Here are my blueprints©:
That sad, little sketch was my inspiration a couple years ago. From this “precise” rendering I was able to eventually evolve into a much larger pit, but not without a few concepts and struggles along the way. Let me detail a few of those. (I apologize but this will be a bit on the wordy side)
As I was building my first concept (above) I realized pretty quickly that:
1) I lack the tools to make precise cuts,
2) the tools get quite pricey,
3) even if I had the tools I lack the ability to store them anywhere since I live in an apartment in a large city
4) there’s got to be an easier way to all of this that does not rely on me using crappy tools.
Long story short, I stumbled onto Fusion 360. Fusion360 is free CAD software for hobbyists; folks like you and me who just want to do things for ourselves and not sell a product.
Computer Animated Design.
What benefit does CAD provide?
First, I found it to be an excellent mechanism for accurate measurements and design work. You cannot mess up angles when software is calculating them for you.
Second, and most importantly in this process, you can lay out each component for CNC routing.
What’s CNC routing? Well in Guppy-terms: it’s a giant router that takes vectors from your rendering and cuts them – Oxford English Dictionary, here I come!
Chances are there is a CNC routing company near you… search for one and inquire what type of file formats they prefer and rough cost for cutting. (More on that in a future post)
To be clear, I’ve never used CAD before; I had to teach myself. Initially I used it just for measurements of components before I realized its true potential.
Above you can see a beta version of the front console I was working on, at the time. Notice a problem with this image? It’s 2D. If I were to submit this to a CNC company they would likely charge me $100+/hr to convert this into a 3D image that their CNC router could then interpret and cut. In fact, I did just that; I had all of my components designed as 2D renderings, I submitted them and they gave me an outrageous quote… somewhere near the ball park of $5000. Instead, they said it would likely only cost me $150 if I did the rendering myself (machine time+materials). Guess what I did?
You got it, I started making 3D renderings.
I spent probably 10-20 hours watching YouTube tutorial videos online. Eventually I came up with a 3D image. Remember that sketch all the way up at the top? Yeah, this rendering is the child of such “beautiful” artwork.
Ultimately, this rendering is derived from multiple components that I laid out on a 5 foot x 10 foot “canvas” of MDF. I then submitted this file and the CNC routing company took the vectors and cut each piece.
This is jumping the gun a bit, but this was my initial concept, realized. I had this setup for about 6 months until I decided I wanted something far more elaborate. I also learned a great deal with this initial setup that carried over to what I have now.
Finally, and for a future post, I plan to do a couple of quick demos using Fusion 360 to show my model and how to align/build basic parts. This blog is obviously not going to fill up with fantastic content overnight so if you’re following and want to learn how to do this go get Fusion 360 and start learning.
- Conceptualize what is in your head, draw it out. Is there an aircraft that inspires you? Use that in your sketches.
- Learn a bit of CAD, preferably Fusion 360 (since it is free)
- Start the lengthy process of designing parts. Even if it’s just on paper.
Next Post: I plan to talk about the monitors I selected and how they fit within the front console and some of my design decisions I took into account.