Low-cost portable guitar stand, built from the guitar’s original packaging

At the start of the corona lock-down in 2020, I decided to use the time to get back into a hobby from when I was ~14 years old — classical guitar.  I figured that rather than ordering a high-end guitar straight away, I should order something cheap (but still playable) to start with, then reward myself for progress with something higher-end nearer the end of the year.

Once the guitar arrived, I realised that I needed to find space in the flat to put the guitar, and I needed a stand for it.  The guitar came inside a large cardboard box, inside another large cardboard box, so I decided to recycle that box into stands for my guitars.

I started imagineering what the stand might look like, trying to keep the design simple while minimising the amount of material and components required.  Thanks to Neuralink Blender, I was able to transfer this from my brain to the computer so I can share it with you via this link and in lower-quality at the end of this page.

I made a few quick sketches of possible designs, and settled on this design.  This design in turn is currently settled on top of the box that I’ll be converting to guitar stands.


For my hobby (i.e. unpaid) projects, I restrict myself to free/open-source tools wherever possible, so I designed the stand using FreeCAD:

FreeCAD is similar to most other CAD software in many ways – a bit rough and ugly, crashes at least twice per day when working on anything particularly complex (which this stand is not).  But unlike other most CAD software, it’s free and supports “Blender-style” viewport navigation which makes it much nicer to use vs. having to switch between two navigation styles all the time.

The stand consists of four unique flat components, seven components total per stand.  The sketches are shown below.  The red constraints are driving constraints and the blue constraints are reference constraints.

You may wonder why I seem to have so many reference constraints here.  That will become apparent next.As I live in Estonia, I don’t have a printer.  Most stuff here happens online, there’s no need for paper and ink most of the time.  The rare time when I do need to print some documents, I’ll walk across the road to the print shop and pay 50¢ for them to print it, instead of owning some crappy home printer that always finds some bullshit reason to refuse to print whenever you need it the most.  But we’re in lock-down – the print shop is probably closed.  Even if it isn’t, this printing isn’t exactly “essential”.

So I can’t use a “2D printer” to print these sketches to make templates for cutting the cardboard.  My 3D printer is in another country otherwise I’d just attach a pen to it then have it trace out the part outlines with a SVG→DXF→Gcode pipeline.  My (prospective) CNC milling machines haven’t been purchased yet.  I’ll need to make the templates by hand, and cut them by hand.

Old-school Drafting

So rather than calculate vertex positions manually, I used reference constraints to have the CAD software measure them for me.  Then I marked these coördinates on some paper and linked them using a straightedge.

The curved parts of the sketches still remained though.  I marked out points at 30/45/60° on these curved segments, linked them faintly by straight edges, then drew curves through them by hand.  Finding 30/45/60° points is pretty simple.  Taking zero-degrees to be x-wards and 90° to be y-wards (i.e. [x,y]=r[cosθ,sinθ]), we have the following easily-memorised trigonometric approximations:

0° = ½(√4, √0) = (1.00, 0.00)
30° = ½(√3, √1) ≈ (0.87, 0.50)
45° = ½(√2, √2) ≈ (0.71, 0.71)
60° = ½(√1, √3) ≈ (0.50, 0.87)
90° = ½(√0, √4) = (0.00, 1.00)

Notice the increasing/decreasing integer sequences in the middle column, and the corresponding approximations in the right-column which follow the same monotonic behaviour.  Just memorise the series “100 87 71 50 0”, then you can work out the sines/cosines of those angles by dividing the series by 100.  Multiply the sine/cosine by radius of the arc, and you have the position of the arc (relative to the centre).  A closer look at the uncut template shows this for the curved sections:

Since most of the parts have mirror symmetry, I only drew half of those parts on the template.  I can draw half of the part onto the cardboard, then flip the template over, line it up, and draw the other half.  Once happy with the drawings, I cut them out with my favourite scalpel.

From there, I then traced the outline of each template / stencil onto the cardboard (mirroring where appropriate), to mark out all the parts.  And then I cut them!

Assembly, integration, testing

The assembly was as easy as expected – just slot the parts together.  Once assembled, the guitar fit into the stand perfectly, and the resulting balance was quite stable.

I had enough cardboard left to make a second stand for my electric guitar, although that guitar is much heavier so the stand is less stable and probably won’t survive very long.

Cardboard easily produces just the right kind of sounds for this animation too ☺



Basic croquet rules, as played by a bunch of uncultured Northerners. Northern-monkey terminology is in “quotes”:

There are two teams, ideally with the same number of people on each.

There are six hoops (“goals”), arranged in a 3×2 grid (central hoops are closer to each other compared to other pairs):

 ╭───╮                                  ╭───╮
 │ 2 │                                  │ 3 │
                   │ 6 │


                   │ 5 │
 ╭───╮                                  ╭───╮
 │ 1 │                                  │ 4 │

There’s also a peg in between the middle hoops.

Each team has one ball. This definitely is not how croquet is supposed to be played, but it makes things more fun and is also your only option if you have less than three balls available. Each team also has a mallet (“hammer-shaped thing”).

How to play (kinda)

Each team takes it in turn to hit their ball *once* with the mallet. Like in Pool. Also like in Pool, you get an extra shot if you score. “scoring” happens when you knock your team’s ball through the next goal. And if you do that, you get an (one) extra shot.

At this point, I should mention the actual flow we play:
One team (“us guys”) starts at hoop #1 and goes 1-2-3-4-5-6.
The other team (“you fat wasters”) either do the same which makes things more fun when you involve croqueting/roqueting (see below), but which is also not correct according to “the actual rules”. If you’re bothered about such things, then the other team goes 3-4-1-2-6-5, so basically the same pattern as the first team but rotated by π radians.

The objective is to go through your sequence of hoops TWICE (note: not quite correct, the order for the second time is slightly different according to “the actual rules”), then to hit the weird little peg that’s in the middle.

So each team is trying to score 12 goals hoops, then hit the middle peg to win. This also isn’t correct according to “the actual rules”, as there’s some point-scoring system involved too, but keeping track of points is difficult after 38 pints of stella so we apply some “UX design” to “the actual rules”.

Where it gets fun/daft/pretentious

This brings me onto the croqueting and roqueting crap. This is where the game sounds kind of pretentious and silly if you use “the actual names” for things. If on your turn, your ball hits the enemy’s your opponent’s ball, then it has made roquet on that ball and that ball is now fucked croqueted, and you get an extra hit. This extra hit is a croquet stroke and you start it by first moving your ball so that it’s touching the ball that you croqueted. Then you hit. If in this extra stroke, you hit and move the roqueted ball and do so without violating any of “the actual rules” then you get an extra hit.

Extra hits don’t accumulate though. If you hit the croqueted ball and also put yours through a hoop, then you only get one extra hit not two. If you roquet (“hit”) the other team (“enemy”)’s ball and also put yours through a hoop then you only get one extra stroke (but still get an extra one if you move the croqueted ball on your next stroke).

If you knock the other team (“fat bastard”)’s ball through a hoop then even if yours goes through, you don’t get an extra turn and instead they get a point (which doesn’t matter since we don’t do the “points” thing). You can substitute this “point” by requiring the fouling team to get in another round of stella.

And that, fellow monkeys, is not actually how you play croquet.

Also, if you go past a “goal” then you can’t just go through it in the opposite direction. You have to go behind it again and go through it in the “correct” direction, otherwise Zalgo will rise through the center and o̰̤̮̱̲h̖ ̻͞m̗̗̼͍̜̗̼y̫̜̪̰͔̣ ̷̰̝̦̙̘g͎͟o̜̝̗̪̼̹d̵̲͚̜̙ i̫̣̮̫͕̞t̩͓̹̖̹̤̰̼ ̡̪̭̗̼̭͠b̴̟͇͡u̮͇͎͔̺r̲͉n̰̼̱̻s̸̵̤̫̯̘̰̰͇ͅ ͈͘i̴̢͚̺̱̫̳͕͈ͅt͏̰͚͇̦͎͚̭̮̥ ̧҉̯̪̣̮b̨͖̯͔̼͔̤̺̝̭u̧̲̗͓͖̝͉͓͓r̗͙̬̟̺̫͓̟̼n̳̯͟͜ͅs̼̹ ͙͕̦̮̱̻m̧̬̺̲͍̹a̛̯̮̫͡k̝̠͈̕e͓͇̼̹̘̫̻ ̹̞̩i҉̧͙͔͖͟t͞҉͙̲͈̰͓͈̬̕ ̛̼͈̞s̘̠̱͎̠̀t̖̤͕͚̹͖́͠o͕̼̖͉̻͔̕ͅp҉̷͓͇͎ ̵̲̻͉̤̩̳̩̹͢i̷̗̪̪̣͕̬͇̳̻͎͚͔̩͎̯͡ ͏̦̳͔̞́͢c̴̵̟͓̱̣̻͖͉̪̭ͅà̴̳̟͔͚̺̩̩̖̯̰͔̖͟͟ͅͅn̵̴̨̥̫͉̗̤͓̙̻͕̠͚͔͟ṭ̹̱̺̭̪͢ ̛̮̣̳̦̭̞̼̺̀͜ţ̶͇̜̭͉̫̫̲̣́ͅa̷̫̣͍̺̫̟͍̦͇̤̳̕͡͠͠k̸̡̩̼͈͇̕e̸̘̝̻̯͉̟̰̙͎͇̕͟ ͏̶̡̥͇̝̬̦̱̭͔̞̙͍̟̳́i̧̛̜͎͈͇̕͘͢t̷͚̖͇̫͉͎̲̼̭̪̕͞ ̢̱͍̲͙͙̪̤̻̲͎̞͙̳̣͟a͏̴̢̟͚͇̠͙̫̹̰̬͕͖̗ǹ̷̸͕̼͓͖̳͇̗̠̫̜͢͞ͅy̴̡̡҉̼̦͔̪̦ ̷̨̢̡͇͚͕̭̮͡m̵̼͉͎̘͎̤̯̖͔͘ò̸̝͙̹͖̮̲͍͙̲̜̜͎̘̬̯̫͝r̢̛̻̹̘̪̩̼̘̮̟̯͘͜͢é̖̟̝͚͚̟͉͍̲͇͓̫͈̞̝͢͡

Arctic storm and more aurora

The Pi-day solar storm in 2016 was quite powerful (four terawatts), but unfortunately Kiruna was cloudy that night. The night after however, was somewhat clearer.

On my walk home, I was suddenly aware of green bands in the sky, one crossing over the moon. It was a full moon, so they couldn’t be aurora since aurora would be drowned out by the moon’s brightness. But these bands ran across the full length of the sky and were slowly moving… I rushed home to get my camera and tripod then headed out again.

We had strong winds that kept trying to knock my tripod over (despite it being set into an inch of ice), and the aurora kept appearing and stopping in different parts of the sky, so it was hard to photograph. Added onto that, my D5100 doesn’t have great sensitivity, so I couldn’t capture this at a decent frame rate to really show how fast-moving and detailed the sky was – but it’s still my best aurora clip yet!

After I got back home, the wind became more severe. There was a strong airflow coming *in* through the extractor in the bathroom. We lost power completely for several hours, and lost internet for several days. At the time of writing (five days later) many buildings here still have no internet connectivity – and out of the ones that do, none have wifi with easily-crackable WEP encryption for me to freeload :(.