Nerdy Derby Racer

So, the Milwaukee Makerspace and BarcampMilwaukee7 are doing a Nerdy Derby, and there are going to be some sweet entries, including a Belly Tanker form Frankie, sandbox from Pete, and a terrifying, radio-controlled, ducted fan monstrosity from Mike.

Having switched my subscription on the MMS list to digest mode, I hadn’t been following what was apparently an extensive discussion of the idea of doing a derby. Thankfully, Mike, Frankie, and Pete looped me in! I was making arrangements to stop in at Frankie’s studio to get the next bit of help with my injection molder, and Frankie offered to have us in for a Nerdy Derby build day. How could I pass that up?

I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to do, and settled on a steel wire frame with leather panels “skinning” the car. I figured it would be fun, and I liked the idea of steel and leather. Plus, I could do it with only the tools I have myself. I came up with some ideas and pulled together a sketch of how it might work (I’ll have to post it later, I left my notebook at work).

Frankie offered to model the car in Rhino, and after an hour or so of work we had a model of how the car might look.

Derby Car rendering

Well, since we’d gone through the work of building the 3D model, why not cut it our of the Tormach? We cut the model into 3 pieces (a base, the body, and the canopy, and Frankie got everything setup to cut. THis was my first time seeing something got from idea on paper to an actual, metal and poly-carb thing in a few hours, and it was awesome! here are the results:

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Aluminum blank
Frankie setting up the CNC
Roughing pass
All roughed in
Half way through the finishing pass
All done milling
We cut a little deeper than intended; Still came out sweet.
Base plate in position, as well as rough canopy
Another angle


I still have work to do on it (skate bearings for the wheels?) and some obvious cleanup, but it pretty cool as it is! The aluminum will take a shine like nobody’s business, and I’m thinking I may light the canopy.