Terrain carving: Ring of Gullion from laminated dyed plies

I tried my hand at making my own colorful plywood with a vacuum press I made. I used dyed-through plies from Roarockit, which they sell to people who want to make their own skateboard. I included layers of undyed maple in between the dyed layers. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Northern Ireland is near where I live, and I often hike on these mountains and hills.

Here is a photo album of the Making Of process, along with some videos of my portable MPCNC carving with its new closed-loop Z stepper. This really helped speed up the process.
Click on the i to see captions for the photos, or scroll up if using your phone.


If you are interested in giving terrain maps a try, I wrote a detailed tutorial on Instrctables, and also made a Youtube vid version.


That’s really very cool. I spent about 10 days in the area summer before last and had an amazing time. We did a big loop - west from Dublin to Donegal, up to Derry, Giant’s Causeway and Ballycastle, Belfast and then thru Newry and Ring of Gullion back to Dublin. Incredible countryside everywhere, though driving some of the country lanes was definitely an experience!

Ha ha! It is an experience I have every day, living on a road only wide enough for one car and lots of tractors and slurry trucks zooming around blind corners! But it sure is beautiful. Here is a video I made from my big RC plane flying over Slieve Gullion. You can see the lake on top of the mountain that legend says turned Finn McCool into an old man when he dove in to retreive a ring for a witch.


Amazing. Your pusher drone is really cool too - reminds me of Burt Rutan’s Long-EZ. I used to work next to Scaled Composites in Mojave, California and his brother Dick Rutan would fly around in his.

I’ve also been excited to follow your progress on the closed loop motors - I’d been wondering the same thing. I’ve used expensive brushless motors with encoders in the past (maxongroup.com), both with hand-rolled PID loops and hardware controllers and was excited to see that there are now consumer level cost effective options that appear to just work.

For closing the loop on the X and Y axis I feel like it winds up more valuable to track absolute position rather than motor position (removing any worries about belt stretching, slipping, etc). There are really expensive linear encoders (at least, I assume they’re expensive because they’ve got no listed price) such as Serie 3 - Fagor Automation , but I’m not sure what the cheap equivalent looks like. From my prior life I’m wondering if it could be as simple as a sticker with an encoding pattern along the rail and a cheap optical sensor to count dots, but obviously there’s a lot of development to get from concept to implementation…

Re the closed loop optical encoder for the x/y axes, something like this at 180 lines per inch / 7 lines per mm.

$10 or so for the read head:

And this looks like a compatible tape, $17 for a 3400mm strip:

This would be a good pretty cheap option for closed loop feedback. Even better if you can find one that has a finer pitch. 180 lpi is 141 microns per line. And super delux if you can find one that can tell its absolute position without homing – A non-repeating pattern on the tape. If you do find, put a post in my Adding Smarts to CNC thread.

That’s a beautiful canard plane. My 2m flying wing is an Opterra EPP foam kit. I used to fly hang gliders, and this handles a lot like those, except it has a motor, which would have saved me from a few out landings when I couldn’t find thermals!