Shapeoko 3D Carver Build Day

Makerspace and community members gathered to help assemble the Shapeoko 3D carver Mobile Makerspace won in the Inventibles 50 States contest. The build was held at Shelby Hall on University of South Alabama campus. Local Jubilee BEST robotics mentors joined us to watch the assembly process. They are looking to add a Shapeoko for their students to use in creating gears and other robot components.

We completed assembling the mechanical components of the Shapeoko mill. Wiring the motors and controller remains. The assembly isn’t difficult. Keeping the bags of bolts and nuts organized was crucial. We did have to re-tap several parts because we didn’t tap deep enough during the original prep.

Here is a time-lapse video Geoff compiled of the build:

ShapeOko Mother’s Day Project

As a member of Mobile Makerspace I like to share personal projects with the group as way to teach and inspire. I recently made a couple of Mother’s Day gifts using the ShapeOko 2 CNC milling machine. This post will highlight wooden wall art relief carved using the ShapeOko 2 mill and open source software. The web application was used to generate the gcode necessary to program the ShapeOko. The piece is a nautilus image that has been converted in to a vector drawing and then carved in to stained Baltic birch plywood.


The material is 1/4″ Baltic birch project plywood purchased  at a local home improvement store. I prepped the plywood by first cutting it down to size for the work area 12″x12″. I then applied Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain kona using a hobby sponge and immediately wiped off the excess with a paper towel. I let it dry for a couple hours before doing any milling.

The relief image was created using Gimp and Inkscape. Both are open source packages replacing Photoshop and Illustrator.  The image processing reduced the nautilus photo to a black and white image in Gimp. I trimmed and reduced the image to just the nautilus. Loading the image in to Inkscape I used the Path Trace Bitmap tool to create the initial path drawing. This takes experimentation to find a good baseline set of paths. From this point until milling the final job I did several iterations of simplifying the paths in Inkscape, generating the CAM gcode in, and visualizing the gcode output in Universal GCode Sender. The output from Inkscape was a set of paths I used to create the gcode.

A key step to remember when working with Inkscape and is to set your SVG import preferences to 90 pixels per inch BEFORE you load the SVG file in

This project used a single CAM toolpath – follow path operation. My depth was 1/16″ using a ball endmill. This time-lapse video shows the milling process.

Our goal at Mobile Makerspace is to provide the tools, knowledge, and workspace so that anyone can learn and create. Please sign up for our email announcement list or check the Contact Us page to get involved.

LED Throwies


These little guys are really easy to make and were a big hit at our booth at LoDa Artwalk last friday.  Kids and adults were curious about how we made them and what they were for.  So what is an LED throwie?  It’s a battery powered LED that is magnetic.  You can throw them against any magnetic surface and they will stick!  Best of all, they are really easy to make.

Tools Needed:


Begin by sliding the LED over the battery.  Make sure to match the negative and positive ends of the LED to the corresponding terminal on the battery.  The longer wire protruding from the LED is the positive side.  Don’t worry if you plug it in backwards as this will not damage the LED, it just won’t light up.  Once the LED is lit, wrap the tape once around the battery and the LED.


Next, place the magnet against the battery and wrap the tape one more time.  Congratulations!  You have made your first LED throwie!

LED Diagram


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