The China Boxes

For Christmas 2016, I decided to go big and invite my parents to join me and my wife on a trip to Xi’an, China – flight and hotel included. Such a gift can of course not be delivered in a plain envelope, so I started to design and make two custom boxes that would hold the invitation letters.

I based the design on a jewelry box I had previously designed, but almost every detail was refined and improved. I also incorporated metal feet and corners into the design, adding spacers to ensure that no nails would protruded through the lid and reinforcing the bottom to support the feet fasteners.

I 3D printed the boxes using a material that looks and feels like somewhere between wood and clay. Due to under-extrusion when printing, the intricate patterns I designed on the inside of the boxes got a distinct texture in what I would call a happy accident.
On the inside of the lids, I also added my parent’s names, painting them black in an attempt to resemble Chinese calligraphy.

The nails for the feet and top corners were not hammered in, but melted in place using a wood burning iron, pliers and a good deal of patience.

The cores of the hinges were made using a clear PETG filament, slightly heated and flattened at the ends.

To top it off, I printed two miniature terracotta warriors that I found online here and here, in preparation for the full-size versions we will see when we get to the 8000 man large terracotta army in Xi’an.

Time to design, print, clean up and assemble: Just over 100 hours.

 

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Signs

The last few months, I’ve been designing, 3D printing and giving away door signs to friends and family. I’d like to share some of them.

It started when I made one for myself and my wife:

This was made using a plastic filament containing 35% real powdered wood. There are some really cool things you can do with this; sanding, drilling and staining will work with about the same properties as real wood. Since wood will change color when getting closer to burning temperature, I was able to develop a method for simulating natural wood grain – by randomly changing the temperature between the individual print layers, spanning a total range of about 30 degrees (C). This had to be done in waves, so that there would not be more than a 3 degree difference between two intermediate layers; If the printer is not able to get close to the target temperature within a certain time, a security feature in the printer firmware can abort the print and shut down the printer. This is because a large temperature difference between the measured and target temperatures could indicate that either the heater element or the thermistor have come loose; the automatic shutdown kicks in to prevent potential fire hazards.

The printout took about 40 hours, but in hindsight I wish that I would printed it even slower. Printing too fast often causes ghost effects around details, called “ringing”. This happens when the print head makes a sudden direction change and the inertia of the head causes vibrations that show up in the print. Unfortunately, I was not able to get rid of these effects even with sanding from 120 up to 800 grit sand paper. Aside from sanding, I enhanced the letter details with scalpel, dentist’s tools and small diamond files. But I wanted to accentuate the letters even more, and went with a few layers of dark mahogany wood stain. After drying, I sanded the entire sign again to remove the staining on everything but the debossed letters. Lastly, I finished the sign off with two layers of polyurethane to give it some surface protection and a glossy finish. I was worried that this would take away from the wood look, but it turned out pretty good. Perhaps a bit to much yellow, but good enough for an apartment door.


Next was a door sign for our friends who just got engaged. This was still being printed while they were visiting, so I didn’t have time to do a photo shoot before they brought it home – hence the CAD rendering. The outermost frame was based on a free vector graphic that I found here, but I had to remake it quite a bit to make it work.

After that, I designed a couple of things for my brother. He collects and restores vintage drums, so I made a sign for his workshop along with a personalized, fully functioning drum tuning key. I tried to make the font as close as possible to the one in his favorite drum brand, DW Drums.


I also made him a small wooden sign using a literal translation of his name, with integrated magnets to put on a steel door or locker.

Finally, a door sign for the his family. The metal corners were fastened them by pushing the nails in using a wood burning iron. The iron heated up the nails, the nails melted the surrounding plastic, and when cooled the plastic solidified around the nails. I opted on only using nails on the short side of the metal brackets to avoid having to cut them down from the back side.


I used the same type of corners on a door sign to my sister-in-law, who also got engaged recently. This time I went larger, and played around with putting part of the text outside of the rectangular base shape. I also made the sign thicker and integrated four magnets directly into the backside of the sign, so that it can be easily fastened on their (steel) apartment door. Or the fridge, if they prefer. I used the same method to fasten the corners as before, but this time cut the nails in half and inserted them from the front of the sign.

I’ve done a number of other signs as well, but those have mostly been variants of the ones shown in this post. These are the essentials from the last

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Best of Tokyo

Me and my wife have been to Tokyo twice now, and I am still enchanted by this fantastic city. I miss it and have no doubt that I will return to it later in life.

I want to share a few of the things that I like about it. What you can’t see in the photos is how extremely friendly everyone is; not just the people trying to sell you things, but strangers in the street who will go out of their way to help you in any way they can.

And it’s clean. I mean really clean. If anyone sees a candy wrapper on the street, they pick it up and bring it with them until they find a trash can. This doesn’t happen very often in Stockholm.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite things about Tokyo. Click to enlarge:

The view from the 41st floor
The view from the 41st floor

This photo was taken from the bar on the 41st floor in the Park Hyatt hotel. This is the bar where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson meet in Lost in Translation.

The streets at night
The streets at night

I can’t put my finger as of why, but I really like walking around the streets of Tokyo at night. It might be that I feel completely safe and can relax.

Godzilla
Godzilla

It turns out that Godzilla is real.

Yes, Godzilla
Yes, Godzilla

A close-up of Godzilla. Nicely done, Godzilla-game-for-PS4-marketing team!

The side streets
The side streets

Parallell to the main streets, things slow down a bit. But these stores and restaurants are often more enjoyable that the ones on the main streets.

The back alleys
The back alleys

The back alleys are often filled with hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Highly recommended if you have a limited budget and/or want a more genuine culinary experience.

The ninjas
The ninjas

As  in all big cities, the buildings are crawling with ninjas.

The old stores
The old stores

This is adorable.

The new... whatever this is
The new… whatever this is

This is not… quite as adorable, but definitively different.

The restaurant blackboards
The restaurant blackboards

Outside a small restaurant in a remote back street.

The smoking prohibition on the streets
The smoking prohibition on the streets

This should be implemented world wide! Smoking in Tokyo is prohibited on most (all?) streets. Aside from the obvious health benefits for both first- and second-hand smokers, it also helps keep the streets and sidewalks clean from cigarette butts.

The food
The food

The food is so good! Well, most of it anyway. I tried to eat something I’ve never tried at least once a day, and not everything was a jackpot. But sushi, udon and the other “classic Japanese” dishes are superb (as you can see from my wive’s expression).

The pastries
The pastries

Found in a bakery/candy shop. I think the picture speaks for itself.

The Engrish
The Engrish

The Engrish was actually not as widespread as I hade expected, but did see it a couple of times a day.

The toilet controls
The toilet controls

Japanese toilets are crazy, often with built-in automatically extending bidet arms with multiple spray modes and water temperatures. And built-in air driers. The really good ones practically eliminates the need for toilet paper.

The guest bathroom in a coffee shop in a suburb, way off any major street, gave me this experience:

  1. I enter the room and the lights turns on automatically.
  2. I approach the toilet, and the lid opens automatically.
  3. When I sit down, I notice the porcelain ring is not cold as I expected, as it has a built-in heater adjusted to about the same temperature as my skin.
  4. Sitting down also activates the sound system which plays nature sounds with gentle streams and babbling brooks, teamed with rustling leaves and singing birds.
  5. After I’m done and get up, the lid closes automatically and proceeds with flushing and self-sanitizing.
  6. Sensors at the sink activates the soap dispenser and water tap when I simply hold my hands under them.
  7. The airblade hand dryer also activates when simply putting your hands in it.

Aside from opening and closing the door, I never had to touch any buttons, handles or lids with my hands.

The fashion
The fashion

Far from everyone walks around like this, but it’s not uncommon.

The fashion
The fashion

This is more common than the kimono getup, at least in the Harajuku district.

The street performances
The street performances

Street performances, festivals and other celebratory events seemed to happen almost every day.

Big in Japan
Big in Japan

Being big in Japan was fun. 🙂

The biker culture
The biker culture

You see a lot of scooters in Tokyo, and hardly any European or American motorcycles. But I did find this beauty from Spice Motorcycles.

The biker culture
The biker culture

Despite being on the other end of the biker scope, this guy still managed to stay (sort of) cool.

The small shrines
The small shrines

Often crammed in between large buildings, these tiny shrines could be found every now and then.

The larger shrines
The larger shrines

Larger shrines can also be seen here and there. This one in Ueno Park houses a flame that was taken from the burning ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (later merged into a single flame). It has been burning ever since the atomic bombs were detonated over the two cities in 1945.

The temples
The temples

From small to huge, the temples are plenty.

The pagodas
The pagodas

The 5-story Kan’ei-ji pagoda was built in 1631, rebuilt 1639 after a fire, and still stands today.

Wedding ring in titanium with a diamond seen.

The beautiful cemeteries
The beautiful cemeteries

The absolute serenity of this cemetery was stunning. We came to see a single, specific grave, but couldn’t help but walk around among  the others as well.

The grave of the real Hattori Hanzō
The grave of the real Hattori Hanzō

This is the grave of the real Hattori Hanzō. Not the fictional sword maker from Kill Bill, but the real-life ninja, samurai and general that helped Tokugawa Ieyasu become the ruler of a united Japan in the 1500’s.

The nature
The nature

Even in the middle of a city with more than 35 million citizens, nature like this exists.

The parks
The parks

Got to love the parks. Beauty and stillness unlike anything I have  ever seen in a large city. This was a fairly short walk from our hotel near Shinjuku station – which is used by about 4 million people per day.

The turtles
The turtles

We also found turtles! I think this is Donatello.

Sharing this with my wife
Sharing this with my wife

Call me sappy, but the best part of these trips to Tokyo was that I got to share them with my wife.

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The story of Lumien

As you might have understood from the URL redirection and name change on the blog, my last name is no longer Johansson.

Johansson is, along with the almost identical number of bearers for Andersson, the most common last name in Sweden. I’ve never felt common, and have never imagined staying a Johansson for the rest of my life. So when I got married last year, me and my wife took the opportunity to take a brand new name for ourselves. This turned out to take almost a year before all the hurdles of bureaucracy was overcome.

When applying for a newly created last name, you first have to apply to the patent registration office (PRV). This cost us about 3600SEK (~380€). Once that is approved, you have to apply for changing your legal name. If the first application is approved, the second can be sent automatically. If not, you have to reapply to both instances separately.

We sent in the first application for a new name more  than a month before the wedding.  Unfortunately, it was denied on the grounds that there was a small record label registered in Sweden with the same name. This decision could have been bypassed if we were to get a written permit from the company on whose grounds we were denied the name – so we wrote them and asked, but they refused. PRV then gave us six weeks to send in a new application, or else the paid sum would be forfeited.

After much thinking and discussion, we came up with a second name that we both liked and could agree on. That application was denied because there were 7 people in Sweden that had a similar last name – with a different spelling – but that PRV decided could be confused with the one we applied for. We again had six weeks to send in a new application.

On the next application, we got denied because there was a housing cooperative (bostadsrättsförening) with the same name.

The application after that got denied because there were businesses that used part of the name we applied for in their company name.

And so it went back and forth for about a year. If anyone thinks of applying for a newly created last name, be advised that your application will be denied if any of the following conditions are met:

  • There is at least one person in Sweden that has the same name as their first name – or even as a middle name.  If you think that you have come up with a unique name, chances are there is someone living in Sweden (not necessarily of Swedish heritage) having that as part of their full name.
  • It can easily be confused (due to spelling or pronunciation) with an existing last name.
  • It was previously an existing last name but no longer in use, unless you are a direct descendant to someone with that name, no more than 4 generations away.
  • There is an existing company name, trade mark or brand name – in Sweden or within the EU – with the same or similar spelling, or that can easily be confused with any of them.
  • The name is generally known as a last name in any other country.
  • There is a generally known historic person or family with the same last name.
  • The name is a title on someone else’s protected literary or artistic work.
  • The name of, or otherwise associated with, a foundation, non-profit organization or similar group.

After hundreds of suggestions to each other, months of discussion and a whole bunch of applications, extensions and waiting periods, we finally found a name that didn’t clash with any of the above and that we were both happy with. And my wife (who is a Finnish citizen) got a part of her other language in it.

Lumien.

It’s a combination of words; Lumen: Latin for light. It can also be used for lifeLumi: Finnish for snow. Lumien as a whole can actually be used as a conjugation for snow in Finnish, though it is a rare one.

Once the application to PRV was approved, the second application for legally changing the name only took a few weeks.

So there it is. Frank Johansson is no more. I am Frank Lumien.

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3D printed handlebar phone mount (with wireless charging)

S5Mount27

As you might know by now, I ride motorcycles. When I do, I like to use my phone as speedometer, GPS and music player. There are plenty of generic handlebar mounts out there, but they all have the same limitations;

  • Having the screen constantly on draws a lot of battery, and there is no easy way to charge the phone while riding. Sure, you could connect a power adapter and fiddle with the connector every time you place or remove your phone from the mount, but that is cumbersome – and unsafe if it’s raining.
  • Riding in direct sunlight requires setting the screen brightness to 100% to be readable. Aside from the increased power draw issue, no available products I’ve found had a visor that could increase readability on the screen.
  • Most handlebar mounts are not made for high speeds. I have previously used one advertised for “bicycles and motorbikes”, but that one came apart while riding over 100km/h on the highway. The phone was only saved by the fact that I had a wired headset plugged in, leaving it hanging until I could safely pull over.

I decided to design and 3D print my own, specifically for my phone; Samsung Galaxy S5, which is itself waterproof unless you open the plastic tab to connect a USB cable to charge it.

After a number of revisions, I had a fully working prototype that included wireless charging. After testing it out, I could refine it further, and I finally had a design I was happy with. It will probably not win any beauty contests, but it’s extremely easy to use and works just as intended. I used the previous revision for more than 10’000 km (from a single print), so it’s been extremely reliable.

I have since made additional improvements and the next version is ready.

Features

  • Wireless charging.
  • Access to all buttons, including volume. Power button requires you to flip up the visor.
  • Weatherproof.
  • Drain holes (if left outside in rain).
  • Auto locking visor.
  • Headphone access.
  • Recess for camera.
  • Robust

How to use

Flip the lid up, slide the phone in, flip the lid down and you are ready to go. Starting the bike will turn on the built-in Qi charger, which will detect if the phone is in place. If it is, the charger will engage and power the phone wirelessly using resonant inductive coupling. This allows you to have the screen on at all time and still arrive to your destination with a fully charged battery.

Material

I used PLA filament for my prints. I considered ABS, which would at first glance appear to be a better choice, were it not for it’s high sensitive to UV radiation (sunlight). PLA is on the other hand more sensitive to heat, but the temperatures in Sweden rarely go high enough to compromise the structural integrity of pieces of this size. New materials come out all the time, and I’m sure there are better options out there by now, but PLA has worked for me.

Stainless steel mounting

Mounting the holder on the handlebar requires 4 x stainless M6 40mm bolts with Allen/Hex socket heads, along with matching locking nuts. One extra bolt and nut of the same size is used as hinge for the self-locking visor.

If you can get it, use non-magnetic stainless steel – test by holding a magnet to it and see if it sticks. This is to avoid causing interference in the induction-based wireless charging, which can also cause magnetic metal in close proximity to get warm. The charger does have a shielding plate, and even without it the distance to the bolts should be big enough, but better safe than sorry.

Note: Even when specified as non-magnetic stainless steel, bolts and nuts can still have a weak reaction to a magnet. This should be just fine).

Electronics

A cheap Qi charger or DIY Qi kit is placed in the compartment directly behind the phone, which will transfer the power from the charger to the Qi receiver pad in the phone.  Both the charger and receiver pad can be found on eBay for less than 3€ each, including shipping.

These chargers/kits usually have Micro USB sockets for power input. The power socket is placed downward, at an angle that makes it impossible for rain and splashes to get to it. The charger is then fastened and waterproofed using hot glue or silicon sealant. To power the Qi charger, you have a few options:

A. Use a portable USB battery pack. There are a plethora of options out there in different shape and size. If you don’t want to make modifications on your motorcycle, or want  to use this mount on a bicycle, this is your best option.

B. Power it directly from the motorcycle. To do this, you need a 12V to USB (or Micro USB) adapter, you can find cheap waterproof variants on eBay.

Many bikes already have a relayed auxiliary 12V jack inside the headlight housing, this would be the easiest option. If not available, using a relay to only provide power when the ignition is turned on is highly recommended. Though the power draw from the Qi charger itself is minimal when no phone is detected, some power adapters can drain the battery if left connected with the bike not running for a couple of days. A simple switch can be used to prevent this, but you always run the risk of forgetting to turn it off. Using a relay completely eliminates that risk.

This is free

If you want to print one yourself, I’ve made the 3D model freely available on http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:911206

Shopping list

If you don’t already have it, a Qi receiver is needed. This is placed inside your phone between the battery and the back cover. It usually have 2 or 3 pins, depending on model. Additionally, you will need:

Qi charger
Qi charger
Waterproof 12V to Micro USB adapter
Waterproof 12V to Micro USB adapter
5 x Stainless steel M6x40mm hex socket bolts with locking nuts
5 x Stainless steel M6x40mm hex socket bolts with locking nuts

Assembly instructions

  1. Print all parts. Recommended layer height is 0.1mm if you want it smooth. I went with 75% infill to be on the safe side.
  2. Sand, polish, prime, paint, acetone treat or anything you like (optional). The print shown in photos here did not get any post treatment except for removing supports. This will show you the raw look pretty much straight out of the printer.
  3. Test the Qi charger – if you have still not installed the Qi receiver in your phone, see step 8 for an example. Mine shows a faint red light when power is on but no phone is detected, and a bright blue light when a phone is detected and charging. If a phone is detected but has a bad connection (coils in charger and receiver doesn’t line up), it will blink. As you can see, the lower/right side of the phone has a better connection than the upper/left:
    Red light. No receiver detected.
    Red light. No receiver detected.

    Blue light. Receiver detected., charging phone
    Blue light. Receiver detected., charging phone
  4. Place the charger in the cavity of the printed mount (body) with the port down. Plug it in and insert your phone. If it charges keeps and doesn’t lose the connection every 10 seconds or so, you can just glue the charger in place and skip ahead to step 16. If not, we need to line up the coils in the charger and receiver.
  5. Unplug the charger and pry it open:

    Look Ma', no hands!
    Look Ma’, no hands!
  6. Unscrew any tiny screws that holds the PCB to the case:

    The ancient art of balancing precision screwdrivers
    The ancient art of balancing precision screwdrivers
  7. Remove the innards of the charger and turn it over. This one has a cracked shield, but should still work:

    It's not all it's cracked up to be
    It’s not all it’s cracked up to be
  8. Next, time to have a look at the Qi receiver. Remove your phone’s rear cover and determine where in the Qi receiver pad the coil is. If not clearly marked out, you can usually feel it by pressing down on it. Here I have marked it out with a colored pen to demonstrate the next step:

    No need to be fancy, this will be covered up
    No need to be fancy, this will be covered up
  9. Now we need Line up the the printed charger cover to the center of the phone (hint: It’s at 71mm), with the opening of the cover facing towards you. Make a vertical line on the inside of the cover along the center of the receiver coil:

    Rule number one
    Rule number one
  10. Line up the printed charger cover to the top (from your POV) of the phone. Make a horizontal line on the inside of the cover along the center of the receiver coil. After this you can put the cover back on your phone.
    Rule number two: Do not talk about ruler club
    Rule number two: Do not talk about ruler club

    Read ahead a few steps, the following should be done in a fairly quick order:

     

  11. Add a few dabs of hot glue or epoxy glue to  the charger coil:

    Hot dang!
    Hot dang!
  12. Turn the coil over and place it as close to the cross marking on the cover as possible while still being able to  reach the Micro USB port through the opening of the case. Attach a cable to make it easier to see if the port can be reached and is straight:

    Work fast
    Work fast
  13. Hold the PCB straight and apply hot glue or epoxy generously to the port with the cable still attached. (Tip: If you don’t want to clean up glue from your fancy cable, use a sacrificial or already broken cable. It only needs to be attached in this step to prevent glue from entering the port.)
    Keep adding glue until it it reaches the brim of the cover, while holding the PCB steady until the glue begins to solidify. The glue will both keep the PCB in place and keep moisture out.

    Don't be afraid of using too much glue. It is non-conductive, will not short anything out and will not damage the PCB .
    Don’t be afraid of using too much glue. It is non-conductive, will not short anything out and will not damage the PCB.
  14. After a minute or two, before the glue (or epoxy) is fully hardened, unplug the cable while holding the PCB secure. We only want the cable loose, not all the glue.

    Will be cleaned up
    Will be cleaned up
  15. Let it solidify completely, then trim the excess glue along the port edge. The entrance to the cover should now be completely sealed, while allowing a Micro USB cable to be connected.

    It's functional
    It’s functional
  16. Time for the next chapter. We will now attach the charger/cover to the main body of the mount, then seal the edges.
    Start by masking the body (cavity side) with masking tape, then trimming the edges with a scalpel or craft knife, This will help us get a nice sharp edge for the sealant.
  17. Place the charger/cover in the cavity with the port facing the bottom hole of the body.
  18. Apply a sealant as hot glue, epoxy glue or silicon along the edges of the cover. If you don’t want it all over the cover, you can place something round in the middle, such as the bottom of the original Qi charger case:

    Bottom of original Qi charge case is used to create a nice edge for the hot glue
    Bottom of original Qi charge case is used to create a nice edge for the hot glue
  19. Before hardening completely, remove the center object (if used):

    Scalpel used to make sharp edge
    Scalpel used to make sharp edge
  20. Trim sealant with something sharp:

    Excess sealant trimmed with scalpel. Qi case bottom used as center sealant blocker removed.
    Excess sealant trimmed with scalpel. Qi case bottom used as center sealant blocker removed.
  21. Remove masking tape:

    All cleaned up
    All cleaned up
  22. Place phone in the mount to make sure the sealant is not protruding so much as to block it:

    It fits!
    It fits!
  23. Place two nuts in the upper holes as in the photo. Nylon lock (if used) should point up:

    Lock it up
    Lock it up
  24. Place the visor so that if blocks the nuts. Fasten it with a bolt and nut:

    Holding the nut with pliers might help while tightening the bolt.
    Holding the nut with pliers might help while tightening the bolt.
  25. You should now have something that resembles an angry pig:

    Angry pigs are angry
    Angry pigs are angry
  26. Place the phone in the mount and make sure that you can close the visor:

    Almost done!
    Almost done!
  27. Connect a Micro USB cable to a charger and verify that the phone is charging:

    It's alive!
    It’s alive!
  28. Insert the remaining two nuts. You can now attach it to your handlebar using the clamps and bolts:

    Everything in place
    Everything in place
  29. Connect the 12V to Micro USB cable. You’re all done!
    S5Mount27

Enjoy your new mount! Now you never have to worry about getting lost or your phone running out of battery while riding again. Just remember to keep your eyes on the road!

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