|Initial pass of laser cutting on |
the first layer of Yoda
The ingredients include some digital graphics processing, a few passes in the laser cutter, a quick dash of 3D design and printing, capped off with a nice touch of simple electronics. After finding a good box in a local hobby store, the total parts outlay was less than $5 (but please don't tell my nephew...).
|Here's the ambient-light look of the |
Yoda box. The pattern created by the 1st
pass of the laser cutter dominates.
|Details of the 3D-printed background and|
LED electronics installation
The harder part was creating the gcode instructions for the 2nd pass of the laser cutter -- the one that would fully penetrate the wood in the box lid to create the light holes for the wow factor. Anyone with laser cutter experience will recognize that just using the "simple" pattern created for the 1st pass would result in nothing more than a large hole in the box lid resembling the head of Yoda with no features. That might be novel but not very cool. So I adjusted how Inkscape processed the Yoda art so that less than half of the lines remained in the output image, and then I erased additional areas of the artwork to reduce the image to more of an outline effect with hints of a few key features. I also built in bridges where fully-encircled shapes would have been cut out and dropped so the remaining wood would stay in place and visible. And I used good technique to ensure the 2nd pass would be precisely aligned over the 1st pass lines already on the box (tip: I insert an alignment dot at the axis orientation point (also known as origin or "0,0,0") in the lower-left corner of the graphics before applying the gcode generation step, and never rescale the graphics between multiple passes of graphics processing). The resulting 2nd pattern was then applied using the 40W laser cutter with power set high enough to cut all the way through the 1/8"-thick lid; on my laser that's 5 inches per minute feedrate speed at 80% power, just to be sure. (Note: I tested the full process on scrap 1/8" thick plywood twice to get it right before going to the final cuts on the box.)
|Yoda shines through with the backlight on -- even more|
detail is actually visible than seen from this angle.
I hope this story inspires you to think "outside (or, perhaps more fittingly, inside...) the box" for future projects for gifting -- or keeping! Get with us at the Techno Chaos makerspace to get started and for assistance and support.