Saturday, July 4, 2015



Thought I'd commemorate this year's 4th of July to my favorite superhero-duo, Iron Man and Captain America, via a coin - Stark's first arc reactor on one side, Cap's shield on the other.

Since, you know, they're really two sides of the same coin. Of America. Of heroism. Of--- Ok, metaphors aside. I'm eagerly anticipating Captain America's Civil War movie coming out next year, but I couldn't choose a side, since I love both Cap and Stark. So... I thought it'd be funny to literally flip a coin to decide which side I'd be on.

And a quarter there for scale.
I'm still undecided, if you're wondering.

The designs were laser etched onto aluminum, parted from a rod stock of 6061, using CerMark and an Epilog laser cutter.

Here's how I made the coins:

1) Drafted up to-scale designs in Adobe Illustrator.
In this case, the coins needed to be 1" in diameter.
(Shape fills without outline will be etched)
Export to DXF.

2) Prep your stock of aluminum.
If you have access to a waterjet, use that to cut
circles instead - it's a lot faster than what I did.
In my case, I had to use the cold saw to 
cut a chunk off....

...and then use the lathe to slice off thin disks.

Like so.

Then did some manual finishing with a file.
See, if you had just used the waterjet,
you'd be at step 3 already. :P

3) Mix 1:1 CerMark solution and denatured alcohol.
Then lay a thin coat the metal surface.
Then wait for it to fully dry.
CerMark's a tad expensive, but I luckily had some lying
around in the shop I could use. You don't need much for this-
I used like.... maybe a tablespoon?

The reason we use CerMark is because normally,
the laser will reflect off of metals. The CerMark solution
makes the surface absorbent, thus enabling a proper etch.

4) Cut 2 coin-sized circles in a dummy sheet to hold
the metal coins. (I used 3mm acrylic, 1.015" wide.)
Then, without changing anything about the physical
setup, change your print settings for metal raster,
set your metal pieces in the slots and send your
print to the lasercutter.

Setting-wise for the metal, I used:
100% power, 20% speed.

5) Wash off the remaining CerMark mix with water.
And TADA! You have a metal etch.
Above's a comparison of the acrylic raster test print
to the aluminum raster'd coin.

6) Flip the coins over, repeat 3) and 5),
making sure the coins have a different design
on the other side.

7) (Optional) Flip a coin to decide which side you're on. xD


A few things I'd do differently next time around:
  • Use a waterjet. I could get thinner disks with ridged, or decorative edges, or make extra jut-offs that could hold a necklace string, earring hook, etc.
  • 100% power, 10% speed on the laser cutter.
  • Shake the CerMark longer before use, and mix more thoroughly. The second coin, as you'll see below in the video, didn't etch properly because the chemical solution wasn't mixed properly.
  • Polish the metal surface before etching. Just for the shine factor.
  • Maybe turn this into a necklace? Earrings? Coasters? Poker chips? Haha.

Light, very flippable, Captain America and Iron Man coins!

So even after making this, I can't choose a side. I've had a huge crush on Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Tony Stark since the first Iron Man, and when Chris Evans first appeared as Captain America, I grew a huge crush on that portrayal too (plus, his Winter Soldier outfit - so cool!). Plus the whole universe they live in, what happens to them, the people they interact with-- Aaaah, so good!

So yeah. My inner fangirl will probably have her heart broken come Civil War day, but until then... LOVE, NOT WAR! <3


In other news, BATTLEBOTS is on ABC! I was part of team JACD, robot OVERHAUL and it was an awesome experience. I have another blog post planned after the whole series finishes, so I'll speak more about it then. : )

Until then, tune in!

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Wow. Where to even start?

From December 22, 2014 to January 2, 2015, I spent overseas - one week roughly in China with family, one week roughly in Japan with Charles. It's been 10+ years since I've been back to China, and it was my first time in Japan. I pretty much underwent a mix of culture shock and sensory overload the entire time. (And then on the way back, a sort of reverse culture shock coming back into the states, haha)

The trip became more than just a family reunion, more than just a tourist's trip. It was a welcome break from the life back in Boston, a welcome change with a different perspective, and I wanted to share some of the stories I have of the places I had gone.

Warning: This will be an extremely long post!


  • I attended a huge birthday party for my 80 year old grandfather (on my mother's side), and visited my other grandparents (on my father's side) in the countryside!
  • I rode the high speed rail from Beijing for the first time!
  • I visited Todai (Tokyo University) for the first time!
  • I attended Comiket for the first time! (Only the last day though)
  • I went up Tokyo Sky Tree for the first time!
  • Other places I visited in Japan: Akihabara, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku
For all the details though, read on! The post will be divided into the following sections:


Dec 22-28, 2014
High-speed rail
Visiting Grandparents on both sides of the family

The view outside my Hotel window in Beijing.

Picture taken at my grandpa's 80th birthday party-
Over a hundred attended!

The panorama from the roof of my Grandparent's (on my dad's side) house.
Yep, the roof. I climbed up with one of my Uncles. 8D


Dec 29, 2014


Yoshihiro-sensei demo-ing some very awesome circuitry magic.
Draw a circuit on a piece of photo paper with a special marker...and PRESTO.
Instant working circuit. Check the video out below!


Other projects the Todai students are working on!

Dec 30, 2014

Tokyo Big Sight is in sight!

Titan spotted!

My favoraite Itasha spotted during the trip. : >
Zenbonsakura Miku!

A video compiled from smartphone recordings
I made during the Tokyo trip.
(Excuse the shakiness!)

Dec 31, 2014
Tokyo Sky Tree

Tokyo Sky Tree, at 634m, or 2080ft, tall!
The tallest tower in the world and the 2nd tallest structure in the world!

The view from the Tembo deck of the tower.

Jan 1, 2015
Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine on New Years day afternoon-
(Still packed with lots of people, haha.)
Located in a beautiful park!

While walking through Harajuku, I noticed Pepper!
Of course I had to go in and try and say 'hi', hehe.

The famous Takeshita Street in Harajuku!
Charles and I bought some clothing here, hehe...

Tokyu Hands
Homeward bound!

The view from our AirBnB room.
Last day in Tokyo!

Browsing through the megastore of Tokyu Hands.
Charles and I wanted to buy a lot of things here, haha.
They have a whole floor dedicated to DIY!

One of the things I bought in Tokyo!

Click below to read more about my trip!

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Wherein I talk about how I built RWBY transforming scythe version 2 and other Dragon Con 2014 shenanigans! There's quite a bit I want to share in this blogpost, so bear with me, this post is going to be really long!

RWBY Scythe V2

Above is a video of RWBY scythe deploying.

Dragon Con 2014 fun

Ruby and her male counterpart!

Left to right: Me (Ruby), Alison (Blake),
Charles (Charles on a little electric bike), Jamo (Jayce).

Click below to read more!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


So last I left off (in the previous post that I forgot to name 'Part 2' in the 'Building-RWBY-scythe-series-of-posts'), I was in the middle of prototyping. That version was unfortunately scrapped (though not entirely) for the con. In hindsight though, the size was a good reference for the next version. But! For now, let me tell you about the RWBY scythe I build for Anime Boston.

  • RWBY unfolding scythe unfolded manually, but broke before and during the con.
  • This version was made of MDF (hardboard from Home Depot), aluminum tubes, two pairs of 3D printed parts, and two commercial steel drawer slides. It weighed ~22.5lbs.
  • Next version is already in the works.
  • I had fun at the con! Despite being sick and exhausted. Thank you, friends, for your support!

This is going to be a very very long post, divided into the following parts:

RWBY scythe build (Part 3)

Folded all together. (Minus the Tail pieces)

Unfolded. (Minus the Tail pieces)

Size comparison. This thing was too heavy for the size to be practical!

How the front mechanism was supposed to work, shown in my CAD.

Anime Boston 2014 report

My cosplay group! Thank you guys for being troopers!

Me unfolding it at the Con panel. Thanks for holding it stable for me, Tony! Er-- Brian!

The 18in lasercut MDF scythes I made for Charles and me for the Con on Sunday.

Click below to read more!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


What could you do with a roll of receipt paper and a soldering iron? Make art!

The finished piece!

Receipt paper is usually 'thermal paper', which means one side of it is coated with a chemical (including the dye) that reacts to heat, providing a way to print text and images without ink.

Taking a heat gun with the right setting...

Finding the right heat setting to make the strokes I wanted took a few tries...

And then taking a soldering iron on the right setting...

Higher temperatures create thicker lines, lower temperatures create thin lines...

And voila! A drawing made without a pencil, pen, brush, etc, but with applied heat!

I also made a quick rose for Charles, hehe, in return for the 3D printed rose (using the Form 1) he gave me. ( ´ ▽ ` )οΎ‰ Happy belated Valentines Day!

And then here's some random things I carved into leftover pieces of foam from work:

This was just a quick interlude post- I'll be back to more RWBY updates in a few days!

Monday, February 3, 2014


Last December, after more than a year of not visiting family, I flew down to Florida for a week to meet up with the ol' crew again - mom and dad, along with some of my cousins and friends and families of friends. They had driven down to meet me there, ready for beaches and a Christmas without snow and cold, which Florida readily gave. The trip had been a long time coming, and seeing family again really brought back memories. I took the opportunity to catch up, to soak in the presence of the people who I had lived without for the past few years, to breathe in a salty air that was so unlike the air up north, to drink in the scenery of sky, water, and sand. A week's worth of family and sun rejuvenated me. It was more than enough - I was ready to go back and tackle the new year.

Happy 2014! Happy year of the horse!

There's a full lineup of things-to-happen this year - but I'll start with just updating on the things I've already worked on so far. This is a LONG and PICTURE-HEAVY post! Contents are below, click the 'Read more!' to read more!

In order of appearance:

An update on RWBY scythe

A recap of my week in Florida

A living-hinge book cover I designed

Some speedpaints I did

Click below to read more!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


A year ago, I saw the trailer for RWBY, fell in love, and vowed to make a working, movable scythe. One year later, after months of not working on this, and going back between idea after idea of how to start and what to do, consulting with friends, getting cold and hot feet and becoming busy with work and life in general, I finally got around to starting!


I just wanted to update on what I've made so far, and where everything is headed in the next few weeks/months. Keep in mind this is all still in the prototyping stage (as you'll read), and there's still a bit of figuring out all the various mechanisms that needs to happen. It's getting exciting though! :D

Messy workspace omg!

Here's what I've done so far:

Here's a video of the blade sprung extension in action:

(Excuse my giggle at the very end.)

Eventually, the blade actions will be triggered from one motion, biased to open. And as of right now, I still have yet to figure out a closing mechanism I like, so that'll be manual until version 2+. Plus, all the prototyping material will be replaced with nicer cut metal/wood/other, and there will be the right sized bolts and nuts, etc etc etc. But the ball has been tipped over the hill now, and it won't stop rolling, hehe- :D