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TechShop project ideas
As I've been taking classes at TechShop and getting trained on the various tools, I've been trying to catalog some project ideas. Rather than keeping them all in my mind or on scraps of paper, I'm going to post them here. If you like something, let me know and I might move it up my list.

Laser-cut chess board

I've started design files on this, making a 8" by 8" chess board surface. This was inspired by noticing a feature of Corel Draw called "Postscript Fills", which are procedurally-drawn patterns that can fill a curve. Unfortunately, so far I can only get those to raster, so I might need to do some coding to have the same kind of line patterns turned into hairline curves that will cut nicely into the wood. I'm thinking of something like a nice space-filling curve or spiral will go into the dark squares, with the light ones being left uncut. Then, you'll finish the surface using sanding on the edges and some sort of wood oil.

Metal ball-bearing labyrinth

This is inspired by the kinds of cuts that are easy to make on the milling machine.  The original class project was making a business card holder out of aluminum, which involved cutting a half-inch notch horizontally across the surface, then deepening it by making more passes at different z-heights.  This project would involve a small aluminum blank where you'd surface the sides, then mark out a maze pattern on the surface.  The mill would then cut into the aluminum about 3/8th of an inch and you'd use the X and Y controls to cut out the maze pattern.  You'd then match this up with an appropriately sized ball bearing and have a little puzzle.  I've not yet figured out the best way to get a rounded track, but there may be end-mills that curve at the end that could be used.

Urban Patchwork vinyl car stickers

I've already tried out making some vinyl stickers for a office door sign.  This involves taking the Urban Patchwork logo (a chicken on a shovel head), prepping it as a cutting curve, then using Corel Draw to run the vinyl cutter.

Baby room letter stickers

Another vinyl cutter idea: Letters for the wall in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets.  I need to find some cute fonts that will look nice as wall decorations.  This might also work better with some wallpaper so we don't have to do layout directly on the wall, but instead can make borders and then put them up as one group.

Metal trash can handle

We have a steel trash can in our kitchen that has a floor pedal to open the lid.  However, usually I just pull the top up manually.  I've though about making a magnetic handle that will stick to the top providing an easier way to open it.  I can do this with rare-earth magnets, but I need a way to embed those magnets into the handle so they won't escape but will hold things together.  This feels like something that already exists as a product I can buy, but I've just not seen it yet.

AC-Sensitive Radio Remote Control

Off the wall idea.  Our AC is run by our Nest thermostat which sends information about its current state to the website.  Have a client on the Chumby go and pull down current status, and when it sees the AC fan turn on or off, use that to adjust the volume on our clock radio up or down a few clicks via a IR transmitter.  I could use some other device, but the Chumby has the advantage of having wifi, a Linux shell, programming via Perl, and a free USB port.


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