My First Synth

A compelling toy for all ages

Here’s an Instructable that goes into great detail about the design and build process of this marvellously over-engineered kids toy. This project really ticks all my boxes: sweet laser cut enclosure, arcade buttons, weird noises, and it’s educational!

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CNC routing for casting intricate mechanical parts

Or, how to be an absolute boss

Here’s a wonderful write-up on the trials, tribulations, and inspiring successes of Michal Zalewski’s 6-year journey into robotics. This well-written story is focussed on techniques for using CNC routing to create intricate molds for casting precision mechanical parts. Mouth-watering pictures after the break… (more…)

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Tutorial: Gears & Joints with SketchUp and SketchyPhysics Part 2

Mechanical modelling with free software tools

Following on from last week’s introductory tutorial, here’s a bit more information on how to make mechanical models in SketchUp with SketchyPhysics. By the way, here’s a great resource if you want to learn more about mechanical linkages, gears, and all that good stuff (hat tip to Edgar Castelo for the link).

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Tutorial: Gears & Joints with SketchUp and SketchyPhysics

Continuing my commitment to using free software even though it drives me up the wall sometimes

Following my recent obsession with drawing machines, I’m working on a new project with lots of gears and linkages. I figured it would be a good time to learn how to do mechanical modelling in SketchUp. Sketchy Physics is a plugin for Google SketchUp that allows you to simulate mechanical models. It is very capable but also very frustrating!

Figuring I’m not the first person to get frustrated on the way to creating meshing gears in SketchUp, I wrote this tutorial. I hope it will help some of you get up the steepest part of the learning curve.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.

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Laser-Cut head with a secret compartment

Instructables tutorial: slice up your loved ones, hide your treasures inside.

Ever wondered what the CEO of Autodesk gets up to in his spare time? This guide from CarlBass on Instructables gives us a little insight into his private moments, as he walks us through a fantastic laser-cut project to create a secret hiding place for his son.

And what kid wouldn’t love a secret compartment that is inside their own head?!?

The process is all laid out on Instructables, and makes good use of a few handy apps from Autodesk.

Photographs are converted into a 3D model using 123D Catch, and then sliced up for laser cutting in 123D Make (after the addition of a generous cavity to hide all those treasures, of course!). Locations and alignments for dowels and magnets are also planned in, so that the completed form can snap closed to conceal the secret compartment.

As happens with all good Instructables guides, a lively conversation has followed in the Comments section of the post.

Instructables via BoingBoing

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10 excellent tips & tutorials on 3D printing

So you’ve seen the famous wrench video, you’ve got yourself a 3D design program, and you’re ready to try out 3D printing.

But where do you start?

If you’re not using your own desktop 3D printer, you’ll want to check this out:

Things you must know for 3D printing with Ponoko. This forum post lists 6 key considerations when using 3D printing — things like minimum wall thickness, hollowing out your geometry, and material selection.

For details on all that stuff plus a lot more, jump into these super helpful tips and tutorials.

1. Strength guidelines of 3D printing materials

You need to pick a material before you start designing, so you can take the benefits and limitations of each material into consideration as you design. This strength guideline depicts what proportions are suitable for which materials.

2. What does wall thickness mean, and how do I get it right?

This is one of *the* most important things for getting a successful 3D print. This post explains how to determine the minimum wall thickness you’ll need to get a sturdy result.

(more…)

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CNC milling waves!

Rhino tutorial on simulating wave patterns!

I’ve recently been checking out the Grasshopper forums where people have been experimenting with CNC milling fibreboard and plywood with wave forms. For those interested in creating these patterns there is a tutorial by over at Instructables by Brian Ottrogge on how to achieve some similar forms, without needing to fire up Rhino’s Grasshopper plugin. (more…)

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Rules & guides for making your own CNC routed projects with Ponoko

3 helpful forum posts

In addition to lasercutting and 3D printing, Ponoko lets you make your own stuff with CNC routing.

Working with CNC routing lets you make much bigger stuff than you can make with lasercutting. But it’s a tricky technique to work with, so we’ve put together some rules and guides to help you get the best results from your CNC project.

The first thing you’re going to want to check out is Things You Must Know for CNC Routing. This forum post will walk you through 11 key considerations when using CNC, things like minimum and maximum design size, required width of the tool path, and how to format your design file.

Once you know the rules, you can move on to the guides on how to offset your lines for CNC routing. We’ve even got a video of the process.

If you use Inkscape, follow this guide. If you use Illustrator, follow this guide.

If you’ve got questions, please leave them in the forum. And if you’ve used Ponoko for CNC routing, we welcome any tips & tricks from the community.

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Tutorial: getting started with the Personal Factory API in Python


Personal Factory is a cloud software platform for app developers to connect users directly to manufacturing devices to make custom goods on-demand.

It integrates product creation and customization apps with an established manufacturing and distribution system, so users can turn their designs into final products and have those products delivered to their door.

This is part one in a series of tutorials written by technologist Mark Schafer on working with the Personal Factory API in Python.

The full API documentation is here. All supplied examples use cURL.

The code for this tutorial can be found here: https://github.com/Neon22/Ponoko-API-from-python

(more…)

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Ten tutorials on digital fabrication

Best of the blog 2011 – Tutorials

Knowledge-sharing is central to the open design and distributed manufacturing movements. Here are ten of the best tutorials from 2011: 3D printing and laser-cutting techniques, online resources, and software help.

1. Guide to optimising lines for laser cutting


David halves his lasercutting cost with a few simple line optimising techniques. (more…)

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