CNC Intaglio-Esque Engraving

Intaglio is an ancient carving technique for adding details to a workpiece, by manually removing material from a surface with only basic hand tools. If enough material depth is removed, the resulting piece can be used as a stamp, as was the case with rings, used to stamp the wax seals of verified letters. [Nicolas Tranchant] works in the jewelry industry, and wondered if he could press a CNC engraving machine into service to engrave gemstones in a more time-efficient manner than the manual carving methods of old.

Engraving and machining generally work only if the tool you are using is mechanically harder than the material the workpiece is made from. In this case, this property is measured on the Mohs scale, which is a qualitative measurement of the ability of one (harder) material to scratch another. Diamond is the hardest known material on the Mohs scale and has a Mohs hardness of 10, so it can produce a scratch on the surface of say, Corundum — Mohs value 9 — but not the other way around.

[Nicolas] shows the results of using a diamond tip equipped CNC engraver on various gemstones typical of Intaglio work, such as Black Onyx, Malachite, and Amethyst with some details of the number of engraving passes needed and visual comparison to the same material treated to traditional carving.

Let’s be clear here, the traditional intaglio process produces deep grooves on the surface of the workpiece and the results are different from this simple multi-pass engraving method — but limiting the CNC machine to purely metal engraving duties seemed a tad wasteful. Now if they can only get a suitable machine for deeper engraving, then custom digitally engraved intaglio style seal rings could be seeing a comeback!

Intaglio isn’t just about jewelry of course, the technique has been used in the typesetting industry for centuries. But to bring this back into ours, here’s a little something about making a simple printing press.

3 Ways To DIY Custom CNC Dust Covers

Home shop machinists know dust shields are important for keeping swarf out of expensive linear rails and ball screws. [Petteri Aimonen] demonstrates three inexpensive ways to DIY some bellows-style dust covers. Such things can of course be purchased, but they’re priced at a premium and not always available in the size one needs.

A bellows-style dust cover ideally maximizes extension length while minimizing side wall distortion. It should hold its shape without external support.

The first method is to fold a suitable flat plastic or paper sheet into a bellows pattern. This method is all about the fold pattern, and thankfully, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. [Petteri] used a fellow enthusiast’s bellows folding pattern generator which is, believe it or not, itself inspired by a remarkably comprehensive US Patent Number 6,054,194.

The downside to this method is the thickness of the bellows when it is fully collapsed. The corners always contain the most material, because it is there that the material is folded upon itself, and this limits how close to the end of travel the CNC carriage can move with the bellows attached.

The second method is to cut a large number of C-shaped sections from fabric and sew them together to make bellows. This method collapses down well and holds its shape well, but the cutting and sewing it requires can be a barrier.

The final method — and the one [Petteri] found most useful — was to hack some IKEA window blinds. IKEA Schottis pleated blinds are inexpensive, with a slick finish on one side and polyester fabric.  The polyester is perfect for gluing. By cutting the material at a 45-degree angle into three sections and gluing them into a U-shape, one can create a serviceable bellows-style cover for a minimum of work.

Any of the explored methods can do the job, but [Petteri] has formulas to determine the maximum extensions and folded thicknesses of each method just in case one would like to see for themselves before choosing. And if a bellows-style cover isn’t your cup of tea, check out this method for turning a plastic strip into a spring-like tube that does the same job.

Hackaday Podcast 204: Cesium, Colorful Cast Buttons, And CNC Pizza

This week, Editor-in-Chief Elliot Williams and Assignments Editor Kristina Panos met up over thousands of miles to discuss the hottest hacks of the past seven days. There’s a whole lot of news this week, and the really good part is the the small radioactive source that went missing in Australia has been found. Phew!

Kristina is still striking out on What’s That Sound, but we’re sure you’ll fare better. If you think you know what it is, fill out the form and you’ll be entered to win a coveted Hackaday Podcast t-shirt!

Finally, we get on to the hacks with an atomic pendulum clock that’s accurate enough for CERN, safecracking the rough-and-ready way, and plenty of hacks that are non-destructive to nice, old things. We’ll gush over a tiny DIY adjustable wrench, drool over CNC pizza, and rock out to the sounds of a LEGO guitar/synthesizer thing.

Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in  the comments!

And/or download it and listen offline.

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Pizza-Making CNC Machine Is The Only Tool We’ve Ever Dreamed Of

Making pizza is fun, but eating pizza is even better. Ideally, you’ll get to spend much more time doing the latter than the former. If you had a pizza-making CNC machine, that would help you achieve this goal, and thankfully, [Twarner] is working on that very technology.

The Pizza-Pizza CNC Machine is based on Marlin firmware running on a Mini RAMbo 3D printer motherboard, and is a 3-axis CNC machine. At a glance, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s some kind of fancy futuristic vinyl player, but it’s actually intended to cook a tasty delicious pie. It’s a gantry-based machine that uses two tool ends, one charged with distributing sauce, and the other cheese. It’s programmed with G-code to designate areas to coat with sauce and areas to cover with cheese. It can’t create dough from scratch sadly, but instead operates using pre-manufactured pizza bases.

The current level of sophistication is low, and there are issues with cheese clogs and the general messiness of the operation. However, this doesn’t mean there’s no value in automated pizza manufacture. If anything, we want to see the more open-sauce development in this area until we end up with a pizza factory on every kitchen bench worldwide. We’ve already seen that hackers have mastered how to build a good pizza oven, so now we just need to solve this part of the equation. Video after the break.

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Hackaday Podcast 202: CNC Monks, Acrobot, Bootleg Merch, And The Rise And Fall Of Megahex

This week, Editor-in-Chief Elliot Williams and Assignments Editor Kristina Panos stood around and marveled at machinery in its many forms, from a stone-cutting CNC to an acrobatic robot to an AI-controlled Twitch v-tuber. But before all of that, we took a look at the winners of our FPV Vehicle Contest, poured one out for Google Stadia, and Elliot managed to stump Kristina once again with this week’s What’s That Sound. Will you fare better?

Later, we drooled over an open-source smart watch, argued screen printing versus stenciling when it comes to bootleg Hackaday merch, and got into the finer points of punycodes.

Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

And/or download it and listen offline.

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Wireless CNC Pendant Implemented With ESP-NOW

As a fervent fan of twiddly and twirly widgets and tactile buttons in a device’s user interface, [Steve M Potter] created a remote control (pendant) for his CNC machine, which he explains in a recent video that’s also linked down below. In addition to all the tactile goodness, what is perhaps most interesting about this controller is that it uses Espressif’s ESP-NOW protocol. This still uses the same 2.4 GHz as WiFi would, but uses a system more akin to the pairing of a wireless mouse or keyboard.

Advantages of ESP-NOW include the lower power usage, longer range, no requirement for a router and WiFi SSID & password. As far as latency goes, [Steve] measured a round-trip latency of 2.4 ms, which is fast enough for this purpose. Since it does control a potentially dangerous machine, all transmissions are acknowledged and re-transmitted at higher power if needed.

The lower power usage means that the pendant will last a lot longer on a single charge from the 18650 Li-ion cell, while ESP-NOW’s fixed address pairing saves time when turning the pendant on. Meanwhile, on the CNC side, another ESP32 acts as the receiving end for commands, although theoretically an ESP8266 could be used as well, if size or power was a concern there.

As for the transparent enclosure? It’s to make it easier to show it off to interested folk, apparently.

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Watermelon CNC Uses Lazy Susan

It is the time of year when a lot of people in certain parts of the world carve pumpkins. [Gonkee] is carving a watermelon, which we assume is similar. He decided to make a CNC machine to do the carving for him. The unusual part is the use of two lazy Susans to make a rotary carving machine. You can see the result in the video below.

The hardware is clever and there is software that lets you do drawings, although we were hoping for something that would process gcode or slice STL. That would be a worthy add-on project. There were a few iterations required before the Melon Carver 3000 worked satisfactorily. Seeing a carving tool operating on two circles gives us a lot of ideas. We aren’t sure how sturdy the mounts are, so don’t plan on carving aluminum without some changes, but we suspect it is possible.

Then again, a laser head mounted on the frame would have probably made short work of the melon, and wouldn’t require much mechanical stiffness. It would, however, take a little effort to keep it in focus. So many ideas to try!

Watermelon is a popular hacking medium, apparently. There’s even one that holds a GameBoy.