What price on priceless?

Given our shiny laser cutter, we’ve all been finding things to make with it, from desk ornaments to lens cases. Whilst I was wandering around the uk board games expo I spotted a stall selling laser-cut assortments, including lamps such as the ones in this photo:

Stand at the expo

Stand at the expo

I wanted to make myself a lamp based on these but pulling from my favourite computer games, much as I have seen on a tee-shirt I own that pulls from the Zelda games (I eventually found this later – http://www.zeldauniverse.net/2013/12/09/qwertee-offering-zelda-themed-t-shirt-for-a-limited-time/ ). I started by trying to find the teeshirt in question to see how they did it and happened upon a portal tee-shirt :




This caught my attention and I decided that actually a lamp based on this would make a wonderful father’s day gift. A couple of years ago I bought a whole load of small portal-related items for my dad and doubled the quantities so I could have them too! This year I have done the same as I made myself a lamp and him one too.

I sat down with the boxmaker and took inspiration from the tee-shirt to create the lamp I imagined in my mind, and in one afternoon created the base lamp. Then the next week repurposed some very cheap RGB LED strip lighting into an LED light stick for the centre and cut the second lamp.

The total cost of parts given we had some MDF stock and translucent perspex lying around in the space was probably in the realms of £10 and a day’s work for me (soldering the light stick was more effort than designing and cutting the lamp). The resultant present however is unique and a thing of geeky beauty. This photo really doesn’t do it justice and is simply a normal lamp inside not the finished RGB item but hey, it’s still awesome.

Final lamp

Final lamp

My next steps are to wifi-enable my own lamp so it can do clever things like turn on when I arrive home, glow appropriate colours when I receive mail or am mentioned in irc, when a new TV show is downloaded or for other events such as the hackspace being open.

All of this would not have been possible had I not been a hackspace member, and I am happy to pay my membership fee knowing how much I enjoy making these things and the reactions I get from people I give them to.

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Parametric Cases in OpenSCAD

I’ve recently got back into photography and one thing that was really annoying me was the packaging that filters are shipped in – it simply doesn’t make a decent case for storing the filter when not in use, so I set about designing something nicer in LibreCAD. Once I had a working design it occurred to me that editing it for each filter size I wanted was going to be a real pain, so I decided to investigate OpenSCAD.

Unlike “ordinary” CAD software OpenSCAD is basically a programming language. You can script the design of your object using basic primatives to lay it out combined with functions like union and difference to blend them together and chop bits out. Because its a scripting language you can also use variables to define parts of your design, so for example in this project I can set the filter size I want to store, and the size of screws I want to use to fix it all together, this results in an output DXF file just like my original from LibreCAD, but customised with the options I selected. Its a lot more work to start with, but I can now  generate cases of any size in seconds.

FilterCasesFilterCaseOpenThe OpenSCAD source file for these can be obtained from thingiverse.

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Recent improvements

Few posts here for three months implies nothing much as happened.

In reality we have been working hard to make the hackspace more awesome.wall and bench

Our partition wall to separate off the workshop now has 78% more wall. We have also bought shelving, dust extraction and a door for it and they just need fitting.

Speaking of the workshop we now have 488cm more workbench, a drastic improvement over the random couple of the tables we had been using.

If you have beenew bench tooledn to the hackspace in the last 2 months you will have noticed out toilet roof was falling in, this has fixed professionally so we hope to have the vinyl flooring in soon and the toilet generally spruced up.

The 3D printer has 100% more enclosure, with camera and LED strip lighting so you can watch you 30 hour long 3D prints fail disappointingly from the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately we don’t yet have a way of stopping the print from afar leaving you powerless do do anything but watch it fail from the comfort of your own home but progress, right? The printer also 3dprinterhas a new control panel to print from a SD card or control the printer in a new improved way. Want to be inducted? See Joran or Japoteg.

It was said we needed a kitchen, so we built a kitchen


OK so we have an ongoing issue of nothing being quite finished but we are working hard to finish these things off and all the kitchen needs now is a little plumbing to get running water.

sauronHanging over the kitchen is Sauron (the all seeing). He shows us the latest tweets, emails form the of Google group and will soon (yes its not finished) show off the latest in out IRC chatroom. Most importantly he cycles through our camera feeds, most importantly the outside ones overlooking our entrance and the car park which have been upgraded and lighting improved.

We have added a heat press to out list of big tools, useful for making custom T-shirts after creating your design on the vinyl cutter.

Why not see for yourself? Come visit us on one of our open nights 7pm every Tuesday night

We will try and do an update on some people’s personal projects soon too.

Oh and expect an update about the laser cutter in a weeks time.

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Workshop changes

Hackspace workshop

Hackspace workshop

Those of you who’ve been to the hackspace in the last week will have noticed that new workbenches have been installed in the workshop. There’s a shelf for storage beneath each bench and which should allow the vast majority of equipment in there to have a permanent (and tidy!) home. We’ve also boarded the workshop side of the partition wall and there’ll be some shelves appearing on that wall over the next week or two for the storage of smaller things like boxes of screws & plugs, nails etc.

Enjoy your workshop, and make cool stuff!

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Lockpicking and Kerbals!

Joe’s starting two new nights at Leeds Hackspace.

The first is lockpicking for sport, not profit, and the other is Kerbal Space Program!

You can read more and/or register your interest on the Meetup Group or the Mailing List

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We are in London

For three days only (Fri 9, Sat 10, Sun 11 Jan 2015) we are exhibiting our giant LED cube as part of the Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival.  This is the contraption pictured at the top of the page, and previously part of Leeds Light Night.

We’ll be showing off from 4pm-8pm in West Wintergarden, just on the south side of Canary Warf tube station.

We’d love for anyone in the area to come along and say hi, or just to marvel at the pretty blinkenlights!

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Making board games with lasers

With our new laser cutter being purchased I thought it about time to finish of a post about what I did with the last one.

The full shogi set

The full shogi set

Shogi is a Japanese variant of chess and unfortunately it is difficult to get a set without importing it so making it seemed a good option and with access to the laser cutter this actually became quite feasible.

The pieces are pentagons – easy enough to design, with a kanji symbol engraved into it- cant be too hard right? The kanji goes on both sides- which makes things harder, and one of the kanji for each piece should be red- which would take some experimentation.

Using wikipedia as a source of the kanji I started by jumping through a number of hoops: grabbing the images, putting them in inkscape, tracing a bitmap of the image and exporting it to newlydraw which resulted in rough but passable results. Some more fiddling later, I found a better way was to copy the kanji directly into newlydraw, though this involved changing the non-unicode language settings.

To engrave on both sides I set up two files in newlydraw. One would cut out the pentagon shapes and engrave one of the kanji. The other file would have the corresponding kanji lines up to print in exactly the same place as their counterparts. Each file would have a small square in the upper right hand corner to account for newlydraw counting whichever first image of the top left is to be 0,0,0.

As usual a bit of faff and practice cutting was needed to I would get clean cuts and a deep clear engraving.

The sheet of wood that would make the pieces was taped down securely to the bed and the first pass of cutting and engraving done. Then I lifted the pieces out one by one with blue-tac, flipped them over and replaced them so the original sheet could be used for a template for the second pass.

Left to right: Just out of the laser cutter, varnished, wax applied, excess was removed, mover varnished for the finish.

Left to right: Just out of the laser cutter, varnished, wax applied, excess was removed, mover varnished for the finish.

To add the colour I tried first with paint but it spread and stained the rest of the wood too easily and clean-up proved end up ruining the engraving. Fortunately some of the other members gave me a tip about using wax. I prepared the surface first with a couple of layers of varnish. With the crayon roughly crushed I put in a small metal dish and gently heated it on a hot plate. I was able to scoop it up and apply with the back of a spoon. When it had dried I scraped off the excess with a knife and re-varnished to seal it in which had the benefit that also deepened and brought out the colour.

The board itself was simpler with just engraving a cross hatch pattern. I made a small wooden frame, and hinged it so I could fold it up with the pieces stored insidpieces close upe.

Anyone for a game?




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Workshop Maintenance

Our bandsaw has needed a bit of TLC for a while, the clamp lever for the fence was broken, making it impossible to use it as a guide so straight cuts were impossible, a situation not helped by the fact that the blade is so blunt it seems to burn its way through anything you try to cut.

The problem

The problem


A brief investigation of the fence revealed a couple of options for a fix, and its now sporting a nice new knurled knob for clamping it into place.

The solution

The solution

Tomorrow it gets a new blade and it should be as good as new.

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All the new toys! Lasers, Lathes and L3DPrinters?

This month has been very successful at furnishing the space with some fun new toys^H^Hols.

Arriving at the space imminently* we have the following :-

Laser cutter and 3d Printer

Laser cutter and 3d Printer

A shiny new metalworking Lathe – not exactly new, in fact may be older than our previous lathe, we have gone for an upgrade as the previous one was on loan.

A shiny new laser cutter – 60 watt A2 size (600mm x 400mm).  We have ordered this from china and will be upgrading the electronics with an open-source control board.

A shiny new 3D printer – This is more an extra 3d printer for the space but is a commercial FDM printer claiming a layer height (resolution) of 20 microns!  It is not owned by the hackspace but will be living at the hackspace with availability for members who have done the 3D printer induction plus a brief extra induction covering the differences.

All of the above tools do require inductions for safety of members and longevity of the tools themselves.

*Imminently in this case meaning within the next two months or already arrived.

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What’s new at your Hackspace?

If you’ve been following the mailing list then you’ll already know that the members have been busy tidying!

The once grotty toilet is now seeing better days, the leak will be repaired and the walls are being/been cleaned up and painted. If it hasn’t been done already, the floor will be, too!

We may still not have decent security cameras, but the screen to help monitor the Hackspace is in place and a web page is being developed to show on it the relevant camera(s) and any important information. People are welcome to chip in on developing what will be shown on it.

The roof should also have some extra sealant to prevent further leaks – this has came on in leaps and bounds over the past year and the main desk will be significantly dryer to say the least!

Speaking of desk, work has begun on a new one so that there’s more work space to sit at. The current desk, while useful in some regards just couldn’t house everyone.

Power tools have also been tidied and labelled in respective boxes.

So improvements abound! Thanks to everyone and members whom have volunteered in helping out so far!

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