Monday, August 17, 2009

Fun with LEDs and CNC machines

When my cousin Ian was here during the summer, he wanted to make something cool for a girl... It's amazing what boys will do for girls. He wanted to make something really cool and personalized. I, of course, saw this as the perfect opportunity to play with my CNC machine.

First, we used a super-tiny end mill (0.020 inches in diameter!) to engrave her name in a piece of acrylic.

Then we created a base from polyethylene. While it machines OK, it absolutely sucks to cut on the bandsaw (it just melts against the blade). It was so bad, I ended up using the mill to "cut" the piece from a larger block. Here, we've added an LED. This one is a green (because she likes green, of course) Avago 1W LED. We put one at each end facing towards the center where her name will go.
Here's a test of the unit. The green LEDs shine into the acrylic, and where it hits the engraving, it comes out the front. The picture is a little over-exposed. It looks way nicer in real life.We tucked all the wiring into the base and added a barrel plug in the back that hooks up to a miscellaneous DC "wall-wart" I had laying around. The barrel plug fit nicely into the hole we machined into the base, and there was a slot in the bottom for all of the wires and a resistor (to limit the current to the LEDs). The wires and resistor were kept securely in the base using H.G. technology (that's Hot Glue, for the unacronymned).

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