Here’s a neat resource from [MSRaynsford] that is worth bookmarking for anyone who gets creative with laser engravers, CNC routers, or drawing robots: SVGFonts are single-line symbol fonts that [MSRaynsford] created for his laser-cut and engraved cryptex puzzle boxes. They provide an easy way to engrave text as symbols.
CNC engraving of letters and symbols is one of those things that seems simple, but is actually more complex than it may appear. It is often desirable to use a tool to engrave symbols with a single line, in much the same way a person would write them if using a pen. But fonts and art for letters and numbers aren’t normally a single line. Thankfully there is a solution in the form of Hershey text, an extension for which is included in Inkscape. It turns out that Hershey Fonts have their origin back in the 1960s, when the changing landscape of electronics and industry opened new opportunities and demanded new solutions.
That’s why, when [MSRaynsford] needed fonts in different styles and symbols for creating his puzzle boxes, he had to design them himself and they had to be single-line vector art, just like Hershey Text. The small collection includes English letters designed to resemble a runic alphabet, a Greek-inspired series, and two coded alphabets based on flag semaphore.
Readers of a certain vintage will no doubt remember the time when Prince eschewed his royal position and became an unpronounceable symbol. People had no choice but to refer to him as TAFKAP, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, and members of the music press were sent a 3.5″ floppy disk with a font file containing a single character — that gender-transcending shape that would soon become another one of Prince’s guitars. But it’s 2021, and now you can get it from the Internet Archive. Fun fact: the file wasn’t ever locked down. In fact, the symbol was available on Prince’s Compuserve and fan club CD-ROM.
While some people trawl auction sites for overalls and weird keyboards, others look for ridiculous items from the zeitgeist, like a copy of this floppy. Take [Anil Dash] for instance. [Anil] finally pulled the trigger after 15 years of debating this particular purchase. [Anil]’s interest was reignited after reading this analysis of whether the symbol could ever be put into Unicode. (Between being trademarked, a logo, and a personal character, it’s ineligible for inclusion.)
Over the past few years, I kept bumping into something called Hershey fonts. After digging around, I found a 1967 government report by a fellow named Dr. Allen Vincent Hershey. Back in the 1960s, he worked as a physicist for the Naval Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia, studying the interaction between ship hulls and water. His research was aided by the Naval Ordnance Research Calculator (NORC), which was built by IBM and was one of the fastest computers in the world when it was first installed in 1954.
The NORC’s I/O facilities, such as punched cards, magnetic tape, and line printers, were typical of the era. But the NORC also had an ultra-high-speed optical printer. This device had originally been developed by the telecommunications firm Stromberg-Carlson for the Social Security Administration in order to quickly print massive amounts of data directly upon microfilm.
I am something of an Inkscape fan. If you’re not familiar with the application, it’s like an Open Source version of Adobe Illustrator. Back when I was a production artist I’d been an Illustrator master ninja but it’s been four years and my skills are rusty. Plus, Inkscape is just enough different in terms of menus and capabilities that I had a hard time adapting.
So I created some wooden lettering with the help of Inkscape and a laser cutter, and I’m going to show you how I did it. If you’re interested in following along with this project, you can find it on Hackaday.io.
While playing around with Inkscape, I noticed you can create a variety of grids, including axonometric grids. This term refers to the horizon lines in an orthographic projection. In other words, it helps make things look 3D by providing perspective lines.
In the open-source world, there are two main choices for PCB design: KiCad and gEDA. But if you’re tired of the boring Hershey fonts telling you which resistor is which, or if you need to comply with ISO 3098, there’s one clear choice: PCB-RND, the improved fork of gEDA’s PCB tool. Why?
Because PCB-RND now supports osifont, which supports a ridiculous number of languages. In addition to the usual suspects, like Azerbaijani through Vietnamese, support has also been added for legacy users, including those of Middle Earth, who build PCBs that can only be read when the thrush knocks by the setting sun of the last light on Durin’s Day.
And they haven’t stopped there. Looking forward to the Treaty of Organia in 2267, you can now create PCBs that are fully plqaD-HaSta compliant.
We’re glad to see these important steps made toward reaching out to underserved PCB-constructing communities. However, we’re appalled at the continuing lack of support for Rihannsu. This will have to be rectified by anyone who wants to push their projects in the Beta Quadrant.
Doing some 8-bit ASCII art, but can’t remember where you left your copy of MicroKnight for the Amiga? Or maybe you just need some low-res-but-high-style bitmap fonts to go with your LED pixel array. No fear! Maze.io is cataloguing old text-mode fonts for you.
Textmode.es has a slew of new and old text art from both the Amiga and PC scenes. Rendering some of these correctly really relies on having the right font, so the parser piece reads many different art file formats and renders them with the requested fonts. There’s ASCII, sure, but also ICE Draw, PCBoard, Artworx, and many more. But piece needs the right fonts to do its work, which brings us back to Maze.io.
So whether you’re interested in new or old text-mode art, or just in need of some pixels to push around, have a look at Maze.io. And if you see any ROMs out there with interesting fonts, let them know.