Earring Laser Fixture

Cutting or engraving patterns on earrings should go more smoothly with a fixture:

Earring fixture - demo install
Earring fixture – demo install

That’s a serving suggestion, using the Biohazard test pieces, which also helped align the top and bottom layers while gluing:

Earring fixture - clamping
Earring fixture – clamping

That used all my little clamps: obviously I need more!

The bottom layer (red) is MDF for strength and the top layer (orange) is chipboard because that’s all it needs:

Earring fixture - LB layout
Earring fixture – LB layout

The little tab along the top ensures alignment using the jump ring cutout. The central hole will let me cut through the earring, should that be necessary.

The two strips over on the left get glued on the bottom, spaced to align along one of the aluminum knife blade rails, as with the craft stick fixture. With that lined up, any two of the four targets will serve to align the template with the fixture using LightBurn’s Print-and-Cut tool, as with the craft stick template.

Now, to make some smoke!

The LightBurn SVG layout as a GitHub Gist:

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Biohazard Earrings

More desk clearing revealed a sketch for another trinket:

Biohazard symbol
Biohazard symbol

That’s built directly from the original specs to get the spacing and symmetries correct. The freebies I could find all suffered from various degrees of bad design & layout.

A chipboard coaster provided some reassurance:

Biohazard coaster
Biohazard coaster

Shrunken down to 25 mm OD, the tips become vanishingly small:

Biohazard earring - vinyl sample
Biohazard earring – vinyl sample

It’s the same laser-safe polyurethane vinyl as the SD card reader, this time applied to 3 mm black acrylic. The “gold” ring is just parked in place, as this one wasn’t presentation-quality.

Contrary to the usual transfer-tape method of applying PSA vinyl, I stuck the sheet to the acrylic before cutting, then weeded it directly off the acrylic:

Biohazard earring - vinyl weeding
Biohazard earring – vinyl weeding

Kiss-cutting the vinyl with dot mode ate into the acrylic, but the soon-to-be-weeded areas protected the surroundings and the result came out looking pretty good. To me, anyhow.

Flushed with success, I tried some almost certainly not laser safe glow-in-the-dark tape:

Biohazard earring - GITD weeding fail
Biohazard earring – GITD weeding fail

The mess in the upper left is the tape’s double-sided adhesive intended to hold the glowy layer in place forever. Of course it weeded poorly!

Seen in its natural environment, however, weeding may not be necessary:

Biohazard earring - GITD tape glow
Biohazard earring – GITD tape glow

Engraving the rebated rim leaves quite a bit of debris & scorch marks around the perimeter. A mask layer atop the GITD tape seems like a Good Idea™.

The LightBurn SVG layout as a GitHub Gist:

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Engraved Popsicle Sticks

Having found a handful of popsicle sticks on my desk, I had to finish this up:

Popsicle stick markers - engraving
Popsicle stick markers – engraving

The fixture has the same layout as the craft stick version, sized to fit the smaller sticks. They’re a bit thicker than the chipboard sheet, but match up well enough for the purpose.

Even though the sticks don’t have much room for cutout letters, I had to try it anyway:

Popsicle stick markers - finished
Popsicle stick markers – finished

Aligning the template to the fixture uses LightBurn’s Print-and-Cut tool, which seems easier than nailing the fixture to the laser platform.

I suppose if they ever make actual popsicles with wood handles, they can tell who gets which one.

For whatever it’s worth, the larger craft stick markers in the garden remain in good shape.

Miroco Floor Lamp Base Details

The pole of our much-repaired Miroco floor lamp screws into a weighted base:

Miroco floor lamp base - assembled
Miroco floor lamp base – assembled

Because the lamp has a big nut apparently holding the pole socket to the base, I figured a dab of threadlock on the pole or the base would solve the problem: lock the pole to the socket, then remove the nut to disassemble when needed. That turned out to be a Bad Idea™.

The socket is a plastic part separate from the base cover plate:

Miroco floor lamp base - socket
Miroco floor lamp base – socket

A pair of keys prevent the socket from rotating in the hole:

Miroco floor lamp base - socket in place
Miroco floor lamp base – socket in place

Four threaded bosses (two visible there) hold the rim of the cover to the weight, with the socket doing the hard work.

A fender washer atop the weight distributes stress from the pole:

Miroco floor lamp base - weight top washer
Miroco floor lamp base – weight top washer

Another fender washer on the bottom of the weight lets the nut jam against steel, rather than soft plastic:

Miroco floor lamp base - weight bottom washer
Miroco floor lamp base – weight bottom washer

FWIW, the nut is either a perfect 15/16 inch or, more likely, a sloppy 24 mm.

In any event, permanently locking the pole to that socket will also lock the pole to the base, with no way to dismantle the lamp when I must once again repair it.

Perhaps a wrap of PTFE tape on the threads will stiffen it enough?

Certain better looking than black duct tape …

MaxLite Candelabra CFL: FAIL

The bathroom ceiling fixture has a nightlight position that we use occasionally, but eventually the little 7 W Christmas Tree bulb failed and I installed this hulk from a box of CFL bulbs a friend scrapped out after switching to LED bulbs:

MaxLite CFL - overview
MaxLite CFL – overview

I never tested whether it actually drew 3 W, but, hey I could feel good. Right? Right?

Anyhow, this one failed after a few years, too. The “bulb” envelope looked like it might make an attractive blinkie or glowie, so I decided to harvest it.

The candelabra screw base felt loose and popped off with a push:

MaxLite CFL - overflow cap
MaxLite CFL – overflow cap

Perhaps they chose the envelope before finalizing the circuitry?

This is why you need a lathe in your shop:

MaxLite CFL - lathe cutting
MaxLite CFL – lathe cutting

It wasn’t particularly well centered, so that was done dead slow and finished with a few hand turns of the chuck. Obviously, I need a crank for the spindle.

The rest of the circuitry is pretty well packed under that tall cap:

MaxLite CFL - circuitry
MaxLite CFL – circuitry

Pulling the PCB out revealed the tube wiring:

MaxLite CFL - tube wires
MaxLite CFL – tube wires

Cut the wires and chuck it up again:

MaxLite CFL - envelope turning setup
MaxLite CFL – envelope turning setup

Turn dead slow again until it breaks through:

MaxLite CFL - envelope breakthrough
MaxLite CFL – envelope breakthrough

Then finish by hand:

MaxLite CFL - tube and envelope
MaxLite CFL – tube and envelope

It’s too cute to throw out, but … sheesh you can see why recycling this stuff is so difficult.

For whatever it’s worth, I replaced it with a 3 W LED candelabra bulb that is way too bright.

Knitting Stitch Counters: Material Tests

Our Young Engineer knits during rare moments of downtime and sketched an idea for stitch counters to mark progress between those moments. There being nothing like a new project to take one’s mind off all of one’s previous projects:

Stitch Counters - overview
Stitch Counters – overview

These are more along the lines of feasibility / material tests than finished products, so you’ll see plenty of rough edges.

Prior to doing this, we agreed that 3 mm material was probably too thick, particularly given the small scale: the hexagons are 10 mm edge-to-edge with a 1.5 mm hole for the jump ring.

The jump rings are (mostly) 8 mm OD, which may or may not be the right diameter for all possible knitting needles.

The count sequence goes 10 20 10 40 50 10 with alternating colors:

Stitch Counters - red and blue
Stitch Counters – red and blue

Those came from 3 mm red and blue transparent acrylic, looking entirely too much like candy. Cutting two identical layouts from two different materials, then swapping a few counters, gives me two related-but-different sets. This idea is also subject to revision.

I like the set of 3 mm acrylic mirror counters colored with Sharpie:

Stitch Counters - mirror
Stitch Counters – mirror

Alas, the unprotected mirror backing won’t survive long in the real world and Sharpie ink tends to stress-crack the acrylic. Bonding a thin colored sheet / gel filter to the back with an adhesive sheet in between would work, although I don’t look forward to the fiddly alignment. Bonus: sticky edges are a nonstarter in this application.

A setup error produced a set of unmarked counters that might still come in handy for something:

PXL_20230507_150124595 - Stitch Counters - blue blank
PXL_20230507_150124595 – Stitch Counters – blue blank

Trolase acrylic 1/16 inch = 1.5 mm sheets produce the most visible legends, in a relentlessly industrial sort of way:

Stitch Counters - Trolase
Stitch Counters – Trolase

Those have a single thin layer atop a white or black base sheet, but three-layer 1.5 mm Trolase sheets with matching top and bottom colors (cladding on a white core) would look better.

If you can’t decide on a color, go clear:

Stitch Counters - clear
Stitch Counters – clear

All of those appear on a background of some thin DIY plywood:

Stitch Counters - veneer plywood sheets
Stitch Counters – veneer plywood sheets

The bottom sheet is very pale veneer that came with a layer of genuine 3M 468 transfer tape with 200MP adhesive. I stuck three different veneers on three 100×50 mm rectangles of the stuff to make 1.5 mm thick “plywood”. The adhesive sheet provides lateral strength, not the wood fibers, so it’s not quite as easy to tear as the broken fragment would suggest.

The results look passable, although there’s room for improvement:

Stitch Counters - veneer plywood
Stitch Counters – veneer plywood

After engraving & cutting, I slathered them with clear polyurethane finish and hung them up to dry:

Stitch Counters - wood finish curing
Stitch Counters – wood finish curing

I like the effect, but using the pale veneer for the bottom layer made them look identical from that side. Worse, two of the three top layer veneers had nearly identical colors (one has more grain) after the finish cured.

More thought seems in order, but at least I’ve explored some of the solution space.

Dirt Devil Stick Vacuum: Floor Brush Salvage

The knuckle joint on the Dirt Devil stick vacuum failed, so it followed us home instead of leaping into the trash:

Dirt Devil - broken swivel joint
Dirt Devil – broken swivel joint

Although the fitting seems to be made of ABS, it’s now missing major chunks of plastic in the high-stress areas, so rebuilding it seems not worth the effort.

Because we don’t have any carpets and this one will never leave the basement, I extracted the carpet beater brush and its motor, only to find Yet Another Example of poor assembly practices:

Dirt Devil - stray strands
Dirt Devil – stray strands

It’s a 12 V (-ish, I didn’t measure whatever comes out of the vacuum head) DC motor and those errant strands aren’t quite long enough to meet in the middle. The yellow rectangle is a thermal fuse that would be shorted out if the strands were a bit longer.

The broken joint lets the head swivel from side to side, but the elevation joint is still good. If I don’t expect too much, the thing might still suffice for extracting dust from under the benches:

Dirt Devil - taped joint
Dirt Devil – taped joint

Worst case, I can swap in a classic floor brush using one of the adapters I made a while ago:

Dirt Devil adapters - assembled
Dirt Devil adapters – assembled

That was easy, if only because I skipped the hard part …