Wooden nickels, while possessing little to no monetary value, can be fun souvenir disks to commemorate a certain event or accomplishment. These are normally printed up then distributed, but hardware hacker extraordinaire Barton Dring took things in a different direction with his CNC laser NickelBot.
The device is able to not only laser individual nickels, but uses a stack feeder system along with an output chute to produce nickel after nickel without direct human interaction. Nickels are stacked in a tube, and a tray pulls a single disk onto the laser area using a pair of NEMA 14 steppers. The disk is then locked down with a servo and moved in the X/Y plane to allow the laser to do its work. After a minute or so, the same servo lets the nickel drop, falling out of a slot on the front for a unique souvenir.
NickelBot employs a PSoC5 development board with a pair of stepper drivers for control, and a 3.5W blue laser to do the actual engraving. Cleverly, the heat sync for the laser power supply is attached on top of the exhaust inlet, guaranteeing good air flow!
Check it out in action in the video below, with an explanation of the process.
If this looks familiar, it’s certainly not Dring’s first forray into small laser engraving. We featured his coaster laser and pen plotter in 2017!