I’m doing a bad job at Patreon. I don’t often remember to tell people that it exists. I don’t remember to post on Patreon. It also doesn’t help that I’m very public about everything I do or work on. You can’t really get a peek behind the curtain at Patreon, because that stuff is already out in the open!

I also don’t have any perks. What is a perk? It might be some trinket or knickknack you send your Patrons. It could be access to some private, elite forum or Discord server. It might be some sort of digital content that is meant to be hidden behind a paywall.

What sort of trinket should I be sending out to people?

A carbon fiber prop tool for your miniquad

I designed a little carbon fiber 10mm nut driver that you can put on your keychain, and I’m quite excited about this idea, but I am excited for some fairly boring reasons.

The first prototype worked great, albeit a little too snug. It was also tiny. I knew it would be a more comfortable tool if it were half an inch longer, but it was working just fine.

The 10mm driver is in the center. At one end, you will find a wrench that fits your miniquad’s M3 standoffs, and the other end will have a hole to attach to your keychain.

Why am I so excited?

When machining quadcopter frames out of carbon fiber sheets, I wind up with a ton of wasted carbon. The waste is way too small to fit any quadcopter parts, but definitely large enough to fit one of my prop tool prototypes!

I cut the first prototype out of a 2mm sheet of carbon. It was just barely comfortable enough to use, but it was plenty strong enough. That means I can cut prop tools out of the voids between parts on all my 2mm, 3mm, and 4mm sheets.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, right?!

I decided to v-carve patshead.com on the side

I wanted to fit patshead.com on the side, but there was no way I could do that on the tiny prototype. The tool needed to be cut wider and longer. No big deal, right?

I knew the v-carve of the lettering wouldn’t stand out on the carbon, so I painted it in with some white nail polish. I just slathered it on there, let it dry, then scraped the surface clean. It worked surprisingly well!

If you look closely, you can see a few problems with the lettering in the photos. To help avoid those issues in the next cut, I’ve scaled up the font from about 4mm to 4.5mm tall, and I plan to do the v-carve pass more slowly next time.

I think the v-carve looks awesome. What do you think?

I am in a bit of a conundrum!

The prototype was fantastic, because I can fit them in between all sorts of parts. It was tiny!

The tool that says patshead.com on the side is quite a bit longer. It isn’t quite as long as a Kestrel arm, but it is close. Close enough that it doesn’t fit on my scrap material.

This isn’t the end of the world. Carbon fiber isn’t expensive. The material to cut a prop tool probably costs 40 cents. I’m just disappointed that I won’t be making use of all this waste!

The v-carve pass adds a lot of work to the process

Cutting simple prop tools is easy. I load up the Shapeoko with the cutting job, then jog the router to an area of the sheet with enough room left to fit a tool. Once the tool is cut, I can jog the tool to another location, and run the job again. Each tool takes a minute or two to cut.

The v-carve requires a tool change. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I could lay out a dozen prop tools on a fresh sheet and cut them all at once. The Shapeoko would v-carve the logo into a dozen parts, then I’d swap the v-bit for an endmill, and the Shapeoko could then cut out each tool.

To reuse my existing waste material, I have to cut prop tools one at a time. That means I have to swap out the endmill and find zero on the Z-axis twice for every single tool. Finding zero without worrying about crashing the tool into the table isn’t a terribly quick process, and it involves an old man like me bending over the Shapeoko for a minute or two!

What do you think?

Do you think it is worth the extra effort to get the patshead.com engraved onto each tool? Do you think the recycling aspect is more exciting than me getting my logo on them? Should I be shooting for smaller, more environmentally friendly prop tools that are easier to carry on your keychain?

I should probably post a poll on Patreon, but you can most definitely leave a comment here to tell me what you think I should do! You can also stop by our Discord server to chat with me about it!