Introduction: How to Enter the Instructables and Universal Laser Cutter Contest

Picture of How to Enter the Instructables and Universal Laser Cutter Contest

Winner announcedhere!

Finalists have been announced [/blog/BKYNJDDFB11L462/ here]!

What were we thinking?!?
The holidays are the perfect time to finish your Laser Cutter Contest entry, and we don't want to judge during our family vacations.

So, we're extending the entry deadline to 11:59pm Tuesday, January 1, 2008 to take advantage of the entire holiday season. Finalists will be announced on Monday, January 7, 2008. User voting will still end on January 31st, and we'll still announce the ultimate winner on Monday, February 4th, 2008.

Use this extra time to make something truly incredible!

The Laser Cutter Contest is back!

Get your tools and camera ready, because Instructables is giving away a VersaLaser laser cutter package from Universal Laser worth over $15,000!

This is another chance for you to win one of our favorite tools, but this time it's bigger and better! The VersaLaser functions like a true plug and play computer peripheral. It has a friendly, materials-based print driver that eliminates complex power, speed and materials calculations. It's air-cooled, and is easy to install and use.

To win the VersaLaser, just make a fantastic Instructable to show us what you're capable of.

Your Instructable can be about anything, but we want to be amazed by your passion, imagination, and creativity. Make something fantastic and share your knowledge with the rest of the world. Remember, all projects of any type are eligible!

With a laser cutter you will be able to explore lots of cool new projects. You can custom-cut fabric, paper, wood, and other materials without having to touch a blade. You can cut pieces for a geometric lamp or an art project and customize your laptop. We're sure you can make something even cooler.

Laser Cutter ContestWinners List
Science Fair ContestWinners List
Go Green ContestWinners List

We want to give the laser cutter to someone who will use it to take their creativity even further.

So get started on something that will blow us all away, and convince us you're the best person to win this awesome laser cutter!


Grand prize (1)
40-watt VersaLaser VLS3.50 laser cutter, Instructables t-shirt, a laser-etched plaque, stickers and patches.

First prize (13)
Laser-etched Instructables Leatherman Juice S2, a laser-etched plaque, and an Instructables t-shirt.

Second prize (20)
Instructables t-shirt and a laser-etched plaque.


When the contest closes for entries our panel of judges will select the top 10 Instructables via approval voting, and their creators will become finalists for the grand prize. Judges from Instructables, Universal Laser, and previous contest winners will be instructed to vote for contest entries they think deserve to be finalists. The 10 entries with the most votes will become finalists. In the case that a single author has more than one finalist entry, the lower ranked one(s) will be eliminated.

An additional 2 finalists will be selected based on total number of positive ratings on the day that finalists are announced. Of the contest entries not already selected by the judges, the two entries with the greatest number of positive ratings will become finalists. Negative ratings will have no impact on the rankings.

An additional 2 finalists will be selected based on total pageviews on the day that finalists are announced. Of the contest entries not already selected by the judges or selected via ratings, the two entries with the greatest number of pageviews will become finalists.

Bear in mind that the ratings and pageviews criteria tend to favor Instructables entered into the contest early as those entries have more time to accumulate ratings and pageviews.

You many enter as many times as you like, however, only individual Instructables will be considered to become finalists. If your project is too big for a single Instructable, feel free to create an over-arching Instructable that links to sub-Instructables.

The 14 finalists' projects will be posted on Instructables for everyone to see, comment, and vote on. The user votes on these 14 finalists will be 20% of the finalists' score, and will be added to the judging panel's results to determine the grand prize winner.

All contest entries will be judged for merit. Judges will evaluate each Instructable for the following:
- Creativity
- Completeness and clarity of instructions
- Usefulness
- List of parts and tools
- Effective use of photo notes
- Technical merit

Judging a large number of entries in a large number of categories will be a challenge, and will by its very nature be subjective and qualitative. The way to get noticed is to do the best job you can showing something you are passionate about. It can be something no one has ever done before, something that has been done over and over, but your Instructable is now the definitive guide, or something that simply amazes and inspires.

Judges from Instructables, Universal Laser, and past contest winners will evaluate the finalists by the above criteria, then vote for winners using range voting, the same system used in Olympic scoring. We'll announce the winners on or around Monday, 4 February 2008.

How to Enter

1. Publish an awesome Instructable on any subject anytime between 15 October 12:01 am PST and Tuesday, 1 January 2008 at 11:59 pm PST and add it to the Universal Laser Cutter Contest group. Only projects published within these dates are eligible. You may submit as many Instructables as you choose.

2. A panel of judges will select 14 finalists and 20 second-prize winners. These will be announced on or around Monday, January 7th, 2008.

3. Each finalist's project will be highlighted on for a period of site-wide review, discussion, and voting. Any registered user is eligible to vote. Voting closes January 31st. The results of this peer voting will comprise 20% of each project's final score.

4. A panel of judges will assess the Instructables and cast their votes during the week of January 28th. The panel's votes will comprise 80% of each project's final score.

5. The winner will be announced on or around Monday, February 4th, 2008.

Additional Information

You must be 18 or older to enter. If you are 13-17, you can still enter, but to win you will need to verify that you had the permission of a parent or guardian (we will have a permission slip for you). The best solution would be to have your parent join you as a collaborator on your Instructable.

International entries are accepted. If your instructable is amazing, we want you to have the laser cutter, no matter where you are. However, we can only cover shipping the laser cutter within the US- it's your responsibility to deal with shipping and customs from that point onward. We will confirm with the winner before awarding the grand prize. All of our other prizes can be shipped world-wide.

Groups are encouraged to enter the contest using our collaboration feature. A laser cutter would be a perfect addition to a community hobby shop.

Winner is responsible for all taxes and fees. We will remind the finalists of this to make sure they are able to properly deal with the taxes.

Step 1: Official Rules

Picture of Official Rules

1. All federal, state, and local taxes on prize are the sole responsibility of the winner. No purchases are necessary; void where prohibited by law.

2. Participants agree to abide by all decisions of Instructables, contest co-sponsor, and judges, which shall be final and binding with respect to all issues relating to this contest.

3. Prize is not transferable and no cash alternative or prize substitution is available. Instructables and contest co-sponsor reserve the right to substitute a similar prize of equal or greater value if the prize listed is unavailable for any reason. All potential winners are subject to verification at the discretion of Instructables and contest co-sponsor.

4. Winner agrees that prizes are being provided "as is", and Instructables and contest co-sponsor make no warranty, representation or guarantee regarding the prize, including but not limited to its quality, condition, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

5. Instructables and contest co-sponsor are not responsible for problems including (but not limited to) damaged, incorrect, inaccurate, lost, delayed, or defective entries, or for injury or damage to any computer resulting from participation in this contest. Entries that have been tampered with or altered are void.

6. Instructables reserves the right to modify, cancel, postpone or end the contest at any time as necessary, at its sole discretion, or to disqualify any participant or winner, at its sole discretion, deemed to have cheated, destroyed, obstructed, or otherwise acted illegally or in bad faith in relation to this contest.

7. Instructables reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds, in its sole discretion, to be in violation of the Terms of Service; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules; to be acting in a unethical or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person.

8. By submitting an entry and entering this contest, you represent and warrant that: you are over the age of 18, or entering with the knowledge and permission of your parent or guardian (subject to verification), and that the entry does not contain or incorporate the intellectual property and/or confidential information of any third party.

9. By submitting an entry and entering this contest, you hereby grant Instructables and co-sponsor Universal Laser Systems, Inc., a perpetual, irrevocable, sublicenseable, worldwide, royalty free right to publish and distribute your entry for their promotional purposes.

10. Governing Law: All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of the official rules, or the rights of entrants, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with, the substance laws of the State of California and any applicable laws and regulations of the United States.

Step 2: How We Selected Finalists

The 10 finalists were selected by Instructables staff and interns. Each judge was asked to vote "yes this Instructables should be a finalist" or "no/no opinion", with the default vote being "no/no opinion". The entries were ranked by number of "yes" votes with the top 10 becoming finalists. There were no ties.

The finalists and second prize Instructables were listed alphabetically to prevent any indicated favoritism between the finalists.

Listed below, again in alphabetical order, are projects that scored highly, but did not make the finalist or second prize rankings:

Add INTERNAL Bluetooth Capability To Your iPod
Build a Polar 3-D Printer from Legos
Build your own t-shirt printing press
cotton candy machine
How to build a garage from the ground up
How to Make Delicious, Healthy Homemade Potato Chips With a Microwave!
infrared digital camera - the real way
LCD Overhead Projector
Life Size Operation Game
Paint Your Car With Rustoleum
the 50mph trike
Toddler Flintstone Car
Turn a calculator into a metal detector
Windbelt from hard drive voice coil and magnets

To select the finalists based on ratings, we ranked the entries based on total number of positive ratings. Fraudulent ratings were eliminated based on IP address, Instructables username, Instructables profile and history, and account email address.

Step 3: How We Judged the Finalists

Judges were sent the following ballot:

2008 Universal Laser Cutter Contest

This is the judging form for the 2008 Instructables and Universal Laser Cutter Contest.

How to vote:
- Enter your Instructables username and email on each ballot. If you don't have an Instructables username, list your affiliation and name under username; we will use this information to authenticate your ballot.
- There are 14 Finalists on this ballot, listed in alphabetical order.
- Vote for as many Instructables as you like. You can vote for one or all of them, it's up to you, but more votes will give us better results.
- Voting is on a scale of 1 to 9 where 1 means it shouldn't win and a 9 means it's your absolute favorite and should be rewarded with the $15k VersaLaser.
- A vote of "no opinion" does not affect a project's standing.
- Click on the "submit" button. This will enter your votes.

The winners will be determined by range voting described here and here.

Please submit your vote by 9 AM PST Monday, February 4th, 2008. We'll begin collating ballots immediately after, and announce the winner later the same day.

Judges' Vote

The ranking of the finalists by the average of the judges votes is immediately below:

Instructableaverage votestandard deviation
How to Enter the Ghetto Matrix (DIY Bullet Time)
Laser cutter, start slicing stuff for under 50 dollars
Build a Greenland Kayak
Autonomous Foosball Table
Giant Fresnel Lens Deathray
Extreme Business Cards
Laser Image Projector
The Spiral Data Tato
How I built a carbon bike frame at home
Build a Wind Harp!
Build yourself a portable home - a mongolian yurt
How to Make a TRON Style Lamp: The MADYLIGHT
How to build a sit down driving arcade cabinet
Blu-Ray Laser Phaser!

Forum topic / Instructables Community Vote

The Instructables community was invited to help judge by voting for the finalists on special forum topics. After eliminating fraudulent votes by looking at IP address, username, account email, cookies, and some other factors, the forum topic votes were mapped to a 1-9 scale. The finalists ranked by forum topic votes on a scale of 1-9 are shown below:

Instructablescaled vote
How to Enter the Ghetto Matrix (DIY Bullet Time)
Laser cutter, start slicing stuff for under 50 dollar
How to Make a TRON Style Lamp: The MADYLIGHT
Autonomous Foosball Table
Extreme Business Cards
How I built a carbon bike frame at home
Blu-Ray Laser Phaser!
Build yourself a portable home - a mongolian yurt
Giant Fresnel Lens Deathray
Build a Greenland Kayak
Laser Image Projector
How to build a sit down driving arcade cabinet
The Spiral Data Tato
Build a Wind Harp!

Combined voting

The community vote represented 20% of the total vote. With 30 judges, this is equivalent to adding an additional 7.5 judges who vote according to the forum topic votes. This yields the official ranking of the finalists:

Instructableaverage votesum of votesnumber of judges
How to Enter the Ghetto Matrix (DIY Bullet Time)
Laser cutter, start slicing stuff for under 50 dollars
Autonomous Foosball Table
Extreme Business Cards
How to Make a TRON Style Lamp: The MADYLIGHT
Giant Fresnel Lens Deathray
Build a Greenland Kayak
How I built a carbon bike frame at home
Build yourself a portable home - a mongolian yurt
Laser Image Projector
The Spiral Data Tato
Build a Wind Harp!
How to build a sit down driving arcade cabinet
Blu-Ray Laser Phaser!


lamedust (author)2008-02-05

I gotta say that something that makes me happy about this is my low standard deviation accompanied with my high ranking. It means they love me, they really love me! ; ) -bg

eagleapex (author)2008-01-07

It's on or about the 7th right now and I'm anxious! Who's getting t-shirts and who's getting something more?

drew2794 (author)2008-01-04

So this is like an actual laser. like what you see in the movies that they shoot people with. Or like a little lite that gets hot when you hold it on something for 5 hours

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-03

DANGIT! I thought this contest was only for Instructables that had to do with laser cutters and stuff! I never read the details on how to enter, until just now. Wow.. I could have uploaded something and got a chance of at least getting 3rd place.. wow.. Whatever. Instructables STILL RULES!

killerjackalope (author)2007-12-28

If I had the money now I would have an amazing instructable for you but sadly my paycheck isn't due yet and I'm in debt, mildly. On the upside the project will still happen.

Trace II (author)2007-11-11

Think of what I could do with a laser cutter... I wouldn't have to hollow out a book safe by hand for one...

killerjackalope (author)Trace II2007-12-28

The trick to that would be to drill a large hole into the inner cavity pages with bits of scrap wood clamped to it then let rip with a scroll saw or a really small circular saw, you could start the cut with a coping saw, or drill four holes at the cavity corners and then use a hacksaw with a deep cut. or make a jug shape and use someones 20tonne press as a hole punch (100 tonne would be better though)

fungus amungus (author)Trace II2007-11-11

Actually, that's still tricky. I tried to cut a design through an entire book with an Epilog and it didn't go so well. The distance between the lens and the focal point isn't so big which means that you run out of space to dig inside pretty quickly.

x_xeon_x (author)fungus amungus2007-11-22

you ever heard of a scroll-saw? pilot one hole through the center of the cut out and the put the scroll blade in and go. you dont need to use a laser for everything.

x_xeon_x (author)Trace II2007-11-15

ya that would be a tough project... the laser is like a multitool, but like multitools, they can only do so many things. scroll-saw?

socercrze (author)2007-12-17

Soooo x_xeon_x.... as a side note about the versa laser that you think costs SOOOO much. I have one and i run it at 150$ an hour.... and i'm backed up with work for weeks..... the recharge is actually a very good price at only 600$. i have other lasers that cost a few thousand to recharge. also an optic that's only 200$ whew, and i'm glad that's it, majority of my optics are 300$+ anyways i'm just cluing you in that the versa laser is WAAAAYYYY cheaper to run!!! Any good ideas for me to build?

fungus amungus (author)socercrze2007-12-17

Agreed, $600 isn't that bad. What work do you do?

socercrze (author)fungus amungus2007-12-18

I own a laser machine shop in san leandro ca, i have 7 co2 lasers ranging from 150 watts to 3600 watts. also three 500 watt yags. all but my universal laser run from a mixed bottle of co2, so i go through a bottle every three days on my dc excited lasers and a bottle is about 85$. so i get to do some cool stuff with lasers. i'll be getting an excimer laser here soon too.

fungus amungus (author)socercrze2007-12-18

Oh, you're close! We're on the western tip of Alameda.

socercrze (author)fungus amungus2007-12-19

haha that's funny i live in alameda!!!! over on bay farm...

fungus amungus (author)socercrze2007-12-21

That's where our intern lives!

socercrze (author)fungus amungus2007-12-23

your intern? what do you guys do? maybe i can help you out with some laser work or you can help me out with whatever services you do.

fungus amungus (author)socercrze2007-12-24

You're already using our services! I work here at Instructables.

socercrze (author)fungus amungus2007-12-25

haha, what's your position there, need a judge for an instructable?

lako305 (author)2007-12-24

I own a 6000 what laser and I aint bragging about it

Doctor What (author)2007-11-20

I read the rules through again, and i am wondering, what do you mean by tampering?? Is editing your own instructable tampering??? Or am i just a retard and I don't know what the word tampering means???

canida (author)Doctor What2007-12-11

Tampering implies illicit behavior. Editing your own Instructable is certainly allowed. ;)

Doctor What (author)canida2007-12-11

Oh. Thanx.

What are you talking about? Which part is this?

Rule 5,"Entries that have been tampered with or altered are void"

I wouldn't worry about it at all. Looks like something our lawyer put in there to be extra extra safe. You're free to keep modifying and adding to our instructable.

x_xeon_x (author)2007-11-01

I've used the Versa Laser before, BEAUTIFUL machine. Over 200 hours of PURE runtime to my name alone. There is however, one HUGE, HUGE, problem with this laser... the thing needs to be recharged, and it costs about 600 bucks to do it... also, the parts on the machine... holy crap, scratch a lens (and theres a few of them) and your looking at another 200 bucks per lens... seriously, the only way your going to turn a profit from this machine would be to charge alot for your time too, otherwise your going to be putting alot of money into this beast.... if you can afford the thing though, its the most amazing thing ever. I would suggest having a knowlage of Corel Draw, and AutoCAD, then you can really make the nice stuff... otherwise your down to basics.

icinnamon (author)x_xeon_x2007-12-10

How much time in cutting before a recharge is needed? What does a recharge actually recharge? The CO2? The power?

i.nedariya (author)icinnamon2007-12-10


icinnamon (author)i.nedariya2007-12-10

That's a long time! But how long does it take, let's say, to cut 3" squares out of 1/8" thick plywood?

x_xeon_x (author)icinnamon2007-12-11

Dont be fooled by 30,000 hours. They are rated for 2.5-5 years depending on use. But with fair useage, your looking at the lower of the values of 2 years. a plywood square 3x3 would probably take 20s depending on the intensity setting and travel speed of your laser you set.

technodude92 (author)x_xeon_x2007-12-10


DirectorsCUT (author)2007-12-02

You dont need to use a laser for everything!

Doctor What (author)2007-11-16

Do the instructables need to be made between the time period, or just added to the group between the time period??

Published between those dates. Otherwise we wouldn't have a start date.

okey doke.

hedgiehog (author)2007-10-21

You could use the lazer cutter to carve your pumpkins, and make an instructable how to do it!

x_xeon_x (author)hedgiehog2007-11-01

ya if your pumpkin was under 6 inches in width, and you dont mind having residue from a burnt pumpkin all over a 10,000 dollar machine.

stasterisk (author)x_xeon_x2007-11-15

laser cutting apples in half is deliciously rewarding! I don't imagine a pumpkin would pose any difficulty.

x_xeon_x (author)stasterisk2007-11-15

how many passes with the laser does it take to cut the apple withought burning the living hell out of it. if you want to eat the apple after its done cutting, your more than welcome to... i just dont see how you can justify using a machine like that to make yourself a snack. Pumpkins, well, if you measure the maximum tray depth, you going to be putting in a small pumpkin, but ya sure you could do it easyly enough. again, this machine is not inexpensive to operate, so if your making little pumpkins for people, you better be getting a good chunk of change to run either a large etch or cut, but dont let me tell you what you can and cant put in your machine... im not the one cleaning it... just the thought of having residue from a pumpkin or apple on the lenses on my machine is enough to make me cringe. have fun with your apples though, when you get into more advanced prototyping and design, let me know, i have some neat projects you could make for yourself with the rigt materials.

stasterisk (author)x_xeon_x2007-11-16

It could have been done in three or four passes, but it took me a while to figure out to use the 4" lens. It tasted kind of burnt, but not bad. Drawing pictures on the surface of the apple was way cooler. I couldn't justify learning how to use a laser cutter with edibles, and not eating the perfectly good food. There wasn't anything in the way of residue, the gas does a good job. It's not like you're staging an explosion. The rotatory attachment for the laser cutter I used made a huge difference. You should make your projects into instructables - my time is more than full making my own.

mrfixitrick (author)hedgiehog2007-11-06
Check out my Steampunk Laser-guided Tesla CD Turbine doing the Pumpkin Cuttin' Ceremony!!

Vendigroth (author)mrfixitrick2007-11-13

Awesome. What's the torque like?

mrfixitrick (author)Vendigroth2007-11-13

The torque kinda sucked for this movie, because I accidentally broke the CD case earlier that day. That slowed down the unit considerably and I had to use full 120 psi air to get it to cut, plus wait for the compressor to build. This machine uses a thin CD case, with only 8 CD's making the power, as well.

Vendigroth (author)2007-11-13

December the 16th.... Project H-D suits this superbly...

Doctor What (author)2007-11-11

where is the parental permission form??

We send those out if people win. For now, focus on making something.

thanx for the info.

Jr Hacking kid (author)2007-11-02

oooooooooo I wonder what color is the Leatherman Juice S2

gameboy7oa (author)2007-11-02

now all i need to do is figure out what to do oh gr8 this isnt gona take forever

About This Instructable




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