Dinos Getting all Existential at Boston Fablabs

Just had to post this great bit of laser engraving from Danny at Boston Fablabs:

Danny's dino

Dr. Egon Spangler famously stated in Ghostbusters, “Print is dead”. Extinct or not, one cannot deny the appeal of a good hardback and with Danny’s enhancements, even more so. Perhaps in the future Ponoko might offer blank books for engraving, or Cafepress might offer engraving on its journals?

If you’re not familiar with Fablabs, Make’s post on Danny’s book includes a good synopsis.
via Make

Human MRI Scan 3D Sculpture

Here’s a greatly conceived bit of visualisation from Neil Fraser, one of the many brainy software engineers at Google (hoho):

Wooden MRI scan

Fraser has pasted prints from an MRI scan onto 60 nicely finished wooden blocks to make a part-puzzle/part-educational model representing a human head (interestingly, he doesn’t mention to whom it belongs) from the inside.

Infosthetics, the information aesthetics blog says:

“Using touch as well as the third dimension to explore 3D data is an interesting avenue, as alternative interfaces need to be explored as much as representation.”

We say, let’s laser cut this puzzle!

Fraser brain cross section 1

Fraser brain cross section 2

Fraser brain cross section 3

via Make via infosthetics

Design Process, the Maker Way

Design Process from Make

Chris Connors over at Make has posted a great piece that those of us without a formal design education may well appreciate, and even those with. Chris was writing in response to PBS’ Design Squad program, from which the image opposite comes, and references the Android G1 phone and iPod iterations as examples of contemporary designs that blur the traditional deadline of ‘product shipping’ into simply another phase of testing and development:

“When your product is sufficiently complete, and you have resolved the most pressing problems determined in the process, it is time to deliver. This does not mean that the project is done forever, instead, it means that it is ready for more testing in a real world environment. As you (and your team, as may be the case) see the product in the world, you will hopefully be looking at it for examples of where it can be changed and improved. As you find aspects of the project that need refinement, you make a plan for revision and implement it. Hopefully these flaws you find at this point are not tragic enough to seriously stall or ruin the project.”

Chris also recently posted a hugely inspiring 10 minute chat with Mitch Altman, recorded at the Austin Maker Faire. I’ve gushed about Altman before, and this clip does nothing but reinforce my view of him as an inspiration amongst open designers!

via Make

Laptop Stands Summarised by The Closet Entrepreneur

Tomas Carrillo has published a .pdf source for his cardboard laptop stand along with some great discussion of the pros and cons and comparison with a couple of other designs, both open and proprietary.

Tomas Carrillo's cardboard laptop stand

Although he missed out Dan’s Ponoko offering:

Dan's lasercut laptop stand

As every self-respecting maker should, Tomas has put up an Instructable on the design too. It would be great to see this up for sale through Ponoko, given that cardboard cutting has arrived on the scene!

I must say that the desire for a laptop stand is one that has passed me by, but there seems to be a tremendous demand for them. But then I am typing this with my chilled hands reaching awkwardly up to my laptop keyboard…
via Make

Custom Fabric Printing from Spoonflower

Spoonflower logo

Spoonflower is a web-based digital textile printing service run out of an old sock mill in downtown Mebane, North Carolina. Indigo has mentioned them previously in relation to the very apt Wordle.

At the moment the site is in Beta and as such does not offer any facility as an online marketplace or shared repository, but they will do in the next phase. This from their FAQs:

“When we come out of beta, … you will be able to choose to make your designs available for purchase by others. This feature — which will make Spoonflower into a marketplace for independent fabric designers — will probably take some time to evolve and grow in complexity. But displaying your designs, as well as selling them, will ALWAYS be under your control.”

Looks like another good opportunity for makers, keep up with their progress on their blog, where the Spoonflower folk also post pictures of their beta users’ creations.
via Make

Open Hand Grips: EMSL’s Meggy Jr Handheld and Cardboard Chic for your iPhone

Evil Mad Scientist Labs have debuted a much more sophisticated version of their Meggy games platform in the Meggy Jr RGB.

Meggy Jr RGB from EMSL

Most interestingly for us, Windell and Lenore have designed the electronics to fit into customisable ‘handle sets’:

Basic Meggy Jr   Batwing Meggy Jr

“A unique feature of Meggy Jr RGB is that it is designed to be mounted inside a “handle set” — a wooden or plastic case that’s safer and more pleasant to hold than a bare circuit board. You can make, mod and customize your own handle sets to suit your taste– These are like faceplates in that you can switch whenever you want to suit your mood or the game that you’re playing, however different handle sets can radically change what the Meggy Jr looks and feels like. Above, you can see what our basic handles (left) look like, as compared to a set of custom smoke-colored batwing handles (right).

The source files for these sandwiched laser cut designs are available for download as .svg and .pdf, and come with some suggested engravings:

Meggy Jr layout

So, another fine and more than thorough offering from the Evil Mad Scientists , but their claim to uniqueness is at odds firstly with the many handset options for the Wii platform, as well as this DIY offering for the iPod touch/iPhone from ronnsprocket:

iPod touch Iphone hand grip by ronnsprocket

A neat bit of cardboard cutting there, sadly no templates available as yet.

via EMSL, Derek, and touchArcade

Web Savvy: Stani Michiel’s Commemorative Five Euro Coin

New Dutch five euro Coin by Stani Michiels

In an excellently titled post, “How to make money with free software”, Dutch designer Stani Michiels describes the design process behind his winning entry in a competition to design a new five euro coin for the Dutch Ministry of Finance.

Its a fascinating bit of software/graphic/product design, using amongst other things, a live internet ranking system of the Netherlands’ great architects, an arrangement of books on a virtual shelf and the country’s regional birds to depict standard design elements such as Queen Beatrix and the map of the Netherlands. Michiels doesn’t say how ‘live’ that list is – whether each coin is generated on-the-fly to reflect the state of the internet at that time. Presumably not, unless the coins are rapidly manufactured! Those days are yet to come, although, as Michiels points out, the idea of open source coins can present some curious problems:

“I would have loved to release the coin under the GPL, which could maybe solve the financial crisis. However for obvious reasons I was not allowed to do that.

New Dutch five euro Coin by Stani Michiels

Fact: for anyone not feeling the financial pinch at the moment, the gold edition of this coin can be purchased for merely 39 of the regular version.

via Core77

Illustration Friday Hop Onto the Ponoko Zeitgeist

Brianna Privett over at the illustrator’s blog Illustration Friday has posted a great account of her experience with Ponoko – most interestingly, her inspiration came from a public domain book, Rambles of an Archaeologist Among Old Books and in Old Places by Frederick William Fairholt. Her showroom pitches her jewellery and other bits and bobs thus:

“Designs from public domain literary works – key fobs from the Wizard of Oz, ring designs from a Victorian anthropology collection, an early Celtic buckle, hair sticks from feather engravings from a book on birdwatching from 1881.”

Rings from Brianna at Illustration Friday

The designs are available for free at her showroom here. A great synergy of public domain artwork and digital manufacturing, thus creating public domain objects!

via Illustration Friday

The Best of Instructables means lasers

Instructables publish their first compilation in print this week, with 300 pages of top instructables voted for by the community and selected by the website editors. I got an advance copy, having an instructable in there, and have been devouring the book at every opportunity. Somehow instructables are even better suited to book form (or maybe its testament to the work of the publishers, O’Reilly). The book is easy to navigate and lucid yet still packed with both the original instructables plus selected comments and interspersed commentary from the website creators.

Best of Instructables Volume 1

The book is available from Amazon and the Maker Shed – a fine Christmas pressie for any maker I’m sure. The great thing about the book is it is much more manageable than the website for the viewer – its all too easy to get lost among the 10,000 projects that have been uploaded, and the book seems to be a good representation of the variety of projects on the site.

One instructable that I had never seen before opening the book but that blew me away is the Universal Lamp Shade Polygon Building Kit. Steven blogged about this project way back – it’s a great candidate for laser cutting and indeed the author, Dan, (of Squid labs, incidentally), provides a .dxf for doing this very thing. Even better are the responses in the comments however, including this corker from Travis:

Ball based on the Universal Lamp Shade Polygon Building Kit

Patent-B-Gone: Mitch Altman on Open Sourcing

TV-B-Gone inventor Mitch Altman was quoted on the Make blog today with some interesting experience on open sourcing his product:

“Even though my project was not open source, I benefited from the open source community. People hacked TV-B-Gone remote controls in wonderfully creative ways. (Search online for “TV-B-Gone hacks” and you’ll get the idea.) These hacks increased the product’s popularity, resulting in more sales and more people around the world experiencing the satisfaction of turning off TVs.”


a TV-B-Gone – image from Maker Shed

Read more here at Make. Its interesting that when Mitch set out, he was going very much down the patenting route and it was only when he went to a hacker meet that he was first exposed to “people who are very critical of patents and other forms of intellectual property law”. Now the TV-B-Gone (a remote for switching off any TV you aim it at) is sold open source from Maker Shed and the source code, board layout, TV power codes, and all documentation, will be available online.

via Make