Lazer Mouse was a spring 2013 project at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. Over the course of the semester, Lazer Mouse worked with MAKESHOP at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
In MAKESHOP, children are given real materials and tools to make physical their creative ideas. A team of skilled makers, artists and educators encourage and help visitors turn their vision into tangible objects. This exploratory environment is filled with sewing machines, electronic circuit blocks, stop motion tools, woodworking tools, and more. It all starts with a simple question, “What do you want to make today?”
This semester, we added a laser cutter to the MAKESHOP toolbox. We focused on designing and implementing an iPad interface that allows kids to design for that laser cutter. Finally, we documented our experimentation and end product, so that the teaching artists at the museum can help kids create what is in their imaginations.
We implemented an iPad application with which kids can create art to be cut and/or etched by a laser cutter.
- In our application, we have stamps that allow punching out of the material. These stamps can be scaled or rotated by using pinch and zoom gestures.
- We have a knife tool which allows freehand cutting and we have an etching pencil which lets kid to “draw onto the material” by burning a little bit.
- We have an eraser tool which allows kids to erase both cut and etch lines.
- When the design is finished, kids tap onto the DONE button which lets them send the file to the laser cutter.
Between the iPad and the laser cutter, we have a Windows operated laptop. When we tap onto the Send button, the Etch and Cut PNG files are saved to the Google Drive. On PC side, we grab these files and convert the Cut PNG to SVG and embed Etch PNG into the Cut SVG by using the PNGtoSVGConverter.exe.
After the conversion, we open the SVG file with Inkscape then print it to the Full Spectrum Engineering Drive which opens the file with RetinaEngrave Software. We send the files to the laser cutter via this software.
Here is the project website.