Category Archives: Laser Cutter

Laser love

New member Tony has been getting to grips with our laser cutters/engravers and in the process has been testing a wide range of materials. The results are a fantastic demonstration of the creativity that can be unleashed when you have access to equipment that allows you to move from having a design to producing a ‘thing’ so quickly.

The gallery below plus together a selection of what he’s done so far – and this is just testing. Something tells me that there’s a lot more to come!

Bright ideas: wifi-enabled, neopixel bedroom clock

Vance joined the Hackspace just before Christmas and has wasted no time in completing his first project. In that time he has mastered use of the laser-cutter, got to grips with programming wifi-enabled ESP8266 chips, designed his first printed circuit board, had it made by a board-house, and brought it all together in this ingenious bedroom clock.

Laser-cut, wifi-programmable, RGB-LED, light-sensitive clock

Laser-cut, wifi-programmable, RGB-LED, light-sensitive bedroom clock

The time is represented with twelve radial segments of frosted acrylic that are lit in red, green and blue according to the positions of the hour, minute and second hands. As the hands pass each other they combine to illuminate the room with an ever-changing pattern of coloured light (see video below). What’s more, he has made all the CAD design files for the parts, the code, and the PCB design in a repository and written a blog post to document how he did it.

A brilliant project Vance –  great idea, great design, great finish, brought together at great speed. You’re making the rest of us look like amateurs!

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Bright ideas: from scrap to lamp

A while back I promised a write-up of the soldering lamp project that I made at rLab. Using less than £10 of materials, some of it scrap, I built a bright table-top lamp to illuminate my soldering. None of this would have been possible without rLab’s fantastic facilities and the advice of other members.

There’s a full write-up with list of materials, diagrams, and some of the lessons that I learnt along the way [here].

Soldering lamp head exploded

Soldering lamp head exploded

When the going gets tough…

Sometimes it’s the low-tech solutions that you want to rely on when you’re heading into challenging conditions.

Jonathan in action

Jonathan in action

Last month, Jonathan Blackburn headed off to Fez for the 1,500 mile off-road trip around the north-African desert on a rally motorbike. Rather than relying on sat-nav or smartphone to find his way around – I guess smartphones aren’t so smart in desert conditions – he used a good old-fashioned scroll of paper with the directions written on it. Before heading off, he dropped into rLab to laser-cut parts for a bracket to fix it to the headstock of his bike. Mike was on hand to chat to him about it (video below).

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Build-Your-Own Quadcopter Workshop

Today there was a build-your-own-quadcopter workshop at rLab. The quadcopters were designed by one of our members (Jon), the main elements of the airframe cut from acrylic with our laser cutter, and all of the parts ordered and assembled into kits in advance.Total price per quadcopter – ~£100!

The build was a great success, with eight out of nine of the quadcopters in flight by 5:30 – the ninth had a faulty motor.

For the bill of materials and the presentation used for the workshop click the ‘Read More’ button below

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All hail the new laser cutter!

rLab has recently taken delivery of a new laser cutter. The new machine is significantly more powerful than our existing one, and has a much larger bed, allowing us to cut and engrave much larger pieces.

Test output from the new laser cutter

Test output from our new laser cutter


Installation in the upstairs machine room required a big team effort, a forklift, the temporary removal of a wall, and the installation of a duct to pipe fumes out of the building. But it is now in place, and ready for use by trained members.

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Going With The Flow

Our laser cutter is one of our most used pieces of equipment. It’s critical the laser tube doesn’t get too hot while it’s being used and so it is water cooled. But it is sometimes hard to see if the reservoir is dry and if the pump is working so Richard built this beautiful home made flow meter so we can ensure both the temperature and flow are functioning and not burning out one of our fav toys.

Community Help

RLab was recently approached by someone who required a headpiece to communicate with their wheelchair and computer touch screens. It seems the headpiece was actually very expensive and hence quite worn.

RLab created new laser cut and printed parts which have been saved so they can be remade at any time, and in a cooler black that the user asked for :)

This is just one of the great community projects RLab help out with, check out our Repair Cafe sessions too!

Home Made Led Matrix

Whilst on our epic China Hack Camp we found some really nice diffused waterproof LEDs that can be independently driven like the WS2812’s.

Richard used the Laser Cutter to make some really nice 7 x 7 modules. He recessed the LEDs and used a superglue and accelerator to fix them to the acrylic.

The result looks FAB but now does he mount them horizontally or as a block… and what do we do with them next?


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