Carcassonne is a tile based castle building board game. After bringing my large set (the main game with 3 of the extensions) with me to my parent’s house when I visited last Christmas, my sister loved it so I bought her the main game for her birthday later in the year.
This Christmas, I bought her one of the extensions she didn’t already have by now. I thought it’d also be nice to make her something to keep all the parts in as once you have more than 3 extensions it becomes a bit of a struggle to get all of the pieces into the original box, even with the cardboard padding removed. I set out to design and make her a themed wooden Carcassonne storage chest.
A wooden storage chest for the board game Carcassonne
Front of the box with removable tile tray
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It’s well documented what kerfs are achievable with commercial 1KW+ laser cutters cutting steel, aluminium and plastics. I wanted to know what kerfs were achievable on our 40W Chinese built laser cutter so that I could work out what to add to allow for kerf when designing finger joints to be cut in 3mm ply or when cutting holes to be tapped. The kerf is the width of material removed during the cutting process.
Kerf is determined by material properties and thickness, the focal length of the lens and the gas used while cutting. Our laser cutter uses a lens with a 50mm focal length and uses compressed air to push out the vapourised/molten swarf.
(Kerf measurement description, photos and results after the break)
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We use a couple of glass 3 piece Whatman filter funnels in the lab at work to filter used oil samples before testing. A glass fibre filter paper is supported by an acrylic plate and samples are drawn through it into a vacuum flask below. When someone decided it was a good idea to clean the acrylic plate in acetone, it was wrecked and our labware supplier wanted £40 for a new 47mm Whatman filter plate.
Being just a piece of acrylic with a few dozen small holes in it Lizzy suggested I laser cut a new one rather than us paying for and waiting for it. The resulting plate was usable the same day and at a tenth of the cost. It works just as well! If you want one, leave a comment.
Photos and files after the break.
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This technique for creating high contrast panels for electronics projects and prototypes using a laser cutter gives great results using cheap and easy to find materials. It’s really useful as an alternative or substitute for more expensive and harder to find laser engravable laminates like SureLase.
The product we use at work for laser engraved signs on products we ship, SureLase, gives great results, is super easy to use and available in a large range of colours. Its downside for non-commercial users is its price and the fact that you have to buy a large 1 x 1.5m sheet. It’s also not as versatile as a plain piece of 3mm acrylic, you can’t make other parts out of it since that’d be a waste.
Here are some photos of some items made with a different method, achieving similar results and using just 3mm white acrylic and a black wax crayon. It’s easy, fast (though not as fast as SureLase) and looks dead smart.
Example electronics project facia, missing the pot and switch to finish it off:
Some inserts to be installed inside some industrial panel mount LEDs made by Chint:
A cog from a mechanical clock designed by Alan Parekh before it had it’s final wipe down:
Process pictures and descriptions after the break…
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The sheets of 10mm pink and black acrylic that I ordered arrived today. I thought I’d take the chance to post some pictures of the finished pink and black meeple as well as upload the outlines for the sets as .SVG and .DXF files. I also cut a few sets of each and threw them on ebay here.
The black, named as “Jet” on ebay to differentiate them from the normal wooden black ones, since they’re nice and shiny:
And a picture of the pink ones:
And as promised, the DXF and SVG files. The DXF for importing neatly into most laser cutter software and the SVG in case you want to play with them in Inkscape or use them with Ponoko (though they don’t offer any 10mm acrylic).
The last few times I’ve been back to where I went to University to visit my friends they’ve all been massively enthusiastic about a game called Carcassonne. Players take turns placing cardboard tiles and claiming them with meeple (the little wooden people that come with the game) to build castles, roads and farms to score points. Their one problem with the game is the lack of available colours of meeple which limits the number of players. The original game comes with 5 colours, plus an extra one if you buy one of the extensions. With the amount of game tiles available when you have more of the extensions, there’s plenty of scope for extra players, but no extra colours of meeple.
These are a set of meeple I laser cut from 10mm clear acrylic. It includes the standard sized meeple and a mega meeple, builder and pig from two of the extensions. With all of the colours of acrylic available (over 20) there’d be plenty to choose from! I’m currently looking for somewhere that will sell me lots of colours in sheets less than 2 x 3m, then I can start making some different colours.
(More pictures and details after the break)
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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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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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