AmbiLamp: CAD Lamp
Cut and Create


If you are working at the ECE Makerspace at UC San Diego, you must be trained and authorized in using the laser cutter. Follow the Makerspace training instructions here before proceeding.

The materials mentioned for physically assembling the enclosure (Epoxy glue, white spraypaint, and scotch tape) are available in the space.

From Model to Drawing

In order to cut out the enclosure, you need to convert the SolidWorks model into a PDF that lays out the parts in the pattern you want the laser cutter to use.

Create a new Drawing, and select the Custom Sheet Size box. Set it to the size of the material that you put in the laser cutter - in the ECE Makerspace, this is Width: 24 inches, Height: 12 inches.

Now click on the Model View button and select one of the parts. Under Orientation, make sure the correct face is set. This will vary based on what plane the part was made on, so find the orientation that results in the part's "face" appearing on the drawing.

This is very important. In the Projected View tab, along the left side, under Scale, select "Use Custom Scale" and set the ratio to 1:1. The scale changes the dimensions of your drawing, and since we designed the model to be the real size of the box, only 1:1 will print what we expect! Otherwise, it'll print much larger or smaller than you want.

Click the green check.

The part should be black. However, the laser cutter recognizes what it should cut based on the color of the lines. In the ECE Makerspace, parts that you want to cut out must be red. So we will change the color of the drawing.

Right click the sheet and select Change Layer. From there, click on Layer Properties. Click on New to create a new layer, name it "Red", and click the color under the color sphere (directly to the left of the "Style" column) to set it to red.

Right click the part that you just imported, and change the layer to red. You should see the drawing change to red lines. You can also change individual lines on a part, but for laser cutting, you almost always want to cut the entire part.

Repeat this process of setting the orientation, scale, and layer for all of the parts. There should ultimately be six parts on your drawing:

1 Front Side
1 Back Side
1 Top Side
1 Bottom Side
2 Left Right Sides

Arrange the parts as efficiently as you can! Laser cutting material is expensive, so make good use of it by placing your parts close together. Make sure that lines do not overlap, but minimize the space between parts.

Now you can save it as a PDF. You will notice that there is a black watermark at the bottom - you can either import it into Inkscape to remove it (if you are working in the ECE Makerspace, you should know how to do that or can ask a supervisor), or set black to use 100% speed and 0% power in the laser cutter settings. This way, it will still try to raster the mark, but at 0% power it won't actually cut anything.


Cut out your parts now, and assemble them together. Acrylic cement is best, but if you do not have it available, epoxy glue works as well.

Finally, the light will not diffuse through the clear box. We solved this by putting a light layer of white spraypaint over it, and wrapping a small piece of scotch tape over the LED. This diffuses the light sufficiently to illuminate the entire box.

Do NOT spraypaint inside. If you are working in the ECE Makerspace, take some butcher paper to the loading dock outside.

Once the paint has dried (approximately 20 minutes), insert the AmbiLamp hardare (The rPi 0 with your PCB attached) and power it on. Dim the lights, and play with it through the web app to watch it in action!