Acrylic Bender

I made an Acrylic Bender. If you are one of the people who appreciates that joke, I appreciate you. I mean, it’s an Acrylic Bender, not an Acrylic Bender, an Acrylic bender, or even an acrylic Bender

Sheesh! Look at that face… it’s a face only a mother could love. Seriously folks, this “Acrylic Bender” joke is like six years in the making. I really hope you appreciate it.

I etched the acrylic as I usually do, with LightBurn and the RasterLaser upgraded with a Cohesion3D board…

After etching I applied some black Speedball block printing ink and spread it over the surface, pushing it into the etched areas. I then wiped it off the top surface with toilet paper… Just kidding! I used paper towel. (That joked will not age well.)

Thank you for reading this post, meatbag… also, bite my shiny, metal plastic ass!


Affinity Photo

Let me start by saying that I’ve used Photoshop for the past thirty years. That’s three decades of using an application. I actually cannot think of an application I’ve been using longer than that. My Photoshop abilities probably helped me get my first real job. That said, my days with Photoshop might be numbered.

As you may know, the world is moving to 64 bit computing. Apple’s latest OS will no longer support 32 bit applications. Since I am not a fan of renting software, I still run Adobe Photoshop CS5 on my Mac OS X 10.12 and 10.13 machines. In 10.14 it will not run. A friend of mine at Adobe told me to “join the cloud” and that I would see lots of new and amazing features, but to be honest, with what I use Photoshop for these days, I don’t need the new and amazing features…

So I’ve got a copy of Affinity Photo, and I’ve been using it, and it’s pretty good, and at some point I’ll dump Photoshop completely (probably when I upgrade to 10.14) though I’ll still use Photoshop if working at places that use it. (And yeah, I rarely trade PSD files with others, though if I need to, Affinity Photo can read & write PSD files.)

I tried Pixelmator years ago but it never really grabbed me and made me feel like it could be my everyday editor, but I’ve actually been very impressed with Affinity Photo. It’s close enough to Photoshop but has its own personality. There are a few things I’m still getting used to, but I am trying to use it anytime I would normally launch Photoshop in an effort to train myself.

Will all new software (let alone something you’ve used for decades) it’s often a matter of getting used to things that are slightly different. Like using Windows when you’re used to a Mac, or Canon when you have a Nikon… I’m getting to memorize some of the key commands, and I find a few things annoying, like not putting the focus on the first value in a dialog so I need to remember to hit the tab key before I start typing. Little things, nothing big… The important part is, I can do nearly everything I want to (or need to) do with Affinity Photo that I would have done with Adobe Photoshop.

While I am a huge fan of open source, I’ll also pay a reasonable price for non-open source software if it fits my needs and there is not a viable alternative in the open source world.

If 2020 has done anything so far, it’s introduced me to a lot of new software (and services) through my various jobs and projects this year. I’ll probably post a bit more about software in the future, as it’s been a long time since that’s been a regular feature around here.


Multicolored Laser Etching

If you want a true to life banana you can’t just laser etch something, you need to go that extra kilometer to make it multicolor. (Of course real bananas need not apply.)

I didn’t go large this time, I went small… How small? Here’s a quarter for scale. Oddly enough, I did not find a banana in the house to use for scale, as they’ve all bean eaten, or frozen, so a quarter will have to do.

I etched some dayglow green acrylic using LightBurn and the RasterLaser upgraded with a Cohesion3D board…

Here’s a plain old green banana that has been laser etched. Look how lifeless and colorless it appears! It’s almost downright unappealing. I dare say we should consider slipping some color into place. It’s probably what Warhol would do.

I took some good old Speedball block printing ink and with my finger (inside a nitrile glove) rubbed ink across the surface. I then took some paper towel and wiped it off. It stayed in the etched part pretty good. Good enough for this first test anyway…

Here’s our multicolored banana with some edge lighting. I should try proper acrylic edge-lighting to see what the results are…

Here’s a view of the edge without extra lighting. This is 3mm acrylic. I’m thinking next time I’ll try additional coats of ink with time in between to dry.

Here’s another photo of the banana with a quarter, but the quarter is out of focus and in the foreground because it feels forelorn because it knows it is not a banana and will never be a banana, and for that, it mourns silently.

Enjoy your banana!


Ball Feeder Mechanism

Here’s this week’s progress on the wax ball feeder mechanism. These are actually 2D files that were laser cut, but I sort of like the look of making them 2.5D so you can see the dimensionality.

Oh, to make the 3D render I exported a DXF file from Inkscape, load it into OpenSCAD and then use the linear_extrude function.

And yeah, these files are already outdated as there was one mistake (which I fixed with the bandsaw) and I’ve assembled it and found room for improvement.

You can see some earlier iterations here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Which is to say, if you want to see minor updates with very little context, follow @raster on The Instagram.

You’ll notice an issue with the balls getting stuck in the chute, so there’s a bit of work to do there. I’ve got a few ideas, just need time to test them.

And don’t worry, at some point this might all make sense, once you see the rest of the thing. Or maybe it won’t… who knows!?


Sensor Boxes and Controller Box

Here’s a few photos of a project I recently worked on for Stamm Media and No Small Magic. These are sensor boxes that were used for a tradeshow. I don’t know how much I can say about the tech inside them, but this is what they look like.

I designed, laser cut, and assembled all the boxes. They are partially glued together but the back covers are held on with screws so as to be accessible for adjustment purposes.

This is the final product from last month’s blog post Enclosure Prototyping. Since I finished this piece first I actually added a bit of shellac to it, which makes it just a bit nicer than raw wood. (I ended up making two of these.)

The sensor boxes connect to the control box using Cat5 cable and the RJ45 Adapter Boards I developed last year. This allows for the sensors to be easily placed quite a distance from the control box by just using an existing Cat5 cable instead of needing a custom cable/connector.