Thursday, July 6, 2017

New Project! 3D Printed Fingerboards for Adafruit Feather

from New Project! 3D Printed Fingerboards for Adafruit Feather
by Noe Ruiz

When Phil suggested making a fingerboard for the Adafruit Feather boards, I admitting wasn’t too interested. Originally, Pedro took on the idea and purchased a fingerboard kit that included the deck, trucks, wheels and hardware – For research, of course! Once we started playing around with it (and measuring the thickness of the deck, mount holes, etc.) I quickly became interested with it. I was surprised to see the trucks actually feature bushings, washers and the tiniest screws and nuts. Micro machining is pretty awesome and I got inspired.

Pedro designed his deck in Fusion 360 and went with the sculpting approach, utilizing forms. To mount a Feather board to the deck, he designed standoffs to line up precisely with the mounting holes. To 3D print the deck without any support material, he flattened the bottom. 3D printing it this orientation allows for less print time & material, but doesn’t allow for a convex bottom.

I took it upon my self to practice doing tricks and genuinely enjoyed “fidgeting” with it. I practiced so hard I eventually broke the standoffs and had to print another. I became interested in the original wooden deck and did some research (YouTube) to see how fingerboards (and skateboard) are actually made. It’s seemed like a pretty straight forward process. I became really interested in the shape of the deck. “How can I make the top concave and the bottom convex?”. I remembered watching a Fusion 360 Tutorial by Keqing that basically uses sketches and patch surfaces to create bends in a pair of glasses. I did a few tests using this method and eventually landed on a process that resembles a “real” deck nicely.

To 3D print my deck design, I needed to print it vertically (this allows for the top/bottom to have contours). This means I needed to add support material and a raft (which is a necessary evil!). I was quite happy with the first prototype and printed the next using bambooFill (composite PLA material with mixed wooden fibers). I used M2.5 standoffs and screws to mount the Feather to the deck.

The final results are two decks that were took different design approaches. Each have their pro’s/con’s. We had a lot of fun learning new design techniques. My “take-away” from this project is something you’ll hear from time to time, “Don’t knock it until you try it”.

Further Thoughts: If you see the comments in the YouTube video and on the Thingiverse page, a lot of them are questions “why?!”, and “What’s the point?”. Also, the “What does the circuit board do?”. I’m reframing myself from answering these questions, mostly to avoid any confrontations and honestly, I don’t have a really good answer. It’s unfortunate that these folks don’t really get the “point”, but thats OK and hopefully doesn’t discourage other people from being inspired to do something that doesn’t really have a “point”.

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