Thursday, June 25, 2015


I forked the CAD file, tried out several variations, emailed the client...and I think I've boiled down a little to a tweaked version that maintains things I liked about the prototype while still walking that line between maintaining that recognizable "Jetsons" ancestry but looking solid and practical:

I just can't get the insulator "donuts" any bigger without it feeling unbalanced. But the less busy fin and the longer "swoosh" and smaller dish are helping a lot, I think. I'm trying to keep some hints of 1950's propmaster here, but the "jewels" (marking intensity settings) were just a little too much in that direction. Besides...the unmarked dial means I can put any arbitrary number of behaviors into the software.

I keep wandering off into elaborate sidetracks, like the idea of a remove-able energy cell. As of the moment, I'm reserving the option but the access plate in the pistol butt is just going to be there to get at the USB charge cable. I'm also having a lot of trouble thinking in 2.5d.

Here's the thing; the majority of this is going to be run off on a CNC mill. I'm flipping parts once to do the back sides, but that means every cut I make has to be possible to reach from one side or the other. Took me forever to wrap my mind around how the catch for the butt plate works, until I finally saw that from the viewpoint of the mill, where the catch needs to go looks like a slot.

I have forty pages of sketches brainstorming the various mechanical details. But of course how they actually work out gets revealed in the CAD. The assembly details of the front don't look right in the CAD, for instance; the sketches had a more generous space for tapped holes. So I'm wobbling right now on a range all the way from woodruff keys to threading down to just throwing JB Weld in there and doing a friction fit.

The electromechanical components are all here now; medium surface transducer, lever (limit) switch, potentiometer with integral twist switch, 3W pink Cree. The metal (and acrylic) is here as well. Sigh. Always something -- a 3/8" acrylic rod would fit right in with minimal lathing necessary. But the acrylic I want isn't available in that diameter. So I need to lathe the length of the rod, which is again unexplored territory.

Doesn't help that I had a grenade order that got delayed by the unexpected dance show. I finally finished lathing them today. I'm ambivalent there as well. I have learned so much since the first orders, and on average the quality of the work continued to improve. But at the same time my patience for achieving that possible quality is slipping. I'm skipping more steps and going "good enough" more often than I should. Doesn't help that it took 10 hours over three different trips to the shop to make just four grenades -- for merely $160, as I was doing a bulk savings offer as long as the leftover metal from the last big order lasted.

Which is why I'm seriously considering another lighting hang in Mountain View, despite it being a three hour commute each way. I'm saving a big chunk now on my TechShop membership -- got a year membership at one go. But that means my cash is dropping down towards critical again.

But with seven weeks to go until drop-dead delivery date, I simply have to push aside my financial woes and move the raygun forward. At least the CAD is finally moving properly. With luck I'll be ready to start cutting metal by this weekend.

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