My Toolset Part 1: The Glowforge!

This is the first post in a series about the tools I use to create my cockpits. The Glowforge is the first in my list as it’s the newest addition and really fun to use, although I’ve breathed so many plastic fumes now from it, I’m sure that’s not good.

I had an automated search going on Craigslist and Ebay for a Glowforge since they were released, using IFTTT. One popped up the other day and I immediately contacted the seller and we made a deal. I traded my original, smaller CNC and now am the proud owner of a nice laser cutter! My first goal was to update my instruments.

Originally, they were modeled in Fusion 360 and meticulously printed on the Makerbot 3D printer. I purchased all of the switches and encoders on Ebay, which took awhile to find some that matched the actual Diamond DA20 switches closely. Here’s a couple images of the 3D printed panels with laser printed labels I stuck on.  The laser printed labels just kill me, they’re so ugly.

Using the Glowforge is a game-changer. I learned how to export Fusion 360 files for use in the Glowforge, which ended up being as simple as exporting the sketches for each instrument as Adobe PDFs which maintains the files as layered vectors in proper size. I still need to do some cleanup and re-cut a few panels, but these are good prototype for the rest of them. I created these with 2 layers of acrylic, one front panel and a back plate, which acts as an inset to easily snap the designs into place. I’m currently using a dual layer laser acrylic for the front panel. It’s basically white acrylic with a thin black layer. using the Glowforge.

The 4 holes in the corners of each panel allowed me to fasten them together with 2mm machine screws. The cockpit panel tolerances are so tight that the new switch panels snap in without need for additional screws. I tend to make a lot of adjustments to this after install, so this makes it easier to remove them. Glowforge is kind of quirky, it’s taken some time to get this working like I wanted. The layout tool needs a lot of work, but I think they’ll get there. After many posts on the forum, Glowforge made me the User of the Month, so that was cool.

 

 

 

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