Monday, February 29, 2016

Override mechanism

Here's a latch override mechanism I designed & prototyped a couple weeks ago. It's purpose is to provide access to the inside of an aircraft lavatory in the event that the door knob breaks & traps a passenger inside.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Shelf Light

I made this shelf w/ a strip of LED lights inlaid in the top, it provides storage & illumination for my room.
Mainly I made it because I wanted to design something with oak & aluminum again.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Arcade cabinet #3

As I've mentioned before, I designed an arcade cabinet for a friend a few years back for him to show off a video game he made. The cabinet has been pretty popular anywhere he shows it off & he's gotten a number of inquiries from people interested in buying one for themselves. Over last Christmas break, & the recent spring break we built a couple 4-player versions of the cabinet, refining the original design each time.

This is the latest build that we'll be showing to all those fans of the game who've expressed interest in their own cabinet.
We'll offer it on kickstarter, & if there's enough interest then we'll make more, if there's no interest we won't bother. Either way I have a great new toy in my living room!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Anodized Aluminum Settlers of Catan Pieces:

These available to buy on kickstarter for the next 30 days.

Settlers of Catan is a popular German board game that has won many
accolades and is adored by thousands of fans around the world. It is
an addictive game that combines elements of Risk and Monopoly into
something that doesn't take a lifetime to complete. As a favor to a friend I made 3 sets of game pieces from aluminum and had them anodized to create something more "permanent" and "special" feeling. The gold colored set is a retirement gift for his uncle.

I wasn't totally convinced at first that all the work needed to create the custom set would be worth it, but after I saw them with their anodized finishes I was very pleased with the results and excited to get them to him.

Hit the jump for more pics.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Arcade cabinet

A good friend of mine programs internet (flash) video games and for the promotion of his most recent project he asked me to design an arcade cabinet that he could take to different events to showcase the game with. 
The reason he needed a custom design and didn't just retrofit an old cabinet was portability; the cabinet needed to sometimes fit in a small convention center booth and other times stand by itself on the floor, and the whole thing needed to break down and fit in the trunk of his car.

The project turned out really great and makes the game even more fun to play.  Click the "read more" link to see more pics & a link to the game website.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Piano Bench

I felt like I hadn't made any cool projects in a while, Christmas even came & went & all I did was install a ceiling fan for my sister in a room that didn't have any ceiling lights at all before. While crawling thru the attic with electrical wire was rewarding & all, it still doesn't compare to conceptualizing something in your mind and then holding it in your hands. - Or in this case sitting on it:

I decided to make this custom piano bench with my free time. Click the link to see the pictures of the build.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We finished the molds yesterday. Here's a nice picture of them installed in a line of presses. It took a little longer than I had hoped, but not too long considering the additional requirements that were added & the other interuptions that stole time away from this project.
I look forward to the day when I see one of these delineator bases out in "the real world"!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Update since I lost my password :/

Yikes! it's been a long time, lets just get right into it:
I made this mold for a company in Orange County:

The mold makes these parts:

Things got slow at work so I made a billet skateboard:

And inlaid it with wood...

Stained it & rode it to the beach...

Then my neighbor took some studio photos of it:

Meanwhile back at work I got a new project: design a new recycled rubber road cone base:

Here's the mold I designed. The part cures at a 2:1 compression ratio in the lower half of the mold (the cavity). When the mold opens the part sticks to the top half (the core). A burst of air releases the part from the core.

The part extracted and ejected from the mold exactly like I designed it to, but we decided to float the part out with compressed air rather than pull it out with the opening motion of the press.  - Something about the safety of launching 16lb. cured parts off of the mold?!?  With the prototype proven & the design settled on we'll be starting production tomorrow on about 20 of these molds.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Claim to Fame

For me, one of the big difficulties of sticking to a regular exercise routine is the time you have to commit to it: apart from the time in the gym there's the travel time to & from, time cooking healthy, and time planning your menus & workout routines. It's nice when I can incorporate physical activity into something I need to do anyways, like commuting. There have been a few times when I was able to commute by bicycle to school & that was so great for my legs! Plus what took 20 minutes by car only took 30 minutes by bike, so round trip I got 1 hour of exercise for the low cost of only 20 minutes out of my day!

I sometimes entertain the idea of building a recumbent bike with the full aerodynamic fairings to use as a short range, occasional commuter. I was searching on line for such bikes & came across a guy who built one for a 24 hour distance record that he set. Greg Kolodziejzyk of Calgary, Alberta, Canada & his team built this bike named Critical Power that he went 650 miles in a 24 hour period. Greg keeps a great blog ( that talks about past, current & future projects, plus has some inspirational/motivational messages about fitness & achieving goals. Check out his motivational speaker site & get yourself a free copy of his book Bold.

I like what Greg's doing so I made him an oval sprocket for his record attempt boat. According to him the deal with oval (elliptical) sprocket rings is he can rotate the ring such that the widest diameter of the oval coincides with his optimal pedal torque position.

The concept:
10% oval, 64 teeth.

The Creation:

I also threw in a 55 tooth sprocket for his training bike.

The great results:

No pit stops he pedaled through the night and received hand offs of water & food.

Final result a world record: 245 kilometers (152 miles) in 24 hours!


What would I have been if I'd lived 500 or a few thousand years ago--I mean what would I do for a living? What would my life's work be? You ever think about that? I do. I expect I do because I feel so lucky to do what I do for my work; I don't really consider it work. Creating things is fun to me, I have a passion for designing & building things & that's why I chose engineering & manufacturing as my field of pursuit.
So what if I'd lived before computers & electronics, what would I have done then without my beloved CAD & CAM & CNCs? Would I have still built things or would I have been a farmer, or a doctor, or maybe a writer? ...Well assuming I had the choice and chances afforded me to find & follow my passion like I've had in this life, in this country, I probably would have been some kind of creator: a carpenter, or a leather craftsman, or a stone mason, or maybe a tailor; but probably some kind of a smith: blacksmith, coppersmith, silversmith.
I've been toying around with jewelry making lately...

I designed this necklace pendant as a birthday gift for a friend of mine. It's the first piece of jewelry that I ever made so I found a local jeweler who was willing to help me out. He cast & acid antiqued it for me and then helped pick out a pretty chain for it and antiqued the chain to match. What I liked about this jeweler is he's a real gold and silversmith, not just a guy with a jewelry store. If you're ever looking for a mom & pop shop that'll treat you right here's his contact info: Gold 'n Silver Jewelry. 18850 Brookhurst St Fountain Valley, CA 92708 (714) 963-9594 ask for Ron.

Here's The Concept.
Actually I sketched the concept all out on paper before I started modeling, but I threw the paper away after I finished the SolidWorks file.

Here's The Creation

And here's Some of the stuff in Between.

I cut out a machinable wax version of the pendant. It was the same pattern machined on the top and bottom of the pendant with a 3rd set up holding it sideways to drill the hole the necklace goes through.

Ron suggested I make 2 pendants so I could practice on one - as usual I just took my time and worked cautiously so I didn't have any scrapped parts. I gave my sister the extra one.

Acid antiqed and then a final polish.

The final product.

Check this!

Dec, 2006
I like making the gifts I give. I'm sure that when most people think of gifts not bought from some store they think "home-made" & the images that conjures for them are pieces of jewelry made out of pasta, or beautiful cards adorned with something that has a human hand as it's base shape, or they think of the cheap skate/forgetful shopper who gives out coupons for a free back rub.
When I make gifts it's nothing like that! Not since elementary school. I may have gifted free back rubs as late as junior high.

Now that my family is all grown up & moved away from each other, and now that a $5 action figure does not impress like it used to, we draw names and give a gift to 1 person. December 2006 was my favorite Christmas since the Christmas that I got the Ultra Magnus transformer when I was 9. - December 2006 I drew my Dad's name. Here is the gift I made him:

Here's The Concept

Here's The Creation

And here's Everything in Between:

AutoCAD is Great! It works so well & so fast to turn paper sketch into digital sketch. I moved into the 3rd dimension of CAD with SolidWorks, but the quickness & ease of AutoCAD's 2D world is still so very useful. So I drew the chess pieces in AutoCAD & used the ordinate dimensions as my X & Z co-ordinates on the super user friendly Mazak conversational controller. If you like my design email me & I'll send you a copy of the CAD file.

The pawns, bishops (shown here), and queens were all done on the lathe. The knights, rooks, and kings had a lathe operation and then some mill work.

Amassing a small army.

Rooks and Kings got their castle & crown shapes on the mill.

The Knight was probably the fanciest using the indexing head.

2 Knights, both with their feet pointing in, the lower one has the lathe operation done, the upper one has the lathe and the mill operations done.

The finished brushed team, that is to say "the completed team with the brushed finish." The Queen is my favorite.

I couldn't have been happier with the results.

A guy named Jason asked for a copy of my chess CAD file, & made himself a set.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Carbon fiber car parts

The thing that got me interested in engineering and manufacturing was CARS!!! HOT RODS!!! I was into classic muscle cars in high school, owned a '66 Chevy Pick-up that enabled me to take part in the rite of passage which is doing a burn-out anytime you leave school. After high school the sport-compact scene was what it was all about and eventually I got over my fear of cars with computers in them and got a Honda Civic. Here are some carbon fiber parts I made for it. The tubes are made from pre-preg & the naca duct was done with a VARTM method.

Straight & curved 3" id tubing.

Programming of the smaller tool. I had to include this photo because it got me a job at Applied Aerospace when I showed it to one of their employees who knew they were hiring a programmer.

I Machined the molds on the CNCs in my machine shop class.

Here are the 2 tools in use. With the VARTM (Vaccum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding) method you lay down your dry plys then seal a vaccum bag over them & compact them while they're still dry. Next mix up your resin & let the vaccum draw it into the layup through a hose which passes through your bag.

Here's a part straight out of the mold, nice gloss.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Santa's Workshop

Christmas is fast approaching, and I’m ready for it. It’s probably obvious that I prefer making Christmas gifts over buying them. Some of my best gifts from the past include a corduroy purse I sewed for my mom; it was tailored just to her to hang the right length off her shoulder & included a change pouch and a key holder in the top flap so you could find them easily w/o having to dig. I also made loops along 1 inside wall to organize ink pens, a pocket sewn to the size of her check book, and a pouch tailored to snugly fit her old Nokia cell phone. That year she also got a phone case which made the phone too big for its slot. I’m really pleased with that gift because she carried the purse every day for 3+ years until the fabric was completely worn out. Another year I made billet ink pens for everyone on a turret lathe in my machine shop class, they were a hit too. Last year I tried my hand at wood working and made a case for my parents domino set. I designed and cut out the box and a friend of mine did a beautiful job staining and sealing it. I think she turned the craft into a piece of art which will hopefully become a desirable family heirloom along with its contents. I suspect my making it will give me 'dibs' on inheireting the domino set ;)

This year we drew names and I got my dad. It was great; I immediately knew what I wanted to make for him, that’s so much nicer than when I can’t come up with a good idea until a week before the deadline. Now I have time to design and refine. I got material for it this morning and during lunch made a program on the CNC lathe with the conversational controller for 1 of the 6 different parts that will require lathe work.. Since it’s not Christmas yet I’ll say no more about it, only mention that it’s a real blessing to work in a shop where they’re cool with me doing “g-jobs”.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Keys to Success

Dear blog, today I wish I used those mood smiley faces so I could really emphasize the ecstatic/cool mood I’m in.
Check out the progress of the BoMToons keychain development!
[quoted from Google Talk conversation]:
me: was thinking of waiting till they were perfected to surprise you with some in the mail, but then I thought I really like when you show me beta versions of your games. wanna see a pic?
Nick: yes plz

Nick: whoa dude!
that looks perfect!!!!!. I want one!!!!!
me: wanna see a pic of yours?
Nick: yes plz. how easy are they to make?
me: yours was freaking hard
Nick: why's that?
me: cause YOURS is gonna be cast aluminium BABY!!!!

Nick: oh sh!t! (Nick censored this himself)
me: Ohhhhh yeeeeah!!!! we're talking lost-wax casting. 1500 degF molten aluminium
Nick: whoa awesome. that's impressive
me: thankyou
Nick: how was [the one in the first picture] done?
me: It all started with your design, I made the CAM file from it and cut out what the finished keychain would look like in machinable wax. From that part I created a silicone mold.

For my keychain I just cured plastic in the silicone mold. For yours I melted wax and poured it into the silicone. Once the wax hardened I removed it from the silicone mold, now have an exact duplicate of the original part. I repeat the wax melting process a few times till I have multiples and then make a plaster mold around them. When the plaster cures I melt the wax "investments" out - thus the name lost wax casting. I built a little 'furnace' and made a bellows (my shop vac set up as a blower). Aluminum melts at 1500 deg F so I stoked up the fire and melted down some old car parts and poured the molten mix into the plaster

Nick: did it turn out ok?
me: 1st batch I totally missed the mold when I poured. If you look at the table you see a big black burned spot. 2nd go round went better. still could be better. The aluminum is cooling too fast, so it doesn’t fill in the mold with great detail.
Nick: ah. you have plans to correct that?
me: a couple.