Hello there! My name is Daniel Zühlke Valero and I'm here to change the world.
How? You may ask, that's a legitimate question to which I don't have an answer yet. I hope to be closer to that answer as I progress through this program.
Born in Berlin but mostly raised in Barcelona, the city where I'm taking this Fab Academy course, I have formal education as an Economist but have been working as a cook, event producer, NGO communication strategist, lifeguard [...]
I've enrolled this program so I can make almost anything and undestand better this open network of makers and the possibilities of the digital fabrication revolution.
I'm here for the fun, the mistakes, and the democratisation of knowledge and the means of production.
Happy playing all!

For anything related with my projects, suggestions, invites to your nephews wedding and everything in between


What should I get done?
  • Plan and sketch a potential final project
What did I actually get done?

Well, I planned and sketched a few potential final projects. You can find the different ideas here.
As briefly stated in the short bio that opens the page I'm here for the fun and excitement of learning. When facing the task of planning my final project I encountered the dilemma of having almost zero background and knowledge of the technical aspects that need to be very present when planning such project.
So my ideas weren't based on what I knew could be done but what I wanted to do, lacking a sense of a thoughtful process. But I've put a lot of thought into what I wanted to do as a final project. You can find my motivations and other random thoughts here.
Back to the final project you can find the developement and documentation of it here.
See you around!


What should I get done?
  • Work through a git tutorial
  • Build a personal site in the class archive describing you and your final project
What did I actually get done?

Starting with the basics I had to choose a text editor to write the code for the webpage. Downloaded a few and tried Sublime, Brackets and Atom and stuck with the latter.
I had no prior experience developing web but I understood the basics of html and css. During class a few colleagues talked about markdown and I'm eager to check it out since it seems pretty intuitive but for now I had enough with setting this up.

I knew I wanted to do my own webpage and that I wanted to keep it simple. So I dismissed the idea of a template although I'm regretting it but found Skeleton, a responsive boilerplate with 400 lines of css code plus the normalisation css document for the different types of browsers and devices.
On top of that I looked up how to set up a navigation bar that would stick on top while browsing and did so with a tiny script although I'm having some issues with the distance from the top of a container and said navigation bar when following the links.
More issues: I can't seem to get the grid system right, theoretically there's a 12 column grid where you can enclose the different elements but still have to work it out since I'm having trouble understanding how to make containers and divs of a certain size to fit images for example.
Anyhow I will stick with this setup and will develop step by step, it's not my main focus but I want to end up with a "nice" website. So I'll focus on the weekly assignments and try to design it better along the course.

Now to the version control system that is git and its protocols for uploading and keeping a repository. I would have had no idea on how to do this but we had a very instructive class taught by our beloved instructor Xavi. Followed the steps and magic!
What I most liked of discovering this was the fact that I had to use the terminal and felt like I was going to enter the Matrix (finally...). No, actually was discovering how software is developed in an ordered and collaborative way and how everythinig is open so others can see the process and learn from it.


What should I get done?
  • Model (raster, vector, 2D, 3D, render, animate, simulate, ...) a possible final project, and post it on your class page
What did I actually get done?
I'm on it!!


What should I get done?

    Group assignment:

  • Characterize your lasercutter, making test part(s) that vary cutting settings and dimensions

  • Laser Cutting


    Characterise your laser-cutter, making test part(s) that vary cutting settings and dimensions individual assignment

    For our group assignment we used the Trotec Speedy 400 to get familiar with Laser cutting, understand the design to cut workflow and finally test some parts.

    Laser Specs

    The Speedy 400 is a CO2 Laser, air-cooled and with a Laser Power between 40 - 120 Watts. The cutting surface is 1000 x 610 mm (39 x 24 in) and it is run by a Brushless DC servomotor that moves the head at a whopping 355 cm/sec. It uses 1.5" and 2.0" standard lenses to hone the laser beam guaranteeing an accuracy up to 5µm. For good bed-time reading, here is the operation manual and the Job Control Guide.

    Designing some Test cuts.

    Seeing we were going to be doing our pressfit in cardboard, we decided to test the power, speed and rate of our Trotec as well as check the kerf dimensions for a pressfit design. First we downloaded a lasercutting material template from Thingyverse. This is a simple way of showcasing difference of between raster and vector images, using 20 different engraving shades, precision using different font sizes as well as square and circular shapes. In Rhino I also designed a pressfit test cut.

    We calculated with the calliper the cardboard thickness at 4mm, so the test cut looked at varying 5 slot widths ranging from 3.80 mm to 4.20 mm increasing with increments on 0.10 mm. We also varied the slot length between 10.00 mm and 10.80 mm increasing in increments of 0.20 mm. This test cut was also copied on both a horizontal and vertical axis to see how the cardboard corrugation affected the slots.

    Setup Sequence
    1. Machines
    • Turn on power (for either the Trotec 100 or Trotec 400) and then the ventilation from their separate cupboards. For the ventilation the TURBINA 1 switches should all be on, including the black start switch.

    • Switch on the machine (Trotec 400 requires a key) and wait for the machine to stretch its axes. Absolute 0,0 is always in the top lefthand corner.

    • Put in the material and calibrate the focus of the machine using the measure stick. When the stick falls of the red dot should be in focus.

    1. Computer control terminal


    • FabLab Barcelona uses Rhino to “print” or send files to the Trotec software and then to the laser cutters. Follow these steps and all should be well.

    • Go to the FabLab IAAC cloud network in the documents and import or download your file from the FabAcademy file station. Remember to upload your document here before even approaching the machines.


    • In Rhino, separate what lines you want to cut and which need to be engraved. Put these into different layers marked clearly in BLACK, RED or BLUE.

    • If this is a new material and/or design, make a test cut. Make a small shape, square or circle - if it is for a pressfit this is a good way to also check your kerf tolerances - and then select print under the printer icon.

    • This brings up a PRINT SETUP menu. Here you select your machine: TROTEC ENGRAVER v10.3.0 and then select PROPERTIES.

    • Here under the PRINT tab you can define the width and height of the laser cutting surface. Measure this on your actual material. You can also select the material, and if this is a raster or engrave job you can here define the RESOLUTION, CUT LINE and HALF TONE. When done select the J/C icon for ok.

    • Back in PRINT SETUP select the “Output Type” and “Output Color” to either a) “Vector” or “Raster” and b) Always check “Display Color”, so that the machine reads our color layers.


    • Then under “View and Output Scale” make sure you are on the correct viewport in Rhino (Usually Top), and make sure your scale is 1:1. Select “Window: Set.

    • This brings you back to Rhino with a highlighted working area that represents the cutting surface you defined in Properties. NEVER just grab and move the working area or it will redefine. To move this surface, type the command MOVE into Rhino and then select and move the cutting surface so that your object fits into the top left hand corner of the working surface. Make sure to leave some margin. Set the window and press print.


    • By default it may show you the last job file that was cut previously. This may be confusing. To get rid of this, delete. If it is a job you still want to access later drag it into the column on the right. Your file should be in at the top of this column. Drag it onto the canvass. Click Connect, this connects the machine.

    • Now you should also see the pointer that defines where the laser head is sitting in the machine. Go back to the machine and manually move it to you 0,0 (always making sure that the material covers your preset cutting area) then select your file and snap the top left corner to the pointer.

    • Under Settings: MATERIAL TEMPLATE Settings, this is where you can define your POWER, SPEED and FREQUENCY values. Make sure your colors reflect the layers you selected in Rhino.

    • In the Trotec 400 there is a bug in the x-axis belt, so it is recommended that we don’t change the speed to more that 1.


    • From a test cut you should be able to gage the power levels for your material. On wood or cardboard , of the cut creates black burn marks, it is usually too high. Set to a lower. It is good practice to start low and increase power, as the aim is to use a little amount of power as fast as possible.



    Our group test cut was successful in the sense that it helped us find the optimal cutting and engraving power, speed and rate (see below) for cardboard. Ideally, it would have been nice to try out different materials, but we did not get round to this. Importantly, it also showed us how to manage the rather complex workflow on the Fablabs lasercutters, and we worked out both the kerf on a material as well as the optimal width for a press-fit join.


    Our first step was to cut simple 10 mm x 10 mm square. Here we followed the approach of starting with a low power and slowly incrementing between 20, 22, and 25 maintaining our speed at 0.9 (1 is the max) and frequency at 1000Hz.

    With the calibre we were able to calculate the cut square at 10.20 mm, which means the laser removed 0.1 mm of material on either side. We noted that this should be repeated in a harder material, as it is difficult to measure a soft material like cardboard accurately with the sharp teeth of the calliper.


    With our engraving tests we used the raster setting in the Rhino print setup. We set the various shades to engrave and made the percentage values and “engraving test” text another layer for cutting at a lower power.

    The first engrave we set the power to 70 the speed at 80 and the frequency at 1000 ppi. Note that because it is a raster, the frequency is calculated in pixels per inch and not Hertz. The low cut parameters we set for the vector engrave we set at 3 for power, 0,9 for speed and 1000 Hz.


    This completely burnt through the darker shades of our raster, but it gave a very complete view of the different effects. In fact the pattern left by the burnt-through darker shades reminded us a little bit like the patters moths leave when they chew your clothes. The low cut however, engraved the text nicely.


    On a repeat run we used 50 power, 80 speed and 1000 ppi for the engrave settings and got a very nice variation on the shades with no burn. However, our text engrave which we upped to 5 power, keeping same 0.9 speed and 1000 Hz frequency, actually cut through some of the cardboard.


    This table shows the optimal cut and engrave parameters for our cardboard:


    | POWER | SPEED | Frequency | | ------------- |:---------------:| ----------:| | 25-27* | 0.9 | 1000 Hz |


    | POWER | SPEED | Frequency | | ------------- |:---------------:| ----------:| | 50 | 0.9 | 1000 Hz |

    • I add here between 25 and 27 because, as you will se below, I found out much later doing the individual assignment that the lenses on our Trotec 44 is actually misaligned. This means, the further the laser moves from it’s origin (the further the light has to travel) and the less focus the laser has on the material, which means it is likely not to cut all the way. To remedy this, change your layers to increase the power if you are cutting a design that goes far from the origin.

    The final part of out test shows us that the optimal (snug) pressfit dimension happened to be 3.8 mm. This confirms that 0.20 is the total material removed (0.1 mm on either side) so we should make a slot tolerance of 0.20.

    Individual assignment:

  • Cut something on the vinylcutter
  • Design, make, and document a parametric press-fit construction kit, accounting for the lasercutter kerf, which can be assembled in multiple ways
What did I actually get done?


What should I get done?
  • Group Assignment: Characterize the specifications of your PCB production process
  • Individual assignment: Make an in-circuit programmer by milling the PCB, optionally trying other processes
What did I actually get done?
  • Group Assignment:
We had to characterize the specifications for the PCB production on our CNC milling machine.
To do so we generated an .RML file from a previous .png file in order to get the format supported by the Roland SRM-20. This first file was going to have the traces to test the precision of the milling and then we would load a second one with the outline of those traces to cut through the entire PCB.

To convert this files you have to go to and then follow this steps:
  • Choose 'Input Format' and import the .png file
  • Choose 'Output Format': Roland Mill .rml
  • Choose 'Process': In this case we'll use the 1/64 drill to trace the board and the 1/32 drill to cut it
  • On the 'Output' section: We selected the SRM-20
  • Change preset parameters: X, Y, Z, X-home and Y-home to 0. The value of Z-home we will set to 5, so whenever the drill is making its way "home" it lifts to that position and doesn't scratch the surface of the board.
  • On the 'Process' make sure to check the cut depth for each file so you get the right one to trace the board (we set it at 0.1mm) and to cut it (we set it at 1.6mm) and the number of offsets
  • Press Calculate and save the .rml file

Now that we have the files we're in need to set the board and tools, the CNC Milling machine itself. This are the steps that follow:
  • Take the out the support with the "sacrifical layer" and clean it, make sure it's flat.
  • Use double sided tape to fix the board on top of the support and clean with alcohol

  • Put the support with your attached board back into the milling machine

  • Go to the computer and run the Roland VPanel software

  • Use the panel to move the drill to a position in which you can change it. Remember that we use the 1/64 drill to trace the board and the 1/32 drill to cut it

  • It is important to set the 'X' and 'Y' coordinates right. On the panel you can choose to “Set origin point” once you've moved it where needed
  • To set the “origin” for the Z coordinate we just unscrew the tool and let it go down until it touches the board and then screw it back. After this step check that there is enough margin on the machine guides to go further down during the cutting. Click the “Set origin point” with the Z button
  • Now we're ready to send the file and start the milling, at the beggining of the process the 'Spindle Speed' should be set as low as 10%. You can increase it up to 80% as the job progresses and everything works fine

  • Once the traces are made and we changed the drill for the outline cut we're ready to take the board out and inspect it to see the result, we could say we're satisfied with the resolution of our test. Although we encountered the same problem as other groups in our lab faced, the outline file was missing one of the borders and it didn't cut through completely. So we had to invert the image and send the file again
  • To get a smoother surface we gently scrub with steel wool to get rid of the unwanted copper

  • Individual Assignment:
I wanted had to start slow with the electronics production and design since I'm just grasping the very basics. That's why I used Brian's documentation and design to do this part of the assignment. It was pretty easy since we already had done the group assigment and tested the milling machine and we just had to repeat the process, the soldering and programming were a bit more challenging though.
To understand better what I was doing I turned to my colleague Oscar, that had started designing his own board and he referred me to Ali Shtarbanov's page. So, combining the read of that with the very own documentation of Oscar's great work, I'm a more instructed individual.
Now let's jump to the process:
  • I started by downloading the files and going through the same steps as with the test and converting everything via fabmodules to .rml files and checking that all the settings were correct for the number of offsets, cut depth, the traces path and diameter of the drill [...]

  • Once the PCB is milled it's time to list the components and start the soldering. We got told by our instructors that it would be easier if we started with the central ATtiny45 and then worked outwards and finished with the pin header

  • The soldering was difficult at the beggining but it got better with practice, still I would strongly recommend having 3 hands to be able to hold the tiny components with the tweezers, the iron tip, and the tin with which you're soldering. (Yes, this is actually my best joke so far) And it is important to take special attention to the components that have polarity so you don't solder them the other way around

  • After assembling all the components it is time to test for shorts or mistakes in our board, to do so I used a multimeter, there were no issues so I was ready to go ahead with the software installation


What should I get done?
  • Group Assignment: Test the design rules for your printer(s)
  • Individual assignment:
    • Design and 3D print an object (small, few cm) that could not be made subtractively
    • 3D scan an object (and optionally print it)
What did I actually get done?
  • Group Assignment:
  • Individual Assignment:


What should I get done?
  • Group Assignment: Use the test equipment in your lab to observe the operation of a microcontroller circuit board
  • Individual assignment:
    • Redraw the echo hello-world board
    • Add (at least) a button and LED (with current-limiting resistor)
    • Check the design rules, make it, and test it
    • Extra credit: measure its operation, simulate its operation
What did I actually get done?
  • Group Assignment:
  • Individual Assignment:


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