image from the film The Princess Bride

closeup from the movie

This is a prop I’ve wanted for a while. There’s been so-so reference material for a long time pieced together by other hopeful collectors. We’ve got some great close-ups and screen captures from the film itself. The goblet wasn’t created for the film, so there are a bunch of them out there in the world. They’re rare, but they exist. A member of posted some pictures recently of the one they happened to have already owned by chance. Another member posted pics they found from an eBay and Etsy auction they found while browsing Pintrest. Judging by their descriptions of the items, and a private message to one of them, none of the sellers knew they were used in the film.

Using these pictures as reference material, I’ve been able to sculpt a CAD model using AutoCAD and Meshmixer, and have printed out a goblet in plastic using the DittoPro at the Baltimore Node Makerspace. The final plan is to cast these goblets in lead-free pewter.

I first created a sketch of the model to get a good feel for it and to see if I ran into any trouble making the model. After creating a rough sketch, I got some feedback. We know the base is a bit bigger, 3.5″ instead of 3″ like I originally drew. The circles around the top are different sizes, 3 big and 3 small. The lower three ovals are way more squished than I had originally draw. I went back and recreated the goblet, making these changes.

Some times I run into a feature that’s too difficult for me to model in AutoCAD and I have to use a mesh modeling tool, like Meshmixer. This usually happens if it’s a very complex curve, or a variable radius fillet. Sometimes there’s also a feature that ends up being way easier to model in Meshmixer anyway, or something that is so simple to do in Meshmixer it’s not worth fiddling with it in AutoCAD. Since it’s very difficult to go backwards from Meshmixer back into AutoCAD, I want to be sure to save all of these Meshmixer tweaks for the end, and do as much as I can directly in AutoCAD first.

I was able to create the entire goblet in AutoCAD except for smoothing out a seam I created on the petals, and the complex curve where the fins blend into the neck of the goblet. The part where the fins curve into the goblet cup is easy, but where they start to smooth out near the bottom is hard so I just go over that area with a smoothing brush in Meshmixer.

Based on the seams seen on the screen-used prop, I can tell that it was originally cast from a rigid multi-piece plaster or rammed sand mold. We can see that there are seams down the sides of the goblet in three places. I personally don’t want to use plaster to cast the mold for this, and would prefer to create it from a split rubber mold for simplicity. It’s much easier for me to make the rubber mold than the multi-piece plaster mold, and much safer. I’ve read for plaster molds you have to make sure they’re completely dried out or else they’ll explode when you pour molten metal into them because the water expands so fast. I have experience with silicone rubber mold making but not plaster, and for this project I want to use the silicone. I do still want the seams to be in the part as if I cast it in a multi-piece mold, so I’m adding them to the CAD model. My hope is that the final cast piece will appear to still have come from a multi-piece mold instead of the split rubber one.

closeup shot showing top circles are different sizes

reference image from an etsy seller

reference image from an etsy seller

excellent reference shot
CAD model after making several adjustments
wireframe view of initial sketch

initial sketch model

I’ll be updating this blog post as I work on the project. Please check back soon to see my progress.

A neat thing happened today. Valve, a popular videogame company(makers of Half-Life, Portal, DOTA, Counter Strike, and more) and Shapeways, a 3D printing service bureau that also lets you have a 3D-print-on-demand online storefront, reached and agreement where we can upload any design to Shapeways and share 10% royalties with Valve when sales are made. It’s very exciting to me, and certainly the way licenses should go, in my opinion. It’ll be neat to see if other storefront sites like Etsy take on this approach.
So, here you are, an officially licensed pair of Portal earrings, designed by me, up on Shapeways:
Here’s a few parts I made for Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I headed down to the stadium today to test the fit, and it went perfectly. All 9000 padded seats between the dugouts behind home plate use two of these. It’s a self adjusting bracket to hold the seats to the rest of the chair. Since each seat is angled differently to face the field, a simple bracket doesn’t do the job. This bracket has a rotating ball in a socket to accommodate for any angle. I unfortunately don’t get to sell them the entire 18,000 sets of parts that they use for the whole lot because these are just replacements for when the originals break, but it’s still a nice order and pretty need to add them to my client list! The black one is the original, mine is the all white set. The company who made these originally got bought by a different stadium seating company, and they no longer offer these parts. They don’t break too often, but when they do, the seat is unusable, so it’s always good to have a few on hand.
 My white 3d printed ones next to the black originals

These three parts are the original pieces.

This is the 3d printed nylon part. The central ball rotates freely to any angle.

You can see the metal bars that stick out from the arm rest.
The ball part fits right on the metal bar, and adjusts itself to the angle as needed.
I tested the screw hole placement in their repair shop on a newly refinished padded seat. They replace the vinyl on these all the time.

It works! Installed in section 30 row 29 seat 11

Here’s a great article shapeways put up about it:

I decided to flex my maker muscles and create this prop replica three different ways. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should. This is the card that Princess Leia gives to R2-D2 in the very beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope that contains the plans to the Death Star. We finally get a close-up of it in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and it’s one of those things I just had to have.

The first one I made is currently up for auction, and half of the total will be sent to Make A Wish Foundation in Carrie Fisher’s memory.

Going from least expensive equipment required to most, I’ve documented the steps taken to create this replica. The first just uses a laser cutter, painters tape, sand paper, spray paint, and acrylic welder.

First, I sanded a sheet of white acrylic with 220 grit to get the paint to stick nicely. Then I covered a large area with blue painters tape, and laser-cut the profile, as well as several concentric circles.
I carefully removed the tape, leaving thin blue areas to mask off sections I didn’t want the paint to get to

Spray-painted a nice coat with gold paint. The taped off area between the circles block the paint like a stencil.

Once the paint dried, I peeled off the tape.

I was careful not to scratch the paint when peeling out the thin areas.

I then cut a piece of black acrylic and used fast set acrylic welder to bond it to the bottom, for a finished piece! I made two this way, slightly modifying the base, and one without sanding the acrylic, so it’s glossier.
The second method uses the laser cutter, a vinyl cutter, and acrylic welder. 
We’re using gold vinyl directly instead of using paint. I found measurements for the width of the slot that the R2 builders are using and adjusted the width of my prop for this method to fit in there. I also wasn’t happy with the length and arc at the top so I modified those dimensions. FinallyI tweaked the black bar so you don’t see any white on the side of the black part.

The brushed gold vinyl is still on its way to me, but I like the vinyl better than paint already. Plus it’s easier to do so that’ll keep the cost down. I messed up the placement of the vinyl on this prototype… It’s too high. When I make more of them, I’ll use registration marks to be sure to line things up correctly.  As in the first step, two layers of black acrylic are welded to the bottom. The shape is a little bit different this time to hide the white edge inside the black acrylic.

This way was easier and provided a cleaner look. I think the new vinyl coming in just after New Years will look even better. It has a brushed gold look to it, which I think will look better.

The third way is a whole lot of steps. I routed out the copper PCB, transferred a vinyl sticker to the board to act as a mask, etched away all the exposed copped, remove the vinyl mask, nickel plated the copper, and then gold plated the nickel.

Gluing down the copper board to a base layer

Cutting out the shape of the board with the router

Cutting vinyl for etching mask

Use transfer tape to move the vinyl to the copper board (sorry it’s not centered! Just a prototype)

Pouring homemade Cupric Acid etching solution to eat away the exposed copper. This is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the traditional Ferric Chloride method.

Waiting waiting waiting…

Refreshing the solution with more oxygen by adding some hydrogen peroxide 

[[I’ll update this eventually with the plating steps.]]

Final version went through a few revisions, but is made of aluminum as the card base, a white layer, and then copper plated with nickel for the trace lines and gold for the central circles. With the details that were view-able in the blue-ray, we got a lot more information.

I’ve got these final version ones up in my etsy shop if you’d like one.

Breaking out the CNC skills for this one.  The mysterious maze from Westworld:

Everyone loves a good sci-fi western. Between seasons, follow your heart and play with this mysterious maze to pass the time. This project is ready to go and just needs your support. I’m only making a very limited run of these.

I’ll be carving these about 8″ in diameter from top quality select kiln-dried pine and staining it dark. It’s 3/4″ thick and will come with three stainless steel ball bearings.

These will be engraved by a CNC router here in Baltimore at the Baltimore Node Makerspace. They’re then hand-sanded smooth, and stained dark.

This is my fifth project here on kickstarter. I’m confident that I’ll be able to get these into your hands before the end of February. It is a quick project with a fast turnaround time. I have everything I need to get started and just need your support.
Thanks for looking, and as always, please share this project with others. 

My newest project, a “Hold The Door” Hodor memorial doorstop. I’m laser engraving blocks of wood and offering a limited quantity of them for sale through the campaign. It’s already been funded over 400% (of only a $500 goal) and we’re less than 24 hours in. I’m only having this up for a week, so it’s a super quick one. Grab one while you can!

There’s been some media coverage on as well as mentions on several other sites like Vanity Fair and The Independant. Thanks for supporting the campaign and sharing it!

My girlfriend and I recently got in to rock climbing. If you’ve never been before, basically there’s a rope tied to the climbers harness which then runs up to the top of the wall, and then back down to a device attached to the second person’s harness. The second person is called the belayer, and it is his or her job to hold the rope with the assistance of the belay device, catching the climber if they fall. They also have to keep their eyes on the climber as they go up the wall.

Keeping your head tilted back to keep your eyes on the climber can end up quite uncomfortable. Some clever folks have invented these devices that use prisms to reflect your vision upwards, but allowing you to keep your head straight forward, easing the stress on your neck. The problem is these glasses cost 80 to 100 bucks! It’s more expensive than any single piece of climbing gear I’ve gotten so far.

My friend Nancy showed me these funky laptop/reading glasses that deflect your vision downward for use when laying on your back and reading in bed, or watching TV without sitting up. At the time I thought they were just funny things with no real use, but were neat to play with. Look in the window on the right in the right picture below and you can see how they “bend” your vision downward.


I ordered a set from China from Amazon for $5 and figured I’d be able to modify them to work for climbing.  Turns out I was right and it just took a couple minutes!

Here’s how to do it:

You’ll need a few things to get started.
A flat screwdriver or something small and flat to pry with. I used a lockpick I had laying around.
You’ll also need some glue. I used gap-filling gel control locktite.
You’ll also need a rotary tool like a Dremel. I used the cutting wheel on my Foredom flex-shaft tool.
 And finally, get yourself a cheap one of these for $5.08 shipped or $15 if you want them quicker.

I’ve ordered a $15 pair and this $5 pair. The $5 ones seem to be the exact same as the $15 ones, so might as well go with the cheapest you can find if you don’t mind waiting an extra week or two.

Pry apart the little rectangles inside the frames. They’re just press-fit in place and pop out pretty easily with the right tool.

Once you pop the rectangles out, the prisms can slide out smoothly.
Now for the tricky part. You’ve got to cut or saw the triangular shield piece off while leaving some material behind. Without removing it, you won’t be able to see upwards through it, so it has to be removed, but you need to leave some of it in place to reattach the prisms. 

Use a saw or rotary tool to cut the shield part off, leaving triangles, one on each side of each opening, four triangles total. Remove the top black piece and discard.

Use a drop of glue on each triangle to secure the prism in place.

Position the prisms in place, upside down from how they previously were.

Conversion complete!

My friend Cody from DyeLlama and I have been working on this project for a while now and are ready to share it with you. We’re using pretty new awesome manufacturing techniques to make these maps here in Baltimore. The leather maps are laser engraved using the 80watt laser at the Baltimore Node. The canvas is dyed using UV reactive dye exposed to sunlight through a transparency. 
The map illustration itself was pieced together from original illustrations as well as two pieces from the public domain, the illustration of lord Baltimore’s ship and the original seal of Maryland. We found them in some Maryland archives online. The other illustrations of of cool things from around town, like Poe’s grave, the shot tower, science center, fed hill cannon, a slice of pizza in little Italy, Chessie, and a rat or two. Lots of landmarks in the downtown area and a bit beyond. It’s not everything in Baltimore, because they just wouldn’t fit because of the scale, but we included a lot and will have even more. There’s a bunch of pics up on the campaign site now, the video is great, so please check it out and share it on social media, and back it if you can.

I didn’t blog about this when I created it but it looks cool so I figured I’d share the pictures. I gifted this to my friend Jenny. It’s a pretty neat competitive puzzle game. I just used birch plywood, cut it at the node, stained it, and hand painted the symbols. The raised walls are important to the gameplay, and the off-the-shelf version of the game just has printed graphics instead of a physical wall. The pieces are 3D prined and are the Make: robot. I downloaded their .stl file here and you can download my mishmash of source files I created for the game here. It’s poorly documented but should provide a great starting point for anyone interested in making their own.

Han Solo’s going away party! Tuesday April 22nd, 7:30pm.

Unfortunately, the 1:1 replica of Han Solo in Carbonite isn’t going to be coming along with us to the new Baltimore Node location. It was a commissioned project anyway and I didn’t want to move it and then move it again, so I decided to finish it up and get it read to ship it off to my customer in Alabama later this week. Don’t worry though; I’ll be building another one once we get into the new space.

I decided to run an event where people can come and learn what I learned fromthis project. I’ll talk about everything I can remember and show pictures and let you ask questions. I’ll discuss laser cutting, CNC routing, silicon molding, resin casting, 3d printing, 3d model packing optimization, microcontroller programming, sculpting with bondo, and much more. I’ll be discussing the project on April 21st, and you can see the completed sculpture then.

Please bring some food to share if you want, or $5 for pizza. RSVP on meetup