Rapid Prototyping with Cardboard

Before coming to ITP, I had never used Adobe Illustrator (Ai) or a laser cutter. I'm very happy that has changed.

I was previously working on an automated dog feeder project, but had been struggling with material handling. My original design involved a single ramp inside a box, angled toward an opening in the bottom that was blocked by a piece moved by a servo. Unfortunately, the dog food would continuously jam in the opening with this method.

I redesigned the whole thing for version 2.

The new design funnels the dog food to a single point and dumps it into a "wheel" with cross sections that catch the food. The cross section wheel is moved by a servo, which dumps the controlled amount into a final chute and comes out into the dog's bowl from there:

I grabbed a spare cardboard box and cut it into long pieces with a box cutter:

Building out a template file in Ai:

It's alive! I used 30% speed and 90% power to start with, had to make 2 passes:

[video width="640" height="360" m4v="http://www.nickwallace.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/IMG_0062.m4v"][/video]

My first cut on a laser cutter:

Putting the pieces together:

Hard to tell from the photo, but they're a little lose after the first try:

I reduced the gap down to .15" and played with a variety of sizes for the circle and height of the X:

I settled on a 7" circle with 3" high sides:

Setting up my breadboard + arduino + servo: