M-Code Box


How can a fabricated object have an interactive life? The M-Code Box is a manifestation of words translated into a tangible morse code percussion. You can find the code here and what's needed to create one M-Code Box is an Arduino UNO, a Solenoid Motor (external power source, simple circuit) and a laptop with Processing.

Next Steps

There are two paths to take this project further. One is to have an interpreter component, recording its sounds and re-encoding them into words, like conversation triggers. The second is to start thinking on musical compositions by multiplying and varying this box in materials and dimensions.



Previous Iterations

This project came upon assembling two previous projects, the Box Fab exploration of live hinges and the Morse Code Translator that translates typed text into physical pulses.

Lamp Shade


Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's suculent imagery, I decided to make a lamp. This is a continuation from one of the happy accidents from the live-hinges box. An exploration to push further the notion of wood bending. The result was an interesting exercise in terms of light composition, but not entirely satisfactory in terms of plastic art terms. This is how the result looked


A key fact to consider for future creations involving various bended pieces that will ultimately assemble one shape, is to bend them all together instead of separately. Another insight around this exploration was the progressive ability to successfully bend 1/4 inch plywood. There were two live hinges patterns involved in this lamp shade. The lower pieces were created through a more flexible pattern, while the upper pieces hadn't a lot of flexibility. Both were bended with hot water but the latter involved a DIY circular press that helped create a memory in the wood fibers. Here's a lineal documentation of the entire fabrication process

These were the live-hinges involved in the lamp shade design, upper and lower correspondingly.

Box Fab


We decided to work with live-hinges for our first project. We started off by concept proving through black foam.


After some tests, we chose the "parametric kerf #6" pattern given to its generous flexibility. For our overall box concept we combined the live-hinge method with a for dice semi-cubed volume. The next step we took, was to start cutting the two apparently replicated pieces.


However, our estimates for covering the half circles was inaccurate, avoiding the planes to fully assemble one-another.


For our second iteration, we follow Eric's advice and jump to prototype with our final material, wood. This we planned and did a little calculations to make sure the sides height would match to the half circle perimeters. We also planned for 45º edges, so we created 5mm inner reference raster-edges to sand after cutting. Since the material is 5mm thick, we realize that for 45º edges we needed a "square" reference to more less know our limit when sanding off the residue.

On our second laser cutting attempt, we came around with some technical unexpected obstacles. Besides overestimating the setup a bit high, the machine also cut offset (unknown reason still). Last but not least, the 60W laser cutter settings are different from the 50W when it comes to edging/rastering with black. This third setback was in fact a happy accident that allow us to realize we could simplify the entire process by scaling one of the sides by the thickness of the material. Our third cut run quite smoothly.

Error Correction and Experimentation

We even explore ways of conveniently bending wood with warm water and overnight drying. The result wasn't perfect, but we now know how to make a perfect matching wood bending from what we learnt with this first experiment. In the end, our thought magnetized-closing lid wasn't necessary. This is our final prototype, along with our inspirational dice. 


Drawing Object

I choose a Gyroscope top. It resembles a slick whipping top, which embodies the dynamic equilibrium concept quite curiously. 

These objects run thanks to the Centrifuge and Centripetal forces, which result by the momentum of the center load. Since this exercise is centered in laser cutting, I've deliberately ignore the center load that drives momentum, since the tentative materials to solve this cannot be laser cut by the machines in the shop. It would be really cool to have some sort of stone-like material for this exercise though.

The overall shapes could be any type of wood, the smallest circles though –Ds diameter– should be a hard wood to ensure a smoother spin for the center load.

The overall shapes could be any type of wood, the smallest circles though –Ds diameter– should be a hard wood to ensure a smoother spin for the center load.

In-Class Drawing Exercise

Considering the 15 minute time span we had for this exercise, the approach I had for it was a communication one. In other words, I did not care much about details, but of the overall understanding of how I planned to translate the process of fragmenting the object onto the sliced fabrication method.