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I recently built two custom controllers. The first was a joystick that sends key commands depending on the position. It was a simple electronic build, just incorporating a SparkFun Arcade Joystick into an enclosure.

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The person I built it for ask for the enclosure to be as small as possible, so the joystick is in there tight. I also painted the ball white and the screws holding things together black.

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The bottom piece of the enclosure does not use finger joints, as it’s head in place with screws. I ended up drilling holes for the screws later after I cut down some scrap wood into corner pieces that helped hold the enclosure together when gluing, and provided a place to screw the screws into.

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The other controller was create using Neoprene. I did not laser cut the Neoprene, but did cut a template from wood that I used to lay on top of the Neoprene and then carefully cut with an X-ACTO knife, which worked well enough.

There are two round laser cut pieces of plastic as well, that are covered with metallic tape, and then the two wires got taped down to the discs. The wires are attached to a Teensy LC on the other end, which has built-in capacitive touch capabilities.

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Some gaff tape holds together the sandwich of Neoprene to keep it all together. It’s pretty much impossible to pull it apart without destroying the Neoprene (I left that photo out) so hopefully it just works and no maintenance is ever needed.

This controller also sends keystrokes depending on which pad you touch. Oh, I also used a laser cut template to spray paint the two large white target areas. I wasn’t too pleased with the look of spray paint on Neoprene, but it’s the best I could do with a short timeline.

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We made a giant laser cut & etched banana and stained it yellow and put it on the wall. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because we’re artists and we have a sense of humor and sometimes enjoy social commentary. But wait, there’s more!

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You see, this specific banana is best know as being a piece of art created by Andy Warhol. Or maybe it’s best known as being the cover of a Velvet Underground album. Also, as we all know, Warhol was a thief. But maybe he was a thief in the way Steve Jobs was a thief. “Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal.”

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So I stole Warhol’s banana, but I really just downloaded a file that someone else created, which is fitting. Stealing is pretty easy nowadays. Thanks, Internet!

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But where did Warhol steal it from? Well, most likely an ashtray from Wing Corp. Do you like a banana? Enjoy Banana. Or maybe you should go to court and sue someone over banana. Art is ridiculous because life is ridiculous.

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Maybe you want to buy your own banana? You could probably do that, but you can’t buy our banana, because it’s not for sale! (I remain hopeful that someday someone comes into the office and actually recognizes the banana.)

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The banana was laser etched and then cut from 1/4″ Baltic Birch Plywood and it took about five hours. I think it should have gone faster but this was (more or less) a stress test for the laser cutter. It definitely etches (and cuts) stronger on the left side than the right. Good to know.

Becky is holding a Cutie (aka a “mandarin orange”) for scale. I forgot to bring a banana for scale. I should probably do that. There’s also a 12 ounce can in some of the photos, which is also for scale. I don’t know how many ounces the banana is.

Do you like a banana? See Also: MaKey MaKey Banana Pong, MaKey MaKey Banana Pong (code), The Art of Tinkering, and Bluth Family Stair Car.

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We had a chili contest at work and because we are all clever and ridiculous we had great names for our chili. I named mine Winning Chili. Unfortunately the judge renamed it with unnecessary quotes to be “Winning Chili” which is just not the same…

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Carrie had two chilis, one being named The Winner, which the judge also renamed with unnecessary quotes to be “The Winner”…

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…and another named Best In Class which somehow avoided the dreaded addition of unnecessary quotes.

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Stacie went with a strangely named Aunt Lota’s Hot Meat & Cool Beans, which definitely won for highest character count, but lacked the words Winning, Winner or Best.

My chili wasn’t even really chili, it was Chili Mac & Cheese, because I’ve never made chili, but I have made mac & cheese, and I just added a bunch of chili ingredients. I probably won because the judges were a bunch of teachers and I reasoned that teachers would like mac & cheese because most teacher in this country are underpaid and probably used to eating a lot of mac & cheese.

(Note: while the paragraph above might be humorous, it’s also sad. I donated the prize to a teacher.)

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I made wax balls, and it worked, and I did it using 3D printed molds. I won’t get into why I want/need wax balls in this post, but I swear it has nothing to do with candle making or bath bombs. (These balls are about 12mm in diameter.)

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I originally modeled one ball with one sprue, and then used the loop function of OpenSCAD to make a series of them in a row, slightly overlapping the sprues.

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My original plan was to make silicone molds (like I did with this wax stick) and went as far as creating a positive and a mold box, but along the way I thought about just using a 3D printed mold…

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Here’s the 3D printed mold created using PLA filament. The holes are for bolting the two pieces together using 3mm hardware. (I used tape in the earlier versions, but it did not work well.)

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I didn’t need to fill all the bolt holes, but wanted a few options so I could get tight clamping. Wax doesn’t have the same low viscosity of something like water, but when melted is a bit runny, so I just want to make sure I can keep it from leaking out too much.

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Once the mold is assembled it’s just a matter of melting some wax and pouring it into the mold. I’ve had a few balls with air pockets when demolding, so I’ve taken to sticking a thin piece of wire in to stir around the wax in an attempt to remove the air. (I do have a vacuum pump which I’ve considered trying to use, but the chamber is currently too small to fit more than one mold at a time.)

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Hey, wax balls! Originally I tried spraying the mold with mold release, but I don’t think it helped much. What does help is putting the cooled molds into the freezer for a bit (this is a known trick for getting wax candles out of glass jars.) It helps solidify and srink the wax enough to make it come out fairly easily. I do break a few every now and then but a lot less than before I used the freezer method.

The other great thing about using 3D printed molds is that I can very easily (and cheaply) make a whole bunch of molds, which is good, because I may need a few thousand wax balls…

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Hey there! It’s time for another LinkDump post. Yeah, a link dump! They are (typically) blog posts that link to other things on the old Internet Web, and often have little or no commentary. Sometimes I’ll just post links to things I’ve read or looked at or need to check out in the future, or just want to share.

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