Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Accidentally "Smuggled" Batteries from China

Well this was unexpected. I ordered some small batteries from China several weeks ago.  The other day, a package arrived.

I opened the padded envelope to find two cheap plastic cars.  "What the hell?  I didn't order any plastic cars from China via Swiss Post," I thought.  But the address is correct ... the supplier must have messed up my order.  (That would be a first - I've had a couple things not show up, but never be flat out wrong.)

"Huh, there's something rattling inside here," was my next thought.

I broke open the cheap, hollow plastic car to discover a battery inside each.

Well, I haven't seen that before.

I suspect shipping in this way is due to recent changes the USA has made to shipping regulations.  The USA says lithium-polymer cells can no longer be shipped by air, except as part of a device (i.e. installed as part of something else.)  Perhaps this is an effort to obey that regulation in letter, if not in spirit.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Tiny Dinosaur Hunting Parties

I updated my Tiny Dinosaurs With Rifles a short while ago to include display cases complete with little grass flats.  Something was still missing, so I added Velociraptors to accompany the rifle-toting T-Rex and form a complete hunting party.

Click the Read More link for pictures.

And of if you like laser-cut stuff, check out my Aliens Facehugger Popper!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Making the Star Wars Droid Translator Helmets: Droid Sounds Are Hard

When it came time to figure out a way to have my Star Wars Droid Translator Helmets speak "Droid" language, I didn't realize what a big job it was going to be.

The good news is that I've done the hard parts so you can reap the rewards!  Click read more to learn and download.

This is a followup to my original post about the details behind designing and building the Star Wars Droid Translator helmets.

Tiny Dinosaurs with Rifles - now with Display Cases

I originally made my Tiny Dinosaurs with Rifles as a test of what I could achieve with my laser cutter.  I was actually very happy with them, so much that I spent some time assembling them into little enclosures.

Do you think they'd make a good kit?  Let me know!

Click the Read More link for more pictures.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Star Wars Droid Translator Helmets

Successful test! hosted a Star Wars project contest in which I designed and entered these Droid Translator Helmets.  I have a few added details to share here that didn't fit into the submission. If you haven't yet, read the main project page at .

(Don't forget to read my follow-up: Making the Droid Sounds.)

These masks let you:

  1. Look like a Star Wars Droid!
  2. Sound like a Star Wars Droid when you talk!
  3. Understand other Droid helmets (by hearing their voices when they talk)!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Using UAVs to Show Crop Health

I have been working on a new initiative - using drone technology (small robotic aircraft) to help growers of all kinds understand the state of their crops better, faster, and easier. is gathering people interested in beta testing a new service that uses robotic aircraft to provide detailed maps of plant health.  If you grow crops of any kind, are located in or around central Alberta, sign up for their tester program!

(Flying UAVs in Canada requires regulatory compliance but you don't need to worry about any of that. takes care of all permits as part of providing their service.)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Tiny Dinosaurs with Rifles

I have been experimenting with these tiny little dinosaurs.  The design itself is not new (Epilog laser has the CAD file free on their site) and making them small isn't new either.

The work and features I added are new, though.  As is arming them with rifles.

Going from the raw CAD file to what you see here (that's the tip of a mechanical pencil on the left by the way) was a lot of work - far beyond simply scaling the design down.  Here's what I did.