ShapeOko 2 Building Adventures So Far

Inventables donated a ShapeOko 2 CNC Router “The Works” kit to Pumping Station:One, and we’ve been doing a group build over four sessions so far. It’s been a chance for people to learn about open hardware and CNC firsthand from the ground up, and participate in making PS:One’s next machine. We’ve had participants with various levels of experience working together, and I think everyone learned something new.

During the first session, we assembled wheels and bearings, and attached them to plates for the x, y,and z axes. We started the next session with parts that looked like this:


The instructions describe the z-axis assembly as the most intricate, and they’re not kidding. It took a lot of fiddly work and some mistakes to get here:


Here are some of the participants, planning what to do next:


We assembled the carriages, then the gantry and machine frame. The machine came together well during this session:


I think #1177 (“Minion”) the ShapeOko1 is jealous of its newer, larger, and shiner sibling #5549 (so far unnicknamed):


During the third session, we squared and wired the ShapeOko and installed the drag chain (“e-chain”) with some help from Zach from Inventables.


During the fourth session, we nearly finished the wiring and made a custom holder for the emergency stop button:


Thank you to everyone who helped so far! Thank you Ron (I think) for the Session 2 photos and Allen for the Session 3 photo.

Posted in CNC, Process | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on ShapeOko 2 Building Adventures So Far


For the past few months, my CNC Build Club project has been building a ShapeOko CNC mill from a kit Jeff donated to PS:One to replace the machine hacked into a pick-and-place. The ShapeOko belongs to PS:One and will (hopefully) be a permanent part of the space.

On July 21st, I moved the machine to its home in the shop, finished wiring it up, and tested the motion of the stepper motors. It moved like it was supposed to on the x, y, and z axes, so I moved on to drawing the Hello World job (the ShapeOko logo) in the air. That worked perfectly, too. So now it was the moment of truth – time to find a drawing implement, tape it to the gantry, and send the GCode to draw the logo on paper.

After several attempts at finding the right pen or marker, and figuring out how to tape it securely, this was the result:The ShapeOko completes Hello World Me with the completed Hello World on the ShapeOko I built

A very happy me, and a successful Hello World.

I started this project to learn more about CNC projects from the ground up. Along the way, I learned a bit about tapping, soldering, and Arduinos too. Here’s a look back at it:

This was the beginning:

The Shapeoko gantry, part box, tap, and tap handleThen I tapped more Makerslide and added the frame and rails:

Shapeoko with frame but no z axisThen I added the Z-axis:

Shapeoko with Z axis added.Edward Ford, the Shapeoko’s inventor, happened to be at the space the night I finished the mechanical build of the Shapeoko:

Edward Ford and I with the mechanical build of the Shapeoko

After tweaking and tightening up the mechanical build, I assembled all the electronics I would need, mostly from donations to the project. (Thank you!)  Edward came back for ShapeOko night as part of CNC Build Club, and we got the machine wired up. Unfortunately, the x-axis didn’t move properly, probably because the GRBLshield controller got damaged during rework. So Bart donated another GRBLshield, and Ryan did some heroic rework on its connectors, and this one worked!

Colin donated a Dewalt 660 spindle to the project, and the next step is to get some end mills, test the machine’s milling, and certify some people. I’m also looking at installing some limit switches on the machine. Of course, there are also options like a different spindle, a dual-driven y-axis, or a more robust z-axis. Those will be things for the CNC Build Club and other interested members to decide on.

I got this far with more than “a little help from my friends”. Thank you to the people who offered help, parts, or advice (in no particular order): Jeff, Jay, Steve, Colin, Ryan, Edward, Cat, Bart, Jeremy, Fernando, Jesse, and Everett. If I accidentally left you out, I’m sorry!

Posted in CNC, Process | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on ShapeOko!

My First Processed Space Image

I’ve been watching and enjoying Emily Lakdawalla’s image processing tutorials and realized I need to just start playing around with images myself. So here’s a start. This is an enhanced-color image from Opportunity’s Pancam camera on Sol 3244, looking at her recent tracks overlaying her tracks from 180 sols beforehand. I combined images from Oppy’s L2, L5, and L7 filters (a common combination for Oppy’s science images). I also adjusted the channel levels individually because of the histogram stretching applied to raw images. The original composed image was very blue.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Elizabeth Koprucki

I love seeing the red dust is on Oppy’s arm. It reminds me of the end of this poem.

Posted in Image Processing, Mars | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Something Shiny: Ancient Mars River Bracelet

I suppose it’s a good sign if I’ve been too busy doing and making cool stuff to write about it. Still, some catchup is in order.

During one of my early visits to Pumping Station: One, Shellie showed me a simple bracelet idea using a hammered wire frame as the foundation. I made a few frames and decided to add beads to them later with thinner wire.

I started adding beads to my bracelet frame during the press conference where the Curiosity team announced that the rover had found evidence of ancient running water on Mars. I finished it during the Curiosity press conference at AGU.


This is the bracelet with the clasp tucked behind it.

The colors of the bracelet are inspired by the colors of Mars in old images and pop culture, as well as recent more accurate images from Curiosity. The long line of turquoise beads represent the ancient river, and other spots of turquoise beads represent evidence for water found by other missions. The colors of the large agate slice to the right of center remind me of Spirit’s photos of blue Martian sunsets over red hills. The picture jasper reminds me of Curiosity’s landscape photos. The small hematite beads are a shout-out to the hematite “blueberries” Opportunity found. The pyrite is for texture and was also inspired by Sarcastic Rover’s “Talk Like a Pyrite Day”.


The bracelet with the clasp extended. The initial design concept was a cuff bracelet, but I realized I needed a clasp.




Some different views of the clasped bracelet. It’s fairly heavy when worn. As Shellie said when she saw it in process, it has a lot of presence to it.

Materials: Copper, agate, turquoise, red hair quartz, mookaite, picture jasper, hematite, pyrite

I’ve started working on my next bracelet. Here’s a hint: Titan!

Posted in Jewelry, Mars, Process | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Something Shiny: Ancient Mars River Bracelet

Just Vector Some Gears on It…

I had a hard time figuring out what to get my partner this Christmas. One thing he had asked me to do was make a vector file of some gears to etch on brass, a la Steampunk Strat. A co-worker had also made a suggestion of getting him something like cologne. I loved the idea, especially because I make scent blends using essential oils. (Something I haven’t talked about on here before.) So I made him a cologne oil inspired by an image of a alt-Victorian inventor cooking up something mysterious in his workshop. And I made a label for it (something I hadn’t done before) as a proof of concept of my gear designs.

This is the label, enlarged so it’s more visible. (Go vectors!) The original is 1.875 x 1.25 inches – it fits a one dram vial.

From the Inventor's Workshop Label

I used some gear images from Open Clip Art and further tweaked them, as well as adding in elements I drew.

And just for fun, here is the video I took the title of this post from:

Posted in Fun Stuff, Graphic Design, Music, Scent | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Just Vector Some Gears on It…

What I’ve Been Up To

I haven’t posted on here for more than a year. During that time, I’ve gotten a design job and continued my freelance work. I’ve joined the hackerspace/makerspace Pumping Station:One , met cool people, and begun learning to use CNC tools. I’ve been doing new creative projects, too.

This August, I started following the Mars Curiosity mission after the rover’s amazing landing. This lead me to realize how many fascinating missions are going on, most of which many people don’t know about. I decided to combine several of my interests and begin pursuing information design, particularly visual science communication. Ultimately, I want to focus my graphic design work on space education and advocacy. It’s going to be a long process, but it’s also something I can start working on right now. So that shift will be reflected in the goings-on here – keep checking back!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What I’ve Been Up To

New Work, Creative Process, and Veggies

I just finished up another project for QCDC. It was a set of collateral for the Bronzeville Harvest Fest, which is connected with the Bronzeville Community Market, which was my first brief for them. This time, they sent me an idea for a poster, and I iterated from that, and then took it further. I sent in three comps, and the “further” idea ended up being chosen. Here it is:

Continue reading

Posted in Graphic Design, Process | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on New Work, Creative Process, and Veggies

New Project!

I recently did a pro bono project – a web banner for Marvene’s House. It’s a foundation in Appalachia teaching women skills so they can get jobs. I’ve traveled a little bit in some impoverished parts of Eastern Kentucky and seen and heard a tiny bit of how difficult it can be there, so I definitely found this a worthy project.

Here’s a preview:

Marvene's House Banner Teaser







And the real thing!

Posted in Graphic Design | Tagged , , | Comments Off on New Project!

I’m back!

I just reorganized my portfolio and updated it with my latest design work for Quad Communities Development Corporation.

Take a look!

Posted in Graphic Design | Tagged , | Comments Off on I’m back!