Metal Dice

When my class was introduced to the new machines we had purchased and got working on the other side of the shop, some friends and I were assigned by our Engineering teacher to take a piece of aluminum stock and mill it down until we hit a certain measurement requirement to make a die. It took a period of learning how to insert bits, check the bits secured, make and run programming, and learning how to control the mill’s axis before we could get started. After we had carefully milled down the stock’s surfaces to the required limits we then had to then change the bit in the machine to an edge finder, which is a small cylinder split in half horizontally but held together by a magnet. To use the edge finder we had to turn on the mill and then offset the balance for the cylinder making the edge finder spin out of control then as we approached our piece of stock the edge finder would start to spin in smooth and controlled circles until it was pushed slightly off balance by the edge of our stock making the piece jut out slightly then we could set that axis to zero then move the designated half way point. Taking all of our axes edges into account we were then able to create a program for holes and bolt holes that would be used to make our holes for the dice. After we did this process for all the sides of the edges and had cut the holes how ever deep we wished into the stock we then had to chamfer the edges of the sides to make the dice clean and smooth. Afterwards we had our very own die to take home.


As my first assignment of the year my class was given options of independent projects we could work on. While many of my friends chose to work on a speaker with flashing lights to the tempo of the beat I decided that I wanted to work on building my very own zoetrope. A zoetrope, for those who are unsure of what it may be, is a device build by William George in the 18th century where afterwards it was used for children’s toys. The zoetrope is usually made out of wood, plastic, or cardboard and consist of a stand holding a strip of paper with illustrations on it that is held flush up with a circle of material with  vertical slits in it, when spun and viewed through the slits the piece of paper inside which had twelve different positions of the same object appeared to move to the viewer. This made the device that could mimic movement just like animation in today’s movies. My own zoetrope is not finished at the moment but I have managed to design a circuit that has two potentiometers wired to an Arduino Uno, with these two potentiometers I am able to control the speed of the motor which I use to spin the zoetrope from inside its stand and the rate in which a pack of leds screwed into an arm overhanging the inside of the circle will flash. I did this in hope of being able to have the viewer be able to manipulate the pulse and speed of the motor and the leds while they are viewing my illustrations to a state in which they can clearly see motion to their eye sensitivity. Another thing I’ve managed to get done at the time being is the first cut of my base for the zoetrope which is made out of cardboard, using L brackets and t-slots to hold the box together with a hollow inside to hold the motor, all my wires, and my Arduino board. On the outsides of the box’s sides are holes for the motor, potetiometers, usb cord, and the arm of the box to slide in comfortably. My final design of the zoetrope is for the box to be made out of wood, engraved labels for both potetiometers, the arm to be made out of 3D printed parts and to move from illustrations on a piece of paper to 3D printed figures that will stand on the spinning circle.