Author Archives: James - Page 2

2 in 1 Cupcake Stand and Stencil

This is something I designed and laser cut having bought Jess some silicone cupcake cases as part of her Christmas present.

Laser cut from 5mm acrylic its purpose is dual. The patterns on top act as stencils for sprinkling icing sugar, sprinkles, colouring spray or cocoa powder onto the top of iced cupcakes. It also fits inside a standard 25cm round cake tin and the stands that slot together to go with it sit on the bottom of the tin to hold the stencil in the middle, allowing you to store a second layer of cupcakes without fouling the icing of the layer below.

Cupcake Stand/Stencil

Cupcake Stand/Stencil

The stands also aid in icing. Placing the stencil on the stands on a table allows you to place cupcakes underneath and stencil them either 1 or 5 at a time! If your cupcakes are particularly dumpy, the base of the fourth stand can be removed and used to raise a cupcake 5mm closer to the stencil, giving you a better defined pattern than if it was lower. (If they’re REALLY lacking in stature, the upright could also be added to the stack)

The two holes in the middle are finger holes to allow you to pick it out of the tin more easily once you’ve removed a layer of cupcakes, though there’s plenty of space there for it to be another pattern instead on a future version.

Cupcake Stand/Stencil

The stencil/stand was designed in 3d in Alibre to check it would all fit together. The 3 parts were then exported to .dxf files to be laser cut.

Want one? I want these tested and need some awesome photos before I try to sell some for real. For £20 I’ll ship you one to anywhere in the world. If you send me back some awesome photos of it in use with finished, iced cupcakes, I’ll refund everything but the postage cost. Send me an email or leave a comment.

Massively Reduce Laser Etching Time

On any laser cutting job, an etch takes a long time. Thousands of passes back and forth across the job occupies a significant proportion of the job run time. For this reason I was pretty pleased this week when I worked out a way to cut a 29 minute and 25 second job down to a 14 minute 50 second job.

It’s rather obvious when you think about it, but since laser cutters are usually charged for by the minute, plus the material, knowing how to drastically reduce etch time is really rather valuable!

This really, really quick trick will only work on jobs that contain multiples of the same item. The secret? Rotate! The following picture is of the job that I was running, a run of 10 scout woggles for a website that Steve and I set up to make use of our laser cutter. I’ll use this job as an example of how simply rotating it saves so much time.

Laser Cutting Leather Scout Woggles

When designing an item like the woggles above, I design the outline in my favourite drawing (well… okay, CAD) package, Alibre then export as a dxf. The image I then add within the laser cutting software. It of course feels natural to start with the woggle so that the text and picture is the right way up as I view it. This is fine if just cutting one woggle. If I want to run off a batch of 10, I get all the settings right for one, then step and repeat it to fit the material I’m using. In this case it was easiest to have 2 columns and 5 rows. The diagram below illustrates the flaw in just accepting this, since with 2 columns and 5 rows the laser cutter head has to traverse the distance between the items being etched before it can etch the second item.

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LPC3250 VGA Touchscreen Kit Dimensions & Pictures

I got a new microcontroller to play with at work this week. The LPC3250 touchscreen development kit we ordered from Mouser was developed by Future Development Inc and has a 266MHz ARM9 processor and a 5.7″ touchscreen. We wanted it as the  display and input device for a new viscometer we’re working on. We expected it’d be a tight fit, and couldn’t find dimensions for the boards _anywhere_ on the net, but got it anyway to have a look. If it fits it’d be perfect for what we want.

Since it has now arrived I thought I’d post some dimensions for anyone else that was looking for them, as well as some pictures of angles the datasheets on FDI’s/Mouser’s/NXP’s websites don’t show.

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Laser Cut Acrylic Chess Board

This is a project I did in July with my friend Jake.

Cut from 5mm frosted acrylic the squares were defined by surrounding slots with radiused ends. The white squares were highlighted by etching away a layer from the acrylic.

The results I think look pretty slick, especially when you add in the slotted acrylic pieces Jake designed and brought along to the meet to be cut. (More pictures and details below)


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Instructable: Ninjabread Men!

I had to have a go at making some some ninjabread men cookie cutters after seeing them on I used 0.5mm mirror polished stainless steel strips and an acrylic template. Would be a great method for making loads of other custom shaped cookie cutters! The instructable I wrote shows you how…

Rocker to Toggle Switch Hack

Just a quick post to show off some pictures of a hack I did with Sugru this month.

I received a pack of 12 sachets of Sugru at the beginning of the month as part of an Instructables competition I entered. The challenge? Do something cool with it!

I was fed up with the way my desk light slid across the desk whenever I used the cheap rocker switch on the front of it. Sugru allowed me to extend the switch out so it became a toggle switch. It’s now much easier to use since I can swipe at it from any direction, whereas before I had to push it from dead ahead for it to engage and not slide away from me.

Sugru Rocker to Toggle Switch Conversion

More pictures and build details in the Instructable.

Rechargeable Battery Rack

Lizzy wanted somewhere to keep all the rechargeable batteries her house gets through once she’d charged them. Sick of them getting mixed up and having to recharge them, she asked me to make her something to keep them in. Suuuuuuure a margerine tub or a block of wood with holes would have done the job, but when you have a laser cutter and an itching to play with CAD, why not do both?

Battery Holder Read more »

WordPress Plugin Subscribe2: Removing the “Unsubscribe” button.

I wanted a way to allow visitors to my blog to subscribe to it and get email notifications when I updated it with something new. Subscribe2, a plugin available on the WordPress site seemed like just the ticket. It installed easily and worked well with no tweaking, however I didn’t like unsightly “Unsubscribe” button that it added with the subscribe button.

Having looked around online I couldn’t find a tutorial or post on how to remove it, so decided to work it out myself and post this here in case anyone else had the same problem.

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SSOP Package Photography

I had to layout a 28-pin SSOP package in EasyPC (a PCB design package) at work today so that I could include it in a PCB for a new instrument we’re designing. To check the layout was correct I printed it out to offer it up against the chip.

Amazed at the teeny tinyness of the thing, I had a shot at taking photographs of it down the microscope in my lunch break. You can see the dots of the printer where the pads will be next to the pins.

(More after the break)

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Negatively Laser Etched Metal

At Steve‘s suggestion today I experimented with coating stainless steel with spray paint and then using the laser to etch away parts of the paint to reveal the metal beneath. I think you’ll agree the results were pretty impressive…

(More directions and pictures after the break.)

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