AnomalyCon 2013

Barbie and I went to AnomalyCon over the weekend.  Some quick thoughts, in no particular order:

  • I had no idea when I first saw the dates for this event that it was over the Easter weekend.  My best guess is that all the other Spring weekends were booked.
  • I went to a number of writing-related sessions.  I picked up some interesting ideas and contacts, but the most value was just getting me excited about writing again.
  • Some of the sessions we attended were about costuming, persona, and the intersections between them.  Some of the ways of thinking about your costume persona are quite close to ways of thinking about characters in writing fiction.
  • We really enjoyed the a capella band “Pandora Celtica”
  • There were two bands that were really, really loud.  We tried one of them, and the lead introduced himself to me in the audience.  He seemed like a really nice chap, until he started screaming “Gouge out those eyes.”  I can hardly imagine what his music would have been like.
  • I have a few ideas for sessions I might propose for next year.

Yes, I Have the Kit

No, I haven’t started building it, yet.  I am dealing with a space problem in the garage.

It’s a Rush Hour problem.

Right now I the tools and work space in the garage are pushed toward the back, waiting for the space at the front to be freed up from an under-dresser I have on sale on Craig’s List.

My ShapeOko Project Ideas

Not an exhaustive list:

  • Milling circuit boards for prototyping devices
  • Printing plates made from plastic, metal, wood, linoleum, or rubber
  • Badges and emblems made from laminated sheets (plastic, metal, wood)
  • Direct carving of molds for resin casting (physical copies of virtual objects)
  • Doll-house furniture
  • Engraved boxes
  • Engraved knife blades
  • Lithophanes

Activity in the ShapeOko Forum

Just a few of the kinds of things being discussed on the ShapeOko forum:

  • At least three different motor driver boards
  • At least two different ways to send G-Code to the interpreter
  • At least two different G-Code interpreters
  • Two distinct pick-and-place systems based on the ShapeOko 3-axis framework
  • At least two different 3-D printers based on ShapeOko
  • Several different drive belt modifications
  • Two additional alternatives for driving the Y axis
  • Longer X or Y axis modifications
  • Reinforcing the Z stage to handle a beefier tool
  • Spoil board and clamping options
  • Geographic sub-groups based in Asia, New Zealand, and Europe, driven largely by shipping costs from the U.S.A.  They are discussing making linear bearings by other means, or contracting with a local extruder, or making bulk orders.  No one, including Inventables, is discouraging these activities.
  • At least two alternatives to the MakerSlide material being used to construct ShapeOko

Why is all this significant?

It indicates a very active community of people who have already encountered every problem I am likely to see when I get my machine and start setting it up.

When I have successfully cut projects for a while, and I want to consider extending the capabilities, lots of people will have already blazed a lot of interesting trails.

If I decide none of the extensions fit my fancy, no one will freak out at me for going in a new and different direction.

You Have Heard It All Before, and What’s Happening Now

You Have Heard It All Before

Like many of us, I have fiddled with a blog off and on for many moons, now, and this is the latest reboot.

What’s Happening Now

The most interesting thing going on right now is waiting for shipment of my ShapeOko kit from Inventables.  The current expected shipping date is August 9.

What is a ShapeOko?  It’s an open-source, community-supported desktop CNC router.

There are a number of small CNC systems available right now, and even many open-source/community-based systems.  What makes this one special?

I could natter on about the excitement of watching the ShapeOko forum discussions, the friendliness of the community, the ease of modification, the quick technical advice and support from the forum and the primary developer of the machine (Edward R. Ford) … but a lot of that might not be very different from other, similar machines.

Let’s just say that this one seemed to catch my fancy in a way that the others didn’t.

-Tommy