Welcome! I am an engineer, programmer, designer, and gentleman. You may be interested in some of my electrical and mechanical projects. Take everything you read here with a grain of salt and remember to wear your safety glasses.

Reading List for 2018

Last year's reading list is complete. I'm pleased to report that I met my target number of 36 books for the year (although only just!). My usual practice in case of success last year would be to set a higher goal for this year, but it's occurred to me that chasing ever higher numbers has the effect of encouraging me to read shorter books, which isn't exactly in line with the spirit of this enterprise. So I'll keep it at 36 and still try to read more, by reading longer books.

Rubber Stamps From the 3D Printer

In recent Christmases I've enjoyed making some gifts, decorations, and gift-wrapping components myself, often employing some of my desktop fabrication machines: the laser cutter, 3D printer, etc. To satisfy 2018's “Esto Blue and Lion Gold” theme I used that 3D printer to make some custom stamps featuring a lion face, suitable for use with blue or gold stamp pads.

The final design ended up very different!

After sketching a lion with a magnificent mane to serve as some kind of guide, I designed the final artwork in Adobe Illustrator, then imported that 2D vector drawing into CAD to extrude it into a 3D block. I've been trying to do my more hobby-oriented CAD work in Onshape so that it's easily accessible and modifiable by readers without a lot of resources. Generally I've been very pleased by how complete this product is, but vector import in Onshape is still a pain, so I did this one in SolidWorks instead.

3D-Printed Roasting Thermometer Probe Organizer

Alton Brown's brought a lot to my life, including one of my favorite kitchen tools, the probe roasting thermometer. I use mine for everything: roasting meats, grilling, even baking salmon (absolutely foolproof, this). But it's brought one major annoyance to the kitchen too: that unruly tangle of probe and oven-proof braided wire left in your hand after cleaning up from the evening's roast. Now, in the list of things I should have done years ago I can finally include taming that snarl—with 3D printing, of course.

Here's a simple puck-shaped wire organizer I designed and printed in PLA plastic. Insert the probe end into its receptacle, secure the bend of the probe in its slot, then wrap the cable around the spool. Finally, plug the connector end into the top of the organizer to keep everything tidy.

Halloween Blinking Creature Eyes with LEDs, Arduino, and Laser Cutting

I made this blinking-creature-eyes lamp as a small gift for my father, who loves to scare neigborhood children during Halloween with a heavily decorated entryway. It's suitable for hiding in foliage, under a chair or couch, in a darkened window, etc. You can make one easily if you have a laser cutter and some way of making printed circuit boards, although a cardboard box with cutout eyes and some LED strip would work just fine as a quick way to get started.

PCB design in Eagle

This design was heavily determined by parts I happened to have on hand. The LEDs are high-brightness red 5mm devices; I bought a whole sack of these once from Electronics Goldmine (they made an appeance in the Goldfinger laser among other projects). Although I could have controlled the blinking with a 555 timer or similar circuit, I had some surplus Arduino Trinkets from Adafruit, and programmability is nice to have in a project like this one.

More 3D-Printed Bins, for Milwaukee Organizer Boxes

Many tool companies offer “jobsite organizer” boxes for small parts. Our local home stores carry DeWalt, Stanley, and Milwaukee products that are all on the same pattern: plastic briefcase-style box with a handle, a clear lid, and removable bins inside. Some of them can also be stacked and linked together for more storage. But since I'm not a contractor (the usual customers for these), I tend to acquire smaller quantities, but in a greater variety, of most classes of part: screws, plumbing fittings, crimp terminals, etc. So I usually want more resolution, i.e. more and smaller bins or dividers, than the organizer offers. For that, I have a 3D printer.

I selected the Milwaukee 48-22-8030, despite it being red, because it was the only one that had metal latch hardware, because the handle placement gives it the best ratio of internal to external volume, and because the Milwaukee organizers can be opened while linked to each other (the linking latches are only on the lids). In Onshape I designed a bin that would subdivide the smaller square bins diagonally.