Friday, September 12, 2014

An inefficient way to draw a grid

Last night, I hit up the Microsoft Garage MakerLab in Redmond with a coworker. We got trained/certified on use of the Epilog laser cutter -- a somewhat astonishingly quick and easy process. Working the Epilog is hardly any different than any other printer, except you only need to unjam it if something starts on fire.

My goal for the evening was to create a go board that the boys and I can use together. (Recall that Reed has played before and done quite well on his own.) While in Minnesota this August, I used Dad's woodworking equipment to cut some plywood blanks that were to be two go boards -- 13x13 on one side, 9x9 on the other. They fit nicely into my backpack for the return trip.

Ahead of time, I created a quick and dirty C# app to generate a 13x13 SVG board and a 9x9 SVG board. Once in the MakerLab and ready to go, I used some scrap cardboard and a low power setting to start a test run:

You can see a faint grid below the fast-moving laser head

Once I was reasonably confident in the placement of the grid, I loaded one of my blanks into the laser. Within 15 seconds or so, I realized that I had hosed up the margins in my input file, as the top and right edges are quite narrow.

The finished product, while not perfect, seems pretty good. This was etched at 600dpi, and when you inspect the lines (and especially the dots), you can see that it's fairly low-resolution.

With the 13x13 board done, I flipped the board over, printed the 9x9 grid with a 1200dpi setting and, I believe, used a slightly lower speed, which made the lines a bit deeper and more distinct. Here, Chase records a time-lapse while the Look of Disapproval watches with contempt:

The 9x9 turned out quite well, albeit also slightly off-center.
Before I left, I loaded up a couple Calvin & Hobbes images to see how raster etching worked out. I etched and cut two small images, one for each of my boys.

When they woke up this morning, they found Calvin, Hobbes, and Spaceman Spiff on their toy box waiting for them.