Mark Matamoros ITP Blog

ITP Courses

Introduction to Fabrication

Week 4: Enclosures. November 19, 2019.


Within lecture of the class' fourth week,we students were given information pertaining to the construction of enclosures. In accordance with the prior weeks' lectures-to-assignments, we were tasked to create an enclosure of our choosing. For my project, I decided to build a case for a variable DC power supply, created within my Electronics for Inventors course.


For convenience, similar to the prior week's acrylic acquisition, I decided to stop by next door's Maker Space to pick up some 1/8" plywood for the work. After arriving back to ITP facilities, I began taking measurements for the previously built power supply, soldered together on a perfboard. My approach to these measuresments were based on the idea of creating top and bottom panels for securing the side panels, where the former are constructed with an outer panel for complete perfboard coverage and an inner framming panel that encompases (secures) the sides.

Top and Bottom panel wood measurements

After applying these measurements in an Illustrator file, I headed to the laser cutter to create the top and bottom panels. Afterwards, these panels were glued and clamped together.

Top and Bottom panel laser cutting Top and Bottom panel glueing and clamping

During this prior process, I began planning for the creation of the side panels. Though laser cutting would grant a bit more precision, I decided to craft the panels through the utilization of the band saw. I must note that this decision was influenced with some frustration towards the laser cutter, as one of the particular stations required an extra bit of file manipulation after transfer. Upon creating the measurements, I began cutting the new panels.

Band saw cutting side panel Side panel cut repetition
All cut side panels

After finishing the cuts, I headed to my work table and began creating measurements for the potentiometer, power connector, voltage meter, and alligator clip cables hole. Thereafter, I grabbed a drill and created holes for the potentiometer and power connector. During this process, I believe that my choice in drill bit may have been a bit too large (I could easily be wrong) and caused a layer of the plywood to rip off the others. In light of this situation, I took a more gradual small-to-large bit approach for the alligator clip cables hole. Regarding the the voltage meter hole, I decided to forgo the many-holes approach to creating the rectangular shape, where the cut would be handled with a box cutter. I figured that the thin, layered characteristic of the plywood could be cut in this manner. With that said, I regretted this choice after making this cut, as the occasional "slipping" of the knife created unwanted surface cuts on the panel. I'll put this "technique" on the "don't-do-this-again" list. Note: all holes were slightly modified in size through the utilization of a file.

Initial cut for voltage meter with box cutter Partcial wood cut handled with a box cutter
Side panel with holes and metal file

After handling these side panel cuts, I began glueing them together. Upon verifying the perfboard's top/bottom/side panel fit, I began taking measurements for the standoff screw holes which would connect the top and bottom panels. After finding the measurements of the bottom panel, I began the drilling process. Thereafter, I utilized these same holes to mark the drilling spots for the top panel. After finishing, I put the entire enclosure together.

Side panel glueing Bottom and top panels with holes
Bottom and side panels attached to perfboard circuit Project put together with voltage testing

It must be noted that within this construction process, the perfboard's circuit was modified/soldered for the alligator clip cables and voltage meter connections. Furthermore, the power connector needed to be spliced and mounted (early) due to the securing nut's inner panel location.

Final view of project 1 Final view of project 2


While there was success in the fabrication of the enclosure, a few issues arose during the process. As I attempted to design each panel with a precise measurment in accordance to the perboard and applied standoffs sizes, I should have given an extra 1/16th to 1/8th inch to the measurement. The initial "tight" measurements created issues with the fittin g of the perfboard circuit, where it barely fit within the panels. Due to this situation, I was required to sand-off a slight amount of each perfboard side.

Regarding the volt meter panel handling, the utilization of the laser cutter would have granted a more precise cut for the enclosure. Though, the "by-hand" approach was somewhat enjoyable. Also in the category of shape cutting, I should take a more gradual approach with hole drilling, as my carelessness caused issues with the plywood layering.

Week 3: Laser Cutting. November 12, 2019.


Our third week of class focussed on the utilization of laser cutting. Regarding the assignment, we students were asked to utilize the cutter to design an item of our choice. As I took an interest in the TIR acrylic lamp example listed within the Fabrication class page, I decided to pursue the fabrication of a similar structure, where a lit acrylic cage would rest on top of a wooden stand. It can serve as either a mini lamp or pencil/pen holder.

TIR Acrylic Skull TIR Acrylic Car


For geographical convenience, I decided to purchase clear acrylic and 1/8" poplar wood at NYU's Maker Space. Upon arriving back to NYU's ITP facilities, I began the design process. The first component pertained to the utilization of the acrylic for the lamp top. As I was curious about the lighting characteristics pertaining to a "more" three-dimensional structure, differing from the mentioned example, I decided to create four walls of a cube. Furthermore, these walls would have square cuts to create a pronounced geometrical characteristic. As this lamp top was designed to sit on top of a wooden base, I left a small bottom row of uncut acrylic to sit on the soon-to-be fabricated base top's crevice.

Acrylic Box Pattern Cuts Poplar Wood Base Measurements

Unfortunately, my measurements were incorrect by a quarter inch. It was a careless mistake. However, the design did not necessarily suffer visually, so I decided to create my base stand with new measurements to accomodate my error. After utilizing the cutter to design the top layer and presiding bottom layers, I verified that the measurements with the placement of the acrylic panels onto the structure.

Wood cuts for base Base inner top fitting verification Base outer top fitting verification Entire base stand verification

After confirming the measurements, I measured the size of the 2032 coin battery enclorse. Thereafter, I modified my Illustrator file to cut rectanglur shapes from each of the bottom layers. Upon handling these cuts I verified the fitting for the battery enclosure. Afterwards, the gluing of the base and acrylic commensed.

Laser cutting base layer for battery enclosure Base glue clamping Acrylic gluing Dried base stand missing inner top Base top clamping after gluing Re-verifying base to top fit

After the glue dried, I placed velcro tape to the top of the enclosure and bottom of the base to secure the battery enclosure. Upon verifying the fit, I cut the lengthy wire leads and soldered the LEDs in a parallel fashion. Thereafter the enclosure with LEDs were placed into the bottom of the base.

Battery enclosure with velcro Battery enclosure with LED placed on the bottom of the stand

The following pictures display the final product:

Picture of final product in light Picture of final product in darkb


While the design and completion of the device was handled, a few dissapoints occurred in the work. Most noteably, the acrylic glueing left unwanted clouds onto the wall panels. According to a classmate, this part of the fabrication process must be carefully handled, where a precise amount of glue with no physical movement will alleviate this visual problem.

Additionally, excess wood glue was visible on the base panels. While I attempted to clean-up this issue during the glueing process, residue remained visible. Sanding this base might assist with this issue. However, I did not attempt this process, as I had concerns with creating inconsistent coloring of the panels, where the wood burn marks might become patchy. Perhaps this base should have been cut with a band saw as opposed to utilizing the laser.

Lastly, while the utilized LEDs provided some interesting directional lighting to the panels, I would have prefered a more consistent spread accross the top area. Both the base design and chosen lighting source may have caused this issue.

Week 2: Five of Something. November 5, 2019.


For the second week, our class was individually tasked to fabricate five of the same items. Rather, we partook in an excercise of repeatability. After spending a couple days sorting through various project ideas, I decided to create protective enclosures for some of my deck-of-cards collection. Regarding inspiration, I've always been a fan of Carl Andre's minimalist wood work.

Five decks of cards Carl Andre art installation containing large wooden objects


Upon visiting Brooklyn's Home Depot on an early Saturday morning, I chose to purchase three 1/4 x 6 x 48 inch oak planks for the project. While a little over one plank would have provided enough wood for the work, I took the "times pi" advice of Ben Light and purchased extra. Thereafter, I headed to the ITP facilities to begin the design process.

Wood planks at Home Depot Wood planks

Upon arriving to campus, I decided to create a prototype to determine the fabrication process of this work. After creating rough measurements of the deck's dimensions, I decided to cut the box with the minimal amount of panels. Thereafter, I could cut the full box to separate the top and bottom. Unfortunately, after and during the cutting of each panel, panel gluing, box halving, and box sanding, I realized that creating the two separate halves of the box would be assistive in the guaranteeing of deck fit.

Pencil markings on wood for cutting Panel clamping with glue
Box cut in half Sanded box

Thereafter, I began the process of finding the precise dimension of the enclosure. After carefully measuring each side and determing these dimensions, I began marking the wood panel for cutting.

Sheet containing box dimensions Pencil markings on panel for cutting

For each panel, I clamped the band saw's guide and began reducing the plank of wood, little by little.

More pencil markings on panel Band saw and cut panel
One panel cut Mutliple panel cuts

After finishing these cuts, I placed a box's wood pieces next to each other to verify the cuts. Unfortunately, a mistake was made. Upon reviewing my measurements, I noticed that I did not properly transfer one of the measurement's values. The transfered number "2 13/16" was written as "2 3/16."

All panel cuts for box Sheet containing dimension error

Since the shop was closing, I began gluing and clamping any panels that belonged with each other.

Panel clamping with glue More panel clamping with glue planks

Within the following day, I recut the problematic panels. Thereafter, the remainder of the box was glued and clamped.

Even more panel clamping with glue Much panel clamping with glue

Upon letting the glue settle, I began the sanding process. For each box, I utilized a deck of cards and tape to hold the box together during while belt sanding. Furthermore, sanding was utilized to "even-out" the inner sides to the top and bottom of the box.

Box being sanded with sanding belt Box sanding with tape

After utilizing the belt sander, I used a finer-grit piece of sand paper to smooth out some of the rough patches and edges. Thereafter, a "butcher bock" finish was applied to the boxes.

Completely sanded boxes Boxes that have been oil finished
Finished product.  Boxes with inserted decks of cards


This project gave a "big 'ol boost" in the confidence department, as I questioned my ability to execute this work. With that said, there is a room for improvement. While the size of the boxes is rather consistent, subtle differences are evident on close inspection. The cutting and gluing of the panels could have been handled more carefully, as the imprecise cuts led to exposed glue. Further sanding could have assisted with the overall appearance.

The following tools were utilized for this project: various clamps, wood glue, belt sander, sand paper, band saw, wood oil, and painters tape.

Tools utilized for the projectb

Week 1: Flashlight. October 29, 2019.


For the first week of class, we students were asked to fabricate a flashlight in any manner. As this prompt could be handled in an infinite amount of ways, I chose to limit my project to the available items within ITP's junk shelf. Upon inspecting the area, I located a lovely pair of used safety goggles for mounting lighting components.

Used Goggles Front Side Used Goggles Back Side


My attraction to this particular item primarily pertained to my prior viewings of "party" goggles, as these items have brought a large "cheese" and fun factor. However, it must also be noted that my prior utilization of flashlight headbands also influenced my approach to this project.

Electric Unicorn's LED goggles LE Flashlight Headband


To begin the work, I created a quick sketch of the goggles with the mounted LEDs, 9 volt battery case, and wires. Regarding the number of LEDs, this amount and arrangement was reflective of the existing holes (3 on each side) in the goggles.

Goggle fabrication sketch Pre-existing goggle holes utilized for LED mounting

Additionally, as a battery power source was a necessity for this project, I drew a circuit diagram for reference. Furthermore, calculations determined the necessary resistance for this circuit configuration.

Drawn Circuit Diagram

As foam covered the backside of the holes, the removal of this material was necessary. Upon removing this covering, LEDs were inserted into the holes. The arrangement of both pairs of LEDs began with the anode of one LED on the top, and the respective cathode underneath it. Thereafter, the following LED's anode was also inserted into the previously mentioned cathode's hole. The remaining bottom hole was utilized to hold the second LED's cathode.

Removal of foam for LED holes LED goggle insertion

Thereafter, the second hole's LED pins (Top LED cathode and Bottom LED anode) were twisted together. Additionally, the two top LEDs' anodes and bottom LEDs' cathodes were also wrapped around each other. The purpose of this manipulation not only served as a means of securing the legs to the goggles, but also served as a point for soldering the wiring for the voltage and ground.

Twisted LED leads Goggle-mounted LEDs

After realizing that the resistors still needed to be connected, the top LEDs were untwisted. Thereafter, soldering commenced. The bottom LEDs' cathodes were soldered together. Thereafter, the top LEDs' anodes were soldered to their respective resistors. After finishing the mentioned items, the circuit was tested with a DC variable power supply.

Goggle-mounted LEDs

Upon confirming the functionality of the LEDs, I began soldering wires for the connection to the 9 volt battery. Thereafter, I utilized electrical tape to cover exposed wire, attempting to limit any possible "shorts."

Goggles with soldered Twisted LED leads

I then utilized a breadboard to connect the newly soldered wires to the 9 volt battery supply (within a case). Upon successfully activitating the LEDs with the breadboard setup, the wires were directly connected to the 9 volt supply and were tested.

Goggles connected to breadboard for testing the LEDs Goggles connected to 9 volt supply for testing LEDs

Upon successfully testing this new connection, I utilized velcro tape to secure the 9 volt battery supply to the back of the headband.

Goggle-mounted LEDs Goggle-mounted LEDs

The following video demonstrates the final product:


Though the project has a crude appearance, the flashlight appeared to be properly functioning. Further refinements could be geared towards the housing of wires, as the current setup has this component "flying" over the top of the user's head. Additionally, the exposed resistors should also be placed in a less viewable area. Regarding this latter statement, the wiring would need to be re-worked to resovle this issue. Perhaps a smaller battery could assist with the mentioned items, as this battery could be placed directly behind the front of the goggles. Lastly, a conical-shaped piece could surround the LEDs, limiting the amount of light emitted towards the user's eyes.

It must be noted that the following items were utilized to fabricate this project: soldering iron, solder wire, 22 AWG solid core-wire, wire cutter, wire stripper, knife, electrical tape, velcro tape, breadboard, and a DC variable power supply.

Tools utilized for the project