Entries in Category Engineering and Inventions

Lasercut Storage Bins

I have a small workshop space in a spare bedroom at home. Like many people that work in small shops I try to find ingenious ways to use every part of the buffalo. My latest improvements are some laser-cut plywood storage bins for small tools and parts, designed to mount to the sides of the hutch over my electronics workbench.

Macro Photography Light Tent, Mk.2

I've upgraded my light tent for macro photography yet again. I reused most of the PVC components from the Mk.1 design but replaced some of the pipes to make the tent wider; I had sometimes been limited that way with the original design. I'm keeping this one at the office instead of at home and wanted to be able to accommodate one of the 23-inch wide patch panels I've designed, which requires a significantly wider light tent.

Upgraded frame on IKEA table

I designed the Mk.2 around some left-over IKEA GALANT parts we had in the office, which yielded a table 47.5 inches wide and 31.5 inches deep. I bought some M10-threaded caster wheels and screwed them into the bottom of the GALANT legs to make the table mobile for ease of re-configuring my office area.

A Laser-cut Plywood Rack for Torx Drivers

In my product designs at my day job I sometimes specify torx-headed screws. This could be because the heads resist tool damage better. It could be because torx-heads are more available at the time for some particular combination of thread and length and material I need. Or it could just be because they look cool! Whatever the reason I need a number of torx drivers; in the larger sizes 1/4 inch hex-ended bits are just fine but for smaller sizes I prefer to have small screwdrivers for each one. Since I don't like them rolling around loose in a drawer I made a rack out of 1/4 inch birch plywood on the laser cutter.

Hard Drive Disc Sander

Here's a quick and dirty demonstration of turning an old hard drive into a very poor disc sander. It took all of twenty minutes, but don't worry: the video's been sped up considerably. Hope you like it!

Laser Cutting

It's already a good year for the small R&D team I work with: we've been lucky enough to get a laser cutter to experiment with! Ours is the 40W “fifth-generation” model from Full Spectrum Laser; it can cut up to 1/4 inch wood or plastic and can engrave anodized aluminum. It also features some slick software that acts as an ordinary Windows printer driver so that you can print directly from the software of your choice (for me in this context, usually Adobe Illustrator).

Completed laser setup

Like a lot of digital fabrication machines in the hobbyist end of the market, however, this device requires some setup to get it running. You'll want to mount the laser on a worktable or mobile cart big enough to support it and all the associated infrastructure. We equipped ours with a power strip for all the associated peripherals as well. On the left side of the photo is a small air compressor, supplied with our laser, that provides high-pressure air to the cutting head for purposes of blowing away anything that might otherwise adhere to the optics. This might also be useful in blowing out flames that may occur, which is definitely something to keep an eye on when laser cutting.