We recently bought a cutting plotter (yay for Black Friday deals online!), and one of the first things we've tried to do with it is cut sticker vinyl to use as screenprinting masks to make some t-shirts. The leftmost one is one that Carter designed for a t-shirt she planned to wear while recording videos for her new youtube channel. The middle one is Sean's, and proclaims his love for Kerbal Space Program. The rightmost one is one I did using the smaller version of my workshop logo, and the bottom one is the same design as the workshop wall sign in an earlier post. We already printed a bunch of shirts using these and they worked really well. I've got several more designs ready to go - I just need to build some more screen frames before we can try them out.

Shop Sign

Over the last few weeks I've been using the CNC machine to make a big wall sign for the workshop. I just recently finished and installed it, and I think it looks great. It's about four and a half feet long, so it really draws the eye. The CNC did a great job - I had very little sanding to do before painting. Can't wait to try the next thing with the CNC!

Learning to Solder

Two weeks ago Sean begged me to teach him to solder. I had been saying that I would teach him soon, as I felt he was finally old enough. He's been really excited about getting some littlebits for Xmas - and littlebits publishes all their schematics online, so that you can built your own bits to add to any kits you buy from them. That seemed like a really good first project for him, because it only required a few parts but would actually be useful once it was complete - instead of the normal "throwaway" first soldering project most people start with. It came out really good! He's got a very steady hand, surprisingly.

Sean’s VR Headset, v1

Sean has been really excited about VR all year, and a while ago he tried putting together his own VR headset using his tablet, some 3x magnification reading glasses, foamboard, elastic waistband, and hot glue. He's played around with both VR apps from the Google Play store, and he's tried tethering it to the PC to use as an external display - don't ask me how, as he's figured all of this out on his own! Dang! It works pretty well, so far. He's still got to figure out a good head tracking solution - the tablet's built-in accelerometer only works so-so. And the other problem is the lenses - the focal distance on the reading glasses is just too long to get both eye's images to resolve down to one 3D image. He's got some new lenses coming in the mail tomorrow though, so hopefully you'll soon see v2 here!

Bathroom Floor

I recently replaced the upstairs bathroom floor - partly because the old floor was hideous and in terrible shape, and partly as a test case for the kitchen. If this flooring holds up well in the bathroom, I plan to put the same stuff down in our kitchen in the spring/summer timeframe. It's been in there for a month or so now, and has had no problems so far. It's an engineered laminate flooring that is supposed to look like tile. I thought the seams would be obvious, but they're pretty good. From sitting or standing height, you can't see them. You have to get all the way down on hands and knees to find them.

Christmas Projects

At school this year Sean made a wreath out of pine cones, and Carter did an afterschool guided painting session and painted this snowman. Good job, guys!

Christmas Countdown

Years ago I painted one wall of Sean's room with whiteboard paint. One thing we do every December is count down the days until Christmas on his whiteboard in a unique way. In previous years we've drawn a tree and filled in one ornament per night, or filled in a string of lights in a different color each night - stuff like that. This year we drew a bunch of blank snowman bodies, and finished one per night until Christmas Eve.

CNC Machine – Part 5: First Test

This weekend I finished wiring up the CNC machine and was able to get a first test going. The limit switches aren't hooked up yet - I was getting some noise on those lines (they are unshielded, pretty long, and run right near the stepper motor cables), and was getting a lot of "false positive" limit alarms. So I've got to be extra careful until they are fixed - but I couldn't resist trying to make something. Right now I'm really working in 2D - I'm just using the same software workflow I use for the laser engraver. But next weekend I hope to start messing around with some other CAD/CAM software to try something more substantial!

Minecraft Nightlight

I built a pair of Minecraft block night lights - one for Sean, and one for my nephew Ryan. It's modeled on an ore block, an the colored sections that would determine what type of ore it is are cut out and filled with frosted plexiglass. A set of remote-controlled under-cabinet lights are mounted inside, and all of the different colors can simulate all the types of Minecraft ore. As a nightlight it's a little too bright for sleeping, but the remote has a brightness setting that lets you throttle it down. I got the idea from this site.