Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from me and Just Add Sharks. It's been a busy year and I'm well behind on Project 12 but maybe I'll be able to squeeze a 10th project out before the year end.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Gingerbread Deer

The last of my gingerbread experiments for now, there are bigger plans for the new year and more food stuffs to cut but we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Gingerbread Tree

I had a whole sheet of gingerbread to cut so I measured the thickness and calculated an appropriate slot in the material to make a 2 piece Christmas tree. Nothing too fancy, below see it decorated by a child (who also drew and laser cut the gingerbread, by which I mean me)

Plywood Production

This article from Kitronik about the plywood production process is actually really informative and useful. I use plywood in my machine almost daily and it's something I never thought about before. The log peeling is particularly clever.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Cake Update - Washing Line

The washing line cake also got iced and was presented to Christopher Biggins live on stage apparently. I chuckled when I saw this video clip of it in operation the day before the show.

Laser cut gingerbread

It's Christmas and I know it is possible to laser cut gingerbread so I thought I might as well give it a try. Eli and I made a batch from the BBC recipe and he rolled it all flat using some 6mm ply as guides for the rolling pin. The bread expanded to 10mm thick and I drew some shapes for the laser. We went really slowly 2 passes at 10mm/s @ 80W and on the second pass could see smoke coming out the honeycomb so knew it had cut through. We were left with this intricate snowflake 10cm across and a rather nice negative of it too. (svg here)

Monday, 21 December 2015

Cake Update - Flying Carpet and Smoking Lamp

Aladdin's Magic Carpet got covered in icing and presented to the actors at the Panto. I don't have any video of it moving while iced but it does look pretty good. The lamp had a steam train smoker in the end of it so it was puffing smoke throughout as well.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

BB8 Cake with all the Icing

Dawn has now finished icing the BB8 cake and the results are incredible. Check out the video over on her facebook page

Friday, 18 December 2015

BB8 Cake

I wasn't really spending time creating an droid from a nearly 40 year old movie. I was tasked to make a moving head for BB8, I just realised I could make the same model applicable to both droids. The second servo controls the nod motion for the head. It is programmed to have several different movement pattern. Again the sphere body is just for representation and will ultimately be replaced by cake.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

R2D2 Cake

Rushing to be in time with the release of the star wars film I'm been drafted in to make some moving frames for droids. The cage for the body is a bit of a place holder as it's ultimately going to be made in cake. The head simply sits on top of the cake and is entirely self contained. An arduino nano drives a 9g servo to provide pan motion of the head. A 12cm plastic dome finishes of the top and is ready to be iced.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Ill Tempered Mutated Sea Bass

At the start of the summer I bought one of the uber cheap laser engravers from China. We wondered if it was worth stocking them on Sharks (it isn't). The acrylic plastic feet on the ends of the machine were cracked upon receipt, the screws were done up too tight. Now I started fiddling with it 2 of these feet just fell off, it was a simple matter to cut myself some new ones and I made them out of 6mm Birch so they're tough as old boots.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

First place trophy

Here is the first place trophy for the war gaming competition. The trophies were all handed out yesterday which means I can show this today. I outsold myself, stretched the budget and spent a lot of time making a trophy as good as I could. The wings are made from wood veneers and are a remake of a previous item. The laurel wreath was redone with each leaf as a separate piece of 0.8mm ply. The wooden spoon was bought from the shop. The rounded base is a variation on my useless machine and the plaque made from silver/black engraving laminate. The ribbon across the middle is two layers and engraved onto 1.5mm walnut.  

Friday, 11 December 2015

Carcassonne in the Wild

I finally released my Carcassonne tile set. It's gone out onto Thingiverse so I can see just how many people download it. Currently the images don't appear to be loading over there but I can't tell if that's just me.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Nothing in Particular

This is a post about nothing. I meant to write it a while ago but I got distracted making lots of awesome things and posting about those. I used to write about my laser cutter all the time because there was always some way in which it was failing or needing improvement and I don't do that any more. The simple fact is that I don't have anything to write about.

I've had my Whitetooth laser cutter for about 18 months now. We started our own laser cutter company, so using our own machines day in day out and posting all the awesome things seems like a no brainer. In those 18 months I haven't had a single problem with my machine, 

The extractor fan draws all the dust and particles out of the laser so the machine stays pretty clean, the smoke actually goes out the back which was a shock having seen other lasers. 
The fine pitched mirror screws and locking nuts make alignment very simple (no more allen keys for adjustments) and the machine actually stays aligned during use. In 18 months I've aligned it once and only 1 mirror had slipped.
The laser is the fastest machine I've ever owned and the beam is super narrow allowing me to do more intricate work than ever before.

Because I'm not spending my time having to fix this laser I've had far more time to mess around with it while still getting my work done. My autofocus hack proved to be rather popular and has definitely got me thinking about how I could implement something more practical and I even got to play space invaders on it. 

I shall continue to say nothing more about it, singing the praises of a machine I actually sell is incredibly self serving but I just wanted you all to know that in this case no news is most definitely good news. (and I promise to blog the interesting modes of failure when I do finally experience them)

In the meantime PEW PEW onwards

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Moving Washing Line

In the latest of weird cake things I've been making this one is a washing line. The washing line moves left and right carrying the clothes that are hung from it. It's mostly hand built rather than laser but but there is a very basic box over the electronics. The big challenge is that the 2 outfits hanging from the line could weigh up to 2Kg each. It's a massive strain across that span so I'm really hoping it holds out. The rope winds up on one drum as it winds out of the other one leaving the total amount of string on the line roughly the same.

As usual more images of these things when they get covered in cake.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Aladdins Magic Carpet

The newest cake project is Aladdins Magic Carpet. Aladdin will be made of cake and we wanted him to be sat on a flying carpet. The prospect of making 10Kg of cake wobble around was a bit too much for me so I came up with this contraption instead. The whole device is based upon a Gimbal. The inner ring is fixed to some cake frame pillars which will make it easy for Dawn to attach her cake Aladdin onto. The outer ring of the gimbal is driven by 2 servo motors to get movement in X and Y axis. The 'carpet' itself is made from some vacuum forming plastic, it will eventually be covered in icing. Because this plastic can be easily heat formed I took a hot air gun to it to give it some shape but also strategic bends on the corners also give it a lot of strength (you can see how much it was drooping in the video)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


A new project that I'm working on requires a two axis gimbal that holds the item in the stationary while the rings around it move. It's made from 3 layers of Birch ply with the middle layer placed at right angles to the outer layer to keep as much strength in it as possible. The whole thing can only be 9mm thick when flat so I had to embed the bolts into the middle of the wood (bit hard to see now) and the rotating side of the gimbal uses an acrylic insert to minimise the friction while rotating. It's definitely functional but needed a few more tweaks for my intended purpose.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Mini Bin with Lid

In a further development from the Agricola bins I did a quick test piece to see if I could make a lid for each bin. Games don't always stay the right way up and tokens can be flipped out of the bins, The lid sits in grooves that have been engraved into the sides. I was worried about weakening the sheet but it seems fine. Now I'm just wondering if it's worth doing for the whole box. (svg here)

Saturday, 21 November 2015

New Agricola Storage bins

Project #43 was Agricola storage bins, they were sold to someone who wanted them and I vowed to make myself another set. Of course if I'm remaking the set I might as well add some design revisions and then if I'm doing revisions I'm sure I can improve the layout and then I can make the boxes better and OMG that was over 2 years ago. So yes I have finally remade myself some bins, but I won't be getting too attached to these either because I know some people that want them already.

The bins were redesigned from the ground up copying the Linbin system I designed. The living hinge base panel makes it easy to scoop tokens out of each bin. I had to glue the boxes together to maximise the volume because space is tight in the box and I can't afford any dead space. I shrunk the middle row of bins and added an extra row to hold the square tokens. The playing boards go over the bins and stop the tokens from moving between bins and the Occupation and Improvement cards. The whole thing packs into the original box and the lid sits flat (very important design feature)

These bins are available for sale although it might be a few days till I get round to putting them in the store.

Magic Santa Key

I was asked to make a magic Santa key, personalised for my friends children. Ta da. Not sure there's much else to say, it's 3mm mdf painted with metallic acrylics and it's a good job our kids aren't old enough to be reading my blog yet :)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The new batch

Bit of a slow day today, few bugs going round our house and extra children after school, the only thing I managed to get done was this batch of fairy doors for the local school craft faire. I added a few new elements into the mix (mushrooms and stockings etc) and changed the blue out for purple. I've got enough elements now that no 2 doors will ever be the same which is a nice touch.