Setting up Shapeoko CNC

The Shapeoko 4 XXL is a powerful desktop CNC machine that allows both hobbyists and professionals to create intricate projects. However, setting up this impressive machine requires some thought and effort.

The Shapeoko is a large machine, and it requires a strong, stable surface to operate effectively. Building a custom wooden table provided the ideal foundation for the CNC machine. Here’s what I needed to consider:

High density MDF for the tabletop for durability and excellent vibration absorption.

Reinforcement of the table with sturdy legs and cross-bracing. This will help to keep the table stable and reduce the chance of movement during operation.

Dimensions of the table. Ensuring that there’s enough space to accommodate the entire CNC, as well as any additional equipment I may need.

Noise during operation – which could be a concern for the neighbors. Therefore the idea is, in addition to adding rubber feet to machine, building a soundproof enclosure.

Adequate lighting – an LED strip and webcam will be placed inside the enclosure for optimal safety and precision.

Setting up Shapeoko CNC

As a part of my role as university assistant at the Experimental Game Cultures department @ University Of Applied Arts Vienna I created the first edition of our Game Design Club. In these sessions, the students create playable prototypes after an introductory talk about game design methodology, a discussion of different design mindsets and analysis of existing games.
This is a hands-on collaboration, we playtest each others projects and iterate on our ideas.

The sessions themselves are playful and have constraints/rules. These are set in place in order to facilitate creativity and avoid blank-page paralysis. For the theoretical part of these sessions we look at chapters from such books as “Game Design Workshop”, “A Theory Of Fun For Game Design”, “Rules Of Play”, “The Art Of Game Design”, and many more.

The main goals of these practical get togethers are:

Gaining confidence in the methodology of game design

Discussing different design mindsets

Creating playable prototypes

Playtesting & Iterating on ideas

Game Design Club @ Experimental Game Cultures

A recent prototype included the building of a live polling app to use for live-feedback in presentations:

One of the pages is for entering data and uses the “fingerprint” of the browser to remember who posted the data. The second page is to display the results from an internal JSON file.

The technologies used are PHP and Javascript, libraries include JQuery, Chart.js, Bootstrap.

Live Polling App

A recent experiment – the goal was to connect a physical device (in this case, the Raspberry Pi Pico W) to the internet and send data to a database. Everything is coded from scratch, to allow for most flexilibility.

The Raspberry Pi connects to the local Wifi (could therefore also be run with a battery) and collects data. After a certain amount of time it calls a URL to send the data. On this website a Server running Express and Node awaits – it then stores the data to a database.

What you can see below is a data file that shows several entries made by the Raspberry:

This could have several uses, but the main function I see is collecting data in the physical space to storing it securily on the cloud.

Raspberry To Database

The development of this prototype spanned over the course of several weeks.

The goal was to make a Virtual Reality game that connects to a custom made physical controller.

Step 1 – Connection between Arduino & Unity Android app

This was pretty straightforward, using a Bluetooth chip, I was able to connect my Android phone to the Arduino board. The simple input was a potentiometer.


Step 2 – Build a custom controller prototype

For this next step I wanted to create a more durable, portable prototype that could be carried around and had two buttons to press.

Step 3 – Ideate core mechanics of gameplay

Next, I wanted to find the core loop of the game.

You can control the time of day in a prehistoric environment with a physical interface (potentiometer). When you make it daytime the population (cavemen) will start gathering wood. When it’s night, they will retreat to their cave and burn wood to stay warm, as well as reproduce. The goal of the experience is to balance resource gathering and risking being eaten by tigers (if they chop wood for too long).

Bluetooth Microcontroller to Google Cardboard

I am currently researching Goal Oriented Action Planning as a way to build AI that’s capable of relatively emergent behavior.
Based on the world and objects around it, the AI decides the best strategy to fulfill its’ goal (in this case, gathering wood).

Each action it has available carries a certain cost and precondition. Collecting logs has no preconditions but is more costly than chopping wood.

Chopping wood requires picking up an axe first, though.

Over the course of several prototypes, performance and control over the AI was improved. I am using Unity 3D and C# for these prototypes.

Link to research paper.

Goal oriented AI

Objective: The typical museum visitor looks at a single work of art for less than 30 seconds. Utilizing a specific work of art on display at the Getty Center, create a playful experience that helps the player discover something interesting about the art that s/he might have missed in a 30-second look. 48 Hours to create the experience.

Made at the #GettyJam, 27-28. February 2016

Work of Art in focus:

“A Walk at Dusk” – 1835

Caspar David Friedrich

(Germany, 1774 – 1840)

This painting is about divinity of nature and meditation of mortality. References to german philosopher Schelling (Eternal cycle of life & death in nature)

Our approach

Interpret the meaning and intention of an artwork – Recreate a version of the environment – Convey the meaning through game-mechanics

Mobile Experience, that can be used by everyone in the museum on their Android devices.

A Walk At Dusk

A level in Unreal Engine based on Marcel Duchamp’s fountain and famous signature “R.Mutt”. Flushing coins and projected cones.

R. Mutt

I am currently exploring working with splines and spline-meshes in Unreal Engine 4. They enable a level designer to sketch out advanced level designs in real-time, in the editor without ever touching 3D software. I was able to create this small scene in about half an hour. I will continue exploring this exciting area of game design.

In theory this method could be expanded to create entire cities with blueprints.

Real-time mesh deformation along splines

Experimenting with new techniques in 3ds max and Unity3D to achieve a lowpoly-style. Local multiplayer.