Categories
Uncategorized

Label Maker Tip

A few years ago I picked up a nice DYMO label maker for less than $10, and found that the third party label cartridges worked fine about 90% of the time for about one third the price. I liked it so much that I got one for work as well where we used it label electronics for exhibit components.

One of the problems, or maybe more appropriately, one of the annoyances, was getting the label size right, so I came up with the following solution…

Right on the back of the label maker, where you can’t lose it, is a simple visual guide showing what size type your label will use. Even with training in graphic design it can be hard to visualize what 16 points will look like versus what 20 points will look like. Guess no more! Here’s the guide!

Categories
Uncategorized

Maker Faire Orlando 2019

I managed to attend seven Maker Faires in 2019, including Elkhorn Mini Maker Faire, Maker Faire Miami, Maker Faire Kansas City, Maker Faire Detroit, Maker Faire Milwaukee, Madison Mini Maker Faire, and Maker Faire Orlando. For three of those I served as a Producer or Producer in Residence, and for the others I attended as a Maker, either representing Milwaukee Makerspace, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, or taking part in the Power Racing Series.

Pictured above is a shot of the crew for Maker Faire Orlando. They are an amazing bunch of volunteers who work their butts off to put on an amazing event. I’m proud to have been able to join them the last three years and assist in any way I could. And besides all the local folks who help out we had guest Producers from New York, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee all helping out, each bringing a unique perspective to the group.

(Note: We’re missing a few valuable crew members in the photo because they were busy with Robot Ruckus, which is an amazing event that happens inside another amazing event. Amazing!)

I tried to get a little time to run around with my DSLR and capture some photos, and I’ve got a whole album, but here’s a few worth sharing… Above is a creepy doll, or to be more precise, one of the Deviant Dollz. I don’t know that I’d ever purchase one of these dolls, but I loved seeing them, and if I ever have to shoot a horror film, I know who I’m getting the props from.

Our old pal Matt Stultz was there with Prusa, the company and the man, and people really liked finding out more about what they do. Also, I learned that bringing your Prusa printer to a Maker Faire so Josef can autograph it is a thing people do.

Gary the Snail (along with Aren) made it for the Power Racing Series finale, and took the title! Many PPPRS friends were there as well, including Jim, Patrick, and racers from around the country. We also got to test a new water barrier concept on the track this year, which was fascinating and fun.

It’s always good to see Jeremy Cook and his latest strandbeest contraptions. If you haven’t met Jeremy yet, check out his videos. He’s one of those makers who seems to keep busy all the time.

Hey, if you’re gonna throw a Maker Faire you should have a DJ because they make sick beats happen, they make people smile, and they make everyone have a good time. At least that’s what the.kd.queen managed to do. She even handed the mic over to some crazy futuristic robot for a while… magical!

Want more? Check out my Maker Faire Orlando 2019 album or browse through photos from Jay De Los Santos, and start making plans to attend Maker Faire Orlando 2020 right now!

Categories
Uncategorized

First Place Ribbon

For some reason I’ve been into making things with felt lately. It probably has something to do with the fact that felt is cheap and colorful and laser cuts nicely. The colorful thing is a bit new to me. I tend not to do really colorful things, so that’s interesting as well. The colors I used for this piece are sort of terrible (in my opinion) but I wanted something “terrible” as it were.

This ribbon was made for Dana’s annual Holiday Bingo Game which has prizes for the winners, and I offered to make a (somewhat sad) ribbon for the first place winner, so here it is.

I started as I usually do, in Inkscape, designing the piece by stacking up objects. You can see the fully designed piece in the lower left corner. (The grey version next to it is sort of an x-ray view showing some of the original parts.) The top row contains the four pieces we’ll cut with the laser cutter. The second piece (red) has a slightly larger diameter than the similar part on the first piece (aqua) to allow for me not aligning things perfectly.

Here are all the pieces in LightBurn ready to be cut. Each piece gets the same cut settings but I assigned them all different colors (layers) as they’ll all be cut separately from different colored pieces of felt. I’ve also started to use LightBurn’s Library feature which allows you to save settings for different materials/thicknesses, etc. I can just click on “Felt” and assign those settings to the layer. Nice!

I think it turned out pretty good. The only thing I didn’t care for (design-wise) is the “st” part of the “1st” on the ribbon. I sort of punted on that (this was a quick project) and I think I could have come up with a better solution. I wanted to connect the letters “st” to the “1” to make assembling the whole thing easier. I think I can do better next time, I mean, if there is a next time. (Who wants a ribbon?)

Overall, though… I’m pleased with the outcome. It helps to have a spray booth and bottle of Super 77 spray glue sitting right next to the laser cutter to make creating these things quick and easy. It’s nice to have an idea for a project and see it completed in under an hour.

Categories
Uncategorized

Hangers

Back in 2018 while at Brinn Labs I was tasked with doing a mobile activity (the kind of mobiles you hang, not the kind that are British cell phones) and I came up with an idea based on the work of Man Ray, specifically his Obstruction sculpture.

man-ray-obstruction-instructions

hanger-svg

I designed a hanger that could be fabricated at a small size (approximately 5″ x 1.5″) and could hang more hangers from the ends. Man Ray’s version used full size hangers that had wire hooks and holes on each end of the wooden part which made it easy to link them all together. Mine was a bit different with a simpler one-piece design. I assume the hangers Man Ray used could swivel completely around, which is an added bonus my version would not have. (But there’s always more than one way to do it.)

Here’s a hanger laser cut from 3mm Baltic Birch plywood. The nice thing about 3mm Baltic Birch plywood is that it’s easy (for me) to find scrap that is around 1.5″ tall and use it for this, which meant I had no real material cost as I could essentially create these from scrap.

I should note that I originally tried using corrugated cardboard, which is even more abundant than 3mm Baltic Birch plywood. While it sort of worked, it depended a lot on exactly where the corrugation was after cutting. I abandoned the cardboard version after a few tests. (If I had made larger hangers I think the cardboard version could have worked fine.)

Because the hanger was a simple 2.5D object I also created a 3D printed version of the hanger… like many of the things I create I tend to come up with ways others could make them depending on the equipment they have available. If you don’t have a laser cutter but do have a 3D printer you can still easily create a bunch of these.

In the photo above you see four versions. Version 1 is the plain Baltic Birch version; Version 2 is a sanded and stained Baltic Birch version; Version 3 is a 3D printed version using grey PLA plastic; and Version 4 is laser cut from clear 3mm Acrylic. Again, multiple methods and materials to choose from.

Since I was working towards making a lot of hangers for an event I just cut them all quickly on the laser cutter and didn’t pay much attention to quality, so the backs of the wood hangers got a bit charred from the honeycomb bed. This is the part where it shouldn’t matter, but sometimes things bug you… so later I ended up designing a small jig to hold the hangers so I could sand them and make them look nice. I don’t know why I torture myself… I hate sanding.

Designing the jig involved creating a slightly larger version of the hanger and then differencing it from a small rectangular shape, then 3D printing it. It worked well to hold the hangers in place while sanding them, but in the end staining them a darker color was much easier. (Again, I really hate sanding.)

When I made the hangers I sort of envisioned it as a game where one or more people would try to build the hanging structure without it falling. Sort of a reverse Jenga perhaps, or maybe more like Barrel of Monkeys though I’ll admit I was completely wrong about how you play Barrel of Monkeys, and this video shows the correct way.

Overall I’m fairly pleased with how this projected turned out. Oh, I should note that the hexagonal tops on the hangers were mean to mimic the hexagonal logo of Brinn Labs. they could certainly have been more rounded or another sort of shape. Who knows? I may redesign these hangers in the future after a bit more prototyping. As I mentioned, this was a quick project and once I got a working hanger I just kicked out a bunch.

hanger-square8877

I hope I was able to create the “increasing confusion” that May Ray talked about in the instructions for Obstruction. It’s certainly a bit confusing when you are creating the structure, and at times I wished I had a helper to attach two hangers while I was attaching two hangers.

I’ll probably get around to releasing the files for this in case anyone else wants to do something with it.

Categories
Uncategorized

A Tiny Little Stocking for a Spider

stocking-6186

A few weeks ago Dana posted something on Facebook about this rather large spider that had taken up residence in our doorway. I did my best to avoid using that door ever again but while decorating for the holidays she said she wanted to do something for the spider’s little corner of the house, so I offered to make a tiny stocking for the spider. (I may not like spiders, but I like making things.)

stocking-01

I started by looking at some photos of stockings online, then did a quick trace of one in Inkscape. I figured it would have three parts, the red stocking, the white upper part, and a dark colored letter “S” for “Spider”.

stocking-02

Once I had the design I broke it out into the three parts. The little hanging tab on the upper left part of the red piece took a little work. For the first one I made it was way too small, and also lacked a hole for the pushpin to go into.

One thing that’s hard to notice here is that the white part is a bit larger than the red part it will get attached to. This was done using Dynamic Offset feature in Inkscape which will scale up or down an object proportionally.

stocking-03b

I brought the pieces into LightBurn for laser cutting, and set each of the three pieces to their own color to cut individually with different color felt, and made the little slot for the hanging tab another color as that would cut first before the rest of the red piece would cut.

stocking-05

The green outline in the image above is the tab for the pushpin. It’s tiny. Really tiny. You can also see how I increased the size of the tab here. Fun fact, I originally made this at half this size (the final version is than 30mm tall) but that was ridiculously small!

stocking-04

LightBurn also has a kerf offset setting which I used for the tiny little pushpin hole because it allowed me to cheat and make the shape just a little larger than it really was. When you cut this tiny it helps to account for the kerf.

stocking-6187

Here’s what I made. You can see the tiny little slot for the pushpin in at least two of them. Sadly the white part on the top of the stocking isn’t exactly white as I had no white felt so it’s sort of bluish-white, but it’ll do.

stocking-6188

Here are some spares on the bulletin board with gigantic pushpins holding them in place. They are just assembled using some spray glue. I thought about sewing them but I’m not that insane.

So yes, this is probably the most ridiculous and tiny holiday decorations I’ve made this year…