Kinetic Rolling Ball Sculpture at McDonald’s….

So, a few members found this rolling-ball kinetic sculpture from “Eddie’s Mind” at a local McDonald’s and I just had to take a peek.

Rolling Ball Kinetic Sculpture, First Impression

Rolling Ball Kinetic Sculpture, First Impression

The truth is: it’s fascinating.  If this weren’t at a McDonald’s, I’d be here almost every day.  The track is set up in such a way that the balls hit switches on their way down, which alters the path of the next ball to follow.  The large, white bongos that you see in the lower center of the pic are only triggered about once every 4 minutes.  This sculpture really is a marvel.

I also needed to test out my camera to see what kind of video it would take, and I must say that I’m moderately impressed….



But is it Art?

My Completed Art Deco Wall HangingI sketch quite a bit and I’ve been doodling things like this for years without realizing that, technically, they fall under the “Art Deco” category.  If I were content with that, I’d paint it blue, pink, and silver.  However, because cerulean blue belongs in the sky and not on your wall, pink belongs in distant sunsets and not on your wall, and why the hell would you paint wood silver?  I decided that to bring this piece into the 21st century I’d need to radically rethink the colors.

At first, I had intended to only paint 3 elements of the composition.  After picturing it in my mind, I decided on the single yellow piece that you see here.  I’m quite pleased with the end result.  Unfortunately, the spray-acrylic sealer that I used was very old and I suspect that it was this that led to the strange patina you see on the main circle here.  No matter what I tried, I kept getting glossy parts and flat parts.

The primary material is MDF, some of which was cut with our very own CNC router, with hardboard being used for the yellow part, and split pine dowels (thanks to my own rig, clamped to our band-saw) for the 3 extending pieces.

*Note: When cutting a perfectly cylindrical piece length-wise on a band-saw, the piece will have a tendency to rotate as you’re cutting.  I’d have done a better job had I thought to clamp the piece to the jig that I set up.

The preliminary sketch of the art deco wall-hanging.This is the rough sketch of what I had planned on making.  Things change in a wonderfully organic way when you go from sketch to completed project.

The wall-hanging before painting and glueing.The piece before painting and assembly.

I laid the pieces out separately and hit them with flat-black spray paint.  This took very well to the MDF.  After painting and clear-coating everything, I waffled about how to assemble the many into the whole.  I first toyed with the notion of pre-drilling, then screwing everything in from the backside of the piece; I also realized what a pain it would be to try to locate each hole without being able to see the front first.

Next, I thought I’d use a brad-nailer and just pop everything in, but ours doesn’t take anything shorter than 5/8″ and this entire project is just under 1/2″ in depth and I didn’t want to bother cutting the ends of the brads flush with the back, plus, they could scratch the wall that it hangs on.

I finally decided on some epoxy that one of our makers had brought in.  It’s proven very workable and durable, as I found out when I used it to make the spools for our Makerbot ABS plastic filament.  I put several pieces on at a time, weighting them down with some paving bricks (covered in cloth, as I didn’t wish to scratch the paint).  After letting it cure for 24 hours, the project was more-or-less done.

All that’s left is to figure out how to mount it to a wall.  I think I might use a plunge router and hollow out a portion of the back for that.  Another idea has been brewing in the back of my mind, but it’s too cool to mention unless I actually do it.  Rest assured, if I use that idea, I’ll be posting about it here and on Instructables.

UPDATE: I found that it’s about the same weight as a moderately sized picture, so I picked up some picture-wire and attached it via two screws in the back.  It is now hanging on my bedroom wall.

The Constant Periodic Table

Old Style Updated Periodic TableThere was a recent, spirited discussion on the boards about interesting things to engrave via the new laser cutter (kindly loaned to us by one of our newest members, Jason).  Links were posted and one caught my eye.

After several failed attempts to get a normal, boring periodic table to cut with the laser, I figured I’d have to do some formatting, file conversion, and most likely make a blood sacrifice under the full moon to get Corel Draw to play nice with Illustrator.  As it happened, I found that Corel doesn’t seem to like most of the formats I throw at it (SVG, DXF, AI, PNG, etc).  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good program, it just doesn’t like me or anything I make.

Bottom line: I decided that if I was going to have to remake the periodic table in vector format, being picky about details and how things were saved and all that, I was going to make it my way.  I’m a bit old-school about some things, and I quite like the Victorian scrollwork styles that you see on old manuscripts.  Thus was born The Old-New Periodic Table.  It’s accurate (I had to add elements 112-118 to the sample file I was using) and it looks damned impressive.

This was the test version.  I fully expect to create another one on a nice piece of oak sometime soon, perhaps with a frame cut by the CNC Router.

-This was done on wall-board (or some variant thereof).  The laser didn’t so much etch the piece; it pretty much just carbonized the top layer.  As such, it smears and will continue to smear until I seal it.

-The total time to etch/carbonize this was about 1 hour and 50 minutes.

-Settings were: 100% power, 75% speed, and 500 ppi.

-For some reason, it wouldn’t print until Kevin deleted my picture and input some sample text.  After he hit “print”, it started printing my picture.  No, I have no idea what happened.

-The original SVG (Illustrator file) I found on Brian D’Allesandro’s Blog.

Hopefully I’ll be able to experiment a bit more with this wonderful tool and see what comes of it.  I already want to take one of the posters that I made for the Makerspace and see about etching most of it onto a nice 1/8″ piece of plywood.  Hey, Milwaukee Makerspace custom coasters might not be far behind….

Makerbot Spools and Rack are in Effect

Image of the spool holder filled with spools of plastic

A while back, Pete and I had discussed making spools for the ABS plastic that the Makerbot uses.  The stop-gap solution until now has involved painters’ tape and coils of filament laying all over the table.

After Matt had a print job interrupted due to a kinked filament, I decided I had better hurry up and make this thing.

Full step-by-step instructions are available on Instructables here: The Spools and The Spool Rack

I’ve decided that it’s worth it to pick one random project now and then that addresses a need that the ‘Space has.

Next up: a fully functioning version of ED-209 to guard the doors to the ‘Space.