60 Watts of Lazzor Power!

Laser Training

Last week we got the 60 watt laser cutter “officially” online and working. We even got a bunch of people trained on using it. There’s still an issue with homing, but if you follow the instructions, it works fine.

And by “works fine” I mean it “works great!”

I ended up cutting my Nerdy Derby car last week, and I also did this laser-etched coaster, which is about 3.75″ in diameter and 3mm thick. There was a little bit of scorching at the bottom, but I may be able to sand that off easily. I was still playing with the cutting settings a bit. I may also play with the masking tape idea to prevent scorching the surface when cutting.

Laser Etched and Cut

The artwork for the coaster is a mathematician from a NASA coloring book, and I found it on OpenClipArt.org which is a great source for public domain vector-based artwork.

(Oh, we also ended up connecting the PC that was on the 25 watt laser cutter (which is down for maintenance) because it’s got a newer version of CorelDraw.)

Cacophonator Enters The RPM Challenge!

At Noon today, the Cacophonator decided to enter the RPM Challenge!  This challenge is simple: Compose and record an album entirely during the month of Februrary, be that 10 individual songs or a single 35+ minute track of original material!  After a thirteen second test, Cacophonator was proven to not be up to this challenge as a solo act – It’s just too loud.  Enter Mohoganator: The distortion reducing, level adjusting perfect partner for this challenge.

The Dynamic Duo of Cacophonator and Mohoganator teamed up with Auditionator (I.E. Adobe Audition) to record a session for 10 minutes and 32 seconds at a blazing fast 192kHz sample rate.  This recording was then slowed down to the customary rate of 44.1kHz, thereby expanding the work to its final 45.5 minute length.  Within twenty minutes after the recording was made, Cacophonator had a profile set up on the RPM Challenge site and the piece normalized, saved as a low bit rate mp3 and uploaded.  You’ve read that correctly, in less time than it takes to listen to this piece, it was composed, recorded, processed, mastered and uploaded.  Talk about Non-Causal Audio Delight!  Check out the piece here, by scrolling down to “my player.” This all happened very fast, but Cacophonator still isn’t quite finished – it hasn’t yet mailed a CD to RPM HQ, 10 Vaughan Mall, Suite 201 Portsmouth, NH 03801.  Interested participants still have over 11 days to enter the challenge!

The Tool At Hand

The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and Chipstone Foundation recently invited an international selection of artists to create art objects using only a single tool. Works made using just one tool, be that a saw, glue applicator, pin vise, utility knife, etc are on display at MAM now through March, 2012.  More information about the works in the museum can be found at artbable.org.  Interestingly, the Chipstone Foundation has extended the offer to all Milwaukee area artists, creatives, and makers to enter their own single tool work in a show at Sweet Water Organics on March 17th from 1-5pm. Three works will be selected to join the works already at the Milwaukee Art Museum for the remainder of March.  If you are interested in participating, email Claudia at Chipstone.org as space is limited.

Tool At Hand TableInspired by the Chipstone Foundation’s origins in collecting furniture and decorative arts, and to gain some experience with my chosen tool (Angle grinder with chainsaw cutting disk), I created a small table (and piles of sawdust) in an hour or two yesterday.  After seeing the works at MAM and watching the videos on the website, I realized there are various interpretations for “one” tool,  including “two,” “three,” and “five.”  With this creative numerical spirit, notice that this one tool work has legs attached with wooden dowels inserted into holes made by a second(!) tool: A drill. Don’t worry though, I used the angle grinder to pound in the dowels.

Wooden Nickels

There’s an old saying “Don’t take any wooden nickels” but I say “Do take some wooden nickels!”

Especially if they’re laser-cut wooden nickels from Milwaukee Makerspace.

Wooden Nickels in CorelDraw

Here’s my file in CorelDraw, with different colors to indicate the front etching, back etching, and the cut.

Laser cutting wooden nickels

I taped down a piece of 1/8″ Baltic Birch plywood to the laser cutter platen so it wouldn’t move, and then I set the laser cutter to etch the front (which is our logo, in blue) and ignore the other parts.

Once I was happy with the front etching, I changed the settings to cut the outline (in red) and ignore the black and blue. After the cut was complete, I pulled out the pieces and flipped them over for the back etching.

(Here’s a tip for you: I mentioned that I taped down the piece of wood so it would not move, but the other trick I have it to use a piece of tape to check if the cut is all the way through. I just stick a piece to the cut piece and see if it will lift out.)

Laser cutting wooden nickels

Our nickels have the front etched, have been cut out, and now they’ve been flipped over and put back in place to etch the back.

Laser-cut wooden nickels

And here are our completed wooden nickels! Ready to be handed out at any event we might be attending, or to guests of the Makerspace.

I’m not 100% happy with them, mainly due to some weird file formatting issued between creating them in Inkscape and importing them into CorelDraw as DXF files, but those are all minor issues we can tackle next time.

The “wife is right” sign

Dana is right.

For Christmas I made my lovely wife this lovely sign that lets me (and everyone else in the room) know that she is right.

She can easily point at it to end any disagreement we may be having.

I think I’m going to call it the “wife is right” sign, and I’ll be taking orders from wives to make them signs soon. I’ll also be taking orders from husbands to prevent me from taking orders from their wives. Either way, I see it as a great business opportunity.

In all honesty, the sign comes from a joke my wife and I had a few months back. When we got the laser cutter at the space, this was one of the first things I made with it.

Holiday Make-A-Thon 2011

Holiday Make-A-Thon 2011

We’d love it if you joined us at the 2011 Holiday Make-A-Thon happening Friday, November 25th, 2011 at Bucketworks.

This is a family-friendly event where the focus is on making things for the holidays. It can be gifts for others, of gifts for yourself! Members of Milwaukee Makerspace will be on-hand teaching people how to solder, so if you’re expecting an electronics kit this year, you’ll be ready!

We’re also working on a variety of ornaments that you’ll be able to paint or otherwise decorate. Keep them yourself or give them as a gift.

If you’re into knitting, care to try your hand a painting at gourd, or just want to wrap the gifts you already bought… join us and celebrate the spirit of making!

Detail? See Facebook, and then join us on Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) from 1pm to 5pm. Black Friday? We like to call it Make Friday. :)

First DIY CNC Club Meeting

Today marked the first monthly meeting of The DIY CNC Club at Milwaukee Makerspace.  Ron Bean and Tom Gondek, the creators of the router, guided members and guests through the use of CamBam CAD software to generate G-code and Mach3 software to operate and control the router.  The day before, Tom and Mike tested the machine’s ability to cut aluminum.  On Sunday, Rich created a decorative wooden sign and Brant began making plastic shapes for a project enclosure. As Ron pointed out, in less than 24 hours we had worked in three different materials: wood, metal, and plastic.

Several items were also crossed off our wish list.  Two emergency stop buttons were added to the front of the machine and wired together in series.  Hitting either one stops all motion in the X, Y, and Z planes and pauses the program.  We also built a relay-controlled receptacle box that when wired into the CNC computer, will be able to stop the spindle so hitting the E-stop will kill all motion in all axes and the router.  For some reason the pins we’re using on the parallel port are only producing 1.6 volts instead of the 3 or 5 we expected and the relays won’t turn on.  All in all, a very productive weekend.