Archive for the ‘Mechanical’ Category

10-Pin offset header for Arduino

Friday, June 15th, 2012

A few years ago, I started making offset headers for the Arduino. These headers allow you to make shields using standard-spaced perfboard, by correcting the shift of that one strangely-placed Arduino header.

With the introduction of the Leonardo, The Arduino team kept the shift of the header, but added two pins to it.

Too keep up in this offset header arms race, I ordered some 10-pin headers and modified my fabrication process to accept the two extra pins. I expect these to find their way into the hands of fine retailers over the next couple of months.

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Ladder Golf Construction Tricks

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Spring is here, and that means it’s time to prepare for summer parties. If you’re me, that means making a ladder golf set. It seems like every year I’m making another one, the previous-year’s set having been gifted or left somewhere.

Over the years I’ve picked up a few tricks, and this time around I finally remembered to document them.
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DIY Custom Heating Element

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012


A few years ago I made a BBQ smoke generator. I was fairly happy with the design, but felt that for the “next time” I would make a few changes.

One of my main issues was the size. I really wanted to make it smaller, but I didn’t want to pay for a small cartridge heater.

It occurred to me a couple of days ago that I might be able to modify a stock toaster-oven heating element to make a smaller heater. If I cut out a small section and drove it at a proportionally smaller voltage, I wondered, could I get a small heater with the same temperature as the big boy? It turns out that the answer is yes.
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Collapsible Knitting Needle

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

I needed a break. I’ve been working hard on the osPID for several months, and I just needed to not look at code or control algorithms for a little bit. Nothing says “break” like an out-of-left-field project.


I only started knitting recently. Something that’s been bothering me about it is the length of the needles. They’re 14″ long, and I’ve been worried they’ll be bent while riding in my backpack.

It occurred to me that some sort of collapsible needle might be useful in this situation. Taking my inspiration from elastic tent poles, I got to work on my “not PID” project.
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A Proper Multi-Color Print

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

I’ve played around with printing multiple colors using a single extruder, but by and large all the multi-color action was restricted to a single layer. There’s a good reason for this: every color change takes time, and having 2 or more colors run throughout the part would require a color change ON EVERY LAYER.

But I had to try. I had a great idea: a fairly understated bottle opener with different color text embedded on each side. To the uninitiated it’s a neat little thing, but to people who know 3D printing its a: “wait, what? how did you do that?”

Well, here’s “how I did that.” It took a LOT of time. I didn’t call it “The Saturday Killer” for nothing.
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Three-Color 3D Print

Friday, September 30th, 2011

I’ve been making bottle openers for friends, and I recently struck upon the perfect design for my friend Matt. For some reason, he still pines for a hockey team that left our home state in 1997 (THEN won the Stanley Cup.) His opener got a Whalers Logo:

Up to this point, all my openers have been single color. But combine the fact that I’m jealous of the new dual extruder with the fact that Matt was my Best Man, and I decided that this time I would go the extra mile.

The procedure was straight-forward, and a huge pain in the butt:

  • First I printed a blank opener in the base color
  • Then I adjusted the Z-Height of the Thingomatic by 5.76mm (the height of the opener base)
  • When I switched the color to blue and printed the tail, the printer deposited the plastic on the white base as if it were the build platform
  • After switching colors AGAIN, I printed the W and the opener was done

This was a fairly simple multi-color design, but by breaking up the model ahead of time, this technique could be used for any part.

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Making a Custom Bottle Opener

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I recently posted an improved bottle opener design to Thingiverse. Unlike the mighty bottle opener, this is one that I’m proud to give out, and people are happy to receive.

Because I did the model in OpenSCAD, it turns out to be really easy to create personal, one-of-a-kind gifts for my friends. In this post I’ll go through the steps I took to make an opener for my friend deWit. He skis, and he’s pretty good:

Ok, maybe he’s really good. Anyway, this has been my favorite skiing picture since it was taken a few years back. I thought it might be nice to capture some of this awesomeness in opener form.
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3D Printing Home Improvement

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I’ve lived in my house for 2 years now. 2 weeks after we moved in, someone who shall remain nameless turned our 2 bathroom house into a 1.5 bath.

They were cleaning the bathroom (that’s how you know it wasn’t me.) While leaning on the D-Shaped shower curtain rod for support, the whole thing came down. Come to find out the support brackets were woefully inadequate.

“I should really do something about that…” but we only really NEEDED one shower, and you can’t buy the brackets separately, so I did nothing. I wasn’t going to spend $100 for a shower we’d never use.
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Mighty Bottle Opener

Friday, June 17th, 2011

I’ve been wanting something printable that I could carry around with me, especially after this Colbert Report thing. I finally settled on designing a bottle opener: something I could show off.

Mighty Opener

There’s already a bottle opener you can print, and it works really really well. Unfortunately it’s the size of a small moon, so you can’t really carry it with you everywhere. The reason it’s so big is because it uses a penny to bear the load. You need to have something metal to save the plastic, and a coin is an ingenious, albeit large, solution.

To make the opener smaller the coin would have to go. Using a bottle cap came to me almost immediately, but finding the correct implementation took some time. The Coin-Op uses the coin to support the full load, and initially that’s what I tried to do with a folded over cap. Things improved greatly when I discovered that ABS is strong enough to lift a cap, it just needs a protective layer to keep it from being chewed up.

And thus the Mighty Bottle Opener was born! As you can see, naming things is not my forte. I was looking for something that would encompass everything great about this new opener I designed: It’s smaller, lighter, key-chainable, yet still really strong.
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Laser-Cut Business Cards

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

laser cut business cards
laser cut still wraps nicely

I’ve really been saturating the blog with ear-bud wrap posts lately. This should be the last one for a while. I decided to order some laser-cut copies of the earbud-wrap business card. They were a bit expensive, but I’ve been wanting to laser-cut something for some time. I went with 2-color acrylic, and I think they turned out really well.

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