Introduction: Scheveningen Lighthouse Lamp (Laser-Cut Scale Modeling)
In this Instructable I am going to describe how I made a scale-model lamp of the lighthouse in Scheveningen, the Netherlands. I really like making cool lights and thought that the Lights contest was a good reason to make my first Instructable, and learn how to use Fusion 360.
Although I am making this specific model, you can follow the methods and steps in this instructable to make a scaled laser-cut model of anything you have a picture of!
Step 1) Planning the Model's Construction
Step 2) Making Scale Measurements in ImageJ
Steps 3 - 6) Making the 3D model in Fusion 360
Step 7) Exporting parts from F360 as cut profiles into Adobe Illustrator
Step 8) Laser Cutting Fun!
Step 9) Pre-Assembly
Step 10) Painting
Step 11) Final Assembly
Step 12) Glamor Shots
Step 13) Files created in this Instructable (start here if you just want to use my cut or Fusion 360 file!)
...this could probably be a whole class.
- ImageJ software to measure our model to-scale (free!)
- Image-editing software (Photoshop, Gimp (free), MS paint, or MacOS preview will all do fine) to draw lines on the scale images.
- Fusion 360 software to build model (free for hobbyists and students! This will be abbreviated as F360 for this Instructable)
- Vector image editing software (Corel Draw, Illustrator, Inkscape (free), ...) to prepare file for laser cutter
- Laser Engraver Access: I use a Trotec Speedy100 laser engraver at the Boston Makers makerspace
- Precision calipers to measure light socket and material thickness
- JPEG or TIFF photo of model to build
- Pen, paper, and scientific calculator (for some super fun geometry puzzles!)
- Flat material, I used two 12" x 24" sheets of 3mm (1/8") craft ply from ACE hardware.
- Small, corded IKEA light socket (My light socket came from the Ikea Grono lamp, which has been discontinued. However, the Kvarnå lamp uses the same socket.)
- Nice filament-style LED bulb (safe since it doesn't give off much heat).
- Wood glue, paint, and masking tape
I have designed this instructable to be largely standalone for beginners in 3D modeling and laser cutting. I try not to build off prior knowledge of F360 and include a lot of basic details for makers that have never used F360 or 3D modeling software before. With these instructions, a healthy sense of adventure, and Google I think a beginner can make a nice scale model without issue!
Throughout this instructable, I do not actively point out the repetition of tools and tips when they are reused later, especially in F360. Also, If I am doing something that's repeated frequently (sketching shapes and extruding parts, for example) I will fast forward/speed up the appropriate sections of my video. Seeing the methods that I use is more valuable than seeing exactly how and where I place my lines! (I don't expect anyone to try to exactly replicate my lighthouse in F360... I include the F360 and cut files in step 13 for that!)
Step 1: Planning the Model's Construction
Our first job is to identify and prioritize construction constraints:
- All pieces will be cut with a laser cutter, this means we need to model all wood pieces with cuts perpendicular to the surface of the material sheet.
- All pieces need to be smaller than the laser cutter's maximum cut dimensions (In my case, 12" x 24").
- The model should be collapsible. (This would be really bulky to move around if it were glued together).
- The final product should be stable.
- The model should be as large as possible using only two 12" x 24"x 3mm" pieces of craft plywood
- I want the model's final proportions to be scaled as well as possible without obsessing over the final product too long. (I know I could spend a year on this getting it *ABSOLUTELY PERFECT*, but need a lamp in my room.)
- I want to put a light bulb in the model where it would be in the real lighthouse
- I want to make sure the final result looks clean; there should be no avoidable awkward gaps.
- I want it to be very detailed.
- I want to hide the lamp cord as much as possible.
- I want the model to be built with a scalable material thickness as much as possible.
- I want to make it so anyone can download the F360 file and alter the thickness to match the material that is available to them (I tested my file for changes of about 0.7 mm from 3.1 mm)
Looking at pictures of the Scheveningen Lighthouse, I have identified that the lighthouse has a basic dodecagon (12-sided) shape that becomes narrower at the top. To minimize the amount of material I use, and to make sure it can be cut with a laser cutter, I am going to design the lighthouse to be hollow with 12 wall panels that support the top light room. I will design the structure so that the wall panels are removable to allow for easy transport; however, this also means I will need to design the other parts to hold the walls tightly in place to ensure it is stable.
We will model the lighthouse in three sections: the base, the tower, and the light room/roof.
The easiest section, the base, will just support the structure. We will make a simple base at first to get the model going, but will revisit this step at the end to make sure our model is able to withstand a tipping angle of around 25 degrees. This is important because we will have a lot of material at the top of the model and don't want it to fall over.
The tower will be made of 12 tall trapezoidal wall panels held together by the base, the railing level, and two retainer rings under the light room. The tower section will house most of the wiring and support for the lighting, although the actual light bulb will pop up into the light room section.
The lightroom/cage/roof section will be designed using lots of horizontal layers connected by 12 vertical supports that create a rounded profile for the top of the lighthouse. It will look a lot like a bird cage. This section will probably have the largest number of unique parts.
I made a draft version of this lighthouse and tested the build using cardboard (picture in gallery). I learned a lot with that this and tweaked the railing and lightroom designs a bit for this instructable.
A quick note on orientation. I refer to the front of the lighthouse as where the door is; which is the left side in the picture above. The picture above is taken from the ocean side of the lighthouse. This side has several small rectangular windows that are not on the other (land-facing) side.
Now that we have an idea of how we're going to construct the model, next we will set the scale for the model and I will show how I used ImageJ to measure the dimensions of the lighthouse's features.
Step 2: Making Scale Measurements in ImageJ
It will be worth your time to learn to use ImageJ if you want to make accurate and to-scale models. It's very easy to use and saves you from a lot of conversion calculations.
Finding an Image
I found a picture of the lighthouse on google images that is both very large (using google's image size filter) and far away. It's important to use an image that's taken far away from the lighthouse to reduce distortion of the lighthouse's profile and proportions.
(Think about going under a highway bridge: a small distance from the bridge you can see a lot of the underside of the bridge. However, very far from the bridge, you don't see the underside at all. We want to see the lighthouse's profile, not underneath it's overhangs and such... so we use a picture taken far away.)
Estimating Obscured Portion of the Lighthouse:
The image I picked is not perfect because the dike (grassy hill in the picture) hides some of the lighthouse. To estimate the full lighthouse's profile, I used MacOS's preview application (like MS paint) to extend lines down the sides of the lighthouse to the bottom of the picture (purple lines in the picture).
Next, I used perspective clues and other pictures to estimate where I think the bottom of the lighthouse is in this picture (horizontal cyan line). It helped when I compared how much of the house is hidden by the dike to estimate where the base of the lighthouse is.
Setting Up the Measuring Tool:
In grad school, I learned to use ImageJ to calibrate and measure images. ImageJ is a free java-based software that has easy-to-use scale and measurement tools.
Wikipedia tells me that the real lighthouse is 30m tall. In imageJ, I draw a line for this distance from our estimated base of the lighthouse to the top of the green ball on the roof.
With the height line drawn, go to Analyze > Set Scale.... The Distance in Pixels will already be filled in, enter 30 for the known distance, pixel aspect ratio of 1 and unit of length is meter. Click ok to set this scale.
Now we can use the line tool to draw dimensions we want to measure at full-scale. For example, measuring the width of the first railing platform, I draw a line across its length, then go to Analyze > Measure. the Results window will show a measurement that represents the dimension of the actual lighthouse in meters. Here's a video of all of that:
(No audio in any of my videos. Lots of my videos have thin lines and intricate work, it's best to watch them full screen)
Setting the Scale for the model
The way that I've planned to build this model, the longest pieces will be the wall panels for the 12 sides of the lighthouse; from the ground up to the rim below the lightroom. The length of the material I'll cut for these walls is 24 inches = 609mm. To make the largest possible model, I am assigning the walls to be 600mm long (this leaves a bit of wiggle room for the layout/cutting and I like nice round numbers.)
Measuring the length of a wall panel using the line tool in ImageJ (from the ground up to the rim below the lightroom), I see it's 26m on the real lighthouse. This is the white line in the second gallery image.
So 26 meters on the real lighthouse where we are using 600mm on scale model means I'm making a 1:43 scale model. Unconventional, yes, but it's the largest I can get with this construction method and I don't really mind that it is not a normal scale.
Next, to save me a lot of unit conversions, I am going to change the ImageJ scaling from life-sized to the size of my model. Using the 26m wall measurement along the tower, I change the scale to "600" and the unit of length to "mm".
Now we can easily use ImageJ's measure tool to measure the dimensions of our model without any silly conversions!
Lastly, be sure to save this image in ImageJ with the correct scale since we will use it a lot!
Step 3: Modeling the Base
Notes on Fusion 360 Modeling
I explain a lot of how I use F360 in this Instructable. However, Instructables.com has a really good, free class on laser cutting that has a lesson on F360, and a brand new class that teaches you how to use F360 in general if you're looking for lessons from AutoDesk.
Also, if you get stuck using F360 or want to know how to do something just Google it! There are a lot of great resources available for F360. For reference, my most frequently-used help website is the AutoDesk Community.
Here are some tips I found useful when learning F360:
- Many of the 3-D modeling tools I've worked with in the past are based on creating virtual objects that you can move and manipulate. F360 takes a different approach... In F360 you draw 2D sketches, which are used to create 3D objects by applying transformations (like extrude or revolve). Also, instead of creating virtually-rigid objects, it keeps a timeline of sketches and transformations so that you can easily edit features in the past without having to recreate bodies.
- If you want to reference a point or object, you need to make sure you're working "after" the object appears in your timeline.
- When you go back in your timeline, sketches and bodies created later in the timeline do not appear. This means that you may need to create 2 sketches on the same plane if you want to use edges or points from earlier timeline entries.
- If you create a 2D sketch, then use it to make a 3D object, and then delete the sketch... you will get an error. This is some back-to-the-future business, so be careful about what you delete and LISTEN TO THE WARNINGS. for the love of all things beautiful, please listen to the warnings.
The base is going to mirror the shape of the lighthouse, it'll be a dodecagon (12-sided polygon). To make this in F360, we will use the polygon tool to draw a dodecagon on a 2D sketch represents the ground of the lighthouse. In ImageJ, I measured that scaled wall-to-wall diameter of the lighthouse at its base is 138.6mm. For now, I will make a dodecagon base with a diameter 150mm; we will revisit this when we're finishing the model to ensure that the lighthouse can't tip over too easily.
In this video, I...
- Create a new project, name it, and pin it to my project board.
- Create a new sketch by selecting the plane I want it to be in.
- I selected the XZ-plane, so that I am looking down the Y axis.
- I renamed this sketch 'base' so that it is easy to find later.
- First I clicked to place the polygon's center, then I just started typing to enter a value for the radius dimension.
- Notice that I entered an equation, 150mm/2 because it's asking for the radius, but 150mm is the diameter. I hit tab twice after entering the dimension to lock the value I entered.
- To change the polygon to a 12-sided dodecagon, I hit tab once to toggle between the dimension and number of sides fields.
- I had my mouse near the X-axis so that the polygon would snap to that axis and create a 90-degree angle between the polygon and the X and Z axes.
Now, we are going to setup a really cool feature of F360: Parameters.
Parameters allow you to use named variables in your drawing instead of fixed numbers! Parameters are entered instead of a number whenever you are entering a dimension and will update the model if you update the parameter. Here, we will use parameters to make it so that you can still use this file to print this model if you have a slightly different material thickness, and in the next step for ugly numbers that are hard to remember.
Parameters can be found by clicking "MODIFY" then "Change Parameters" at the bottom. (see screenshot photo in gallery) I start with "materialThickness". The wood I'll be using is ~3 mm thick. I'll measure that with precision calipers on the piece of wood I am cutting and update this parameter before we export this model. I also am creating a baseWidth parameter, (even though I forgot I made this at the end, when I redo the base's dimension).
Next we are going to change the base polygon to use the baseWidth parameter, and create a 3D object from our sketched polygon!
In this video, I...
- Use the Sketch Dimension tool to set the diameter of the dodecagon to baseWidth.
- This tool allows us to select two unfixed points/edges and fix the dimension between them (length, angle, ...).
- Extrude the base profile by materialThickness, creating a new body.
- There are lots of ways to do this type of operation F360: I could have used the push/pull feature for some extrusions. However, I use extrude throughout this instructable.
- Rename the new body.
Our base is done!
This is by far the easiest section, but we are going to continue to refine it throughout this instructable.
For now, let's move on to the tower section!
Step 4: Modeling the Tower
Next, we will build the tower section.
This will be 12 very tall trapezoids that get smaller towards the lightroom/roof that are held in place by the base, the walkway level, and retainer rings at the top (see first and third images).
To start, we are going to build a small library of parameters. Some parameters are measured on the calibrated image in imageJ, while others are calculated using geometry. If you grew up hating geometry, or get stuck on a problem, THAT'S OKAY. Don't let that stop you from making a model! You might be able to measure it in ImageJ or guess and check it in F360. I use geometric relations because they are more exact, remove any guesswork, and recalculate if you change the material thickness, but remember that ImageJ is here to help you succeed!
- lighthouseBase: 138.6 mm (measured width of lighthouse at estimated base)
- lighthouseTopWidth: 64.42 mm (measured width of lighthouse just below light room)
- wallLength: 600mm (defined when setting model scale)
I don't explain every geometry I use becaue it's a lot of work to make diagrams/equations and explain them. 99% of the geometry in this project was calculated by drawing a good picture of what I need, then using SOHCAHTOA. I found some obscure relations, (like the perimeter of a dodecagon,) at the mercy of the Google gods.
Example geometry problem: wallBase,which is the bottom length of a wall (see second image in gallery).
For a regular dodecagon, perimeter = 6.43 * smallest radius. We can solve for the length of one wall by dividing the perimeter by 12.
Our walls will have edges cut at 90 degrees. This means that wherever two walls meet at an angle there will be an angled gap between the walls. The thicker the material used, the larger the angled gap between the walls will be. I think it is better to design this angled gap into the model, rather than than trying to ignore it. To do this, I will to leave a design gap of width materialThickness (defined as "t" in the diagram) between the inner edges of neighboring walls, in addition to the unavoidable angled gap.
I've color coded a geometry diagram of the walls at the base that matches the color coded equation (2nd image in gallery). Look at the colored lines on the diagram: Take the black line, subtract the dark blue and red lines and you're left with the light blue line. Physically, take half the length of a dodecagon wall (black line and equation), subtract half the gap we designed (dark blue) and the angled gap (red) then you're left with half the length of a wall's base (light blue). In F360 I enter:
- wallBase=6.431*lighthouseBase/12 - materialThickness*cos(15 deg) - 2*materialThickness sin(15 deg)
To keep the same gap between walls at the top of the tower, we use a similar equation for top length of the walls:
- wallTop=6.431*lighthouseTopWidth/12 - materialThickness*cos(15 deg) - 2*materialThickness sin(15 deg)
Other calculated parameters:
- wallAngle= asin(((lighthouseBase - lighthouseTopWidth) / 2) / wallLength)
wallHeight=wallLength * cos(wallAngle)
Creating the Walls
We now have all the dimensions we need to draw the wall profiles on the base sketch and create a wall body.
In this video, I...
- Re-enter the sketch environment.
- Draw a rectangle for the bottom (and top) of the walls on the base sketch.
- Use the dimension tool to resize and reposition the bottom (and top) rectangles for the wall in the sketch.
- Move the top (smaller) rectangle up to the height of the top of the wall (in the z-axis of the sketch).
- Create a new body by connecting the top and bottom profiles to make a wall.
Next, we angle the wall in to taper the lighthouse and replicate the wall around the vertical axis to create all 12 sides.
In this video, I...
- Select the wall body and use the 'move' tool to rotate the wall around its inner bottom edge by -wallAngle.
- Create a circular pattern of the angled wall body to make the 12 walls around the y-axis
It's starting to look lighthousey already!
"lighthousey is totally the new Fetch" - Gretchen Wieners, probably
Stabilizing the Walls
Next, I want to make the lower white walkwayLevel of the lighthouse. This body will space out the walls feeding through it, will support a lot of railing details, and will (eventually) hold the light socket. For now, we will just make a basic body. We will cut and build off of it later.
In this next video, I...
- Create a body folder to organize all the wall bodies.
- Hide all the bodies (...bet that's something you never thought you'd see in an instructable!)
- Create an offset XZ plane at y=560mm (distance from base to walkway level measured on imageJ)
- Create a new sketch on the offset plane and sketch a dodecagon
- Extrude the walkwayLevel profile to create a new body:
- This new body intersects the wall bodies. The default action when a new body intersects an existing body is to cut the overlapping volume from the existing body. This did not happen for me because the existing bodies (walls) were not visible when I extruded.
- Notice the warning that showed up after I extruded the walkway telling me that the body I created is hidden from my current view.
Next we will make the wallStop body, which rests on top of the walls and is the base of the lightroom section
In this video, I...
- Create an offset plane at exactly the top of the walls (more fun geometry!).
- Start a new sketch on the plane and draw a circle 74 mm in diameter.
- Extrude the circle to create the wallStop body.
Comparing the picture of the lighthouse to my model, I realized that the white railing layer we already did is the wrong shape; it should also be a circle! This lets me show off the real power of using the timeline-based features of F360. In this video, you will see an example of creating and fixing a warning caused by deleting a shape referenced by a feature in the timeline.
In this video, I...
- Point out the wrong shape and remeasure the diameter.
- Edit the walkwayLevel sketch, deleting the 12-sided shape and drawing a circle.
- Edit the extrude feature that used the polygon profile and have it reference the new circle profile.
Next, we create rings that will be glued to the bottom of the wallStop level to will retain the walls. There is an inner and an outer retaining ring. The outer-wall of the inner retaining ring touches the middle of the top of the wall; This is what we will see directly in our cross section in the YZ plane. However, we will not see the edges of the wall touch the inner wall of the outer ring because it is not in the YZ plane. (I know that is confusing- see the last photo in gallery above. What's important is that the rectangular wall fits exactly between the two circular rings like this GIF)
In this next video, I...
- Create a cross section in the YZ plane that lets us look at the lighthouse cut in half.
- Create a sketch in the YZ plane.
- Draw rectangles below the wall stop body for our retainer rings
- Notice that when drawing the right (inner) rectangle I am able to align to the corner of the angled wall by using my mouse to draw a line from the point I want to align to. The program shows light blue dotted lines to show alignment.
- Use the sketch dimension tool to set the retainer ring's vertical thickness to materialThickness and to set their diameters.
- Setting the inner ring's diameter is easy because the corner of the wall in our cross section rests on the inner ring.
- Setting the outer wall is harder because the wall doesn't touch the outer ring at our cross section. I use some ninja geometry to calculate the diameter of the outer retainer ring but remember that you can always guess and check these geometries to see when you don't have body intersections.
Our final step for the tower section is to create a hole in the wallStop circle for the light bulb to come through later.
In the final video for this section, I...
- Draw a circle on the wallStop sketch.
- The diameter of this circle is big enough that my lightbulb can sit in it, but not so big that it makes the piece weak.
- Extrude the circle into the wallStop layer to cut our the circle. (check that the "operation" type changes to "cut" to allow you to do this!)
With the basic tower done, we can start modeling the lightroom!
We will return to other details of the tower in step 6.
Step 5: Modeling the Lightroom/Cage
The lightroom sits on-top of the wallStop layer. Actually, the vertical supports for the lightroom cut into the wallStop body for support. To model the lightroom, I thought about constructing the lightroom like a sort of bird cage. There are 12 vertical supports that give the roof of the lighthouse a nice, rounded profile and I use lots of horizontal rings to make the roof solid. I chose to align the vertical supports of the lightroom with the gaps between tower's walls. To access these gaps, we will create a new sketch exactly between the walls by rotating a YZ plane 15 degrees around the Y axis.
In this video, I...
- Create a new plane at an angle of 15 degrees to the YZ plane.
- Create a section analysis on the new plane
- Start a sketch on the new plane
Vertical Cage Supports
Our next task, making the vertical cage supports, takes some careful sketch work. This (sped up) video shows me drawing the cage profile sketch, then extruding it.
In this video, I...
- Draw rectangular pegs that will go into the WallStop layer to support the light cage.
- Draw the base of the vertical cage supports.
- Create a fixed reference point on the sketch at the center of the light bulb hole's circle. We use this to measure distances from the Y-axis.
- I reorder the timeline so the reference point appears before the angled sketch between the tower's walls
- Sketch the dimension of cage's diameter with respect to the new reference point.
- Reference and measure the cage and roof dimensions on the calibrated photo.
- You'll see me create a guide line for the height of the curved roof, and a guide so I match the angle of the roof at the top. These will be deleted later, but it greatly helps to get the shape right.
- Draw a rounded roof profile using the spline curves tool
- Create an extrusion of the vertical cage support. The extrusion goes out symmetrically in both directions from the sketch plane to make sure the cage support's body stays centered between the walls.
- Create a circular pattern of vertical supports to create the full light cage.
- Adjust the top curve of the sketch a bit after extruding to fix a small overlap of bodies at the top.
Our next step is to draw a horizontal cageBottom and roof rectangles, then revolve them. This creates the cageBottom's retainer ring and the roof bodies.
In this video I...
- Draw a closed rectangle at the bottom of the cage to help retain supports.
- Revolve this rectangle around the Y-axis to create the cageBottom body.
- Cut the vertical cage supports out of the cageBottom body using the combine tool.
- This creates a stable and secure way to attach the cage to the Tower.
- Draw a lot of stacked rectangles for the top of the light cage and the roof of the lighthouse.
- The left side of the rectangles are pegged (coincident) with the outer profile of the vertical cage supports, while the right side of the rectangles extend far enough that it overlaps the layer below. This makes it so there are no gaps in the roof and the roof layers can be glued together.
- If you draw a straight horizontal or vertical line from an intersection or fixed point (like the corner of a rectangle), F360 shows an alignment guide in light blue!
- The very top ring is only glued to the layer below it; it does not attach to the vertical supports.
Right now, the inner edge of the vertical cage support bodies intersect the roof ring bodies. To fix this, I need to edit the drawing of the vertical cage elements so that it steps like the roof bodies do. This way, the cage and roof pieces will interlock.
In this video, I...
- Adjust the vertical cage support drawing so the inside edge steps with the roof layers.
- The roof rings can only be cut vertically, so the interlocking vertical supports should be designed to fit them.
- The right side of the roof rectangles should still overlap the layer below it so there are no gaps between the roof bodies.
- I had to deal with one ring that wouldn't cut. To fix this I checked that all lines that meet in the sketch are coincident. Make sure your lines are coincident where you think they are, especially if you plan to change parameters later.
Except for a few small details, the lightcage/roof part of the lighthouse is done!
Cutting Wall Slots
The last step to making the lighthouse's basic structure is cutting holes for the walls to feed through the walkway level and into the base.
Because the walls are angled by wallAngle (about 5 degrees), the holes will need to be a little bit wider than just materialThickness [it needs to be 3.192 mm instead of 3.0 mm, from (materialThickness * (tan(wallAngle)+1/cos(wallAngle)) ]. However, in this video I show how we can sketch this dimension without that complicated geometry!
In this video I...
- Construct a reference point at the intersection point of three planes: the bottom of the walkway, the front face of a wall, and the left face of the wall.
- Edit the YZ plane sketch to draw a rectangle within the walkway body around the angled wall. This solves for the width of the holes with an angled wall.
- Extrude the rectangle symmetrically to the width of the wall at that level. This is called a tool body.
- The width of the wall can be measured in the extrusion panel. Measure from the sketch plane to the reference point made at the beginning of the video at the corner of the wall.
- Create a circular pattern of the tool. One for each wall.
- Cut the tools out of the walkway level using the combine feature.
- Make sure you keep the tools (though you should hide them).
Although I don't show it here, I used the exact same process to cut slots for the walls in the bottom of the lighthouse.
This completes the basic structure of the lighthouse! The next step is a lot of details that I added to make it look more like the lighthouse in Scheveningen. If you don't care about those details, still consider watching the step where I include the hole for the light socket and the step where I calculate the model's center of mass to stabilize the model.
Step 6: Model Details
Next we're going to add a lot of details; mostly the windows and railings. This step has a lot of parts, but none of the videos are very long. I've fast-forwarded a lot through repetitive details so that each part shows you how I dealt with creating a different type of detail, rather than just the repetitious act itself.
Railing Details (part 1)
The railings are made of vertical posts that support two circular railings. We will first design the railing posts, which have some fanciness under the walkway.
In this video I...
- Draw the outline of the posts on our sketch between the walls.
- Draw fancy brackets under the walkway level.
- Extrude the profile of the post and bracket symmetrically.
- Create a circular pattern of railing post bodies to place a post at every wall gap.
- Cut the posts out of the walkway level using the combine tool.
Next we create the railing rings and cut out notches to keep them in place. As you can see in the second image of the gallery, the rings themselves will have notches that face outwards which fit securely in the posts' inward facing notches. When all 12 posts are assembled around the railing rings, this construction-method will keep the rings securely in-place.
In this video I...
- Draw rectangles on the posts to create profiles for the inner and outer notches.
- Edit the railing post extrusion to exclude the inner notch rectangle from its profile.
- Revolve both the inner and outer notch profiles around the Y-axis to create the railing ring bodies.
- Next, we need to cut the outer notches from the ring bodies. The easy way to do this is to use the combine tool to cut the posts out of the railing rings (exactly the same process as end of last video). I didn't think of this when I was making this video and did it a super complicated way. It's not worth showing you how I did it, so I'm just showing you how to do it easier and showing you the results at the end of the video.
Base & Roof Details
Next up is a retainer ring for the bottom walls. This doesn't actually support anything, but it is on the original lighthouse and makes the walls at the base look cleaner.
In this video I...
- Draw two polygons on the base sketch and resize them using the dimension tool.
- Draw a rectangle for the doorway so we don't extrude in-front of the door.
- Extrude the retaining ring profile with an offset so it sits on top of the base body.
At the very top of the lighthouse is a large sphere. I decided to model the sphere as an easy 2D shape that connects to the roof with a simple peg.
In this video I...
- Draw a circle and connect it to the roof sketch with the spline tool.
- Mirror the spline line and the horizontal roof line across the Y-axis to create a closed, symmetric profile.
- Draw a rectangular peg to fit into the top roof ring.
- Extrude the sphere's profile symmetrically, including the peg in the roof.
- Cut the peg out of the top roof ring using the combine tool.
- Adjust the shape of the spline line a bit.
Windows & Wall Details
Cutting the windows out of the walls is mindless, repetitive work. It's just drawing complicated shapes, copy/pasting them, then cutting them out of the wall bodies. I fast-forward a lot in this video. Because each wall is angled on different plane, each wall will need its own sketch. I assure you, however, it is the same procedure for each...
This is where our model stops being symmetric. As a reminder, I call the front of the model where the door is. If the door is at the 6:00 position on a clock, then the ocean side is at the 3:00 position and the land side is at the 9:00 position.
In this video I...
- Create a new sketch on the front face of the lighthouse. Again, the front is defined by me as where the door goes.
- Use multiple pictures and relative size clues to scale the door + window.
- I approximate the height of the door + window to be about the same as the roofline on the white house next-door (I can measure this roofline on my calibrated image).
- Draw a reference line up the middle of the wall. This is a symmetry line we'll use to mirror our designs over.
- Draw the door as a rectangle and reposition it using the symmetry line.
- Draw the left door's window and mirror it over the symmetry line
- Cut the windows out of the wall body by extruding a distance of -materialThickness. This will cut the windows out of the wall as long as the operation type is 'cut'.
- Draw the complex window above the door. Don't be afraid to make guide lines that you delete later.
- Simplify the shape profiles by break the lines at intersections and deleting unnecessary lines
- Mirror the window lines over the symmetry line
- If I were to redo this window sketch, knowing what I know now, I would leave more material between cutouts. These lines were too close together and created very fragile window details when they were cut out of wood.
I drew and cut out all the windows and the circular portals at the top of the walls. This wasn't too hard thanks to the copy/move function. For example, If an element has to be at the same position on several walls, copy the shape on one sketch, edit the sketch you want to paste it to, then paste the shape. This preserves the position of the elements between pastings!
I also drew and added the dedication plaque and window frame by extruding their profiles by +materialThickness. This video shows the lighthouse with all the windows and extruded details.
Railing Details (part 2)
My short attention span distracted me from finishing the railings earlier. The next thing I to do is fill in the space between the top and bottom railings. I chose to go with the brute-force method of making a lot of small curves that will be glued together on the final model. For your model, also consider using a living hinge or another material to make curved faces; don't feel like you have to make your entire model in F360.
In this video I...
- Create a sketch on the top face of the lower railing loop, (and hide the top railing loop body)
- Draw a block profile that leaves a small gap next to each post. Notice how careful I am to make sure that the lines I draw snap to the edges of the railing loop and create a closed profile.
- Extrude four railing blocks on-top of each other.
- This step will not work if you change the material thickness too much. You'll need to change the number of blocks that fill in the space between the railings to keep the lighthouse's proportions correct.
- Create a circular pattern of the railing blocks to fill in all the railing gapsexcept the gap on the land-facing wall. The railing on that side of the lighthouse is slightly different, as we'll see in the next video.
The land-facing wall of the lighthouse has a stairwell on the walkway level that is obscured by a box. I'm putting a simple version of that in my model by removing the railing details and just adding a wall panel.
In this video I...
- Roll back the timeline back to edit the railing revolution feature.
- Change the revolution angle from a full circle (360 deg) to all but 1/12 of the full circle (11/12 * 360 deg).
- Use the move tool to rotate the railings so the railing gap faces the land side of the lighthouse (9:00, if the door is 6:00).
- Draw a rectangle between the posts in a new sketch on the walkway level.
- Extrude the rectangle up to the bottom of the light cage.
Light Socket and Lighting up the tower
My light socket came from the Ikea Grono lamp, which has been discontinued. However the Kvarnå lamp uses the same socket. The as-is section of IKEA almost always has one of these lamps or sockets so check there. It uses one of the E12-sized bulbs (those have a skinny screw-in part). Last time I was at IKEA, I saw this really long LED light. It could be cool to put that in the tower section of the lighthouse. Maybe next time!
To hold the light socket in the lighthouse, I just cut a hole in the walkwayLevel body. The socket comes with plastic washers to secure it to the walkwayLevel.
To let light shine down into the body of the lighthouse, I'm also cutting as much material out of the walkway level as I can without making the structure weak.
In this video I...
- Sketch a circle ~ 2 mm larger than measured light socket diameter in the walkwayLevel sketch
- Cut the light socket hole out of the walkwayLevel using the extrude tool
- Cut holes in the walkway level to let light shine down into tower below the socket.
- In the video I realize that light holes I drew could be bigger without making the part too weak, so I modify the sketch after extruding.
Our last building step in F360 is to adjust (or tweak) the size of the base so our model is stable. To do this, we calculate how wide the base should be so that the center of mass (CM) stays over the structure's base up to the tipping angle. The equation is: base radius = CM height * tan(tipping angle). Using a tipping angle of 26 deg gives me a base diameter of 280mm. It needs to be noted, though, that you must make sure this diameter is smaller than the stock material you're going to cut!
In this video I...
- Use the inspect tool to calculate the center of mass of the model. Make sure the tools are hidden so they are not included in your selection. The CM calculation will show up in the Analysis area.
- Measure the height of the center of mass. In this video, I measure the distance from the CM to the edge of the base, but then use only the Y-component of that measurement to extract the height.
- Adjust the diameter of the base
Rendering the 3D Model
To make a nice image of the model for my Instructable, I'm going to render the model in F360. Feel free to skip to the next step.
First, I apply paint my model by changing the appearance of the material. You could also/instead choose to change the physical material in the program to make the model look like it's made of wood or metal.
In this video I...
- Right click any body to bring up the 'change appearance' window.
- Select bodies you want to paint, then drag the appearance you want onto them.
Next, I create a simulated light bulb in the lightroom of the model and render an image. You'll have to play with the render settings quite a bit to get the lighting just right if you are rendering a lamp. The ambient light should be bright enough that it shows details of the unlit areas, while still letting light from the simulated bulb cast shadows and shine through.
In this video I...
- Create a long, thin, cylindrical body in the lightroom to simulate light bulb
- Apply an emissive appearance to the cylinder
- Enter the rendering environment
- Reposition the lighthouse to for the rendered image
- Adjust scene settings to get environment's lighting right
- Render in-canvas to test settings
- Submit for final rendering in the cloud (free if image generated is less than 1MB)
That's it for the building!
On to cut preparations and to laser cutting!!
Step 7: Preparing Model for Laser Cutting
First, measure the thickness of the physical piece of wood you'll be cutting using precision calipers.
My plywood from ACE is 3.1mm thick; I used that to update the materialThickness parameter. Going from 3.0mm to 3.15mm didn't create any errors in my file! Horray for parameters! However, when I tested 1/4" as the material thickness the model lit-up with errors like the Fourth-of-July. This is because we used the the dimension tool to fix distances that now fall outside of the model. Changing the material thickness also changes the proportions of the roof height and the space between the railings. That said, remember to pay attention to your warnings and errors! They're there for a reason!
The lasercutter I'm using at the Boston Makers makerspace accepts print jobs from the graphics program Illustrator. The steps will be similar in whatever program you have access to (Corel Draw, inkscape, ...).
Nesting the Parts
By design, each part of our model has at least one dimension that is materialThickness thick. If we place this dimension in our stock material, the sides of the material will show a profile of the part. This is called the cut profile. We need to rearrange all the cut profiles of our lighthouse into 2 stock sheets of material so we can export them into Illustrator.
Rearranging all the bodies into one plane is called nesting. In this tutorial, I actually cheat a little bit by only making it look like they are all in the same plane. When exporting a drawing from F360, it doesn't matter what height a part is at, it draws every piece to-scale. The only thing that's important is that all the cut profiles are facing the same direction and do not overlap. Since most of our bodies are horizontal (like the base and all the roof rings), their cut profiles can be seen from above the model. We're going to use the align tool to move and rotate non-horizontal pieces (walls, ring supports, etc.) so that we can see can also see their cut profile from above the stock sheet. I start by turning all the bodies into components (so we can move them easily), then making a virtual piece of my stock material in F360.
Aside: It's unfortunate that Fusion 360 doesn't have a super easy way to nest components. Patrick Rainsberry created an add-in called NESTER that creates joints between components that lets you put them all in the same plane (Here is the Source code, video tutorial, and you can see it manually in step 24 of his instructable). Joints are better than using the align tool because they allow you to reassemble your model without rolling back the timeline. However, I ran into a lot trouble using joints (which is why I show you how to use the Align tool.) The align tool is not too much more work than using joints. (I will learn joints properly after this instructable...)
In this video I...
- Convert every body into a component (except the tools, which are hidden).
- Create a virtual piece of stock material by extruding a rectangle I drew to scale.
- Notice that I make this unselectable so that it doesn't get in the way.
- Change my selection filters so that I can only select components.
- Move all my horizontal components on top of the stock piece of wood.
- Don't go crazy with packing efficiency yet. We will do that later in Illustrator.
- It is okay that all the rings are at different heights! We're exporting a top-down view anyway!!
Now, all that is left to move are the angled cut profiles!
To move them, we are going to use the Align tool. The align tool can align just faces, or it can align specific points on a face. In this video, look out for the white alignment points at every edge and the white square that shows which plane will get aligned. These guides appear for each subject component ("From") and target component ("To") and allow you to choose which planes will be aligned.
In this video I...
- Use the align tool to select a point on the cut profile of the railing post, then select the cut profile of the base to align the two. Make sure you have "Capture Position" selected in the Align window.
- Move the railing post so it doesn't overlap with any other components.
- Not in video: repeat this for plaque above door, curve above door window, back wall on the railing, and one vertical cage support.
Next, we create a top-down drawing of all the components. and export it as a PDF file!
In this video I...
- Right click any component to start a new drawing then select all the wall components.
- I use the biggest sheet size (A0) in F360 because I'm going to do nesting work in Illustrator anyway.
- Place the walls drawing, select TOP orientation, and set a 1:1 scale.
- Repeat for the other sheet, adding it to the same drawing and moving the sheets so they don't overlap
- Export the drawing as a PDF
We're done in F360!!
Preparing to cut in Illustrator
Next, we import our PDF into Illustrator (or whatever program is your choice) and prepare it for the laser engraver. Boston Makers' laser cutter is setup to cut red lines that are 0.001 pt thick, rasterize anything black.
In this video I...
- Import the PDF with the lighthouse cut profiles into Illustrator.
- Create a document for each sheet that's exactly the same size as my material (12" x 24").
- Release the clipping mask on each sheet so that the lines are independent.
- Remember that if you want to move a shape you need to select every edge of that shape! For example, the notches cut out of the roof rings are each a separate shape. If you will be nesting the layout a lot, it is worth grouping all the lines that need to stay together. (I did this, but did not show it in the video).
- Prepare the lines according to your laser cutter.
- Create duplicate parts as needed (13 railing posts, 44 railing blocks, 13 vertical cage supports, I always add extras.)
- Add rasterized details. I added writing to the plaque and drew door outlines on the front wall.
I think you know what's next... everyone's favorite part......
Step 8: Laser Cutting Time!
Pew Pew Lasers!
The layout I cut for the lighthouse in these pictures is slightly different than the one I provide in step 13 because I optimized the nesting and added guides to engrave for the instructable version. The exact settings I used on my machine would be pretty useless to list here, since it changes depending on your machine. However, here are a few tips to watch out for:
- Make sure that your laser is focused well. If your laser is defocused, it could blow out a lot of the intricate window details. Also, since the pieces fit together so tightly, a defocused laser could cut too much from the sides of your pieces and could make your final model wobbly. (Although, if that happens just tell people it's a feature. Suggested name: Responsive Kinetic Model.)
- To get clean lines on your material, test your laser's cut and raster settings on the very edge of one of your materials.
- My layout leaves some free space for this on the left. If you want to get obsessive about it, check out this portfolio project post where I make calibration slides for the Boston Makers laser cutter. I use these slides to choose my laser settings every time I cut or engrave something so I never get the burnt honeycomb pattern on the back of my pieces.
- If your laser cutter has vector ordering preferences, use it to optimize the job so that the laser doesn't jump around your material while cutting. This is especially important for cutting the walls out of plywood or any materials with internal stresses. As you cut, internal stresses may warp the material and push it up and out of focus. If you want to be really safe, only cut sections of the wood at a time (by printing only selected shapes in illustrator,) and refocus the beam after each selection.
- If your walls warp, you can flatten them out (with patience). Evenly spray both sides of the walls with water, and stack them with a wet paper towel between them (not dripping wet). Put about 80 gazillion rubber bands around the stack and let it dry in a well-ventilated area for about three days (see last two pictures).
Although it breaks my 2-stock material constraint, consider cutting another base profile without any holes in it. Glue this shape under the original base piece to stop the walls from falling out if you move your lamp. (files in step 13)
I put a little dot on nested shapes that are not part of the lighthouse. Keep those shapes and make things out of them, or give them to that grandma/aunt that's obsessed with crafts; she'll find something to do with them.
Step 9: Pre-Assembly
Most paints will make the parts a tiny bit thicker, so we need to pre-assemble intricate parts of our model before we paint it to make sure they fit together.
To help with assembly, the below numbers below correspond to numbers on the pictures in the gallery.
- Glue the roof rings together using vertical cage supports to align notches, the rings get smaller towards the top of the roof.
- If you won't be painting your parts, align the grain of the layers for aesthetic bonus points.
- Don't not glue the vertical cage supports in yet.
- Glue the cageBottom ring on top of the wallStop body. Again, use a few vertical cage supports to align the notches.
- Glue the inner and outer retainer rings under the wallStop body. Be sure to center them well!
- Glue railing posts one at a time to the railing rings and walkwayLevel. Put glue on posts at every point of contact with railings and walkway.
- Glue stairway panel to walkwayLevel in the gap left by the railing rings.
- Glue and stack 4 railing blocks, insert and glue between railings.
- Glue vertical cage supports into roof rings.
- Glue lightroom ring around lowest roof ring.
- Glue light cage with roof into wallStop rings (no picture).
- Glue top circle part into notch on top ring (no picture here, but see painting steps).
- Create the cable hiding channel by gluing the cable-hiding sides to the base, then glue on the top.
- You may not need to use the sides if your cable is thinner than mine.
- I did not show how I made the cable channel in F360... you may have noticed it in pictures of this instructable, but I took those pictures after making the F360 videos.
- I updated the cut file after these pictures so it has cut parts in the center of the base. This is so you can feed the cable in later, during final assembly.
If you like your lighthouse as unfinished wood, you can skip the next step and jump ahead to final assembly!
Step 10: Painting
I found a nice, thin paint for this project at Home Depot. I used three colors of Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2X 12 oz. Satin Spray Paint:
Apple Red: walls
Espresso: base, cable, and cable channel
Moss Green: roof above lightroom ring, plaque, window arch
All the other parts get painted white. I used the same brand spray paint except with a semi-gloss finish because Home Depot didn't have Satin white. I regret this. The semi-gloss is pretty thick and made it tough to feed the walls through holes of the walkwayLevel. Find a thin satin or flat white spray paint. Learn from my mistake.
The painting is pretty straight forward for brown, red, and white, although the green pieces have a few caveats:
- I painted the entire lightroom/roof shape white. I then used masking tape to cover everything below the lightroom ring, and then painted the roof green. (Remember to let the white paint dry before masking!)
- The plaque can be spray painted, but you should blow the paint into the engraved letters using compressed air. This way, this ensures that the letters don't fill in the etching or look blotchy.
For added authenticity, if you can find a thin white paint, you can paint the walls higher than the walkway level white. (Feed the walls into the walkway level until it stops, mark that position with a line on the wall, then remove it and mask everything below it on every wall. Paint the top of the walls white, then remove the mask.)
If you don't have thin paint, you can still do this step during final assembly, but it's more complicated...
Step 11: Final Assembly
It's the final countdownnnnn
To talk about assembling the walls, remember our clock reference frame! Looking down at the base, the door is at the 6:00 position, the cable channel is at noon, and the land-side is at 9:00.
Final assembly instructions:
- Glue the plaque and window arch onto the door panel (picture 1)
- Install light socket to walkwayLevel with screw-on retainer (comes with lamp, picture 2 taken while unpainted)
- If your light switch falls inside the walls, make sure it's switched on since it won't be accessible later... :(
- Feed the walls through walkwayLevel until they stop, but don't wedge them in. Make sure you get the walls in the correct positions! Use the wall ordering printed on the wall's cut sheet!
- Remember that the walkway level has a rectangular stairwell panel that should face the 9:00 position.
- If you have slightly warped panels, I think its harder to notice if they curve in, rather than out. Personal preference.
- Tip: start with all the walls positioned outside their base slots, then put them in one at a time, clockwise, starting at the 12:00 position.
- If you have thick white paint and want to paint the walls above the walkway level white, cover everything below the walkway level (see picture 4) then spray paint the walls white. Although, doing this, you won't be able to remove the panels from the walkway level anymore without messing up the paint :(
- Again, work in a circle. You can gently squeeze the wall panels to move the top of the walls. Doing that, they will seat themselves between the retainers.
Step 12: Glamor Shots
Time to guide boats to safety, everyone!
Just closing this instructable with some nice pictures of the completed lighthouse, both unpainted and painted!
I hope you learned something about scale modeling and using Fusion 360.
There are, of course, things I would do differently, but I'm very happy with how this model turned out. Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions, I've only been an active Maker since February, but check out more of my work!
Enjoy, And happy Laser-ing!
Step 13: Files Created in This Instructable
This step includes the files created during this instructable.
If you're just using my cut files to make the lighthouse (using 3.1mm-thick material), and your laser bed is 12" x 24" or larger- you can just use my cut files! Start at step 8) of this instructable.
If your bed is smaller, you will have to rearrange the pieces for your material size; possibly using more than 2 sheets:
- Import my .ai or .eps file to your graphics software (My files should preserve grouped shapes), then nest them to fit on your material.
- Once you have a file you can send to your lasercutter, join the Instructable at step Step 8) Laser Cutting Time!
If you want to use my Fusion 360 file to change the materialThickeness and create a cut file, you can access it with this link: http://a360.co/2r33Hdf
- Edit the materialThickness parameter (Modify > Parameters), then it will recalculate everything. Not only will F360 recalculate the entire model, but all the components will still be nested at the end of your timeline! (view the model using a top-down view)
- I wouldn't recommend using a material that's much thicker than 3.1mm, that causes....
- lots of errors! I wish I was really an expert in F360 to have made it perfectly scalable, but this is my first time using the software. I'll get better as I play with it more.
- It also alters the proportions of the roof and railings (since they are made of directly-stacked pieces.)
- You may need to deal with a few small warnings- For example, the lightCage sometimes loses its reference for the circular pattern. Luckily, F360 tells you where the problem is and they're generally easy to fix. Just roll your timeline back to before the warning and read the warnings.
- I wouldn't recommend using a material that's much thicker than 3.1mm, that causes....
Please leave my etched signature on the base :)
Although it breaks my 2-stock material constraint, consider cutting the Barebase file, which is a base without any holes in it. Glue this shape under the original base piece to stop the walls from falling out if you move your lamp.
Second Prize in the
Lights Contest 2017
Question 1 year ago
Wow! Impressive work!
I'd like to build one, but my laser cutter only does 50 cm max.
Could you please provide the model as fusion 360 file? I'm not able to import the linked version.
5 years ago
Great Job!! This is really cool! I just found your instructable because I am helping with the judging for the Lights Contest, and I gave your instructable a 10/10. Nice Job again!
Reply 5 years ago
Wow! I really enjoyed making it, thanks for the great feedback!
Reply 5 years ago
No problem! It really deserves it for the time you must have put into it to make it
6 years ago
Wow! That's an awesome lamp and a fantastic tutorial!!!
Reply 6 years ago
Thanks! I'm glad you like it, It was a labor of love :)