iPhone 6 bracket for car

iPhone 6 bracket for car

My wife’s Honda Civic had a small pocket/cubby with a flip down door just below the stereo. On a recent road trip we found the door to be a good platform for an iPhone 6 running Waze, but it kept slipping off of the door. While a folded up napkin did an ok job of keeping it from slipping off, I thought “I can over engineer this!” so I did.

The idea was to make a 3D printed bracket that could be double-stick-taped to the door, allowing it to close as normal, but holding the phone when opened.

We both have Spigen bumper cases for our phones, so measurements were made for that. The design was completed using OnShape (this being my 2nd real thing modeled and 3D printed using the program).

Prototype 1 was much too big and clunky to allow the door to close, and the tolerances were a little tight for the phone even though it “fit.”

Prototype 2 was much smaller (and eliminated the end stops just to see if it would fit), but this still proved too big; the height of the base was too tall, as was the height of the back support.

Prototype 3 reduced the thickness of the walls and floor greatly, and added the end stops back in. The design was no longer symmetrical (like the first prototype) so a quick reflect was used in OnShape to make the second bracket.

The third design ended up working and fitting great. The door closes and the design is less clunky in general.

Download a Zipped .STL of the final prototype here: Spigen_phone_holder_V3.stl

You may also find the file on the OnShape website here.

48″ x 48″ CNC router and VCarve stools

48″ x 48″ CNC router and VCarve stools

Nova Labs recently bought a ShopSabre RC-4 CNC router for the wood shop. A few copies of VCarve are on computers at the makerspace, allowing members to setup their tool path.

Some of the regulars on Wednesday night decided to do a “one-night-build,” or a project we could start and finish in an evening. I started thinking of ideas that we could do on the new tool (mostly so I could learn to use it).

We landed on building some stools downloaded from the open source furniture website OpenDesk. Most designs on the site are setup for 4×8′ sheets of material but we found the Johann Stool from Johann Aussage would fit easily on our half sheets of plywood.

Adobe Illustrator was used to modify the designs for the actual thickness of the plywood we bought, and to eliminate some decoration.

After those design considerations were fixed, we used VCarve to setup the tool path. They have a a makerspace license allowing for people to use the software at home in basically a trial mode, but save the G-code from the properly licensed software at the makerspace.

A .25″ end mill was used for everything, including the holes for pins during assembly.

Final cleanup was done with a 1/8″ roundover router bit on the regular router table. The laser cutter was used to engrave the NovaLabs logo on the top of the seat, and a credit to the designer was etched (vector cutting at fast speed/low power) onto the bottom.



Vulgar Napkin Holders

Vulgar Napkin Holders

A colleague/friend of mine got her first solo apartment was lamenting that she was needed a bunch of household necessities, including a napkin holder. Since she hadn’t been in a while, I suggested suggested she could make her own at Nova Labs. Annoyed, she told me to make her one; I thought the best gift was one she’d regret asking for…

The first thoughts included some messy clipart faces (think Garbage Pail Kids stickers), but I quickly settled on some nice type and alliteration.

The design for the napkin holder itself was whipped up in Illustrator using a simple tabbed box type design.

Production happened using the laser cutter at Nova Labs.

A less vulgar version was created for a neighbor who commented on Facebook that they wanted one, but would have to wait 10 years before their kids could be exposed to the original!

Engraved cube Kickstarter backer gifts

Engraved cube Kickstarter backer gifts

Backer Gifts

The Nova Labs Kickstarter campaign ended successfully back in early 2015. One of the higher backer levels was for the backers’ name on a wall in the space, but we also planned on sending them a plaque.

I didn’t expect that someone would put 4 mounting standoffs on their wall, so I thought that something more like a paperweight for the backer’s desk or bookcase would be better.

The Cube

At the fall 2015 Adobe MAX conference, a booth for Universal Laser allowed attendees to make wooden stamp blocks using Adobe’s Creative Cloud Shared Libraries to get files from workstations to the folks running the laser. As the exhibition floor was shutting down they were handing out the remaining cubes, so I grabbed a few of the blanks to play with at home. I thought the 2″ cubes could be a good format for the backer reward.

Not wanting to settle on the first material idea I had, I also ordered a clear acrylic cube to test on.

In the end the acrylic seemed way too ‘corporate gift’ looking, with the birch wood being way warmer, especially after giving the final pieces a coat of tung oil.

Setup and production

The key to engraving these easily was setting up a row of seven 2″ squares that were lightly cut into a sacrificial material. The blocks were then put on these lines ensuring accurate placement of each faces’ design.

Fortunately the position of “home” doesn’t change as you adjust the Z-height (you need to do the light guide cut with the laser focused on the paper or foamcore, and then drop the bed down to accommodate the height of the block.)

Masking tape was used to reduce the discoloration of the wood due to smoke from the engrave, but I’m not sure if it was worth the time needed to remove all of the tiny counters of the text, vs sanding with a belt or disk sander.

As it was, the wood cubes were still sanded down after removing the tape. They were eventually finished with tung oil after doing a few tests with other finishes such as varnish and shellac.

Sign for the laser cutter room

Sign for the laser cutter room

In a shared space like Nova Labs, it is important to leave things better than you found them (you should read the listserv thread this past week about the router table being left messy).

The laser room suffers its fair share of mess, so I made a reminder sign for the wall above the workstation.

If it reminds even a few people to vacuum up their little dot cutout debris or gets them to put back the key, I guess it will be worth it.


Over-achieving embroidered party favors for kid’s birthday

Over-achieving embroidered party favors for kid’s birthday


Custom embroidered wash cloths
Homemade, personalized, embroidered wash cloths were definitely overkill for a 2-year-old’s birthday celebration at school.

As a relatively new parent several years ago, I was shocked to learn that not only would the birthday kid bring cupcakes or a treat or whatever to school, but they would also bring party favors for the class. Presents for the other kids? And we’re not even hosting a party to get presents in return?

Our little one had a birthday later in the year, so we had several months of bringing home goodie bags of candy and small plastic toys; like we needed any more of those things… I wanted to do better. Up the ante. Go overboard.

We had recently purchased a new-to-us sewing machine with embroidery attachment, and I thought this was a great opportunity to go overboard with gifts for her classmates. Instead of junk, how about something personalized and useful? Every kid needs baths, and washcloths would be easy to embroider on since they are sturdy (I think I used a wash-away stabilizer just to be sure).

I came up with a design using an outline of a duck, and a font that was built into the digitizing software I had. It would embroider quickly since it had a relatively low stitch count.

Was it worth it? Meh…

Despite getting the washcloths for cheap at Costco, it still took a ton of time. But I’m sure they got more use than a plastic lizard, bouncy ball, or tiny rainbow Slinky, so at least there’s that!

Embroidered wash cloths and Brother ULT2003D sewing/embroidery machine
Assortment of embroidered wash cloths for a 2 year old’s birthday party/goody bag.


Slotted Christmas Ornament test

Finished Christmas ornament
Finished and assembled Christmas ornament

Last year our team made (well, I made, but the team hosted the decorating party) slot-together Christmas trees for our internal clients.

We wanted to see if there was something else to make them in 2015, so we brainstormed over email. Someone presented a sketch of a Christmas ornament shaped item, and knowing I can whip out this sort of thing I went ahead and made the prototype. Plus, I hadn’t actually cut anything from this particular shade of red 1/8″ acrylic, so it was a good test.

In the end we didn’t do anything because of heavy workload in December, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

Oh, and I hope the Brand folks at work don’t see sad Inky made from the scrap cutouts. It is definitely not on-brand!