Laser Cutting Progress

Scott Beibin and I stayed up all night designing and building this enclosure for the MandelBot. It’s designed to use a minimal amount of mechanical fasteners, in a style inspired by the Architect Gregg Fleishman.

Homemade 3D Body Scanner

In July 2014, I was commissioned by a company called Comradity from Stamford, CT, to create a device that would allow for individuals to be 3D imaged so that they could create figurines of people with a 3D printer. By the end of this project, I worked with Comradity to develop a marketing video that demonstrated the potential of the machine my partner and I created. The aim of this video was to introduce potential business partners to the capabilities of this technology, so that individuals could realize potential markets to venture into with Comradity.

Here is the video we came up with! Comradity was really happy with it- so I was thrilled, but if you ask me I do not think I come off as the most enthusiastic person in front of a camera…

Rewinding a year back a year to the start of my build-log of the design, manufacturing, and testing processes that we essential for the proper functionality of such a technical device!

To get started I made a mockup of the pedestal base in SolidWorks, this way I could figure out what problems I would have before anything was physically made thus saving time and money. An added bonus was that once I figured out the components I would need from McMasterCarr, like bearings or motors, they had.sldprt files available for download that I could 3D print. This meant I could further test the fit and performance of pieces, albet while the machine did not bear any major load, before I committed to buying real parts from the company. Furthermore, these models were imported into my SolidWorks assembly, saving me time in the design process.
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After having a solid concept of this product on the computer, I got to work manufacturing parts on a Shopbot CNC Router.
CNC Routing the Scanner Base
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Fast forward to the point where I gave it a simple paint job! There was a good amount of trial and error in picking an appropriate motor that an Arduino could power… I went back and forth on using a stepper motor driver and some 400+ oz motor or just using a DC 115v motor and controlling speed with some sort of dimmer. Eventually we settled on the latter, and eventually the pictures in this log will start showing the DC motor instead of the Stepper Motor. Ultimately this decision came back to the technical feasibility and practicality. Yes, in the future it might be useful to control rotation very very precisely, but for this machine it was way cheaper to not buy a high current stepper driver. An added bonus is that the dimmer that ultimately controlled the DC motor let us fine tune the current sent to the motor, so that no matter the weight of the individual, the platform would still rotate at 3RPM.

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Eventually, because of hand drilled holes and awkwardly making certain things together, the machine’s tolerances became a lot looser. The biggest negative impact from this was that the chain drive I designed would have a nearly constantly changing tension in the chain. At this point in the project I could no longer get access to the Shopbot and I didn’t build my X-Carve CNC Router yet, so parts that were funky needed to be fixed by hand instead of recut. In short, a chain tensioner needed to be created for the scanner! This was made out of various nuts and bolts from around my garage, a spring from a nerf gun piston, and some polyester tubing. Sometimes form follows function from a very far away distance… like a creepy stalker with a 500′ restraining order….

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This is what the finished standing platform looked like! I’m really happy with how I added the skateboard grip tape to the top surface, people saw this texture and realized this platform was something that was built to be stepped on because of it. There was a cover for the DC motor at one point, but it got lost (D’oh!).

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Another part of this scanner was developing a tower to move a Microsoft Kinect up and down to capture the full body of an individual. This was critical, because the Kinect does not have the best field of view, if you had the scanner farther than 25″ from the individual there’s a drastic loss in scan resolution. The mock of of this tower was created with some 20mm aluminum extrusion, some pine lumber, a bit of MDF for the top and base, some I-bolts for pulleys, skateboard bearings, various fasteners, and an awesome 3D printed kinect slide that is featured below.

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This video is a test of the tower with a very basic script on the Arduino UNO that controls the scanner. Component wise, the tower has a A4988 Stepper Motor Driver made by Pololu and a 235oz NEMA 23 Stepper motor I found in a surplus scrap yard! The scanner ended up needed a 2:1 pulley so that the stepper could actually lift it, and this made it super slow. Luckily this low speed ended up being beneficial, because when the Kinect was running and Skanect was capturing a 3D point-cloud it could easily lose tracking of the person if the camera or the platform moved too fast.

Okay so for the next part of this project, I had to focus on making it pretty. To be completely transparent, by this point the project had an approaching deadline so I needed to make something quick. The design considerations I had were basically that the exterior needs to hide the electronics from being damaged or seen, allow fairly straightforward access to the electronics if new firmware needed to be updated. I wanted to hit a sleek aesthetic, and if I were to try to nail that better I would have designed a pattern and vacuum formed a final exterior casing- but shoulda woulda coulda… frankly it didn’t look half bad in the end so check it out!

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All that was left was detailing the rest of the tower to match the base that I had made out of polyester sheeting and MDF, 2 cans of black spray paint did the trick nicely. Here is everything all together, the scanner is fully completed.

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DONE!

What is UnhappySk8?


Unhappy Sk8, or Unhappy Skate as it’s sometimes called, is a longboard brand started by myself and my good friend Kohei Urakami. The brand started when I had ripped my Loaded Slide gloves in a fall and knew I could make something better.

Founded October of 2011, we planted our roots in the heart of social networking: Facebook. We also quickly put up a corresponding Youtube channel. I even tied all of it together with a website to match.

My personal premise for the brand was to take the things I built for myself and my friends, and get them available to a wider audience. I thought it would be cool to have a business model that allowed me to acquire more funds to get into the realms of more and more advance creations. At our start, we would throw around the idea of doing an entirely aluminum board or a Carbon Fiber composite board with a foam core; but the shear materials alone were out of our grasp. I still have that intent and drive to take Unhappy Sk8 to the next tier, but we’re still striving to get there.

Why Nerf?

Over the past 8 years now, a huge hobby of mine has always been modifying toy nerf blasters.

The interest came from a desire for something safer than Airsoft- I didn’t want to be the next person to have a tooth shot out. And I wanted to find something cheaper than Paintball- I didn’t have the funds to pay $100 for a couple hours worth of paintballs every time I wanted to play.

I knew there had to be some alternative. Fast-forward to May of 2008 and I found myself watching Zack Scott’s Easy Nerf Gun Hack video on Youtube. I had to try it, and so I did. The immediate improvements from overriding and removing basic safety features excited me. I had a boundary I had a passion to push, and so I did.

With projects I had in mind for flinging foam darts to unheard distances, the tools I surrounded myself with quickly became inadequate. My handy Dremel 4000 and Ryobi drill no longer cut it. That Christmas, I got a 16″ Craftmen Scroll Saw to take a shot at Nerfhaven.com user Captainslug’s design called the +Bow. I had decent luck with it, but I knew with more tools I’d trade limits for potential.

Now 2009, the online community was rebarreling multi-barreled turrets, and selling spacers to hold the Polyester tubing in place to make our blasters more accurate. I wanted in, and need a drill press suddenly. I had this blaster called the Rapid Fire 20, and after replacing the barrels I took my shinny new drill press went to town on a 1/8th thick piece of red polycarbonate.

Now August of 2010, next think I know, I needed a CNC router to work at a level of precision I wasn’t capable of. The year after, a 1951 Van-Norman Milling Machine. This Christmas, I got a Make Replicator 2 3D printer.

I can now create anything I’m capable of designing. Nerf as a hobby continuously pushed me along, demanding more and more skill-sets and equipment as I went. That is why I played with nerf guns.

Me, circa 2012, participating at a nerfing event with a homemade blaster built out PVC and other off the shelf hardware.
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Designing a Skateboard

This post is about how I was given the chance to spend a weekend with some wood working tools and design custom skateboards with my friends. I set out to design the ideal skateboard for me based on some design criteria:

It would need to be small and lightweight making it very portable for a college campus
It’s size and weight could not compromise the board’s strength- it has a withstand jumps and sudden impacts like flying off sidewalks, while being able to flex in order to absorb vibrations yet not snap.
The board would need to have the physical lines and contours I learned to look for in a deck after 8 years of skateboarding.

For the general shape, I decided upon a length of 23.5″ and a 7.5″ width. The board would have a 1/8″ concave and 3/8″ rocker, these curves would work to hug my foot and lock it in firmly when I push, and make the board plenty stronger.

In order to have a board that is both lightweight and strong, I selected 3mm cross-ply sheets of baltic birch plywood and I would fuse 3 sheets of this wood together with Tightbond 3 Ultimate Wood Glue.

To achieve the shape I had set out for, I cut three identical lateral profiles of my board out on a bandsaw, 6 pieces in total, to sandwich the wood in-between two sides of a mold. I screwed them all to a press, and shimmed the left and right bottom pieces of the mold up 1/8″ and shaved an 1/8″ off the tops of the opposite side- this gave me the concave I sought out for. The press was assembled with large bolts I could tighten down and apply pressure with in order to form the plywood. The results speak for themselves:

Seeing the blank skateboard as a new canvas, I painted it and sprayed the character logo of my brand, UnhappySk8

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After helping Capsule Boardshop relocate their store front, I was left with around 20 old skateboards that kids had donated to the shop at various points in time.

I made a frame and screwed some boards together

Pretty much done, I just need to give it some legs

Finally fit for sitting-

Inlays

One common project in my school’s Honors Engineering course was to make inlays with our Techno CNC Router. Like so –

Basically, we took a CAD file and separated it into two halves – a base with pockets to inlay material into and inserts that nested in the base. The results could be quite stunning when a project was well executed!

Back in January I made the Intel logo for my Honors Engineering midterm:


To start I needed a base, and to make the base so I used the Raster to Vector function in Mastercam, and pocketed out my newly born vector/dwg file. I used a piece of oak for this first part.

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Next off, I took the outside of the chain and gave it a 200th of an inch offset inwards, in order for my inlayed pieces to fit! This time with some Cherry:


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The next logical step was is to sand the cherry to be flush with the oak, and hope that the sawdust will fill in any unintentional cracks or outlines This surely did the trick, after I had a nice smoothly sanded surface, I applied many many coats of polyurethane and admired my work.

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I’ve even reverse engineered the cutouts for a drop-through truck on my Omen Pike Longboard, and make what I call a Pike-Plug to covert the drop deck into a topmount board


Another inlay of mine was a nameplate for my spanish teacher, Sr. Rameriez


And here’s an Android logo, done with hardwood and polycarbonate, backlit with Green LEDs-