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Polycarbonate Jankó keyboard by Mister Starshine

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Mister Starshine was not satisfied with commercially available music keyboards. So he built his own keyboard using the Jankó layout with hexagonal polycarbonate keys.

Here's a video of the keyboard in action:

The Jankó keyboard design has 2 great advantages:

  1. All scales are played with the same fingering, no matter what key it is played in.
  2. It is easier for one hand to play greater intervals.
Although it was invented in the late 1800s, the Jankó keyboard never caught on, except among a few enthusiasts. You can try the playing it for yourself with this Jankó keyboard Flash app.

Actually, this is just one of many types of alternate keyboard layouts created to make playing music easier. But with limited commercial availability, it looks like the best bet may be to make your own keyboard.

The tricycle project: a colorful custom flag made with Big Blue Saw

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My son, Orion, loves to ride his tricycle. Occasionally he rides with us on family walks around the neighborhood. He's pretty low to the ground when he's on pedaling on his own, though, and naturally I'm nervous that some careless driver won't see him until it's too late.

So I came up with the idea of putting a flag on his tricycle to make it not only safer, but more festive as well.

I started designing with a pen, paper, and some markers. Orion told me that he wanted a flag with a blue flower with "straight petals". He also thought an orange background would look good too (as a bonus, it's highly visible to cars as well). This is the sketch he approved.

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The next step was to fire up Inkscape and get the ideas into the computer. I added a rectangular area on the left of the flag with 7 holes large enough to fit a #6 machine screw. (See the downloads section below for links to all of the files used in this project.)

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The next step was to split the design into 3 separate files, 1 for each color used in the flag: orange for the background, blue for the stem and petals, and black for the center of the flower. These files were then used to laser cut orange, blue, and black polyester twill pieces. Laser cutting seals the edges of the twill so that the edges won't fray, even without hemming.

Big Blue Saw's polyester twill has an adhesive back with a peel-off protective layer. I peeled the protective backing off and stuck the parts together.

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Our polyester twill has an even nicer property: when you apply heat and pressure, the twill will form a permanent, washable bond with nearly any fabric. I applied a hot iron for about 30 seconds with medium pressure on top of all of the flag layers. When I was done, I had a good looking permanently bonded flag.

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I needed a flagpole, so I cut one from two pieces of 1/8" black acetal. These acetal pieces were placed on either side of the flag, and the whole thing was held together with decorative #6 brass machine screws and nuts.

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Here's Orion waving the completed flag.

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Now that the flag and flagpole were assembled, it was time to attach the whole assembly to the tricycle. I was able to create a base for the flagpole by putting a permanent 90 degree bend near the bottom of each flagpole piece. This was done by heating plastic part with a heat gun, then bending it with pliers. I then screwed the flagpole to the rear wooden deck of the tricycle with some random wood screws that were around the house.

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Here's the completed flag and tricycle. Orion loves it, and it helps keep him safe, too.

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By the way, at our current prices (June 2010), $43 would get you one set of laser cut polyester pieces for the flag, with prices coming down to less than $10 per set if you order in quantity. One set of the flagpole parts is $31.60, with the quantity price dropping below $26.

Downloads

 

 

Lady Jane laser cut acrylic table lamp

Here's an idea worth improving upon: New Zealand designer Kevin Webby's Lady Jane table lamp. It is made from laser cut acrylic panels arranged to make the outline of a classic table lamp, but in a completely new way.

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I originally found this on the Acrylite web site. Mr. Webby is not a customer, but I thought this was a great example of what you can do with laser cutting and simple materials like acrylic.

A birthday present for Miles

Miles, my friends' son, turned 1 year old this past month. I created this sign for him as a birthday present. The sign was designed in Inkscape then cut and engraved on the laser from poplar wood. Image

If you wanted to create one sign using Big Blue Saw, it would cost about $22.50, with the price coming down to less than $11 each in quantity.

The original SVG design.

The DXF version, suitable for use with Big Blue Saw's online quoting system.

Contest winner: the best stolen idea

Congratulations to Sam, who posted the winning entry in our contest to name the best stolen idea. Here's his entry:

Whenever people flip through my Industrial Design portfolio, there's one project that stands out. Ostensibly it's a surge protector, but what strikes people is that it looks like an odd organic/cybernetic sculpture. It sort of resembles the bottom of a seahorse grafted to the bottom of another, equally uncomfortable seahorse. I love it, and I spent weeks building the final model.

It wasn't until right after that I noticed the exact same profile in a wind chime on my front porch.

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Thanks to everyone who participated!

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