Posts Tagged ‘cnc’

Spacecats Rocket Build!

A good friend of mine had the vision to make a memorial to lost cats at Burning Man 2016. It would be a whimsical project with a deeper side to it to honor our fallen feline companions.  To see more of what is behind the project can go to see the Spacecats Indiegogo at . I was asked by her to assist with creating the rocketship part of the project for the intrepid spacecats. I just starting doing CNC work this year and leaped at the opportunity to further improve my skills with a big project. Over a period of 2 months many models were created to arrive at the final form. I will detail the workflow for this and share some of the iterations!

It all started with Fusion 360, a great program for makers, to create a basic rocketship model. Well, I thought it was basic but my inexperience made it a bit harder than expected and went through many hours of “learning time” to arrive at a model I was happy with. From making the 3d model in Fusion 360, I then took it to 123d Make to have it piece together in radial slices so that it can be put together in real life! With the parts generated from 123dMake I was able to create some laser models to show my friend and get her input for her vision. As you can see it took about 4 times to get it right. These models were done 1:10 scale then 1:7 scale. it really helps to have something in front of you to decide what will look best.


After finally arriving at a model that was good it was time to bring it to the shopbot for a 1:2 model (that is also one of the indiegogo rewards!). There was much dialing in to make sure that the slot fit was tight but not too tight to be able to fit the pieces together.  Found that adding in .01 helped immensely to get the perfect fit. I did many test notch pieces to ensure the fit. One problem I had was making the test pieces too small so it did not get the full effect of sliding all the way into the wood. I found that making them larger really helped. It paid off to prototype and make test pieces , saved me from wasting many materials , especially when I moved to the more expensive wood!  Finally, we had something that the Spacecats seemed somewhat happy about – other than that orange tabby Floyd at least!


Also learned how to use a V bit for this project , very challenging to get the right font in so that it looks nice but was not too thin. This is the plate with the names of departed cats.


And finally , was able to do the full-size model that will go out to burning man! They were displayed at an event last weekend that was a Hawaiian luau, they seemed pretty pleased with it if I do say so myself!


Thanks to everyone at PS:One for the patience to answer many of my questions and excessive use of the shopbot to dial this project in 😀

If curious about the indiegogo project and the other elements of the installation can check out the page at Spacecats . And if going to Black Rock City this year, look for some spacecats in the deep playa!


07 2016

‘Balance’ Coffee Table

Here’s a summary of my coffee table project that many of you have seen me work on (or struggle with) over for the last several months.


I like furniture that can flex or modify it’s position to address different needs. I’ve seen coffee tables that raise to eating height before, but I wanted to design one that really expresses the mechanism and plays up the physics behind it. Back in October I made a 1/2 scale mock up of the design to understand the motion.


Then it was back to designing a full size mock-up.



I realized it wasn’t going to be stable enough with just one set of arms, so I decided two sets would still look good. Everything was designed in Autodesk Revit. The software allows you to figure out volume, then with a given density of materials I could get weights from the various parts. This allowed me to determine the balance. I didn’t want it to be perfectly balanced with the counter-weight, but have enough weight to assist the movement.


First I started making the frame out of aluminum. It’s fastened using a pneumatic riveter.


Painting the steel arms.


CNC cutting the concrete forms out of pink foam



Creating the concrete counter-weight form


Failed attempt to CNC cut aluminum for brackets. I’ll skip the rest of these struggles…


Casting the concrete base


Casting the counterweight (nice and sloppy)


The base assembled.



casting with arms

Frame is attached.


There were many tweaks after testing it. There was some wiggling around the axles, so I widened the holes in the steel arms to put nylon sleeve bearings in for a tighter smoother fit. There was still some shifting after putting some weight on the front, so I designed a locking mechanism with a latch.


Lots of struggle with this latch at the top of the photo. (FYI, learn the cold metals milling machine if you need a part like this)

locking mech

And finally… a video…

By Josh Myers


05 2016

PS:One Knitting Pattern

2014-10-30 23.54.26

I’ve been tinkering with a knitting pattern based on the PS:One logo. This one knits up easily on our electronic machine, with a minimum of long floats. Find the pattern below– feel free to improvise and improve on it!

2014-10-30 23.54.37


11 2014

ShapeOko Building Adventures So Far

Inventables donated a ShapeOko 2 CNC Router “The Works” kit to Pumping Station:One, and we’ve been doing a group build over four sessions so far. It’s been a chance for people to learn about open hardware and CNC firsthand from the ground up, and participate in making PS:One’s next machine. We’ve had participants with various levels of experience working together, and I think everyone learned something new.

During the first session, we assembled wheels and bearings, and attached them to plates for the x, y,and z axes. We started the next session with parts that looked like this:


The instructions describe the z-axis assembly as the most intricate, and they’re not kidding. It took a lot of fiddly work and some mistakes to get here:

shapeoko2-7Here are some of the participants, planning what to do next:

shapeoko2-2We assembled the carriages, then the gantry and machine frame. The machine came together well during this session:

shapeoko2-8I think #1177 (“Minion”) the ShapeOko1 is jealous of its newer, larger, and shiner sibling #5549 (so far unnicknamed):

shapeoko2-1During the third session, we squared and wired the ShapeOko and installed the drag chain (“e-chain”) with some help from Zach from Inventables.

shapeoko2-5During the fourth session, we nearly finished the wiring and made a custom holder for the emergency stop button:

shapeoko2-4Thank you to everyone who helped so far! Our next build session will be Thursday, August 28th at 7pm in PS:One’s shop. We’ll be testing the motors, troubleshooting, and sending the “hello world” job. Come see the machine move!

Thank you Ron (I think) for the Session 2 photos and Allen for the Session 3 photo.


08 2014

Group ShapeOko Build, Part Two!

The adventure continues! We had a great turn out at the last ShapeOko build event. Now it’s time to assemble the gantries and do some wiring. Join us this Wednesday July 30 from 7-10PM in PS:One’s shop to see the machine really take shape, and maybe we’ll get to see it move, too. Learn about open hardware and the ShapeOko 3D carving machine. This event is open to the public and is great for newbies and experienced CNC’ers, too.



07 2014

CNC Steampunk Harp – The Sector67 Field Trip – Part 2


Finished Sound Board

Finished Sound Board

[See Part 1]

The sound board of the harp had always been the wild card. Elizabeth and I began the project last year knowing that we’d want to use a laser cutter to etch it with some kind of Victorianesque steampunk design involving gears. And we knew that PS:One’s Epilog, with its 24″ x 12″ bed and no feedthrough capability, simply couldn’t fit a 49″ sound board. While design focused on the brass panels, as we did have access to a CNC router, the sound board was left for later, especially because we didn’t know if we could find a smaller laser cutter with feedthrough, meaning we needed a design that could be etched in pieces, or a large laser cutter that could engrave the entire sound board at once.

Elizabeth and I were planning a trip to Madison, WI, and we heard rumors that Sector67 had a colossal Chinese import laser cutter. I reached out to them asking if they would be willing to help with this project, and Chris Meyer, director of Sector 67, responded, inviting us to their space. Knowing what we had to work with, Elizabeth was able to create the design in Adobe Illustrator. Read the rest of this entry →


02 2014

CNC Steampunk Harp – Part 1


Side view of harp with pockets routed

Side view of harp with pockets routed

For the past year, Elizabeth and I have been collaborating on a project using the amazingly cool CNC tools at Pumping Station: One. The goal: to build a harp. Not just any harp, mind you. A steampunk harp! The idea was to start with a kit (the Voyageur harp from Music Makers, 33 strings, cherry) but heavily customize it as follows:

  •  CNC cut brass panel inserts, inlaid in pockets routed in the sides of the harp
  • The brass panels would be etched using a galvanic etching process, similar to the one used by the Steampunk Workshop to create their clockwork guitar. Elizabeth would design the shape and custom artwork (gears, of course!) for this.
  • The sound board would be laser engraved with some type of steampunk design. The design is in progress, and we are searching for a laser engraver large enough to handle the sound board.
  • Although not strictly steampunk, I’d considered adding RGB addressable LED lighting under the neck of the harp, which could illuminate the strings, as well as respond to the pitch of the strings being played.
CNC routing brass

CNC routing brass

First, we had to start by routing the brass, using PS:One’s CNC 3020 router. Elizabeth drew the design, including the brass outline and the pattern we will use when we etch the brass. We did this last spring at PS:One, and we ran into massive problems with the brass vibrating and breaking end mills. The project remained dormant for many months until a breakthrough: What if we glued the brass to a scrap board? That would at least keep it immobile so it couldn’t chatter and bind on the end mill. The good news: This worked! Success! The bad news…. The Go To Home button on Mach3 does not, by default, raise the spindle before moving it. And a clamp was in the way. The result: A badly bent spindle. Well, all was not lost….
Read the rest of this entry →


01 2014

3D Printed Replacement Parts

Our shop has a few Black & Decker drills. They’re not contractor grade tools by any means. I was using one the other day for a project, and as I was walking back to the tool crib to put stuff away I was idly clicking the drive direction switch back and forth, as one does with a drill. I heard a snapping noise and the button now moved freely, no longer engaging the electrical switch responsible for direction reversal. Bummer. I figured I’d pop it open and see if I could repair it.

B&D Drill

The drill in question


The factory part that broke. Note the distressed, white plastic at the bottom center.

The issue was a small plastic pin that engaged a switch with a matching cutout. Not a very complex mechanism. I drew the part up in Sketchup:



I skipped the nicely radiused leading edge, but this part is otherwise dimensionally similar to the factory piece. My initial attempts to use an entirely 3d-printed part failed, as the ~3mm pin was just not large enough to get a sturdy printed feature. I decided to drill it out and use a #2 screw to replace the pin. This one should outlast the rest of the drill.



At this point you might be wondering why I didn’t do that with the original part to begin with, and that’s valid. My only answer is, “Because I didn’t think of it.”


The part’s installed, and the drill is back in the tool crib.

It’s a simple result, but it’s the sort of thing I love about 3D printing.




01 2014

3D Printing Cage Match: 7pm Dec 12 at Beauty Bar

3DPCM LogoWe’re throwing a 3D Printing Cage Match Party at 7PM at Chicago’s Beauty Bar.

See factory teams, local businesses, and hobbyists compete to print a medieval weapon as fast as possible, and then fire marshmallows at their slower competitors!

Our own DJ Adam Dzak will be spinning, Jim Burke will provide commentary, and PS:One’s Lulzbot AO-101 and Makerbot Replicator will both be competing as well.

Want to attend? RSVP (free) here.

Want to compete? Register (free) here.

More information at the 3D Printer Cage Match Homepage.

Please note that this event will serve as the CNC Build Club meeting on the same evening.


12 2013


For the past few months, my CNC Build Club project has been building a <a href=””>ShapeOko CNC mill</a> from a kit Jeff donated to PS:One to replace the machine hacked into a pick-and-place. The ShapeOko belongs to PS:One and will (hopefully) be a permanent part of the space.

On July 21st, I moved the machine to its home in the shop, finished wiring it up, and tested the motion of the stepper motors. It moved like it was supposed to on the x, y, and z axes, so I moved on to drawing the Hello World job (the ShapeOko logo) in the air. That worked perfectly, too. So now it was the moment of truth – time to find a drawing implement, tape it to the gantry, and send the GCode to draw the logo on paper.

After several attempts at finding the right pen or marker, and figuring out how to tape it securely, this was the result:

helloworldsmall1 helloworldsmall2

A very happy me, and a successful Hello World.

I started this project to learn more about CNC projects from the ground up. Along the way, I learned a bit about tapping, soldering, and Arduinos too. Here’s a look back at it:

This was the beginning:

shapeoko1small   Then I tapped more Makerslide and added the frame and rails:


Then I added the Z-axis:


Edward Ford, the Shapeoko’s inventor, happened to be at the space the night I finished the mechanical build of the Shapeoko:


After tweaking and tightening up the mechanical build, I assembled all the electronics I would need, mostly from donations to the project. (Thank you!)  Edward came back for ShapeOko night as part of CNC Build Club, and we got the machine wired up. Unfortunately, the x-axis didn’t move properly, probably because the GRBLshield controller got damaged during rework. So Bart donated another GRBLshield, and Ryan did some heroic rework on its connectors, and this one worked!

Colin donated a Dewalt spindle to the project, and the next step is to get some end mills, test the machine’s milling, and certify some people. I’m also looking at installing some limit switches on the machine. Of course, there are also options like a different spindle, a dual-driven y-axis, or a more robust z-axis. Those will be things for the CNC Build Club and other interested members to decide on.

I got this far with more than “a little help from my friends”. Thank you to the people who offered help, parts, or advice (in no particular order): Jeff, Jay, Steve, Colin, Ryan, Edward, Cat, Bart, Jeremy, Fernando, Jesse, and Everett. If I accidentally left you out, I’m sorry!


08 2013