Episode 120 Making the TT Rex

Material: 3mm Acrylic
Router Bit: Amana Tool 514411/16″ Spiral-o-Flute upcut from Toolstoday.com
CNC Router: Torque CNC 9060
Spindle Speed: 12000RPM
Horizontal Cutting Speed: 5mm/sec
Vertical Cutting Speed: 10mm/sec with ramping

Plans from MakeCNC.com

English Manor Dollshouse

First attempt at a larger build of one of the MakeCNC buildings.

Made from 6mm MDF, it took a bit to assemble- friction really increases dramatically with the larger sizes.  

The result is quite impressive.  Feeling inspired to make some of the others.

MakeCNC Lifetime

I’m quite the fan of MakeCNC‘s plans, as you will probably have gathered!  They are useable for more than just CNC machines – the plans can be used with scrollsaws, plasma machines, laser machines, even an exacto knife and cardboard.

The total library is huge, and it keeps on growing as new plans come out regularly.  Buying the individual plans can add up very quickly, so buying the plans in a pack is much more cost-effective.

The most cost-effective pack is the lifetime membership pack, where not only do you get every single plan they have produced, you get every single plan they produce into the future.

A pack like that doesn’t come cheap though, given the total number of plans available.  With over $US10000 worth of plans now available, the price is about to rise (tomorrow) to $US2000.  So if you are really keen, today is the very last day that you can purchase lifetime membership for $US1500.

To give you an example, in the month that I was away, I got back to 107 new plans sitting in my inbox, and there are another 60 odd plans to come that I know about.  That is on top of the over 1500 plans I already have!

So if this is something you have been thinking about, but haven’t made a decision, or if this is something you haven’t heard of, but are tempted, this is the last chance to get them for $US500 less than they will be tomorrow.

Garrawi

Cockatoo-2

Black Friday

Over in the US (and seen on many websites around the place if they are US based), you will find reference to this phenomenon called “Black Friday”, which is the day after Thanksgiving.

While it may not necessarily seem relevant to those in other places around the world, it still presents an opportunity to pick up some online discounts, especially from those companies who sell items that are digitally distributed.

One such company I have been doing quite a bit with (as you may have gathered!) is MakeCNC.com.

They produce plans for woodworking, and although (by their title) this is pitched at the CNC owners out there, the plans can be used on scrollsaws and bandsaws, so if you like the designs, you don’t have to feel left out.

I don’t have the specific prices, but a little bird has mentioned that they will be discounting (for the day) their Lifetime Subscription (which gives access to all their plans, and all they produce in future!), their plasma mega pack (for those lucky enough to have a CNC plasma cutter), and their Super Seven Mega Pack (which has around 150 of their plans).

They will also have some dollhouse packs, a Barbie pack, their MZST packs, an HO scale pack, a holiday pack (just in time for Xmas) and others, including buy one get one free for some items.

You’ll have to look at their website on the day (in US time) to get prices, but if you like some of the models I’ve been making (and others), this would be a pretty good time to pick some up.

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Toy Story

I have often been critical of just how little imagination is needed by kids to play with modern toys.  They come with all the bells and whistles – dolls that talk/cry and have all the bodily functions, dinosaurs that walk, and roar all on their own.

But kids don’t, and shouldn’t need such props to be able to have fun, and treasure the toys they have.

A few visual clues are really all they need, and their imagination fills in all the additional details.

My folks took these photos in one of their recent trips, of some kids playing

Photo 8-03-2013, 14 22 42

There is an obvious attachment to that toy car.  But when you look closely at it, you realise that most of the details are being filled in by the child’s imagination, not with photo-realistic modelling of the real thing (let alone sounds, lights, remote control etc etc)

Photo 8-03-2013, 14 23 28

As far as toy cars go, that is awesome.  That is a real toy.

I was over in NZ last week for a bit of a break, catching up with family. I took a few of the CNC models over – a couple for my brother who is a teacher, as I thought his kids would appreciate them.

Unexpectedly, he had the idea that I visit his class, and build the models with them, in person.

The kids were really taken with them, and the experience of putting them together.  We all had a lot of fun.

NZ-1

NZ-3

We made a dolphin and a velocirator in the session, and they are getting painted up at some stage by the class.

NZ-2

If you were wondering about the school uniform – it was a couple of days after the rugby world cup final, and it was “all black dress day”.

There is no fate

At least not till next year, as the school fete has come to an end.  After 8 or so hours, a bit weary, but it was fun.

Quite an interesting learning curve – got a lot right enough, but there is always more than can be refined, if I ever intend to do this again!  I do have one other planned fete coming up in November, but that is about it.

Fun seeing the kids’ reactions.

The display stand with the black cloth covering it, is the Centipede XL which I just got back after lending it at the start of the year.  It is perfect for this sort of thing.  I made a top from 6 panels of MDF which were cable-tied together to create one overall top.  This allows me to take the top off and fold it up for storage/transportation.  I made it from 3mm MDF as that is what I had to hand, but 6mm or 9mm MDF would have been better.  As the MDF only has a few holes drilled right at the extremities for the cable ties, I can still then use the pieces on the CNC machine 🙂  It worked very well – easy to transport, easy to set up, and stable.  (Does that make it a stable table?).  In comparison the vacuum-formed tables are reasonably easy to transport (they weight quite a bit more but have much less surface area) and quicker to set up (if you factor in attaching the top).

That gets me thinking – I could come up with a segmented top for the Centipede, which engages with the holes in the leg caps.  That would remove the need for cable ties and make a really rigid (crossbraced) system.  Make a good way to use it as a workbench as well.  Alternately, I could recess out the area where the top of the leg touches the top, so the whole top piece can still be stored perfectly flat.  I’ll work on that, and let you know what I come up with!

Sales were ok, not unreasonable, not as high as I would have expected.  I did a quick gender comparison – ie assuming some models would appeal to one gender more than the other (and those that would appeal more to both).  It is a really rough tool – for example, I chose a swan to be oriented towards girls, and a cobra to be something that would appeal more to boys, and a turtle to be neutrally biased.  That might infuriate some people, but the reality is that if you got a bunch of primary school students and gave them the choice (with no observers, or chance that classmates etc would ever know the choice made), that certain toys would be selected disproportionally higher for one gender over the other.

The analysis is very loose – I did not record the gender of who was making the purchases, or who they were purchasing for, so already there is a lot of interpretation built into these stats.

Toy Variety

Girls liked a lot less variety than boys in the toys chosen.

Of the total variety of girl-oriented toys, sales were concentrated around 41% of the range available.
Of the neutral toys, 53% of the variety available were purchased.
For boys, 75% of the range had at least one sale made.

Kits vs Preassembled models

This data is not very relevant, as the models were only able to be collected at the end of the day, whereas kits taken straight away.  Additionally, there was only one of each type assembled, and between 0 and 10 kits available.

Girls’ purchases were 71% kits
Neutral purchases were 53% kits
Boys’ purchases were 78% kits

Total Sales

Of all the purchases available:

Total sales of girls-oriented models: 20%
Total sales of neutral-oriented models: 23%
Total sales of boy-oriented models: 56%

As very few types sold out completely, this data was not heavily influenced by particular models becoming unavailable.

Other interesting observations – quite a few people looking (kids and adults) – “Wow, these are really cool”, then after checking the price “Wow, these are really cheap” (the vast majority being around the $5-$7.50 mark).  However even after uttering both those comments, the person looking around would then wander off.  Interesting that something that is regarded as “cool and affordable” still does not necessarily result in a sale.

I would have sold more if there was no restrictions on whether the person could buy and take the pre-assembled model, so having two or three of the most popular kits pre-assembled would be beneficial.

It may also be better if there was less variety of kits available, and so people could select the ones they want for purchase, rather than having to ask for them.  While this makes perfect sense (and is how we shop most of the time), it is a lot harder to do this in a market-like scenario with limited space.  Especially with bulky products that have a degree of fragility to them.  Again, if I was doing this on a regular basis, I would be able to justify the additional investment in the multiple storage containers needed to keep everything sorted.  For a one (or two) off, that is less practical.

All in all though, it was a fun evolution, and I’d do it again.

Occasionally!

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