Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Christmas Is All About CNC Displays Are Completed

With some careful setup of my CNC machine I was able to complete the acrylic stands that I needed for the What Christmas Is All About cnc displays that I have been working on.  In my last post I showed you how the actual displays looked before I varnished the wood.  I needed the stands also built so the displays could be admired on a table top. 
 I started with a simple shape for the arms for the stands. The image above is the layout that I needed for my CNC machine so that both arms could be milled at the same time.  Saving setup time and material in the process.

The CNC bit for cutting plastic did a great job on this part of the project.  Both arms for the stand only took around five minutes to be cut out using the bit.  The clear acrylic is 1/4 inch thick and I had stored here at the shop from a previous project.  

The arms of the stand were then drilled with holes to match the small brass hinges that hold the assembly together. Being as the arms are only 4.5 inches tall and 4.25 inches long these little brass hinges were just what I needed.  Drilling out the holes for the hinges was a simple matter of taping the hinges to one of the arms in the position I that looked best and using a 5/64 inch drill bit.  A simple task that my drill press made quick work of.   I then taped the drilled arm to a blank arm and drilled the holes again using the first arm as a guide.  This way both arm holes would match and the hinges would line up perfectly. The hinges mounted to the arms quickly and the screws that came with the hinges were a little long so I needed to grind the tips down to make them just a bit shorter for the project. 

Here's how the first display looks after I finally got it varnished.  I am very pleased with the look and the detail of the display.  

The second display as you can see is laid out a little different from the first one and has the complete Linus speech from the Charlie Brown Christmas show.  Just as much detail in this display as the first and I am happy that both turned out as well as they did.  The display with the full speech was much harder to work on using the CNC machine as with all of the wording the text got quite small and needed to be engraved very shallow to retain the detail and readability.  My efforts as you can see paid off nicely. 

The back of the displays I left unvarnished as there was really no need to seal the entire piece.  I thought it simpler to not to have to worry about messing up the already completed faces of the displays as they already look great.  All I need to do is sign and date each display just for future reference and posterity.  LOL.
  I could have bought the stands for the displays but thought I would try my hand at making them instead.  In the long run I learned a couple of things and both stands for the displays only cost me $2.00 to make.  As usual being able to say I made the displays and stands myself is priceless. Enjoy the photos!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Time For A Christmas Project!

Christmas time is here once again in the Midwest and so far we've been lucky enough to have little snow.  Not that I don't like the look of it as it makes the Christmas season be more right with the world.... at least for me anyway.  But that is about as far as I want it to be and can live without the cold weather and shoveling a foot of the wet heavy stuff.  So with the season upon us I thought I should at least get this project started and the past couple of weeks have given me the incentive to get going on it.  
  Everyone who is anyone knows of the Christmas show "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  The one thing in the show that has stood out for me and a lot of people my age is the message of what Christmas is all about. Charlie Brown struggles to find the answer to what Christmas is all about.  So with that in mind this project came to be. 

I came across this image online some time ago and immediately was struck with the idea for a new project using my CNC machine.  I liked the idea of making a living room display but at first thought I would use Linus's entire speech that he gave in the Charlie Brown Christmas show.  I had to find the video of that scene and get the wording correctly to start.  This was the easy part.  So with that in hand I began to lay out my project in the computer. 

Here was my new layout of Linus and his entire Christmas speech.  I knew that this was way to much wording to be put on an acrylic lighted display and so that did not even cross my mind when I laid this image out.  I would engrave it into wood and then decide if it was exactly what I was looking for. 

Here is the computer generated image of how the piece will look when it is engraved.  Still looks good at this point..... so I moved forward on the project.  After I ran several test pieces and was happy with my efforts I engraved the first piece of wood. I still had second thoughts about all of the wording.  Just seemed a bit to busy yet.  

Here's how the piece turned out.  It was difficult to get the depth of the words just right to have it easy to read clearly.  So still undecided I set up to make another version of this display with less wording and a little different layout. 

This version was simpler to engrave and took a third of the time to create compared with the first version which took over an hour and a half to just engrave, not counting the time it took to cut it out.  I was able to engrave the letters deeper due to the fact all the words are larger on the display.  Both displays are exactly the same size and so it was easy to compare. I will have to varnish each piece next and then the lettering will stand out better and be much more visible.  Once I get the displays finished and figure out stands for them I will post this project again to show you how it all turned out.  Hopefully in the next few days. One display I will keep the other will be a gift I am sure.  Still not sure which one I will hold on to yet.  
  Also I may paint Linus in color on the displays as well. I would paint the blanket on his head a light blue with black shoes and pants and a red and white shirt.  It should make him stand out a bit more as well.  Just will have to see once I get that far with this project.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Blender 3D Creations Page Has Expanded To Page Two

I was sorting some files on my computer this morning and came across more Blender 3D images that I had not posted to the blog.  These images are of projects that I had created some time ago and will be a nice addition to the blog and in posting them here I find that I needed an additional page to show them off.  Here are a few of the images that you will find on the new page listed as Blender 3D Creations Page 2 at the top right corner of the opening page of the blog.  Check it out and if you find it interesting please let me know. I can always use encouragement to create more 3D models in this wonderful software.
  For those of you who do not know of Blender 3D software you can down load a free copy of it online from  Go to their site and you will find the link to get the software.  This software is a 3D modeling, animation, and gaming software that I use just for fun as well as concept work here at the Tinker's Workshop.  There are a large number of tutorials and forums online that will help you get started with the software so check it out when you get the chance. 
  One more note on this software..... Blender will take you some time to learn.  It is something that cannot be taught in a couple of hours.  My advise is take a least an hour a day to learn all the functions of the software and inside of a month you will be well on your way to creating what I have here on my blog.  Don't be in a rush to learn the software and you will progress faster than you think.  It will take a bit of work but will be worth it in the end.  Believe me if I can learn it anyone can.  Enjoy the new Blender page and these few examples from it.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Improved Paint Pole Camera Mount Progress

I've been busy working on the new improved paint pole camera mount project that I post about a couple of days ago.  I managed to get the four 3D printed parts made in quick order and they turned out great.  I always make some test parts when I have an assembly that needs to be made using my 3D printer and this project was no exception.  I wanted to make sure assembly and dis-assembly of the tilt head worked properly. I hate to print a part for three hours and find out that it does not fit right because of a hole that was to small to fit a bolt through.  Worth the effort to make a test part first.

The tilt head that I designed on my first paint pole camera mount had a friction fit tilt head on it.  This was okay but the wing nut holding the head at any angle needed to be cranked down pretty tight in order to work.  With this design I eliminated this problem and instead designed the tilt head with a series of holes that were lined up with a locking pin mounted in a vertical arm.  This arm holds the locking pin in place.
   The tilt head pivots on a single 1/4" carriage bolt and has seven holes aligned in a semi-circle to match up to the locking pin.  The head can be tilted up or down as much as 45 degrees using the seven holes in the tilt head.  Each hole will tilt the head 15 degrees at a time. The carriage bolt only needs a wing nut on the end to hold this bolt in place and no longer has to be cranked very tight to work.  The tilting assembly is bolted to the paint pole mount using a standard 1/4" bolt and the pole mount then screws on to any standard paint pole.

Here the new design is completely assembled and ready for use.  On the very top of the mount is a  quick release camera mount that makes it simpler for me to add or remove my digital camera or my video camera.  The aluminum rods that stick out of the paint pole mount are used when I want to bring the camera and it's mount down from shooting.  This way when I want to rest the assembly on the ground my camera will not touch the ground and be safer when I need to adjust anything. Little rubber tips protect the tips of the aluminum rods and give the assembly a nice finished look.

My efforts to keep the design clean and uncluttered paid off with the way the assembly turned out using my 3D printer.   With a single wing nut to loosen, I can pull the assembly, adjust the tilt head angle, and reassemble it all in less than a minute.

With the use of a carriage bolt to hold the tilt head in position the locking pin is hidden inside the vertical arm when everything is assembled.  A nice clean look.  You can see the holes in the tilt head for the various angles that it can be rotated to. Also the vertical arm slides in nicely into the tilt head base with the use of small extrusions on the lower sides of the part.  These match up perfectly with the female indentations on the base.  

  I have all of the parts order now for the video monitor and various hardware that I will need to connect to my video camera when I am using this assembly.  Hopefully everything will be here in the next couple weeks.  Then I will be able to work out the design to mount the video monitor to the paint pole as well.  The monitor will be connected to my video camera using a 10 foot HDMI cable. and be powered by a small rechargeable battery.  Should be a pretty slick setup once I get it all together.  Stay tuned for further developments and have a good day in your workshop!

Friday, November 21, 2014

IPad Tripod Mount STL Files Now Available

I have been using my IPad tripod mount for quite some time now and have gotten some inquires about the STL files that are needed to 3D print this project.  I am happy to say I finally got to work today and pulled all the information together to be able to now offer the plans and STL files on my blog for $5.00. 
  This mount is a great project that can be 3D printed in a day and used the next.  I have used the mount as a teleprompter, a video display stand, a camera stand to steady my IPad photos as well as a video stand for excellent time lapse video!  Much easier than trying to hold the IPad still for any length of time.  If your interested in getting the files and instructions on how to make this project go to the Project Plans and 3D Printer STL Files page on this blog and place your order today!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Upcoming Projects

The weeks seem to fly by now with the fall weather gone and the winter snow arriving WAY to soon.  It has been several weeks since I put out another post so I thought it time to get something out today to let everyone know that I am hard at work on new projects.  In my last post I spoke about a BMW sign that I had made for a friend of mine and with that thought in mind I decided to make a Mini Cooper logo sign to hang in my garage.  This project when I have completed it will look something like the computer image I created shown below.

I came across this design online and as I am currently driving a Mini Cooper S this fit the bill.  The reason I have not posted any information about this project until now is because I have been shooting video of the entire project so that everyone can see what it takes to put this kind of project together first hand.  The project in itself is a bunch of work (or should I say fun) and so to add to the complexity of the project I have the task of trying to shoot video at the same time.  I am in desperate need of a video camera operator here at the shop so it just takes me that much longer to get the shots that I want while building this project at the same time. 

  Along with this project I am also working on a redo of an earlier project that I put together a few years back.  I had designed and built a camera mount that would fit on to a standard paint pole.  This allows me to shoot video or photos at a height of 12 or 15 feet above the ground. Here is what my first attempt at this project looked like once it had been completed.

This paint pole camera mount worked out okay but as with any project there was room for improvement. The simple point and shoot camera that I use was good as long as you were lucky enough to get the camera pointed in the right direction.  Then you still had to figure out how to press the shutter.  I had made a simple mechanical remote trigger that again was just okay to work with. 
I still could not see where the camera was looking.  The rods sticking out of the base mount on the project are there so that when you rest the paint pole on the ground your camera will not touch the ground when you lay the rig down for cleaning or adjustments. On to Paint Pole Camera Mount 2.

This is the new and improved paint pole camera mount.  I designed this one in mind so that a video camera can be mounted to the tilting platform using a quick disconnect mount.  The platform can be tipped up or down from zero to forty-five degrees in fifteen degree increments.  The camera then is connected to a small video monitor by the use of a HDMI cable.  This will allow me to see exactly what the video camera is seeing in real time.  I have a remote for the camera to turn on or off the record feature as well as zoom in and out so this works out nicely.

This is the monitor that I will use for the project.  It is a 7" LCD display for entertainment purposes in your car.  It can be powered by rechargeable batteries and measures 7.6" x 5.15" x 1" thick.  I will have to work out the mounting hardware for this monitor and still purchase the necessary batteries and 10 foot HDMI cable for the project but I think it is very doable and will be a great accessory for my video projects.  As for shooting photos I can take the video footage that I shoot and then take still from it if I need a single shot.  The stand that the monitor is pictured with has to be assembled to the monitor if used in a car.  I will not need it so it will be an easier task to mount it the way I want without the hassle of figuring out how to remove a stand if it came that way assembled. 
  I especially want to say thanks to Scott Eggleston from The Frugal Filmmaker website for the info and help in getting this project off the ground.  For you film makers out there check out his website at the link I have here.  He has some great inexpensive projects for shooting video that you just have to see. 
  Also for everyone stay tuned for further developments on these two projects in the coming weeks as it should be interesting to see how they come together.  Have a good one and keep on tinkering!

The Frugal Filmmaker

Monday, November 3, 2014

Large BMW Logo Sign

Two weeks ago I posted about finding a couple of projects that I had completed but never blogged about.  One was the custom built coolers I had made for my motorcycle cargo trailer and the other is a large BMW sign that I had built for a  friend of mine who still works at the same dealership.  Jeff Wilson and I became good friends over the past few years after I had purchased my first used Mini Cooper from him.  He wanted a BMW logo sign to hang in his garage and so this is what my post is about today.
Here is a photo of the BMW log that I shot at the dealership when I started this project.  The logo is about two inches or so in diameter but I planned on making one much larger than that to hang on the wall.  Thirty inches in diameter to be exact. 

I started off with a 1/4 inch piece of plywood and cut out the 30 inch diameter circle. On this piece I also drew out the circles for the placement of the parts that would make up the rest of the sign. 

The outer ring and inner target pieces were cut out next again using 1/4 inch plywood.

In this photo additional pieces to this puzzle are starting to be cut for the assembly. The rectangular pieces will make up the cross pieces needed for the center of the sign. The smaller curved pieces will be added to the outer ring to thicken up the assembly.
Here the additional curved pieces are glued and taped to the outer ring and let to dry.
The rectangular pieces in the earlier photo are also glued together to make a thick more solid assembly.

Here the assembly has been laid out with the various pieces after the glue had dried over night.

Curved foam pieces are added next to complete the parts needed for the center assembly.

The outer ring of the sign is marked out on to two inch thick Styrofoam so that it can be cut using a tool called a hot knife. This tool is like a steel rod with a handle attached.  It plugs into electrical power and heats up to cut the foam precisely and cleanly.

After the foam ring had been cut out it was placed on to the assembly to check the fit for the sign.
Four additional foam pie shaped pieces were cut and placed into the inner assembly.  On the table you can also  see some curved pieces that were also needed for the build.

Lots of clamps were needed at this point to hold all the wooden pieces of the inner section together while the glue was drying. 

This photo is interesting as it was the jig that I made up to cut the foam into a dome shape on the face of the sign.  On both sides of the sign you can see curved pieces of wood.  These were guides that help make a curved cut from the top to the bottom of the sign using a hot wire cutting tool.

This was how the sign looked after just one cut.
I rotated the sign several more times to make additional hot wire cuts and end up with a fairly decent dome shape for the sign.
Here all of the pieces for the BMW sign have been cut and sanded into shape.  The dome shape at this point turned out perfectly.  Sanding on the foam is an easy task and with little effort the results speak for themselves.

The letters for the sign were just 1/4 inch plywood that was sanded smooth and painted silver.

Most of the pieces for the sign at this point had been fiber glassed, sanded and the first coat of primer were sprayed on them. 

After several priming and sanding sessions had been completed I was ready to put some color on to the center section parts.

The fit and finish of these parts turned out great for these parts so I could keep moving along with the project.

Silver paint for the center target piece was used.  With the fiber glassing, sanding and painting work done on this part, it looks like it is solid aluminum. Another pretty piece of the puzzle.

The center section of the sign is completed. Now on to the rest of the parts to finish this project.
Here the outer ring for the BMW sign is primed, sanded and painted.  Actually primed and sanded over and over again before final paint.  My efforts were worth the final result as you can see in the nice glossy black paint.
 Here finally all of the parts for the sign are ready for final assembly.

The real task in making this sign was not the making of the individual parts but was assembling all of the parts and not messing up the paint in the process.  The word for this part of the project was "CAREFULLY".  As in carefully place the parts and keep your fingers crossed that you don't mess it up.  I breathed a sign of relief when this project was competed and I could step back once again and admire my latest creation.
  I spoke with my friend Jeff just last week and the sign now will be moved from his garage to his office at the BMW dealership.  So it will be a nice display for customers that stop by his place of work. Thanks Jeff!