Entries in Category Design

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.

LEP 2019 Logo Contest

Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad XXXIV Portland 2019

I'm pleased and very honored to announce that my submission has been chosen as the official logo of the 34th West Coast Estonian Days, or Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad, to be held in Portland, Oregon next summer. My design process for this one wasn't easy but each setback eventually resulted in something better! Here's an explanation of the logo's symbolism from my proposal document (which also contains some variations and application suggestions that may be of interest):

  • Overall an eight-pointed star, representing the cornflower or rukkilill
  • Blue cross symbolizing the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers
  • In the center, in white, the hypocycloid of Portland’s flag
  • The end of the petal also suggests the forked tail of the barn swallow, Estonia’s national bird
  • Stepped color gradients add depth and texture, recall traditional Estonian mustrid
  • Arrows pointing inward, symbolizing the meeting of the West Coast Estonian community

I'm grateful to Kalev Sepp, Kalle Merilo, Triina Merilo, Helve Kalmann, the board of directors and all of the organizers of LEP 2019 for this opportunity to add something to one of my favorite festivals. I'll see you all in Portland!

Winter Vacation, with Lego

As a way of extending my Winter Olympics obsession for as long as possible, I built this Winter Vacation Lego Creator kit today:

Some joker set the slalom course on the roof!

There's a sort of sweet spot of Lego creativity for me. I don't like the sets that have lots of very specific parts that aren't very generally applicable to things you might want to design yourself (tie-ins with entertainment properties seem to have a lot of those). But I'm also not very interested in the other end of the spectrum, in the kind of Lego construction that treats ordinary bricks as generic pixels (or voxels really). Building to mini-fig scale really prevents that pixel method though; the scales just won't work together. I really like the Creator series of sets for this reason—they hit that sweet spot perfectly.

EV100 Logo Banner: A Gift For Estonia's Centennial

Feburary 24, 2018 is the 100th anniversary of Estonian independence! As one of their many good ideas, the organizers of the centennial year celebrations have suggested that anyone might offer a birthday gift to the Estonian Republic, anything from a new symphony to baking a special cake to planting an oak tree. Here's a small gift from me.

In the upper-right corner of this site, I've added an overlay banner displaying the EV100 logo (an absolutely brilliant piece of graphic design work, by the way) and linking to the EV100 website. Fortunately the official color palette is nicely compatible with my own! I'll leave it up here for the rest of this centennial year.

An Illustrated Packing Checklist

As part of a personal goal to organize my work supplies a bit better, I created a sort of visual checklist of the things I carry, or would like to make sure I carry, in my everyday backpack. To organize the list according to what things go in what pockets (and to get some drawing practice), I made a sketch of my pack (EM brand, naturally) so that I could call out each compartment specifically. Click on the image to download a PDF.

If you carry a lot of stuff in a backpack, briefcase, toolbox, or whatever, try it yourself! Don't worry about your drawing skills—a more schematic or cartoon-like sketch would work just as well. Or take a photo and use that. Be sure to share your results!

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