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It’s been a busy year so far – lots of stuff going on, and precious little time to build anything.
A couple of months ago however I was asked by my buddies at MAKE magazine to put together an interesting little project. A solar powered chirping cricket – that uses solar energy to maintain the charge on a 9v battery, and then starts “chirping” once night falls.
As well as using the solar panels to keep the 9v Lithium Ion battery charged, they are also used for the light detection routine. The project also features the excellent JeeLib library to manage the low power sleep routines.
More details here:
I’ve recently been talking with Greg Weber – the owner of a Trotec Speedy 300 laser machine. He offered to make a posting on the blog about some of the projects he’s been working on…
Hi, my name is Greg and I’m the owner of a Trotec Speedy 300 laser machine. I love to work on various materials in my spare time on this laser cutter/engraver. I prefer wood, glass or paper and would like to share my experience with these materials with you. I mainly realise my own ideas and designs but I’m also searching the web for templates as well. I occaisonally use the ready-made designs on my machine supplier’s website. In case you’re interested, go check out http://www.troteclaser.com/EN-US-US/LASER-SAMPLES/Pages/Samples-Overview.aspx
Laser engraving paper and cardboard
Paper and cardboard both can easily be processed with a laser machine to make intricate designs, beautiful patterns or decorate invitations. Compared to mechanical cutting a laser really pays off when working with paper and cardstock due to its high precision. Recently I made this paper application:
Does the paper burn while processing it with the laser?
Some of you might ask if the laser burns the paper during the cutting process. This can easily be avoided by using the correct settings on the laser machine. If you don’t know the optimal parameters I suggest asking your laser machine manufacturer for help.
Applications made from wood
According to the manufacturer almost every type of wood is suitable for laser cutting and engraving. From my experience I’d say that balsa and alder wood are the best. There are almost unlimited options what you can create from wood. I usually use wood to make gift articles, premium packaging or toys. Check out this Valentine’s Day gift I made:
What is important for processing wood?
Again the laser settings are the key to perfectly cut edges when working with wood. To find the perfect parameters you have to test them before you start with the “real” process. Therefore you should have enough wood available. If you have any problems regarding the laser parameters, I’d ask the laser machine manufacturer again.
There are many possibilities regarding glass engraving. Even photos and graphics are possible. According to the manufacturer you can engrave any design on glass which can be printed.
How to engrave a drinking glass?
To engrave a wine or beer glass the glass is clamped into a rotary attachment. Make sure to set the appropriate diameter of the glass and the height of the graphic in your laser software. The software then calculates the design of your graphics for the conical surface of the glass. This is essential to get a perfect result. A CO2-laser is used when engraving glass.
I hope I was able to share some insight on working with a laser machine. Questions highly welcome
[I kinda like the glass engraving, that's something I'm going to have to try myself... - Steve]
Ever since I saw Mike Oldfield remix the Blue Peter theme back in the 80′s I was fascinated with the strange looking drum be played half way through…
It was only recently that I found out it was called a ‘Bodhrán’ [Bo-rawn] (which I’m told might mean ‘deaf’ but that was probably a joke, or wishful thinking…).
For my birthday I ordered a cheap drum from Amazon, and after getting the knack of whacking it with the double-ended ‘tipper’ (or stick, as some people call it) I decided to have a go at making my own. I found some bendable plywood at the local wood stockist, and ordered a couple of goatskin ‘vellum’ drum heads via Amazon (As much as I love DIY, the prospect of making my own from scratch didn’t really appeal). Photo quality not so hot – these were taken with my phone.
I tried to make it using some cow rawhide, but that was too thick, the goatskin is better. I could probably re-use the cowhide to make one of those Japanese drums that they whack with big mallets. [That'd be a 'Taiko' drum - Ed]
Now I just have to learn how to play it properly – like this guy…
UPDATE: Having finished one, and about to start another, here are my ‘lessons learned’
1. Make the tuner parts from Oak, not plywood – plywood can’t take the stress of the drum head,
2. When you tie the wet goatskin, don’t make it too tight, when it dries it can crack the shell,
3. Edge-load the skin with Super-88 electrical tape, to kill the higher harmonics,
4. Pre-treat the birch ply with pre-stain conditioner,
5. Evenly staining super-hard Oak in the winter time is next to impossible,
6. Sand the drum head with 320+ grit both front and back to reduce the scratching sound.
7. Don’t use wood veneer (especially walnut) as a band – it tends to crack
8. Use stainless steel staples to anchor the skin, not galvanized.
I just got an email from Pierre-Alain (thanks!) alerting me to the fact that my picture was being used to sell a sound font of the laser harp.
Fancy that – I contacted the seller, and reported the posting to Ebay, but there doesn’t seem to be a policy about using pictures of people to sell something without permission.
BTW – the sound font is freely available online, you just have to Google it…
Built the enclosure, and hooked up fume extraction and air assist…
This is cutting 1/8″ plastic – everything seems to work just fine – 3 passes and the pieces just drop right out. The cutting residue washes off with soap and water.
UPDATE : I was looking for tips on identifying laser safe plastics and found the following video:
Polymer Identification by Burnination from Zach 'Iowa' Hoeken on Vimeo.
…and this technique can also be used to identify if you’ve been taken over by “The Thing”.Similar Posts:
Who are the Hex Girls?
Obviously you’re not a Scooby Doo fan…
My daughter LOVES the Hex Girls, and for Halloween she wanted to be the lead singer. So I decided to build her a guitar closely modeled on the one used by Thorn (or Sally McKnight).
We started with the Batman logo from the 1960′s and did some vector manipulation. Then got a single plank of poplar from the local hardware store. Cut a single strip to make the neck, and glued up the rest to make the body.
I think it was a hit…
Wow, been a long time since I posted about anything. I thought it was about time I wrote about something new.
I recently acquired all the parts for a laser cutter – although I was running an 80W tube from the BlackToe gantry I found that the two machining techniques were at odds with each other, and the laser needed an environment all of its own. Luckily I had enough stuff left over from my first CNC gantry – the Bluumax – to build a new X/Y table.
Patrick (www.buildyourcnc.com) and I have been talking about laser cutters for a while now – we both thought that putting the tube into the gantry itself was a sensible thing to do, since you would only need to align one axis.
Quite proud of these adjustable motor mounts – came to me in a flash of inspiration:
Here are some movies showing progress, alignment, and “first light”:
…and the finished engraving – about 1mm deep, lowest laser power, 1/4 baltic birch. The flashes of light seem to be where the toolpaths cross. Not entirely sure why this happens. Anyone know?
Update – check out this neat test for laser “tramming” – making sure it’s truly perpendicular – http://www.machsupport.com/forum/index.php/topic,23037.msg162437.html#msg162437
I’d been using an old dining table as a workbench for a long time – and it just wasn’t working out. The cables for all the test equipment kept getting tangled up, and it was too deep to be an efficient use of space. 20 minutes in to any project and it was a mess…
For Father’s Day I got a pocketing jig that lets you make joins in wood very quickly. So… instead of going out and buying a new desk I decided to make one custom-fit for me. I had about half a dozen 2×4′s kicking around the garage and so this seemed to be a great use for them.
I started with just some basic measurements (height of chair etc…) and built the desk around myself. So everything is at the right height and within easy reach. I think the trick is to just modify it to suit your needs. 2×4′s are cheap and very forgiving of having multiple holes drilled in them. Since there wasn’t a lot of glue involved I can reconfigure it whenever I need to.
There was very little measuring needed and the whole thing went together in a day. I’d just mark up the timber against the existing structure, cut, drill and attach.
Additionally, lifting all the test equipment up off the main work area helps enormously with the cable tangle problem.
I wrote it up on the Make project site – more info here.
I was watching the latest episode of Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated with my daughter last week and could not fail to spot this gratuitous reference to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. (Something I never thought I’d see).
What was really interesting was that this was a 20 second vignette that had nothing to do with the regular mask-wearing, kid-meddling shenanigans. Once it was over we returned back to the regular plot with no further mention. Since it’s unlikely that the target demographic for Scooby Doo has ever seen a Hellraiser movie this one was purely for the parents watching…
After opening the door, the unseen caller starts to say “Oh such sights…” only to have the door slammed in his face and the sheriff mutter “Weirdo!”
Nice touch. More please!
UPDATE: StrangerUK01 posted this on their Youtube channel:
OK so it looks a lot like a black dot on the face of the sun, but you don’t see it very often…
Taken with a Nikon D2X, 300mm zoom lens and a solar filter.