Thank you for voting / Ponoko test fit pieces!

First – a big thank you to everyone who voted for me in the sparkfun / ponoko / Geekdad contestI won!

From here on out I will be documenting my process as I go from rough prototype to finished laser cut beer vending machine!

There will be an upcoming longer piece on how to design for laser cutting. I have been amazed as to how many variables you need to keep in your head, and I haven’t even gotten the pieces yet! It seems like once you get it all figured out it is very systematic, but my design wasn’t nearly as tight as it needed to be in order to be laser cut.

This post is all about prep work. I have been talking with Josh at ponoko, and he suggested that I cut a few test pieces to figure some things out. I am planning on using t-bolt assembly. The good thing about that is that it ought to withstand both the thermal rigors of being refrigerated and the physical stress of having 12 oz cans banging around in the machine. The bad thing is that it adds another unknown to the design. I decided to test a bunch of different slot and tab widths to find one that fits as close to perfect as possible.

One interesting thing about designing for laser cutting is that you can easily control the cut dimensions within 0.1mm, but you don’t have any control over the thickness of the acrylic. Due to variances in manufacturing, the 3mm sheet could be +_ 15%! On a 3mm sheet your thickness could be off by up to 0.4mm. This means that for a tab and a slot, you have to make the short sides precise, and the wide sides a bit sloppy. Definitely an interesting twist.
hit the jump for more laser-cut plastic action!

Vote for TinyEnormous! wired/sparkfun/ponoko contest

Sparkfun, Ponoko, and Geek dad from wired have all teamed up to create a contest for us makers. The rules are simple: design something that uses sparkfun’s parts and Ponoko’s cutting services. The top ten coolest designs get picked by a panel and then the best one gets picked by an online vote! I have submitted two ideas and I really hope at least one of them makes it into one of them made it into the the top ten! I was surprised by how few people entered, but I guess the whole line about…

Submit a photo, render, sketch or scribble on a napkin to the GeekDad pool on Flickr (and tag it ‘ponoko’) or leave a description of it in a comment below before the end of the weekend

…was too daunting for some people! Regardless, I put two entries into the contest. One is a laser cut beer vending machine that is designed to retrofit an old dorm mini-fridge into a beer vending machine(!), and the other is a physical progress bar.

Here are pictures of the (very) rough prototypes. The beer vending machine should be pretty self explanatory.

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Cool Idea for a DIY Jeweler

I just ran across oye modern’s site. They have a cool line of bracelets / cuffs that are made out of the exterior aluminum of camera lenses.

OYE modern

OYE modern

It’s an interesting idea, but I hardly think it is worth au$300. If I run into a lens that is trash anytime soon – It’s on. This kind of reminds me of the bottle openers made out of bike parts and the bike chain bracelets.



It’s a cool idea, but I’m not sure who is going to pay for it.

Kegerator continues!

In my quest for beer-on-tap 24-7 I have been building a kegerator for my house. Soon I discovered I needed a drip tray to keep the floor from rotting through (did someone say firepole?!?!) Not wanting to pay almost $60 for one like this one I set out to make one. I found a aluminum tray from a toaster, and a cheap metal box from target. Put them together, and we’re off to the races! These are the two pieces.

kegorator drip tray DIY

kegorator drip tray DIY

This is the toaster tray cut up but not bent

This is the tray cut, bent, and dropped into the box. I’m pretty happy, considering it cost $1.68

This is my attempt at making a counterfeit Sub Zero fridge. Yes that’s right! I took an angle grinder to the fridge! Now it’s bare metal! We’ll have to see how long the well oiled metal can resist rusting, and how long I can resist not steel wool-ing it to get the rust off. We’ll have to see about a lot of things. Until then I have 1/2 of a sub zero kegerator!

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Fire in the hole!

My buddy Jay and I put together about 5 gallons of what-is-soon-to-be red ale.

Here’s a couple pictures of the process

Yeast rehydrating

Yeast rehydrating

Mmmmmm…. yeasty!

Tools ‘o’ the trade

Chillin out the load in the bathtub. This took at least an hour to get down to the pitching temperature. I need an immersion chiller REALLY BADLY

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Bearings and Beer….hmmmm….. Beerings?

So here are the fruits of my weekend.
These are the slide bearings for my CNC router. They’re made up of skate bearings, and angle aluminum. A really simple concept that makes my life simpler.

you can see my new Keg-o-rator here. It’s almost a perfect fit in this closet, with just enough room left to to fit all of my beer brewing stuff! Oh yeah, and an iron too…

Here is a closeup of the tap handle. Does anyone have any cool ideas for how to fabricate a cool drip tray? So far I’m coming up blank.

It just occurred to me how much I anthropomorphize my inventions/creations. that’s kind of weird. I guess having more unfinished projects than fingers is weird too.. oh well…

I cut the hole for the tap the worst possible way ever. I used a 1″ spade bit used for cutting wood. It was brand new, and I decided it was worth it to ruin it cutting through the metal front of the fridge. I’ll pour out a little grease next time i’m in the shop for my  fallen homie “spayde Bitt”

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