Experiments on the Laser Cutter : Bitbeam

I've used the laser cutter at techshop a few times, and one time I ran into @hugs who was working on a robot that played angry birds.

He had developed a prototyping material called bitbeam, based off a larger project called gridbeam. It's a meccano like collection of balsa wood, drilled for easy screwing.

I thought it would be a fun project so earlier I gave it a shot.

The project is still young, so other than the measurements and an open scad file that can generate a beam, there isn't a lot of resources available on how to make the beams, so it was a bit of an adventure.

Because time on the laser is limited, before hand I created an svg file in inkscape that had the beams laid out. I figured that SVG would be a well known enough format that corel draw, the software running the laser, would be able to import it.


I was wrong. It didn't want to let me import the file, so out of desperation I threw together a set of beams manually. It's super rough, but here is the corel file

It's best to first cut a jig out of some bass wood board. I therefore first lasered the file onto some thin wood. Then I cut up some of the square-dowel I had to make the beams. My first issue was that the wood I had cut up wasn't the same amount as the spaces in my jig.

I'm gonna have to make another jig with a sane distribution of pieces, based of what you can cut out of a 24" dowel.

I also didn't set the power high enough to laser all the way through the dowels, which were thicker than my boards, so a couple of my pieces have rough ends.

But despite the setbacks, I succeeded in making a small set of bitbeams.