Archive for the 'Editorial' Category

Hand Made?

Hand Made Volleyball Line Winder

I play a lot of sand volleyball in the summer.  I used to have a plastic winder for my volleyball boundary lines.  It was in really bad shape because I tried to use it as a water ski rope and handle a while back.  Anyway, someone was sort of laughing at the condition of it a few weeks back.  On my bike ride home I decided it would be fun to make an over the top complicated one out of wood.

The next week I displayed my new creation and someone said, “Wow, look at Bart’s cool hand crafted line winder”.    I accepted the compliment, but wondered about that term: hand crafted.  I, of course designed it in CAD, cut it out on my CNC router and cleaned it up with a bunch of other power tools.  Was it really hand crafted?   What does that term mean these days? Continue reading ‘Hand Made?’

The Age of the Self Replicating Machine.

MC Escher - Drawing Hands

There is a saying amongst DIY CNC router builders that goes something like this… “You only need to build your first router good enough to build you second one“.  In my case that turned out to be true.

I built a wood, conduit and skate bearing Solsylva router.  I painstakingly layed out the various pieces using calipers, t-squares and compasses.  I cut them out using hand held tools like jigsaws and drills.  It worked remarkably well, but every time I routed out a perfect CAD drawn piece, I always thought “Gee, I wish I had this thing when I built the router“.

It wasn’t too long before I built my bigger, better, more accurate router.  I was able to use tougher materials, hold tighter tolerances and cut more exotic shapes.  It works much better.  A few months ago I finally pulled off all the good bits and Sawzall’ed the old one apart to get more room in the shop…a bitter sweet day.

Most of today’s designs develop inside a computer.  Resolution and accuracy are infinite in this realm.  We expect our fabrication machines to output similar accuracies, but how does one construct a machine with this accuracy with common (analog) tools.

Today’s open source machine are addressing this head on.  There is a big push towards self replication.  Struggle past the first one and the rest will be easy.  It is not just an accidental bonus it is initial design requirement.  It is a lot more work, but I think it builds the strong communities behind these projects that help insure their success.

Here are three examples of self replicating machines…

Continue reading ‘The Age of the Self Replicating Machine.’