Sunday, March 26, 2017

Steampunk Nautilus Stylus

More stylus sillyness in the style of the iPlume. To reiterate: a stylus for a touchscreen device is basically a conductive stick. It needs a conductive tip to touch the screen and a conductive body to carry the current through you. Anything conductive which touches you anywhere will do.

I saw this rather nifty design for a finger-mounted pen and figured I could capitalize on that. The styling was rust paint (I do enjoy that stuff, don't I?), a couple of fins and some gears, which just happen to fit on the mountings for the screws holding the parts together, and if they weren't glued in place, they'd rotate just fine. Too late, I thought of ways to preserve that motion. Oh, well; maybe some other time.

The way this works is by replacing the ink cartridge with a copper wire. The twist of wire at the front is ground down a bit, providing the necessary quarter-inch surface required for the screen to read it.

But rather than directly touching the wearer's finger, the wire passes through the body of the housing and touches the back of the wearer's hand. And it does, indeed, work. Not well, though. I may fit some spongy conductive rubber over the end or something so that the tip smushes a bit on the touchscreen, both for increased area and to protect the screen from scratches.

Yes, More Furniture

The additional bookshelves we need apparently aren't going to build themselves, even though I've given them every opportunity, so here and there, I have to take action myself. Certain persons to whom I am married require more immediate access to unread books, keeping the queue of stuff to read close at hand and not confounding them with books already read. Solution? Combination footstool/bookcase.

Unlike the game cart, I went to the CNC for this. I used an awful lot of dado joints, but in a far more sophisticated way. The basic structure is simply a cube open on two faces, but internally, it's more complex

One side has two shelves sloped at a 10 degree angle to improve visibility from above, just tall enough to hold regular paperbacks. The other has a large shelf sloped shelf and a small horizontal one to hold whatever else needs holding. Going much larger than I usually do, I used a 1/4" bit on the router, which meant I could slide in the 1/4" boards used for the shelves, using a little glue and some tiny nails to secure them.

As ever, it's a couple of days for finishing the wood, some tiny wheels on the bottom, and some foam and velvet for the top.

It doesn't hold nearly enough books. Nothing ever does. But at least it holds most of the books she's currently hoping to read.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Crisis on Infinite Mirrors

Certain persons to whom I am married like DC comics and those infinitely-reflecting mirror things. This suggests certain Valentine's Day presents.

Infinity mirrors, it turns out, are pretty simple. You need lights around the inside edge of a box, which is really easy to do these days with LED light strips. The ones I got could even be snipped to desired length. The bottom of the box is mirrored (I used inexpensive glass mirror tile). The top is half-mirrored. That's a little trickier, but there's inexpensive window insulating film for that. The only innovation on my part was firing up the CNC machine to engrave a bunch of superhero logos on a sheet of acrylic to use as the top. That was a delicate operation. The carving required very, very shallow cutting, so it was very sensitive to the slightest bend in the material. Sandwich the semi-mirrored film between two sheets of acrylic (one engraved), assemble, and:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Gotham by Dice

We've been playing a certain amount of Steve Jackson Games's Batman dice game. It's an excellent game (any competitive game I can get my lovely and talented spouse to play is a good one), but a little sparse by our standards. What's the natural thing to do? How about a custom dice tower.

This is mostly bricolage, as we structuralists call it. About a third of the buildings around the dice area are from this skyscraper chess set. The remainder are from a Sim City play set and some Hong Kong apartment blocks. The manhole cover is...well, a manhole cover the Gotham City utilities people use. The dice tower proper is a model of the KOIN tower, significantly resized and hollowed out. I added a couple of ramps for the dice to bounce off of and an arch for them to roll out.

The only thing I really designed was a base for all the parts, basically the base of the main tower plus an 80mm diameter ring at the end of the ramp. All the towers got spritzed with stone texture spray paint, while the manhole cover got the Modern Masters iron paint and rust activator. I really like that stuff. A little cyanoacrylate to hold everything together and we're off to the races. And now we'll have something far more interesting to bounce our dice off of next time we play.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

Last year, I used the CNC machine to build a knife block with an engraved marble face. And that was cool and all, but how to top that? I'd wanted to make a bust-of-Caesar knife block, but that didn't work out. But two things changed. First, I got the heated bed, which in turn gave me a larger print volume. Second, I found a bust of Caesar.

Design-wise, this was fairly easy, though I had to run it through a variety of tools to make it work. I started with 123D Design to scale it up to as big a footprint as my printer could handle, about 6" x 10", corresponding to a height of about 15". Then I did some boolean operations to "carve out" slots for the knives. Once I'd gotten the shape together, it was off to netfabb Basic to chop it into parts no taller than six inches. Alas, netfabb Basic is no longer available for download; happy I got it when I could.

And then it was off to the printing. I usually use a 0.4 mm nozzle. That's fine for the trinkets and game pieces I usually print, balancing fine detail with print speed. However, for this, I went with a full 1 mm nozzle. I didn't need nearly as much detail on a 15" bust as I would on, say, a 25mm orc figurine I'm printing for the Castle Panic set, and I didn't need it taking forever. As it was, the four pieces of the knife block/bust took five to six days of solid printing time, even at a rather low infill percentage and tweaked in various ways to minimize support material. Assembly took several hours but very little work time, sanding down some rough top surfaces and then giving the Gorilla Glue time to cure.

So, results:

 Not bad. Here's Caesar with a Chinese vegetable cleaver in his head.

Minus the cleaver, you can see the groove in his head. However, most of the knife slots are in back. It's big enough to hold four chef knives and four smaller ones; paring knives and such.

The join in the middle of the bust wasn't great; there was a bit of curling on of the pieces which even the heated bed didn't entirely prevent, or perhaps there were settings I could have changed. However, the others, like the neck here, worked very well indeed.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Question of Scale

So here's a neat thing you can do if you have multiple 3d making-stuff devices. I worked up a Wonder Woman logo based on the layered design they're using for the movies. Then I used it at one size as part of a pendant sort of thing printed on the 3d printer (the W itself is about an inch across) and another (almost exactly ten times as wide and tall, though only a millimeter deeper) for a carving job into some scrap plywood on the CNC machine.

The edges are a trifle rough, but it's remarkable how smooth the CNC's wood surface is. Almost feels sanded

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Still more surfaces

I downloaded a design for a hall and tower atop a hill from Thingiverse, which unfortunately I can't find now to link to. It's a pity, since I can't illustrate how it's printed as a single piece, but it doesn't look like that in the painted version.

So, then: masked the base and roof, primed the rest and hit it with stone-textured paint. Painted the "rock" with moss-texture paints, filled the base with sparkly blue ink, and did the top with aged copper. The castle is hollow and sized quite comfortably for a battery-powered tea light.

And I'm acquiring quite the collection of nifty little experiments which I have nowhere to put and no clear thing to do with them. I don't have room for all this stuff!