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Luna Mod – Done Right

Posted by on 19 September 2011
I’m getting a bit concerned that I’ve become a “Negative Nelly” here on the blog. So far I’ve only written about my gripes with how wood has been left out of some cool techno gadgets.

 

Well today I want to feature someone who got it right.

 

Luna Mod from Make #26. Check it out at makezine.com here.


 

I like this project and here is why:
1) It makes noise.
Most often electronics projects result in a visual output only. This one is noisy and thanks to the microcontroller at the heart of this project, you can change the tones to suit your style.
2) It is in a wooden box.
The author takes the time to walk you though some of the  more nuanced aspects of working with wood. He even goes into detail about how to mortise (in his words cut a recess) the hinges. Many of my first projects were fouled up at the hinge step because I didn’t understand the importance of a hinge mortise.
3) It is creation squared. (creation^2)
Not only do you get the pleasure of making the circuit and the wooden box, but you also get to create with your creation.

 

The article in Make: is great because it covers so many of the often skipped details, like applying a finish to the wood.
He chooses a very user-friendly finish, beeswax (or polish). I’ve used various waxes on project and I love the soft feel it imparts to the wood. No doubt this project will be handled quite a bit, so some would argue that a more scuff resistant varnish should be used instead. But a beeswax finish is so much easier to apply and repair. There is a good chance that the oils (and dirt) from your skin will combine with the beeswax finish and develop a nice patina and wear pattern unique to the user. This will provide an insightful visual feedback about your most common movements.

 

I really appreciate his intelligent use of strip board.
Proto PCB Stripboard
Strip board is available in The Lumber Lab, Amazon Store by clicking this link.

 

Other types of proto board will have holes isolated from one another, or in shorter connections. Using a strip board is a good mixture of prototyping and PCB design (something near and dear to my heart). By allowing the strips to make some of the connections, you save numerous jumper wires, resulting in a cleaner finished product.
Clean = more robust = easier to troubleshoot = longer lasting = easier to build.

 

The author did a great job of selecting his components so that the controls are all on the same “z axis”.  The resulting “control panel” interface benefits the project because the parts securely mounted to the PC giving them stable support and prevents twisting of the parts. Achieving this is harder than it would seem, as it requires detailed investigation when selecting components.

 

Make it your own.
At the end of the article, the author encourages you to take your mod into the personalization sphere. With only 81 of the 256 bytes in use, there is room to grow the code. I’d also encourage personalization of the wood box as well. The butt joints used by the author are great for beginners.
Butt Joint
But wood nerds like myself will want to try something different.
A box joint would be much sturdier.
Box Joint
A dovetail would show off your wood skills.
Dovetail Joint

 

My suggested improvements for the project would be:
Since everything is held in place with hot glue, I’d leave the bottom of the control panel unfinished. The bare wood will be a better bonding surface.
To prevent future case issues, I’d go against the authors recommendation of gluing the bottom to the sides and opt for a single screw in the middle of each short side. This would reduce the likelihood that seasonal movement would separate the butt joints. You want to rock this thing out all year long don’t you?

 

To learn more about the Luna Mod and the author, visit his Etsy shop at www.rarebeasts.com.
David

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