Categories
Builds In Progress

Mini Mailbox

I receive (and send) lots of packages from my front door. I love creating scaled versions of things, particularly undersized. I decided to recreate a small version of the classic USPS mailbox for my front door as a place for packages to be held.

Additionally, my idea is to add LEDs, a camera, and make it WiFi enabled so I can monitor at all times, assuming the delivery carriers understand what it’s for. Hopefully I can make it intuitive enough but still retain the classic unmistakable design.

The Materials

  • 1/4 inch MDF
  • wood glue
  • painters tape
  • blue paint
  • inkjet adhesive paper
  • LEDs
  • WiFi camera
  • adhesive spray
  • colored card stock
  • flexible TPU filament

The Tools

  • laser cutter
  • fusion360
  • lightburn
  • Cricut Maker
  • paper trimmer
  • Canon Pro-100 inkjet
  • 3d printer

The Build

Fusion version

I envisioned this to be about 2 feet tall. The parametric design would let me adjust the dimensions. The hardest part of the design (and newest challenge for me) is the curved top. So far, everything I’ve created is pretty square. For this, I’ll have to use some tricks to make the curved top.

Cutting out the curved top

Cutting this took forever! It’s basically an alternating pattern of cuts. In Fusion360, I measured the inner curve length, and built a new piece based on that. The outer curve length is irrelevant for this because the cuts would provide the longer length that I need.

It came out super bendy! So excited. After test fitting the top curve, in the future, I’m going to make the piece slightly shorter than the inner curve surface. Even the the top is doing most of the stretching, the bottom also stretches as well so leaving some room would do just fine. I didn’t leave any tolerance to i had to really tape down the piece well during the gluing process.

First test assembly

Always remember to use the correct height when setting your laser/bed distance. The laser beam is hourglass shaped, and the middle of it should be the middle of your material. I didn’t quite adjust it right so the edges were slightly angled and required a little sanding.

First delivery!

Emma wanted to be the first one to deliver a message in the new mailbox. She is the best!

Testing some packages

I had a difficult time deciding on the right amount of storage. I think the majority of packages will fit in here. it’s roughly 13x13x17.

Glued together and ready for paint

Glued all the pieces together. I used tape to hold down the top curved wood while using wood glue. Everything came together as expected!

Painted with decals and logos

After painting, I added the logos and also lined the inside with colorful rainbow card stock. I also added a little disclaimer label in case somebody actually believes it’s a real mailbox.

Final product installed outside

Here is the mailbox with all the logos and actually being used outside!

Updates

MDF legs on concrete are not great. I’m going to design flexible TPU feet for it to protect it from bumps and scrapes, but also leave it off the ground to prevent moisture.

My original designs were built for 6.4mm MDF. I adjusted the material thickness to 8mm, then generated this STL for flexible TPU. The reason is that I’ve found that TPU needs quite a bit of tolerance. Even if there is extra room, I can fill it with glue.

Installed the feet with a hot glue gun

20% flexible TPU infill + 2mm tolerance fit perfectly! The flexible material really helps to protect the piece and also prevent it from sliding.

Camera installed and live

Using double sided padded tape, I mounted a camera to the top and now get motion alerts. Going to finally put this project to rest for awhile. Thanks for reading!

Categories
Builds

Creality CR-10 Riser Kit

The CR-10 is an amazing printer. However, it does take up quite a bit of precious area in my small workshop so I decided to build a thin case under it. The computer is in the rear part of of the case, and the front will have drawers for storage.

The Materials

  • 1/4 MDF
  • M4 screws
  • CR-10 3d Printer
  • Wood glue

The Tools

  • CO2 laser cutter

The Build

Original CR-10

Here is the original CR-10. There’s that big ugly box on the side of it. It’s so tall that another couple inches isn’t going to matter.

I took apart my CR-10 to examine all the wires, components, etc so I could get a good idea of where to place everything.

Here are the internals of the printer. Pretty basic stuff actually. The power supply is the biggest thing. The board for controlling stuff, the mosfet for handling high current to the heating bed, a couple fans. I also added a raspberry Pi to run OctoPrint.

The drawer with pull cutout

Based on previous projects, I am not going to leave any tolerance for the drawer. I put 1-2mm before and there was a huge gap, so going to gamble with a perfect fit here.

Finished cutting, everything but the top assembled

I glued the drawer together to prevent any screws sticking out messing with the clearance. The main case however is bolted together with M3 hardware. Getting ready to mount the components in! I decided to add a 1mm clearance to the drawers, I think that’s the right amount for all projects going forward. I did a quick test with 0 and it was just too tight.

Internals installed, what a mess

I used double sided tape to mount the power supply, Raspberry, and other stuff. Surprisingly all the hole cutouts I measured pretty accurately! Maybe I’m finally getting better at this.

Final product with printer running

Put everything back together, removed the printer rubber legs and let the printer sit flush on the enclosure. Everything fits perfectly, the drawer works great. I left the top screws off just in case I need to get back into the internals. Gravity does a good enough job of keeping it in place.

Printer back in action

Back on line printing again. Steady helping to make masks/equipment for donation for this CoVid-19 thing.

Updates

I added a nice coat of matte black paint to match the printer. Normally I like to leave MDF unpainted, but wanted a more unified look for the printer.

Side view of the printer

I thought I did a pretty good job with the fan grill.

Picture of the drawer

I left the inside of the drawer unpainted to make it easier to see the stuff inside.

Final product busy printing masks

Categories
Builds

Raspberry Pi Rubik’s Cube Case

I have a 3TB RAID1 ext4 NAS and set up a Raspberry Pi 2 to serve as a streaming media center. I wanted to come up with a cool case. Since the dual drives + Pi is roughly square-ish, I came up with the idea to make a rubik’s cube case. Initially it was just going to be a solid block, but then I decided to make it actually rotate horizontally.

The Materials

  • 1/4 MDF panels
  • color card stock
  • Raspberry Pi / NAS hard drives, power cables
  • black matte spray paint
  • wood glue
  • spray adhesive

The Tools

  • CO2 laser cutter
  • wood glue
  • Fusion360
  • Lightburn

The Build

One side of the cube with the color panels

All the panels will be made of 1/4 MDF. If you look closely, you can see the perforations between the color panels that is meant to allow air flow.

First cut, surprisingly everything is working out perfectly

This is the most cutting I’ve ever done for a project. I used a full 2×4 and them some.

60 watts and 50-60% cutting light butter

I noticed that new/dry MDF cuts much better than old or boards with some condensation. Usually I would have to pop the pieces out, but this project, everything fell out perfectly.

I used card stock to color the panels

I used adhesive spray to add the colored card-stock to the panel pieces. I designed the panels to stick up to give the the colors texture.

The inside of the cube

The design uses a thin cut ring to allow the 3 levels to spin around. I just used wood glue to stick the thin ring to the 1st and 3rd levels, and the middle level circle is slightly larger. I didn’t leave any tolerance, but it was a tight fit and so far works perfectly.

Got impatient placed some of the panels on for a preview
Painted the interior with matte paint

The inside of a rubiks cube is black, so did a light spray of matte paint. Also works to hide the laser cut edges.

Final product, time to install the Raspberry and hard drives.

All that’s left is to install the hard drive and Pi. In retrospect, I made the cube a little too big. I could have spent the time to disassemble the SATA base/connectors. I might redo this to make it more compact.

Installed internals, up and running!

Here is its final resting place, next to my router, serving media. If i didn’t make it able to turn, I could have definitely made the case smaller.

Mistakes

  • built the inside too large, however, might make the most of it by adding motorized movement
  • used card stock instead of adhesive vinyl, which would look more like a rubik’s cube
  • the blue color i’m not a fan of, need a darker blue but we’re in a quarantine because of coronavirus

Updates

  • I got new cardstock and updated the blue color to match the classic cube, so much better!
  • Replaced the Pi 2 1GB with Pi 4 4GB… runs so much faster

Categories
Builds

LEGO Minifig Display Case

I previously built a minifig display case but it was big, heavy, and awkward. It also did not have a glass cover in the front and seemed to collect lots of dust, so I decided to redo it.

The Tools

  • Fusion 360 / Lightburn
  • 60 watt CO2 laser
  • staple gun
  • drill (only for pilot holes)

The Materials

  • 1/4 inch MDF
  • 5x3mm circular neodymium magnets
  • plexiglass
  • support board
  • sawtooth picture frame mounts
  • epoxy
  • hot glue gun

The Build

Shelves with engraved placement markings

I decided to make it 5 columns 4 rows of minifigs so 20 per display case. The Fusion360 design is totally parametric (I think) so I can easily adjust these to customize it.

Case put together

There are 3 types of material used. 1/4 MDF for the frame and shelves, the white support board (like you get from cheap bookshelves), and plexiglass for the front cover.

M3 nuts and bolts to hold the frame together

I used bolts for the 4 corners of the frame. I did not want to use glue. Here you can see the notch that holds the M3 bolts.

Glass with magnets holding the cover

I used neodymium magnets, 5x3mm circles, to hold the front glass together. The 1st and 3rd shelves have notches where I used epoxy to glue 4 magnets to the shelf. There are also 3mm holes cut in the plexiglass. It’s kind of weird, but works and I didn’t have to use any hinges.

Added the minifigs

I used a hot glue gun to mount the minifigs using the engraged indicators for perfect spacing!

Small collection of figures

After the first one was a success, I made 2 more. Still need another one!

Mounted using picture frame hangers

I used 2 sawtooth picture frame mounts per display case to mount everything to the wall. All done!

Mistakes

  • probably could have designed the frame mounts in the other direction so the frame can sit flush on a flat surface

Updates

I created another size for my 4 larger minifigs. It really tested my parametric design, which didn’t do so well so I had to make updates.

2×2 custom frame

I noticed that my MDF was pretty fresh, so it was dry and also not as thick as I spec’d it out for. Also, I put the magnets in the middle, but since there is only 1 shelf, it’s a little wobbly. Going to add stoppers the top and bottom to make sure the glass sits straight.

Categories
Builds

Picture Frame

Emma made me this beautiful ceramic heart for Valentines Day! I decided to make a lightbox style frame to hang it on the wall using slots and glue to keep everything secure.

Test cut done with Amazon boxes!

I designed the frame in Fusion360. It was built with 3 different materials and thicknesses: plexiglass, MDF, and supportboard for the back. This is my first multi-part laser piece.

Cutting like butter through the 1/4 MDF

These settings work for me for 1/4 dry MDF. 60watts, 10mm/s, 40-50% power, 2 passes (roughly 13 milliamps). It’s just enough to see the burn through the bottom and pop the pieces out of MDF.

Cut with the final materials

Pieces fit together perfectly. My laser hasn’t been calibrated yet so the cuts were slightly at an angle but for such small connections, it wasn’t an issue.

Added heart to the box, secured with hot glue gun

I added the piece to the frame. The light blue/white heart didn’t show to well with the white background.

Red really made the piece stand out

And here is the final product! Might engrave something on the bottom right later just for fun, but for now it looks amazing.

Categories
Builds

Squeeze Bottle Rack

In order to save counter space, I designed a rack in Fusion 360 to cut out 1/4 inch MDF rack. The rack is designed to be mounted to the side of a cabinet, and use double sided mounting tape (along with some physics) to securely hold the bottles in place.

Here it is mounted, perfect fit, snug

Categories
Builds

Arcade Machine

My first really difficult built, that I did for me and my little girl. Didn’t have the right tools or experience, so it was built mostly with elbow grease, vision, and determination. The machine supports MAME emulation along with many other consoles.

The Tools

  • router – for t-molding slot
  • jigsaw – to cut everything
  • sander – to sand off the crap job that the jigsaw did
  • drill – to screw everything together
  • projector – to outline the graphics
  • 3d printer – to print speaker grills

The Materials

  • acrylic paint – for the graphics
  • 5/8 MDF panels – for the frame
  • 4:3 LCD – the screen
  • Xin-mo controller – buttons and joystick
  • spare computer – for the internals
  • t-molding – for the edge trim of the cabinet
  • power strip – to simplify powering everything
  • fluorescent light – to light the marquee
  • plexiglass – to cover the screen and for the marquee
  • spade drill bit – to cut out circles for the game buttons
  • speaker – an old Jawbone speaker for audio
  • mini foam paint roller – for a smooth finish
  • raspberry pi – worked better than the computer
  • wood screws

The Build

Initial frame of the machine

I built everything with 5/8 MDF because it was cheap, sturdy, and the 4×8 panels cut in half at Home Depot provided dimensions just about right.

Mockup of controller placement in cardboard

The buttons are from Ebay. You can find them by searching for “Xin-mo buttons” or Jamma. This kit came with all the wiring, 2 joysticks, and colored buttons. Button layout is up to you.

Measured twice then drilled and screwed on buttons and joysticks.

Using a “spade” drill bit that matched the button size, I attached the buttons and screwed in the joysticks. The buttons have a small lip so if the whole isn’t perfect, it’s not a big deal.

Final controls, painted, with t-molding

The rubber/plastic trim is called t-molding that I got from t-molding.com. Pick your color, they even have light up molding. You need a router to make a cut in the middle of the wood. When you buy the t-molding, they’ll tell you the bit you need with the specs.

Painted and added trim all around

Do NOT paint with a rattle can, use a FOAM roller. The furry roller will not give you a smooth surface. So far all these pieces I cut with a jigsaw. Super dusty, not straight, tons of sanding, would not recommend. Also, I used Phillips screws… I would definitely go with hex. And always use pilot holes! The monitor I found on Craigslist — it’s strange to realize you can barely buy a 4:3 screen anymore.

The rear of the machine with the computer mounted

The computer originally was built with leftover computer parts. Later on, I replaced it with a tiny Raspberry Pi that worked even better than this linux based setup!

First MAME game, success!

In the useful links section at the bottom of this post, I’ll link where you can find MAME ROMs legitimately. Here is the first test, she likes it!

Getting ready to painstakingly paint the cabinet

I couldn’t afford to print graphics, so I used my projector to help me trace some graphics which I later painted.

Finished side… only took 4 hours

I used acrylic paint, lots of it, then finished it off with black outline, then coated it with rattle can clear coat. Emma is lucky I love her so much, never doing this again. It was incredibly difficult.

Here is the other side. I know, it doesn’t match, but whatever.
The marquee I custom designed and got printed at a shop.

I found a local shop that prints on translucent adhesive. I designed this logo myself (emma-arcade, get it?). I tried to print this on my color laser, but it came out like garbage. The translucent adhesive is stuck onto plexiglass which I cut and mounted with black duct tape. The light is a small 18″ fluorescent light that I easily mounted. I also cut plexiglass as a cover to the monitor.

Finally playing games!

After all that work and finding tons of ROMs, she only wants to play a few games like Simpsons or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.. oh well.

Mistakes

  • jigsaw – doing everything with a jigsaw is a bad idea because things aren’t straight, needed a lot of post-sanding, should have used a circular saw w/ guide
  • router – the router was too big and hard to route the t-molding slot, should have used a palm router or added flat support to prevent uneven slots (sorta covered by the t-molding, but uneven slots makes for loose molding fitting)
  • paint – hand-painting the sides was pain-staking, if you have the graphics and can afford it, get something printed and stuck on
  • pilot holes – always drill pilot holes, mdf isn’t that strong
  • foam roller – for smooth surfaces, use a smooth roller, learned that the hard way
  • computer – I was stubborn and went with a computer, but ended up replacing it with a tiny raspberry pi and used RetroPie, soooo much easier with a nice interface to select games and switch between emulators
  • black duct tape – I used black duct tape to mount the front plexiglass pieces but electrical tape worked out much better

Updates

The speakers I used were battery powered, so I bought a pair of cheap computer speakers instead.

The computer setup had a really bad interface, so I ripped everything out and replaced it with a tiny Raspberry Pi running RetroPie, much better!

The speaker grill was terrible so 3D printed 2 speaker grills from thingiverse.com, looks much better.

The fluorescent light I wasn’t happy with, so I replaced it with an LED light strip that was much brighter.

3D printed a little coin door that I will make functional later!