When Jesse Vincent's boss stole his beloved keyboard, it set him on a long journey to make his perfect and ideal keyboard from scratch (ish -- he bought the keycaps premade). This slide deck documents nine generations of scratchbuilt keyboard prototypes. Vincent is now planning a Kickstarter based on his experiences, making some kind of custom keyboards for the world.
I posted in 2011 about the Digi-Comp I, a 1963 mechanical digital computer made of polystyrene and used to teach the fundamentals of boolean logic, binary, and computer programming. I'd just discovered that Evil Mad Scientist Labs sells a wooden version of its successor, the Digi-Comp II, which uses a pachinko-style marble-run to do the same thing (the Evil version is CNC-milled and laser-cut). They call it a "Rolling-Ball Binary Digital Mechanical Computer." It is both beautiful and very clever indeed.
Overall, it is slightly smaller than the original (mid 1960′s) Digi-Comp II, which used half-inch diameter glass marbles. Rather than marbles, we’ve opted for pachinko balls, which are shiny steel balls 11 mm (about 7/16") in diameter. Using the smaller size has allowed us to reduce some of the feature sizes, and reduce the overall size of the machine from 14×28.5″ to 10×24", while retaining all of the original functions and remaining finger-friendly.
The Digi-Comp II: First Edition is CNC carved from rock-solid half-inch hardwood plywood, laser-engraved to provide it with labels, and hand fitted with over 60 laser-cut parts. It comes assembled, tested, and ready to use.
It sells for $279.
Artifacture Studios is a maker shop based near Dallas, TX (I met the founders at a recent speaking gig at U Texas at Arlington) that does pretty amazing stuff with laser-cutters. They are probably best known for their laser-cut Eiffel Tower models, ornate models of the iconic building cut from stiff card that use cunning slot/tab fasteners that create a robust structure without glue or tape. They've also recently launched a 30-piece acrylic laser-cut puzzle called the "Frabjous" that uses interlocking tesselations of a polygon to form a great rhombic triacontahedron, "a self-intersecting polyhedron with thirty rhombic faces."
The Eiffel Tower model is ingeniously simple to assemble, the Frabjous is challenging and elegant.
Starting with a scan of the original plans by Gustav Eiffel, this was designed to have four identical pieces that tab into one another creating a 3D model without the use of glue, tape or fasteners. Laser cut from high quality soft-touch paper. Online instructional video provided to help with assembly...
Frabjous is a sculpture and geometric assembly puzzle made from dichroic acrylic. The swirling geometric form is composed of thirty identical pieces that catch and reflect the light in stunning fashion. Mathematically, the planes of the shape are the face planes of a "great rhombic triacontahedron," a self-intersecting polyhedron with thirty rhombic faces. But the puzzle piece is a carefully designed subset of the rhombus that doesn't intersect copies of itself. Weaving the parts through each other so each remains planar is trickier than it looks. Instructions are included.