The AxiDraw MiniKit 2

AxiDraw MiniKit 2

Today we are introducing a major refresh of the smallest member of the AxiDraw family of pen plotters: the new AxiDraw MiniKit 2. The AxiDraw MiniKit 2 is our special compact DIY-kit version of the AxiDraw lineup.

AxiDraw MiniKit 2

Versus the original AxiDraw MiniKit, the MiniKit 2 has been redesigned for easier assembly, better precision, and higher performance. The key change is that the long linear rail that forms the base of the machine — a custom aluminum extrusion in the original — has been replaced with a solid bar of 6061-T6 aluminum, machined in the same precision process as our top-of-the-line AxiDraw SE/A3, and then anodized to a satin-silver finish. This change simplifies a number of the assembly steps, but more importantly has a cleaner overall look and tighter manufacturing tolerances for improved precision.

AxiDraw MiniKit
In addition to be being “Mini”, the MiniKit 2 is also still a kit.

Unlike other models of the AxiDraw family like AxiDraw V3 and AxiDraw SE/A3 (which come assembled, tested, and ready to use), the AxiDraw MiniKit 2 is a machine that you assemble yourself.

We’ve taken great care in designing a kit that is rewarding to build, own, and use.

AxiDraw MiniKit

The new version is also heavier than the old one, which helps it to stay stable on your desk at higher speeds and gives it a small boost in effective speed, in addition to the upgrades in precision. Small but sturdy, The MiniKit 2 is built with machined parts, just one custom aluminum extrusion now, attention to detail, and care.

Linkdump: November 2020

Platypus specimens under various lighting conditions

Halloween Project Archive

Array of Halloween Projects

This year’s Halloween may be a little different from years past. But maybe you’re doing a Zoom costume contest? Want some spooky snacks? Or want to get in the mood with seasonal decor? Is it not Halloween for you if there isn’t pumpkin carving? Head over to the Halloween Project Archives for inspiration and ideas.

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and … we’ve organized dozens of our Halloween projects into categories: costumespumpkinsdecor and food.

Linkdump: October 2020

model airplane sitting on map next to sprue card of model parts

Linkdump: September 2020

Anterior view of Bathynomus raksasa, a new species of giant isopod (Photo: SJADES 2018)

Linkdump: August 2020

Microchip synapses 29 – Between the now and the infinite by LEONARDO ULIAN

Evil Mad Scientist interview in HackSpace Magazine

Hackspace magazine article pages with title

I was recently interviewed for HackSpace Magazine and just got the copy in the mail! It’s a meandering conversation about how Evil Mad Scientist got started and covers some of the wide variety of projects we’ve worked on.

Picture of hackspace magazine pages showing Evil Mad Scientist Projects

In the same issue, there’s a clock kit review that is very complimentary of the Alpha Clock Five and mentions the Bulbdial Clock Kit which they reviewed in a previous issue.

Hackspace magazine pages showing clock kit reviews

Thanks to Hackspace for the opportunity to ramble on about the things we love!

Lemon Plum Jam Revisited

Jars of jam

It has been a great season for plums, so I’ve updated the lemon plum jam recipe that I’ve been gradually refining over the years. The new basic recipe is below along with other tips I’ve gathered.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups cut up pieces of plums, pits removed, skins left on, fresh or frozen
  • 3 lemons, (optionally peeled) cut into small pieces, seeds removed
  • juice from 3 more lemons
  • 6 cups sugar

Lemon and plum pieces in a pot

Procedure:

Put the plums, lemon pieces and lemon juice in a sauce pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit starts to soften. At this point, you can use a potato masher to crush the fruit pieces for a more even consistency.

Holding potato masher above fruit cooking in pot

Add sugar and cook, stirring regularly, until it thickens. You can test the consistency for doneness by putting a spoonful in a cold dish in the fridge for a few minutes. After chilling, it’s ready if it holds its shape a bit when you move a spoon or finger through it. You can also follow your favorite canning procedure for longer term storage. Makes about 4-5 pints.

Tips and techniques:

For cutting up the fruit, I like to put a small cutting board inside a baking sheet. This catches the juice much better than any cutting board with a moat that I’ve ever used. It makes cleanup much easier, and you can pour the juice from the baking sheet into the cooking pot.

Most jam recipes call for approximately equal quantities of sugar and fruit. I prefer my jam a little more tart, so I’ve revised down the sugar.

I’ve stopped adding water to my preserves. It cooks a little faster without as much liquid, and there’s enough liquid in the lemon juice to get it started cooking even if the fruit isn’t covered.

I also often leave the lemon peel out for the preserves I make (other than marmalade). The peel gives it a stronger lemon flavor, but keeps the jam from gelling as well. If you want a thicker consistency that gels a little earlier, you can leave the peel out. If you want zingier lemon flavor, leave the peel on and cook a little longer.

During fruit season, I try to preserve as much as I can by making jams and chutneys, but I usually run out of time and end up cutting up the last of the crop and freezing it. Using frozen fruit for jams seems to work just as well as fresh. I measure out 8 cups and store it in a one gallon freezer bag. Then it’s ready to pull out start a batch of jam. I also recently revised my Plum Chutney recipe, and it starts with 8 cups of fruit as well.