week three Header Img

Week 3: Build a press-fit-construction-kit out of cardboard

The topic is only the half of the task...
First task was to plot something on our vinyl-cutter. Well, our vinyl-cutter is a MH721 from Refine, and it´s never been used due to a terrible Software. Nobody needed the cutter till now, so i decided to bring this thing to life.
After some googleing around i found an Inkscape-Extension named InkCut. It´s only availabe for Linux, but i´m working on a mac...
Ok, start a VM with Ubuntu 14.04, get some USB-Serial-FTDI-Ebay-Adaptor, install Inkscape on Ubuntu, install InkCut and give it a try.
Yeah, it works! And it works like a charme... Ok, the interface isn´t the best, but i want to plot vinyl and not use the software for hours.
After this success i tried to get InkCut to run on my mac native without the VM. I did it, but only on Yosemity, not on El Capitan. Still don´t know what the failure is, and I need to write a tutorial for this, but here is the short version of what to do:

  • get and install "pycups" on your mac
  • get and install "pyserial" on your mac
  • open finder and navigate to the download-folder of pycups
  • copy "/build/cups.so" to /Applications/Inkscape.app/Contents/Resources/lib/python2.7/site-packages
  • navigate to the download-folder of pyserial
  • copy /build/lib/serial to /Applications/Inkscape.app/Contents/Resources/lib/python2.7/site-packages
  • navigate to ~/.config/inkscape/extensions/inkcut/app/bin/serial and open "scanlinux.py" with your texteditor
  • add "+ glob.glob('/dev/tty.usb*')" to line 15 (the one with the glob.glob-things in)
  • restart inkscape
  • Now you can use the InkCut-Extension. Be aware, that every new window of the Extension (for example settings or plot) lies behind the first window. So you have to scroll the first window to a side after clicking a button...
    Of course InkCut isn´t just for the refine plotter, it can handle almost every plotter that is connected by serial-port!
    Hope this helps you, i will try to write a better tutorial in the next week.

    plotter Img

    plotted Img

    So, the second - and the main - task was to create a construction-kit our of cardboard with the lasercutter.

    Thinking about this i realize that there is just one real construction-kit for me: Lego-Technic. For those of you that don´t know this stuff: Click here.
    So, on the path of my youth i tried to build my own Lego cutted out of cardboard. I started with the biggest parts, some type of bar. You can see it cutted out on the right-side...
    It is designed that you can stack the parts togehter upper and lower. The holes are for connectors or axles. To generate the paths for the cutter, make a new file in Inkscape, and clone the paths of left_end, middle and right_end into it. You can clone the middle as often as you like to realize different lenghts of the bar.

    first cut Img

    first cut Img

    Second part is a "L-Type-Connector". It is used to connect two bars in a 90°-Angle. If you stack some bars together, connect them with the L-Types you get a strong and reliable Construction!

    After i´ve designed the first parts it was getting much easier. I´ve planed to build a model of a car, so i cutted a lot of parts in a single step:
    big cut Img
    Then i assembled it:
    car Img

    I hope you find this piece of work also interessting, i will build some more models in the next time with my "Self-cutted-cardbord-construction-Kit" :)
    One last word on this: I don´t would give this stuff to kids... Today 10 days ago i cutted the cardboard and it is still smelling burned. If you touch it your fingertips are black. So this is definitive not a good toy for children...

    If you want to cut it yourself, here are the files for InkScape.
    Have fun!