Welcome to the Olive Frog Designs mechanical design blog. Thanks for stopping by! Nikki here. I’m a mechanical designer by day designing physical, mechanical things. Since I can’t get enough of it, I also design things at home in my spare time. I love designing and building things and documenting aspects of those projects in creative ways. 

This website was created to share my projects and the process of creating them, in the hope that others may find it helpful. I’ll share insights on tools and techniques for computer-aided drafting and design and part fabrication. Fabrication methods may include 3D printing, sculpting, mold making and casting, and finishing techniques. Some parts may even be custom made by small-scale manufacturing services for machining.

I’m going to be as real and honest as possible here. I won’t hide my mistakes and hiccups; you’ll see all my blunders. There will be no posturing or pretending I know all the answers or I’m always right and full of confidence. Even if it makes me seem incompetent, slow, or like I should be reconsidering my profession, I will pose whatever questions I need answers to and then go find the answers and share them here. Even if nobody reads this blog, at least I’ll have a repository to refer back to when I forget whatever I learned.

Posting Format

In the Project Notes section of the website, choose a project and you’ll find posts about the design of that project, starting with the objective of the project; why I’m designing/building the project. 

Following the objective, is project milestones, a checklist of steps to take to get from the desire to build a project, to a completed project. The list will be updated as the project progresses and I discover more things I need to do, break-down broad steps into smaller steps or even change design direction.

Next, the end-use requirements are listed, where I prioritize high-level features, and user needs that the completed project must include. For example, if I were designing an oven, some high-level end-user requirements might be:

Creating an end-user requirements list leads me to be realistic about what a finished project needs to be, and by extension, what it does not need to be. This defined list is intended to keep me focused on the aspects of the project that really matter, and ensure I don’t forget to include anything important. Prioritizing the lists makes it clear which requirements are more important than others so that if a decision must be made that may conflict with another requirement, it’s clear which requirements take precedence over others.

The engineering requirements are next. This is a list of specifications required to meet the end-user requirements. These specifications may include size, materials, operating temperature, environmental considerations, etc. A few engineering requirements for the oven described above may be:

The engineering requirements will also be updated as I continue to research and design a project. I certainly haven’t always followed this design process, in fact this is a new process for me. I picked it up from a fictiv.com blog where they posted about the importance of creating a Product Requirements Document (PRD),and writing an Engineering Requirements Document (ERD)

I’ve tweaked the formatting and verbiage a bit to fit my personal design and blogging purposes as opposed to the team-based product development purposes it is intended for, but the core function and methodology still applies.

After all that preparatory stuff, I can finally get down to the fun part, research, design, and build, all of which will be posted following all those planning posts. So let’s get this thing started! Click on a project in the current projects section to follow along.