OSE Lasersaur Build + Documentation Sprint

I am now in Innsbruck, Austria, at Nortd Labs for OSE’s build of a Lasersaur, an open source, 100W laser cutter operated by wireless control from any browser. We will use the laser cutter for rapid prototyping at Factor e Farm, and we intend to develop the machine to higher power on the order of 1kW for metal cutting. My goal is to perfect the documentation of this already awesome open project – and I would like to see if the rate of Lasersaur replication will increase visibly as a result of this documentation effort. Thanks go to Stefan and Addie for hosting me at Nortd Labs.


(see OSE Lasersaur playlist on YouTube)

We are doing a Build + Documentation sprint – where we will produce an instructional in Dozuki at the same time that we do the build. This process builds on top of what we have demonstrated for the first time over a week ago in the first Design-Build-Documentation Sprint with the Ironworker Machine. This is intended to close the typical documentation blackhole that is common to open hardware projects. Documentation is difficult because it takes both time and insight into the subject matter. Our process – which allows documentation to go up in the cloud at the same time as the build itself – goes like this:

  • Time lapse is set up on Android phone, 10s interval, and I begin the build.
  • I upload pictures of every single step in realtime. Picture taken with Trovebox App on iPad (NOT with camera app, which requires a separate upload step). This is followed by voice record of step number and short description – uploaded  into Laser Cutter folder on Trovebox with the voice tag. Trovebox app on iPad allows for voice-recording of tag information, so this is quick. Another voice record is used for more detailed step instructions in a web browser using a Google spreadsheet on iPad. This is pretty quick, so allows realtime uploads. Wiki page named Lasersaur Steps is used to display the google spreadsheet. This means that any step notes show up immediately and automatically in the cloud, and that they are voice records so they are quick to input.
  • I also upload a few YouTube clips, which upload in the background. However a second smartphone would be useful here (one is used for timelapse).
  • A second person creates an instructional on Dozuki either Realtime or in batches if time zones are an issue (we need to plan on batching to address worldwide collaboration in general). Pictures are downloaded from Trovebox and inserted into Dozuki guides – one for each module. The URLs for Trovebox and Dozuki are not real. They are a reference only. For Trovebox, go to and click on ALBUMS then click on the Lasersaur album – where all step pictures are in the cloud directly from my upload. For Dozuki, go to, click on Laser Cutter, go to Modules, and go to whatever module is being documented – such as frame, gantry, laser tube, etc. This is the link to the laser cutter modules – where each one has a Development Page spreadsheet – which can be used to access every piece of information documented for each module.
  • A third person inserts text into Dozuki. The text from me – noting more detailed comments and instructions – is updated automatically via voice recording into the google spreadsheet, and is found at
The above produces the minimum Instructional product – but here’s how other collaborators can make it come alive:
  • We can insert a CAD EQUIVALENT SCREENSHOT CAPTURE from the existing FreeCAD (or Rhino) 3D CAD file found here – the FreeCAD and Rhino files are complete machines – whereas the IGES file is for modules only . Take existing FreeCAD file of Lasersaur, and take screenshots equivalent to the real build pictures that are being inserted in the Dozuki instructional. Upload into the Dozuki instructional right after the picture is uploaded.
  • CAD EXPLODER – a person takes the FreeCAD File and creates exploded part diagrams for the whole machine and for each of the modules. determines logical names with assistance from builders and designer. This facilitates naming convention within the Dozuki Instructional guide. Exploded part diagram image is added as an overview step at beginning of Guide or as needed. To do exploded part diagram, it may be simplest to copy a screenshot from CAD, and label within a google doc.
  • CAD EXPORTER – a person takes FreeCAD file and converts to Sketchup and STEP file formats for animator. The STEP file contains modules
  • GRAPHIC DESIGNER – takes the module, and creates an infographic for the module being developed in GIMP with an artistic title block, using Jean-Baptiste Standards of Style. Uses Background and Title Block template. Infographic is used in Dozuki for each module.
  • BLENDER  – an animator produces basic functional animations, such as lid opening, laser beam moving, sparks flying, things being cut, etc – for an eye candy explanation of how the thing works. This animation is exported and uploaded to marcinose YouTube channel.
  • BLOGGER – Blogger checks in during key points and reports on process and interviews participants, published at daily for each of the five days – this is innovation worth documenting carefully. various assets generated through build/doc sprint are showcased in blog to explain the method.
There are other steps that can be taken after each day:
  • OPENSHOT – a person takes the footage uploaded to OSE YouTube (marcinose channel), including overall time lapse, and creates video of the build, also documenting how a build/doc sprint is working. GIMP template file for Title page and credits. Open soundtrack library is used for sound.
  • OPENSHOT/MOZILLA POPCORN MAKER- once a guide is finished, it is played as a video – simply the successive steps in sequence are edited into a video using OpenShot. Mozilla Popcorn Maker is used to overlay step instructions in the video.
  • ASSEMBLY ANIMATOR – this person takes the finished instructional and then takes the CAD file – and disassembles it in the sequence corresponding to the reverse order of the instructional, while capturing the screenshots. See notes on this here.

You can join us at this hangout from Monday through Friday.



Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.