mm wide. It's a nice badge but I don't want to make more than one.
01 December 2014
There is a small etch all round the edge of these holly leaves. It make a big difference to the final piece but it did increase the cutting time from seconds to 2 minutes, worth it though.
30 November 2014
Yesterday this tweet appeared on my Twitter timeline
November 1983: Some programs just write themselves... pic.twitter.com/AiKCIuSSCp— Your Sinclair RnRY (@YourSinclairRRY) November 29, 2014
Now, being the geeky retro Sinclair fanboy I am, I read it, understood it, and retweeted it. Obviously.
(In case the attachment doesn’t show, click here it is in its full technimonocolour glory)
It’s a page from the November edition of Sinclair User, and has a simple program for a ZX81 to print out Xmas gift tags. It made me wonder just how many people back in the early 80’s would have gone through all that trouble ( and expensive thermal paper!) just to make tags. And, 31 years later, surely nobody would go to all that trouble either. It seemed so simple it got me wondering if I could (or even should) give it a go myself.
On the face of it, the hardware requirements were very simple (and all in my possession). The program itself was very very simple. So, how hard could it be? So, this afternoon, I set about recreating all the pre-Christmas excitement of 1983
Two and a half hours later this happened;
Admittedly that two and a half hours included a bit of time checking which of my two ZX81 worked (neither fully – combined; 1) and digging around for a transistor to do the ‘composite mod‘ for a decent TV picture. Most of the rest of that time was spent drawing grid lines on a print out of that listing to see which 2×2 graphic characters were used where in the image or searching around the keyboard for the right combination of keys to get the appropriate keywords or graphics to show up. Believe me, navigating the ZX81 keyboard is no trivial thing! But suffice to say, using a ZX81 to mass produce your Xmas tags probably wasn’t the best use of your time in 1983, and certainly isn’t now!
I don’t know if Jonathan Court of Poole, Dorset is still developing ZX81 software, but, if he is, and he finds this blog post, I would like to thank both him and Your Sinclair for saving me the cost of actually buying Christmas gift tags this year :-)
Also… if you’re looking to buy some snazzy Xmas gift tags this year, well, you know where to come!
29 November 2014
I've been working on some Christmas brooches for a craft faire I'm going to this week. Feels a bit like working on project 365 again. This robin, and these items, are made from a poplar ply backing and covered in layered wood veneers to give it some depth.
27 November 2014
I get a lot of questions about what machines I'm using so I've added a new page to the top bar so readers can see what my current set up is at any given moment.
26 November 2014
25 November 2014
24 November 2014
- Power for the whole arrangement comes through the USB connection
5V, GND from both the RTC and the Neopixel Ring are connected to the Arduino.
- Data in from the Neopixel Ring connects to Digital input 2 on the Arduino
- SCL of the RTC goes to Analogue input 5 on the Arduino
- SDA of the RTC goes to Analogue input 4 on the Arduino
- Wire Library - for connecting to the RTC with I2C
- DS1307RTC Library - for understanding what the RTC says over I2C
- Time Library - lets the Arduino understand times
- TimeAlarms Library - executes functions at specific times/intervals
- FastLED Library - for communicating with the NeoPixel ring
- The first lines of the setup function define the time that the alarm will go off
- The RTC and Neopixel ring are initialised
- Two alarms are created, one at the time previously specified another an hour later
- The main loop of the program does nothing except create a delay that keeps the timer ticking
- LightsOn function, creates the short sunshine animation when the alarm goes off
- LightsOff function, switches the LED's back to night time colour
23 November 2014
22 November 2014
As the title says, it's a small stellated dodecahedron. 12 identical panels interweave to form this dodecahedron shape. The ends clip together and hold in place although my stuff gets handled quite a bit so I put some glue in there too. It's very much an assembly puzzle but not as complicated as the Frabjous. (svg here)
This was made from 1.5mm external ply which is nasty to cut and is proper black all the way round the edge. Thankfully I think I've worn most of the charcoal off with the assembly. I keep meaning to rant about how poor quality the 1.5mm ply is because everyone passes off external ply as laserable, but I think there may be a new supplier in town shortly with some better quality stuff so I'll wait for that to happen and then shout their praise from the rooftops (again)
20 November 2014
This is my preferred design, a single screw secures the access panel in place. Two hinges stop the lid from coming out at the other end. The captive nut is rounded off because it sticks slightly out into the access area. A lip all the way round the edge stops the lid from falling into the box. The downside is that this lip uses quite a lot of material.
19 November 2014
17 November 2014
Me when sewing.
11 November 2014
Over the past two years a number of people have been working on a series of books for Engineers Without Borders placement volunteers.
These books are designed to cover the basics of the theoretical, practical and social aspects of doing engineering projects for devlopment. They are meant as a basic guide, a collection of case studies and links to further information.
I have helped co-athour the Energy book and it has been published and released as a free .pdf.
I'm very proud of the final result which, I think, is an amazing resource.