01 final: press fit honeybee nest box

Honeybee nests:

Honeybees are very particular about the location of their nest, in order to test some of the parameters which they consider, I designed a honeybee nest box that can change in volume and opening aperture size.

Process Recap:

Milling prototype out of mdf on the TechnoCNC:

Problems with making the holes for corner tolerance and cut depth issues:

Final result:

After attempting to cut the box out of mdf and learning that the drilling technique for the corner tolerance was prone to start fires, I adjusted the file to have the pocketed corners drawn in from the start (I realized that it didn’t work the first time around because the circles were the wrong dimension). I also adjusted the depth of the notches to match the average thickness of 0.46 inches for the plywood. Previous tests indicated that no offset was needed for the actual press fit connection, so that remained the same, although I gave the opening aperture pieces a little more room as I wanted those pieces to be easily removed and reinserted.

I again used the TechnoCNC in the N-51 wood shop. I set up the cut file in Rhino with about an inch between pieces and plenty of room around the edges of the material to leave room for screws.

I then opened up the file in VisualMill and set up two tool paths for a quarter inch endmill, one for the interior cuts and one for the exterior cuts (I ran the interior cuts first in order to avoid problems with the pieces shifting once already cut out). I set the cut depth to .56 (to make sure it would cut all the way through, and it turned out that was just barely enough) and had it cut that depth in three passes. Once posted and sent to the TechnoCNC interface, I zeroed the machine and sent the job. It took approximately an hour to cut. Fortunately all the pieces were cut all the way through the material, but the edges were quite rough and required a good amount of sanding.

Once sanded down, I was able to use a mallet to fit together all the edge joints relatively easily. One misfortune in the sanding process was that every once in a while small portions of the outer layers of the plywood would chip off,  but I’m assuming this was more of a material weakness than anything else.

The other main difficulty I ran into was with the pins I had set up to hold the interior partition. It turned out that the way I had drawn the holes for the pocketed corners in a pinwheel pattern (because otherwise the circles would intersect) caused the inserted pins to rotate as I malleted them in. So although they do hold the pieces in place, they are rotated significantly within their slots.

Future enhancements:

-a connection to allow for strapping the box to a tree or pole in the field

-an attachment to allow for video recording of the bee’s activity

-sensors to monitor the temperature and humidity inside the box

4.196 Special Problems in Architectural Design Complete Fabrications Nick Gelpi Mon-Fri, Jan 5-7, 10-11, 13-14, 18, 20-21, 24-25, 27-28, 01-04:00pm, 3-402/7-432studio, 1st mtg Wed 1/5 Pre-register on WebSIS and attend first class. No listeners Prereq: Permission of instructor ; Yr-1 MArch students who have completed 4.123 only Level: H 9 units Standard A - F Grading Can be repeated for credit Lab Fee: 150 A comprehensive introduction to methods of “making” explored through a wide range of brief but focused exercises. Skills = developing complex geometries from flat components; fine-tuning press fit construction, molding and casting, and making repeatable molds for customization. A two-part workshop, the first half will contextualize contemporary tools and techniques within the trajectories of historical case studies of building, combined with hands on familiarization of tools. The second half will implement the tools of our workshop in the context of Design. Working on group design build process for three MIT 150 FAST installations, students will test and influencing designs through the instrumentality of production. These hands-on design build projects are intended to produce reciprocity between skills and design, making more complete the problems of fabrication. Subject limited to year-one MArch students who have completed core-1 studio. Contact: Nick Gelpi, 9-224, 253-9415, -


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