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Arm for Phone Photography & Video

I needed a way to shoot video and photos on my phone while facing straight down at a desk. I grabbed one of these adjustable suspension arms with the thought that I would figure out some way to mount my phone to it… and I did. (Ugh! I got the arm for less than $10 but it’s closer to $20 now.)

As luck would have it I found some GoPro mounts in a dumpster a few weeks ago, including a 1/4-20 mount which screws onto the end of the arm. I then laser cut a piece of 1/8″ Baltic Birch and as luck would also have it it only takes a little bit of sanding to get it to fit into the slot of the GoPro mounts.

I drew up a piece that was approximately the size of my phone, and then put in some notches where the camera is, and made it so I can flip the camera around either way. (I also cut one without the “speed holes” in it.)

This is what I used to shoot the video for my Syncing a Behringer RD-6 to a Pocket Operator via a Pi Pico post. I’ll use this whenever I need a steady shot or I need both of my hands free to twiddle some knobs.

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Non-Fancy Signs

We’re growing new grass on the side of our house and wanted something to remind our neighbor not to mow it. Typically I would be 100% in favor of someone else mowing our grass, but it needs to grow more before being cut. Dana asked me to make two signs to put in the lawn, so I did.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on it, but I do enjoy making signs so I made them “nice enough” but not too fancy. When I was done Dana saw them and said “Why are they so fancy!?” and I explained that these were not fancy. I did not sand, I did not stain, I did not polyurethane them. Quick and dirty, in my opinion. I just hot glued some wood dowel scraps on the back, though I did sharpen them on the belt sander.

She said she would have just used cardboard and duct tape. I cringe when duct tape is mentioned. This is a gaff tape household, though we do dabble in electrical tape, blue painters tape, making tape, etc. but NO duct tape.) I told her cardboard would have been destroyed by the rain, and really… these were not fancy signs.

What do you think? Are these scrap wood signs I laser etched and quickly rolled one coat of white ink onto fancy? I didn’t even do any kerning!

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Fast Laser Cut Sign

I got a message from my daughter asking if I could help her make a sign for an event happening later that day. I said yes, and without much time asked he what it needed to say. She texted me the copy, and I cranked out a design very quickly.

I did ask if it was a tabletop sign or a wall hanging sign, and she said tabletop, so that’s what I made. It’s just two simple pieces that slot together. I think this came together in about 30 minutes total. I did a quick sanding and didn’t really have time to stain it, so I just applied some paste wax to it.

And yeah, you can check out BrewCityWraps on Instagram if you are into wire-wrapped jewelry. I heard back from her during the event saying people liked the sign and they had made some sales. Awesome!

The sign can flat pack, and I threw in a few rubber bands to hold the two piece together. Overall I’m pleased with how it turned out in the time given. Sometimes with larger projects you spend so much time planning you never get around to actually making something, so cranking out a quick one is nice.

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LMLL & LLS Illustration

I recently completed another fun project for a client. (Okay, it was really for my wife because I enjoy taking on projects like this.) She’s been meeting with colleagues outdoors (distanced, with a campfire) for the past few months and asked if I could do some sort of logo for the group.

The brief from the client said “Draw a hoe!” So I drew a garden hoe. Now, typically for these things I’ll find a few reference photos, load one into Illustrator (or Inkscape) and create a layer on top of it then do a lot of tracing and drawing to get the general outlines, then fill in some colors, then try to add some highlights and shadows.

Here’s the first hoe, which I was pretty happy with. The client saw it and said “Well, it needs to be a delicate hoe…” and described it a bit more, so we did some image searches until we found one she liked, and I modified things to match.

Here’s the first draft. Originally there was a plan to make these into patches or badges or something, so I kept things pretty simplified and blocky, but as we discussed things more we decided that laser-etched coasters might be better. That also meant the design could be more detailed.

Oh! The client said maybe it needed something else, a wine bottle perhaps? Back to the art board! I found an image with five different styles of wine bottles and asked her to choose a style, then I illustrated it and added it in, along with a nice scalloped ring that was more that just a plain circle.

I’ve made tons of laser-etched wooden coasters, but since we had a full-color illustration I first had to convert it to a one-color design, which I did.

Fun Fact: The text on the wine label is “Lake Mills Winery” translated from English to French, and the client (who does speak French) pointed out it would probably be “Vignoble Mills Lac” or something. I am not a French speaker. We left it as it was.

The request was for four coasters, but I ended up making eight of them, with the assumption that at least four would come out good, and I could ignore the lower-quality ones. In the end they were pretty equal. Sorry, no photos of the laser etching! I was in a rush to get this done. One thing I am not sure about is that I used water-based polycrylic instead of oil-based polyurethane, which… I don’t know. I’m a fan of the cleanup, but I’m not convinced polycrylic is as nice as polyurethane (especially when heat it applied.) Well, we’ll see how it goes.

This was a fun project, and I am mostly pleased with the outcome. (If I’m honest, I am never completely satisfied with how my projects come out, which is probably good because it means I keep striving to do better. Yes, let’s go with that.)

Oh, I did have fun doing this project and I managed to learn a few new things in the process, so that’s a win in my book!

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Laser-Cut iMac Holder Plate

In the studio at Brown Dog Gadgets we added an iMac on a rolling cart to the photo area of the studio so we could shoot tethered using a Canon M50. Josh had some concerns about putting a top-heavy iMac on a rolling cart, so I mentioned that we could secure it to the top, and then he sent me a link to this post How I work now – the iMac stand and I told him that was exactly what I was thinking.

I designed a few pieces to do the job. The smaller “front bottom” pieces are 1/8″ thick Baltic Birch plywood, and the larger pieces are 1/4″ Baltic Birch plywood. I cut them on the laser cutter and did a test fit…

The holes are meant to allow for 1/4-20 bolts to be fed through to secure it to the top surface of the cart. And yes, the iMac stand is really close to being 1/8″ thick…

Looks good! Adding this in should prevent the iMac from toppling over while on the cart. And to be fair, we don’t wheel this cart around at any high speed. It’s a large, heavy cart so it’s a slow mover on a smooth concrete floor. But the extra precaution is definitely a good idea.

I added another plate to the back just to prevent the iMac from sliding backwards at all, and so far this has worked out well.