cnc router, Design, project

Custom pi Zero case

Now available from our shop! custom pi Zero cases.

Yes you can buy off the shelf cases for your pizero. and that's fine. But if you're building a project and looking for a professional finish, it's great to have a case customised to your project or business.

The case is a snug fit for the latest version of the pi Zero and includes access to the sd card slot

Pi Zero sitting snugly in a custom cast case.

Pi Zero sitting snugly in a custom cast case.

Made from high grade J-Cast 70D hardness plastic, these cases can be drilled, and etched to custom requirements. 

Since we're making them to order they can be made in just about any colour you require.

Part of the customisation is to etch your logo or project name right into the case.

The cases are sealed with 4 torx screws from the bottom leaving the top surface clear for your sticker or design.

the maker geek branded pi0 case.

the maker geek branded pi0 case.


Need something more custom? or for a different kind of board? feel free to contact us with your particular requirements and we will see what we can do to help.


Watch stand - evolving desings

Some time ago I decided to make myself a watch stand. I don't have a bed side clock, and since I take my watch off to sleep it seemed it could do double duty and be the 'clock' on my bedside table.

I made this:

I was pretty happy with it at the time, and I've used it for a couple of years. However over time the failings in this design has become more and more annoying.

The first issue is that the round that the watch is wrapped around is not quite big enough. I miscalculated at the time and so the watch hangs quite loosely on it.

The second, and much more serious issues, is that when the watch is in place the whole thing is front heavy. It is very prone to tipping over. Particularly when I'm putting the watch in place. I must have had this fall over and off my bedside dozens and dozens of times.

So I finally decided to make a new one. Attempting to fix the problems of the first, and also to come up with a different design. I could have just made the same thing again, but with better balance and a larger center. However I thought it would be more interesting to design something actually different.

That thinking actually lead me to make two new watch stands, trying out two different designs and two different materials. One in wood and one in metal.

These are the designs I came up with

The wooden one is a fairly traditional and simple design. A central block that the watch closes tightly around with a peg through it that rests in a cradle. This is nice because I can lift the central block free of the cradle to add or remove my watch. Then set it back down. The weight is central and the whole thing is nice and stable. It also holds the watch face right where I want it.

The metal one by contrast is adjustable, the central 'hub' has two nuts welded into it, and the front and rear plates screw in and out to adjust to the size of the watch. This design is in some ways more complicated, but in others more basic. The structure of the stand is essentially the watch itself. The metal 'skeleton' simply adds rigidity that holds the watch in place.

A few weeks on and I haven't really decided which I prefer. I mostly alternate between them. I think the wooden option has a nicer tactile feel. But there is something about the bare bones metal one which I enjoy the look of.

Below I have videos of me making each one. Which do you prefer?



welding, project, household

Custom fire guard


Last year we installed a log burning stove in our living room. It's awesome and I'm actually looking forward to the cold weather as a reason to use it again.



This year we will be playing host to my family including my nieces and nephew. So the question of how we ensure that an exuberant child doesn't accidentally lay a hand on the hot outer surface.

The answer of course is a fireguard and that sounds like an excuse to fire up the welder!


For design I looked to our lights for inspiration. They set a tone for the room and I wanted to echo the pattern in the fire guard.



9 meters of mild steel flat bar. 25mmx3mm

21 meters of 6mm mild steel round bar



Mig welder (mine is a Clarke 150en)

Metal cutting chop saw (mine is the evolution rage)

Or just use a hack saw.

 For this project I actually created an instructable which you can find here 


I also made a video of my build process 




Electronics, project

DIy motorised camera slider


For anyone shooting and editing video, sooner or later you realise a desire to have some more dynamic shots. Simply cutting from one static position to another can only take you so far.

Even with a good timelapse, it can add a great deal of visual interest to have the camera moving during the period. 

So how to achieve these aims? 


Enter the motorised camera slider. These can be purchased in varying shapes and sizes ranging from 100-600 pounds. The function is simply to slide a camera smoothly along under motor control such that you can adjust the speed of movement to your needs. The more expensive ones will also pan the camera. This is particularly useful if you want to make videos of yourself, or a specific subject that you want to keep somewhat centred in the frame whilst moving around. 

Obviously this is not a site about buying an off the shelf device...




Saw - just to rouh cut scraps to size as necessary.


flat piece of wood for track - I used the side of an old shelf unit

Delrin (you could do the same with a dense wood) 


Tension bolts

2 stepper motors

2 motor drivers

1 arduino

2 rubber belts (often from vacuum cleaners)

1 lenth of string


This design is based loosely on some cnc axis designs I've seen. Except where in a cnc built timing belt is used to ensure very precise movement and torque, in this build I'm just using string because it doesn't matter a huge amount if things slip slightly. it also reduces the cost and need for special parts.

another good reason for this design is the flexibility over length. you can run the string as long or short as you want. All of the complexity is in the cartridge so once that is built you can change the track easily for differing lengths depending on your needs. 

In my case I have kept the electronics separate, and so trail the motor wires back and forth with the movement. It would be equally possible to mount the electronics on the moving platform and provide power as the only cable, or even to mount batteries to power everything. 

The main drive

The linear motion is provided by a motor shaft turning against the string under tension. The tension provides enough grip to move rather than just slip. To maximise the grip, the string is wrapped around as much of the shaft as possible which is achieved with a couple of v-wheels mounted beneath the motor to guide the string through a narrow path up and around the motor shaft.

The shaft of the motor itself is too small and slippery to work well, so I turned a small piece of delrin to fit over the shaft, and provide a v-groove for the string to sit in. this avoids alignment issues pulling the string off the shaft. To fix the delrin onto the shaft I drilled a small hole into the side and screwed in a 3mm bolt. The delrin is soft enough that it didn't require tapping first, it just carved its own threads and holds strong.



Then I made the idler v-wheels that just guide the string. These are standard skate bearing (608) which are 22mm diameter. I turned some delrin to have the external profile I wanted, another v-groove, then bored out the centre to fit the bearings. I checked frequently as I approached the internal diameter to ensure I did not overshoot. Ultimately I wanted a tight fit, tight enough that I needed a hammer to tap them into place.  

With those components made it is a question of mounting everything in place. I decided to base my platform off of a small section of wood. In my case this was recovered from door frame that I removed.


I drilled 4 holes as even spacing down the length of it. The two centre holes are going to be mount points for the idler wheels, so need to be spaced far enough apart for those to fit, whilst close enough to feed the string through a fairly narrow channel to get a good wrap around the motor shaft.

The other two holes are just for stability so can be further out. I put a bolt through each hole with a pattern of nuts and bearings to act as wheels for the platform. So the holes you drill need to be close enough to the bottom of the wood that the fairly small bearing diameter will reach past the bottom. Alternately you could turn additional covers for the bearings to increase the diameter to make lager wheels. 

With the 'wheels' and the v-groove bearings mounted along the base piece, I could build up mounts for the motors that would drive the motion. For linear motion I mounted the motor above and beween the v-groove bearings so that the string could pass up and over the shaft. 

I found that the platform wanted to try and pull off course a little, probably because the motor shaft wasn't precisely alinged with all the wheels. So I made some guides to run along the other side of the track to keep things running straight.


The the motor for the rotation could sit on the platform with its spindle pointing up. Initially I just had a single belt passing around the motor spindle and the platform for the go pro. This was fine, and straight forward. However in initial tests I had to move the motor so slowly to achive the degree of motion I wanted that the stepping was very visible in the video. This wasn't a problem for slwo timelapses, but for more real time video the steps made the video very jerky.


So I decided to step down the ratio using an intermediate gear. This is just a chuk of wood with one large dimeter circle and one small diameter circle. The motor spindle is paired with the large diameter, then another belt comes off the small diameter and out to the gopro platform. This allows me to run the motor much faster for the same degree of motion whilst making things much smoother.


 With the mecanical parts sorted, it just requires some electronics to drive the motors. I already had an arduino from a previous project, along with a pair of stepper motor controllers. These make life relatively easy. You connect the stepper drivers to power and the motors. And you use the aruidno to send step and direction pulses to the step and direction pins of the drivers.

I added a microswitch to each end of the track connecting to an input pin on the arduino so it can detect when the platform reaches each end and will reverse the direction signals. The code that runs the whole thing can be found below the video links. The third video below has me walking through the elctronics and the various parts of the program to descibe what they do. 

// set up the pin assignments
int dirpin = 2;
int steppin = 3;
int dir2pin = 4;
int step2pin = 5;
int pushButton = 8;
int mode1=9;
int mode2=10;
int mode3=11;

//start values
int dir=0;
int turn_counter=0;
int delay_speed=1;
int total_counter=0;
int last_switch_counter=0;
// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {

  // make the pushbutton's pin an input:
  pinMode(pushButton, INPUT_PULLUP);
  pinMode(mode1, INPUT_PULLUP);
  pinMode(mode2, INPUT_PULLUP);
  pinMode(mode3, INPUT_PULLUP);
  pinMode(dirpin, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(steppin, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(dir2pin, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(step2pin, OUTPUT);
  digitalWrite(dirpin, LOW);     // Set the direction.
  digitalWrite(dir2pin, LOW);     // Set the direction.
  //start serial connection

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
  // read the input pin:
  int buttonState = digitalRead(pushButton);
  //read mode options
  int one = digitalRead(mode1);
  int two = digitalRead(mode2);
  int four= digitalRead(mode3);

  if (one==LOW && two==LOW && four==LOW){
  if (one==HIGH && two==LOW && four==LOW){
  if (one==LOW && two==HIGH && four==LOW){
  if (one==HIGH && two==HIGH && four==LOW){
  if (one==LOW && two==LOW && four==HIGH){
  if (one==HIGH && two==LOW && four==HIGH){
  if (one==LOW && two==HIGH && four==HIGH){
  if (one==HIGH && two==HIGH && four==HIGH){
  //ignore limit switches if we haven't gone far since last flip
  if (buttonState ==0 && (total_counter-last_switch_counter>200)){
    //Serial.println("flipping  direction dir="+dir);
    digitalWrite(13, LOW);
    //swap direction
    if (dir==0){
   //   Serial.println("ChangeDirection RIGHT");
      digitalWrite(13, HIGH);
      digitalWrite(dirpin, HIGH);     // Set the direction.
      digitalWrite(dir2pin, HIGH);     // Set the direction.
      digitalWrite(13, LOW);
  //    Serial.println("ChangeDirection LEFT");
      digitalWrite(dirpin, LOW);     // Set the direction.
      digitalWrite(dir2pin, LOW);     // Set the direction.
    digitalWrite(steppin, LOW);  // This LOW to HIGH change is what creates the
    digitalWrite(steppin, HIGH); // "Rising Edge" so the easydriver knows to when to step.
    //Serial.println("counter = ");
    //the pan is on 1/8 microstepping, so it take 8 beats to move it a full step.

    //complete two full steps for every 32 iterations of the linera motion steps (we're 1/8 stepping, so 16 microsteps)
    if (turn_counter%2==0){
      //switch on full micostepping but always move a whole step as 8 substeps
    // Serial.println("pan-step");
       digitalWrite(step2pin, LOW);  // This LOW to HIGH change is what creates the
       digitalWrite(step2pin, HIGH); // "Rising Edge" so the easydriver knows to when to step.
       if (turn_counter==32){
    delayMicroseconds(500);      // This delay time is close to top speed for this
                                 // particular motor. Any faster the motor stalls.


knives, project, tools

Make a knife out of an old hacksaw blade


I am a terrible hoarder, I keep things that I really should throw away. In this case I had kept an old hacksaw blade after replacing it with a new one. It even had a chunk taken out of it. At the time that I replaced it and did not throw it away, I had no plan to use it.


I then came accross a video on the Artismia youtube channel in which he took an old hacksaw blade and used the steel to make a set of knives ;-)

This is a fun little project, it doesn't take that long and and you can make the handles to your own hand size/shape for maximum comfort


1 old hacksaw blade

some hardwood for the handle

4mm masonary nails

epoxy resin  


Dremel (I have the 4000)

bench grinder


pillar drill




First, clean up the old blade

Then cut it in half, each blade is enough for two knives. 


Use a bench grinder to form the basic shape of blade you want. I wouldn't try to go for much longer than an inch, since the the hacksaw blade is quite thin, it will flex around too much if you make it overly long. 

Cut a couple of blocks of wood large enough to form a handle

Chisel out a shallow recess in one half to take the thickness of the blade so that the two halves will press together firmly. 

the hacksaw should alread have a hole on one end of your half, which we can reuse to put a pin through. mine had a hole about 4mm, so I selected a 4 mm drill bit to create a second hole further up the blade such that it will provide good points to put pins through the handle. This helps secure the blade in place properly.

I drilled through the blade and through one side of the handle. Then I could use that side of the handle to template agaisnt the other side and drill through. 

With all the pieces ready, check the two halves or your handle will press well together, if necessray plane the faces to get a nice flat joining surface.  It's assembly time.

Epoxy come in various forms, I used a fast setting variant so I had about 5 minutes of working time which is plenty.


Put epopxy all over the parts of the blade that will be inside the handle, and cover the handle also, I also put some expoxy over the nails before I inserted them through the holes in the handles to pin everything. Then clamp it all together and let it set. 

At this point you should have something a little odd looking, a block of wood with a small knife blade protruding from one end, and two nails through the middle.  

Use the dremel to cut-off the nail protrusions flush with the handle. The cut off pieces will be HOT. I say this from first hand experience, I picked up one of the cut off nail heads and earned myself a blister. 

Now comes the fun part of shaping the handle to your prefered shape. roughly draw the profile shape with a pencil, then use the bandsaw to cut roughly to your line. 

Depending on how much bulk you want to remove you can use a chisel to more aggressively shape the remaiing wood. Don't be afraid to keep getting out the pencil to draw rough shaping lines at each stage. I used a chisel, but if you have something like a spoke shave it might be easier to do the shaping. 


Once you've got the shape pretty much where you want it, you a drum sander in the drill press to do final shaping, and finish with hand sanding.

Finally - apply some wax to the handle to seal it and protect the wood. 

With the handle completed, you just need to sharpen the blade using whatever sharpenning process you have. I did initially shaping on teh bench grinder, then finer work with my tormek water grinder. and finished on oil stones until the blade was sharp enough to sharpen my pencil


Check out my video of the process



This was quick and simple, a great use for an old hacksaw blade. I will definitly be making more, at least one more as I have the other half of the blade. It also makes me keep my eyes out for any useful tool steel that I can repurpose. This kind of project does nothing to stop my hoarder tendencies ;-)