3D printed music box plays custom-composed songs

Yesterday’s music machinery given modern-day technology facelift

When we talk about awesome portable speakers, a hand-cranked music box isn’t the first thing that normally comes to mind, but the folks over at Left Field Labs have come out of, well, left field and really surprised us with their latest endeavor.


Referred to as “Music Drop”, the device you see above is a modern-day approach to yesterday’s music machinery; that is, the hand-cranked music box. The Left Field team explains their thinking, saying “. . . since the 18th century, people have embraced the charm of the music box – a compact music player originally built on the mechanics and tradition of artisan watchmaking. We wanted to create a modern day adaptation to put tech and cheer right in your hand.”


Outside of the design of the box itself, the buyer has complete control over their music box. They can customize it first by naming it, then they can choose the colors and music that they want the box to play by uploading it via the group’s site.

Once all of the data’s in, the Left Field team will assemble the Music Drop by hand and ship it over to your home.


Left Field Labs is “excited to see what we could do with 3D printing capabilities and with learnings from some of our more recent projects and experiments, we were attracted to the idea of tapping into the recent shift towards personalized, small-scale fabrication.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!

Awesomely dangerous snowboard made entirely of glass

Board looks dope but can you even use it?

Got your portable speaker attached to your snowjacket and ready to hit up the slopes to do some shred-nasty on the slopes this weekend? Before you head, you have to check this out: Signal Snowboards just demoed a plank made entirely of glass.

Glass snowboard

Gnarly stuff, right? No doubt the question that comes to mind is – how in the world is a piece of glass going to be able to withstand the weight of a person pounding on it mountainside? The answer: very careful manufacturing.

Making a glass snowboard

Signal traveled across the world to Italy to build the board. Italians, if you didn’t already know, are well versed in the art of glass making, and Signal found two companies who could lend their special expertise to their project.

First stop: Vetreria Aurora, a company that specializes in glass manufacturing for heavy duty glass applications (doors, wires, railings, etc.) Here, two separate pieces of the board were cut, melted, and custom-formed in a glass oven. Once that was done, the board was drilled for the inserts.

Manufacturing a glass snowboard

After that, the board was taken to Viraver Technologies to be tempered (same deal as a windshield). The two pieces went through a series of heat exposure and chemical salt baths to make them tough as $hit, and less likely to shatter. Once that was done, the pieces of glass were baked together with a graphic insert in a vacuum sealed bag.

Finally, after that was all done, the dudes were allowed to take the board out to test it out at Abetone ski resort.

Snowboarders going to Abertone ski resort

During the tests, the Signal folk found the board pretty much uncontrollable: with it being glass and all, it travelled at breakneck speeds going downhill but was slow as molasses going across more level areas. With such sharp edges, the board turned really well, but at the end of the day, it couldn’t withstand ALL of the pounding a typical snowboard takes, showing cracks similar to what you see in a windshield nicked up by stones and whatnot.

Broken glass snowboard

Too bad — would’ve been cool to see this work out and expand the thinking to include skis as well.

Infographic Essentials to Electronic Hardware Design

A lot of people have ideas of things they want to build but sometimes it can be daunting to get started.  Electronic hardware design in particular is something that scares most people.  Naturally, not everyone has every skill set required to make electronics, so most people dismiss it as the impossible.  They concede that only large companies with deep engineering resources can make electronics.  Fortunately, the rules have changed.  Technology has leveled the playing field and ODMs have opened their doors for business to entrepreneurs with a smaller wallet.

When we started building Boombots, we were working out of a garage (like most startups).  With less than $12k invested, we managed to get a finished production quality prototype and a completed injection mold.  Get in business gentlemen.

Recap of our trip to factories in China

Assembly line in China 

Over the past week, I’ve ventured into five different portable speaker and electronics factories in three different cities including Shen Zhen, GuangZhou, and Donguan.  Typically when I have the opportunity to travel overseas, I am filled with excitement in getting to see a new culture and experience new things.  Unfortunately, this trip was heavily weighted on the business side of things.  Along with that comes an inevitable moral dilemma that all of us have to eventually confront.

As a consumer, everyone has the ability to vote with each dollar that they spend.  Some of us choose to buy local, organic, all natural, or German engineered.  At the end of the day, most consumers are heavily influenced by price, which is the reason that so many of the products we buy are made in China.  If you’re reading this right now, you’re guilty because the monitor you are reading off of is made there and the mouse you might be using to click to another website is also made in China.

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Taking a Journey to the Boombotix Birthplace

Shen Zhen

In case you didn’t know, Boombotix speakers are made in China.  Shen Zhen to be exact. Shen Zhen is considered to be a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) known for being one of the major manufacturing powerhouses of the world.  Some of the top consumer electronics companies source their products from Shen Zhen including Apple, Monster Cable, and Skullcandy.  On our trip, we are going to be visiting the factories in Shen Zhen and GuangZhou.  Some of the areas outside of the cities are industrial villages where you can get everything done from injection molding, PCBA fabrication, screen printing, packaging, and just about anything you can imagine.

On our trip, we really want to document the entire experience as best possible so that we can bring forth the realities of globalization and outsourcing.  Our trip to China will begin on March 27th.  We purchased one way tickets to ensure that we can capture as much as needed to get the truth out there.   Continue reading