Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Public Laser Map

There are at least 395 publicly available lasers around the world at hackerspaces, makerspaces and fab labs. And about 78% of them have lasers big enough to cut my published 24"x12" panels of parts.

I've spent the last week researching this, trying to convince myself that you've got a fair chance at making your own cardboard surfboard core kit in your own city, country or continent.

If you're in Europe you've got it real good. Fab Labs everywhere.

Australia's laser tally is a bit low, but hopefully some of the hackerspaces there can get the job done. I noticed one of the Sydney hackerspaces, RoboDojo, is pretty well endowed, laser-wise, and has a likely source of sheet cardboard very close by.

The brown icons here are possible corrugated cardboard sources. I'd like to have those on the map elsewhere too, but I've only researched it a bit for OZ, NZ, Hawaii, and California.

In the US, laser coverage is decent for the coastal areas that have actually ordered kits in the past.

Durban and Cape Town? You have lasers.

Japan? A couple places around Tokyo have machines big enough to do my kits.

Machine bed sizes appear on the map for most coastal locations, so you can quickly rule out places that can't cut my kits. I've used millimeter dimensions everywhere, so note that 24" x 12" is about 610mm x 305mm.

I've scoured thousands of web pages for this info. Often it's easy to find. Other times I've gone deep into forums or Facebook photo feeds to find that one mention, or one photo with part of the laser visible in the background, that tipped me off to make and model, so I could look up the specs.

If the dimensions are missing for a place near you, you'll have to click through to its website and do your own research. If it's a place near the coast, you should just call them - I probably already searched deeper than you'll want to online.

If you know of other open-to-the-public laser cutters that should be on the map, send me the info. Thanks.

(The public lasers map is built using Google Maps, and the images above are also derived from Google Maps.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Laser Cutter Map - Make Your Own Core Kits

When I started the cardboard surfboard project, it seemed pretty hard to find a local, publicly available laser cutter. I wanted to find a place where I could just show up with my files, pay a fee, maybe get a little training on the laser, and then cut my own kit, like I might make my own magazine at a copy shop.

Those places now exist. The global rise of hackerspaces, Fab Labs and the Maker Movement have done a pretty good job of bringing lasers and other great tools out into the community.

One reason I got into selling the cardboard surfboard core kits - and kept selling even after I started releasing cut pattern files - was that I thought it might be too hard for people to find local lasers. It's no longer hard. I made a map. At the very least, you have a public laser on your continent. Likely there's one in your nearest big city.

public laser cutter map

(Four millimeter thick cardboard should be way easier to find. Just google "packaging supplies your town name" and you'll likely get a mix of stores catering to businesses and people moving house. Or scout out some rubbish bins.)

If I can find as many public lasers as I have just by poking around a few websites, you can probably turn up even more in your own locale. While public laser cutters aren't yet as ubiquitous as copy machines, they're spread out enough that I don't need to be the sole global supplier of core kits anymore. So I'm getting out of that business.

In fact I've shut down the business part of the surfboard project altogether. It served a good purpose there for a while. It let me ship a bunch of kits and stay right with the tax man. The business served the greater project, and not the other way around. Success. But glad to put that tool away when it's no longer needed.

I'm still filling out the laser map. I focused on Australia first, because the Smorgasboarder Magazine coming out in December has a feature on this project. Hope you guys can hook up with your hackerspaces there and get some kits made. Also got several California lasers on the map, but there are probably more to be discovered. Europe, East Coast, South Africa get attention next. If you know of a public laser cutter or good cardboard supplier that should be on there, send me the info.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Twin NAWPs in RI

I just got this photo of Mike and Dan on a beach in Rhode Island, ready to ride matching NAWPs they built, starting with just the cut files from my website.

They used a laser cutter at their school, and ordered cardboard online - though not quite enough. They had to scavenge a few used boxes to cut the last few pieces for their kits.

Ideally everyone would cut their own kits locally, like Mike and Dan, and source cardboard locally. The cut files are free to download to encourage that.

Jody Roth 3D Prints Surfboard

Excellent! Someone 3D printed a full-sized surfboard core and glassed it. And posted it on Thingiverse.

 Jody Roth spent a year working through the difficulties of printing such a large object, and even built a larger 12"x12" 3D printer to pull this off. He wrote up his surfboard printing journey on his website, and included plenty of assembly details and lessons learned. There's more than enough info there for the rest of us to reproduce and build on his work.

I had begun an attempt to print a surfboard, and I know of at least one other person who was working on it. But it's such a huge thing to print, and plenty can go wrong. My attempt stalled, and I'm guessing there a lot of other partially printed attempts out there. Congratulations to Jody, who is probably the first person to complete this project.

Someone should offer Jody funding to build a 3D printer optimized for printing surfboards. Sounds like he's already given some thought to that, mentioning a 3' tall by 2' wide printer. The length dimension could be maybe 6", so the bed would be the same area as the one he's already used successfully.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Bleevitor knot, this is the first squarecore core squeezed from my quarter isogrid-centric system. Don't like it so far, and not just 'cause it's square. Turns out it's more kerf-tolerance-sensitive, and my usually n% undersized notches come out way too tight. Took maybe two hours to assemble this little  16" handplane core. Or three?

 (But at the same time I was putting together and looping a short playlist of songs mostly with unintelligible lyrics. That helped, and didn't.

(When you listen to Flat Foot Floogie, do you hear Macarena?)


Friday, May 16, 2014

Fin Core Prints

3D printed hollow honeycomb core keel fins for a mini Simmons build I'm working on.

The thruster center fin halves in the foreground show the orientation for printing.

Probably the most intuitive way to print a fin would be to print it upright, base to tip. But lots of RepRap class printers don't have the height to handle that. I've only got about 4 in. vertical travel.

But if I print halves on their sides, I have closer to 7 in. square to work with.
You could probably shape wood keels in the same time it takes to print these. Maybe faster. So far printing isn't a huge advantage. And they still need to be glassed. For thruster fins, it's nice to be able to generate a matching set of cores with consistent foils. That might be harder to do by hand.

With "The Boardroom" surfboard show coming up this weekend, I got this dumb idea last night to crash the party with a 3D printed surfboard. Figured it might take 12 hours to print a really minimal structure. I downloaded BoardCAD, rendered and exported it's default thruster to an STL, used an OpenSCAD script off of Thingiverse to chop the board into 53 sections, and arranged those into 14 plates of parts to print. I ran the first plate through Slic3r and took the files to my 3d printer and found that the first plate alone was going to take nine hours to print. The whole print job would take around 120 hours.

So I won't be showing up at the Boardroom with a printed board. Maybe someone else will though. I'd like to see it.

And I'd still like to do it myself. I printed about four hours worth of the first plate of parts to get the partial thruster nose pictured. Cancelled the print mid-way because part ends were warping too much.

The sparse fill pattern pictured isn't ideal, but its easy to configure and serviceable. The board surface is a double wall. A single wall might be possible, and twice as fast to print. Don't know if I can defeat warp with parts this size on the printer I have, using ABS. But maybe I'd have a chance with PLA.

Why 3D print a surfboard? Mostly because I'm putting off sanding the lumpy hot coat on the mini Simmons. It's so hot this week. Don't wanna wear that respirator and live in that dust. So ... layz ... ee. 3D printing surfboards is just a ploy to avoid doing the real work it takes to build surfboards.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Good Grief

subtropical variation of Kiteus Eatemupus
at Blackies this morning

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ironing Warped Corrugated Cardboard

I get sheets of corrugated cardboard from local sources that sell them as cushioning and packaging material. Sometimes the cardboard is warped, sometimes not. Sometimes the warped stuff seems to flatten a bit if stored properly. Sometimes not.

stack of warped corrugated cardboard panels

The last batch was the worst - all too warped to use and not flattening out with time. I store it stacked flat with weight on top of the stack. It's sat through wide humidity swings, which didn't seem to help or hurt. Stubborn warp.

 So I tried to iron it.

I've asked a couple local corrugated cardboard producers what kind of minimum order I'd have to place to get the 24"x12" 200# C-flute panels I need. I have initial responses from sales reps, but no answers. I may just be too small. Those guys probably throw away more offcut scraps in a few hours of production than I might use in a year.

I say that because I once got a batch of "scrap" from a corrugating facility for free. It was the flattest, highest quality cardboard I've seen, and I think I got three surfboards out of it.

Maybe instead of emailing manufacturers I should just be lurking out back of their warehouses after hours.

But I'd like a legit, steady source. Anyone have a lead for me for fairly flat 24"x12" 200# C-flute panels in Orange County, California?