Spare time can be scarce, but when I do have time, I love to build whatever I can think of. Here are a few of the larger projects I have worked on in the past several years. They are all built using parts scavenged from old appliances, electronics, and toys. They range from R/C model vehicles and robots to auxiliary laptop components.
Once you use multiple external monitors, you'll never want to go back to a single screen. However, external monitors are bulky and can't be carried around with a laptop. Xtend is designed to let you carry dual external monitors with your laptop, for productivity on the go. After several months of planning and dozens of CAD iterations, I built a fully functional prototype. It is foldable, portable, and boosts productivity. At home, it slides into a scratch built docking station which allows the monitors to float with the laptop above an external keyboard and mouse. Below is the link to a product animation I created in Keyshot. An animation of Xtend (seen on the homepage) is available here.
I decided to do this project after I acquired several materials which could be used to build a small vehicle. The project is not complete yet, but as of right now the motor is able to spin the back wheels. I still need to add in a steering wheel. The power supply is a series of 16V drill batteries. The motor is a bit small, however, so I will likely upgrade it to something bigger with more torque.
I began this project for an open ended school assignment, but switched to another project early on. I rebooted the project again a few months later as a personal design. The goal of the project was to create a cheap 3D printer using recycled e-waste parts. I mashed together several old printer components and created a mechanism that could move around within a 3D space. The chassis was built from scrap sheet metal, fiberglass, and acrylic. I am still working on the software and extruder. A rendered Solidworks model can be found on the CAD page.
This was a project I began working on for an open ended school assignment, but worked to completion on my own. After working with multiple monitors at my desk, my laptop felt woefully inadequate elsewhere. I decided to design a portable external monitor which could easily be carried around and attached to any laptop. The result was Xtend. The external monitor is hinged to a universal backplate which can attach to any laptop via several elastically attached clips. The project and several design iterations I went through can be found under PDI Studio III. The page also includes a few rendered animations of the different mechanisms I came up with.
I have always been a fan of Iron Man, and I thought it would only be fitting if I recreated the arc reactor. A rendered CAD model can be found under CAD. I used the Solidworks model I created to produce DXF files which were then used to laser-cut various components used in the assembly of the prop. The majority of arc reactor was built using stacked acrylic plates. The surrouding ribs were also made out of acrylic. I soldered 10 bright white LEDs in a circle which were then placed into holes in the stacked acrylic plates. Finally, I used high gauge copper wire to wrap alternate sections.
Offroad Truggy Chassis V2
I've always been interested in remote control toys and models, so I set out to build a functional R/C truck chassis that worked as realistically as possible. It makes use of a single drive motor yet achieves 4 wheel drive. A series of drive shafts connected by universal joints transmit power to the wheels. The wheels are connected via solid axles. The chassis also has suspension, which allows for an axle offset of 45 degrees. In the future, I plan on making functional differentials and improving the shock absorbers.
On a whim, and with no prior experience, I decided to dabble in metalurgy and create a steel rose as a gift for my sister. The sheet steel was cut using industrial metal cutting shears, shaped using several different pliers, and soldered together. I added an LED inside to accent the rose and make it look like it is red-hot on the inside.
Hovercrafts have always been a point of fascination for me. When I found several PC case fans in Rensselaer's e-waste, I decided I would make a hovercraft. It's a relatively simple design, using a large rectangular piece of foam-core with holes cut out as the base. I mounted the fans onto the foam-core, and added in a lightweight plastic skirt. It was powered via 12V power supply, and required ballast stabilization. I plan to add in steering and propulsion in the future.
My laptop is extremely powerful, but with this power comes excess heat. As someone who likes to build things rather than buy them, I decided to build a custom laptop stand which would both cool my laptop and elevate the screen substantially. I had a few aluminum extrusions lying around so I cobbled them together in an aesthetically heavy design. This was my fourth laptop stand, and by far the most efficient. However, it was recently retired in favor of a new laptop stand that incorporated dual external monitor mounts.
As a fan of good sound quality and building things for myself, I decided to use some old speakers I found in the E-waste at school to make a pair of speakers. I created the design in Solidworks, and it can be found under CAD. Using this design, I created a paper prototype, and then used that as a template to cut out the shapes in kydex. I used a heat gun to form the kydex into the speaker shape.