David Phillips

About Me

I’ve been working as a level designer, developer and server operator for over 3 years. I’m currently studying a double degree of Engineering Mechatronics and Computer Science at Monash University. I love to learn and pickup new skills and expand and hone those which I already have. In my spare time I like to get out both in nature and in the city with my camera, hiking and exploring. I also am an avid maker, using both wood and metal to create a wide range of projects. Check out down below to see some of my projects and media.



Hardwood Desk with integrated PC

Inspired by the desk created by Zac Builds and found here, I decided to build my own hardwood desk which would house both my camera equipment and PC. Though similar to the design linked in aesthetic, the dimensions, features and actual design do differ to a significant degree. 

I began by selecting the timber I would be using for my cabinets. It was important I did this all at once so that I could ensure that I had both enough timber and that it matched one another. This was important as otherwise I may reach a stage in my production where I’d have to compromise on the look of the timber in order to complete the build. After I had selected the timber, I was to use I cut all the pieces to the lengths then use the jointer to dress one side and then use the table saw to cut them to the desire 140mm width.

Following this I sanded them and then started matching them with one another to form the panels. It was important that these smaller sections matched both in their appearance and physically, with gaps between planks minimised. After these panels had been laid out, I simply had to mark where the biscuits were to go and then cut the biscuit slots into the wood.

Next I put the various panels together and sanded them. This begun by using clamps, glue and most importantly biscuits to make the widening joints to construct the panels and shelves for the two cabinets. Additionally, while these were drying, I began to cut all the pieces I would need for the drawers which go into the cabinets. Aside from this the rest of the week was spent sanding down all the panels ensuring all glue was removed and no joints could be felt by touch and they visibly looked smooth.

While the shelves were drying and being sanded, I had the four vertical panels cut down to size on the table saw including a mitre cut along the top edge. I also marked up the side panels in preparation for the rebate along the bottom edge and the stop trenches in the middle section. I was then able to use the router with its fence to rout out these and then finish and square them off with a chisel. This process was then repeated for all four panels.

Once this was all complete then I was able to the cut the mitres in the top shelves as well as  cutting the biscuits slots used in the joint. Finally in order to make the shelves fit into their respective rebates and trench I had to sand back both the panel grooves and the edges of the shelves.

Once this was all complete then I was able to the cut the mitres in the top shelves as well as  cutting the biscuits slots used in the joint. Finally in order to make the shelves fit into their respective rebates and trench I had to sand back both the panel grooves and the edges of the shelves. Next I assembled everything I had created up to that point. This primarily involved the assembly of the two cabinets. 

This required me to use a large number of clamps to ensure that the cabinets remained square throughout the drying process. Due to the difficulty of sanding certain areas, I was also careful not to leave any glue around the joints. In addition to the assembly of the cabinets I also found the time to assemble the vertical drawers.

Following the creation of the cabinets I began looking at what would be attaching to them. For the under desktop drawers the assembly which houses them attaches directly to the cabinets. Therefore, I began to cut these pieces and drill the holes which would allow me to attach them. Additionally larger holes had to drilled into both these side pieces and the cabinets themselves to allow for cable routing through the desk. I had to use the drill press to drill these into the side pieces as well as the cabinets as the drill bit required significant torque and pressure. Due to the bulky size of the cabinets I had to lower the drill presses platform significantly and prop the cabinets on that.

Next I began work on the desktop itself. This required me first selecting the timber I would use and them laying it out. I decided to use four 3m long pieces as it meant that all 3 sections of the desktop could come from a single length, this would allow me to have a matching grain on all three faces improving the aesthetics. I cut all the pieces for both the desktop itself and the side pieces. I then marked up the wood and cut the biscuit slots. Following this using a lot of biscuits glue and clamps I was able to create the desktop. Next came the laborious task of sanding down both sides of the desktop.


After this I did a lot of sanding; the large surface of the desktop took a lot of sanding due to small unevenness in the timber after being joined. Additionally, the glue being used had a tendency to go black on drying and soak into the wood. This meant that some time had to spent to sand back the wood to remove these imperfections.

I pretty repeated the same process to create the two side panels. They were glued and clamped together in the same way and then significant time was also spent sanding them down to be smooth to match the desktop.


Next was the was the under desk assembly, this involved using the existing pieces and attaching them to their cross pieces. The rear cable storage bottom attached to its vertical piece using biscuits while everything else used butt joints with countersunk screws and glue. I also then used the measurements from this to dictate the dimensions of its draws and then in turn cut and construct them.

The desk really began to take shape this at this point with the desktop and cabinets all looking ready to be fitted together. However, I spent most of this week with a router cutting out the rebates in both the rears of the cabinets and the bottoms of the drawers. This was intended to allow for a recessed plywood sheet to then be attached to them.

Continuing this I was able to attach the desktop to its two side pieces. This was a big step in the project and one I really didn’t want to mess up. I spent most of the week ensuring that the rest of my project was ready for this step. Making sure all pieces had their necessary cable routing holes, all the drawers were done and had the plywood bottoms attached.

At this point the desk properly went past the point of no return. I started off by cutting the desktop and side pieces to length before cutting a mitre into them for the joint. As well as then cutting a mitre along one edge as it was a part of the design of the desk and allowed for access to the draw fronts to act as handles. Once this was done, I used the biscuiter to cut the biscuit slots into the ends ready for the mitre joint. 


Finally, it was time to attach everything together. This was a stressful moment as everything had to be square and line up with each other. It took a lot of clamps and small adjustments in order attach everything so that it was in line. In particular making sure the corners met at exactly the right point and neither overlapped one another. I also then used some smaller clamps to hold a set square in each corner of the desktop to make sure that the joints remained square through the entirety of the drying process.

I had to now start thinking about how I’d eventually assemble the desk. This was an important consideration as due to its size and weight it would be difficult to move. For this reason, I planned for it to come apart by unscrewing and allowing for it to be moved in pieces. This required me to perfectly line up all the pieces and drill matching holes for it to eventually be assembled with. This took significant time and effort as time parts were a fraction too large to fit in. For example, I had to spend some time sanding the centre assembly so it could fit between the two cabinets.

Next step was to carefully attach the drawer runners ensuring they were square and in the correct position. I then used pieces of plywood to keep consistent spacing before then attaching the drawers to their respective runners. This was a bit finnicky as lining up the long runners so that the thinner top drawers would not run into one another took a lot of trial and error. This problem was so prevalent because of the drawers only being attached on one side and the bottom. Meaning they would not self align, and instead follow the alignment of the bottom rail.

Then came the difficult part of cutting the slits for the intake vent for the PC. The majority of the wood was removed via drop saw. However, to remove the corners I had to use both a file and a chisel to slowly chip away at it and square up the edges. This resulted in the board partially splitting a few times, however this was remedied with some wood glue and a clamp and is not obvious to the eye.

Finally it was time to attach all the drawer faces to the desk and make sure they were correctly spaced and looked even. This step was very important as the front of the cabinet would be the most visible side and would impact heavily how the end product looked. The faces were attached simply using some glue and countersunk 30mm screws. I also then started sanding the entirety of the desk in preparation for the finish to be put on the product. I also spent some time researching possible metal legs to be used.


Other finished touched included sanding and preparation for the varnishing of the product. I had to be careful with this as some parts were to be joined together and these were not to be varnished at all to ensure that fit together. Additionally I had to be careful that the varnish did not impede the functionality of the product especially with regards to the drawer runners.

Pretty much all that was left to do was attach the cabinets to the desktop and varnish the whole desk. I ended up choosing a satin water based varnish rather than a gloss as I wanted to be able to see more the true colour of the wood.

Electric Camera Follow Focus

Due to coming down with Covid in mid 2022, I had some extra time on my hands so decided I’d build myself an electric follow focus to control zoom or focus on my camera for my upcoming media project. Previously I had just 


Motor Housing Design

I began by designing the motor housing which would attach to the 15mm tubes used for mounting to a camera rig. I took a picture of the motor and its mounting holes from the top down to and then using some callipers took its exact measurements. This allowed me to then model around in knowing that the actual motor would fit correctly and be secure. I then combined this mount with an attachment for the tube and this gave me the part which would physically move the rings.

The Code

From here I began working on the code and control side of the project. I wanted to future proof the design by allowing remote connection to the device which could allow for remote control of the camera if it was hard to reach. Originally, I planned to use an RF transmitter and receiver however they had issues so instead I switched to a Wi-Fi based communications system. 

This system works by creating a webserver on the host board to handle incoming signals, then it creates a local wifi network acting as a router which the other board can then connect to and communicate with. This also allows for other devices such as a phone or laptop to connect. The manual control is done through an analogue potentiometer which is then converted to a digital signal and used to control the movement of the motor. Finally there is a green light which indicates when a signal is being received.

Circuit Design

To plan out my circuit before creating it I used a piece of software called Fritzing. This allowed me to plan out the whole circuit with the different components and draw the traces. This was important as it prevented possible issues to do with components not fitting or making the wrong cuts or traces.

Board Assembly

Thanks to my planning the board assembly was relatively easy and straightforward. I began by drilling the mounting holes into the breadboard using a Dremel. Then I used some painters tape to hold the components in place whilst I soldered them to the board. Then using the soldering iron I made the traces needed and attached any wires. Finally I used the Dremel to cut the disconnects in the copper traces to prevent any short circuits.

Case Design and Final Assembly

To create the case for the main board, similar to the motor housing, I took a picture of the board and measured the distances between the mounting holes are added stand offs for it to mount to. I then also added slots in where the ports and LED were and designed a special place where the USB C board could slide in and be hot glued in place. This ended up taking two 3D prints to make, as the first one due to how it was printed, had a weak mounting point and could not securely attach to the rods.

In order to mount the board I sanded down
the corners to make it fit and bolted it in place. Before then attaching the
potentiometer to the top cover and bolting it on top and completing the
construction. Then I installed the board and screwed it into the standoffs in the case. The USB C port was then slid into place and both it and the LED was hot glued for added stability. Once this was done I mounted the potentiometer to the lid and screwed it in place.

Train Project

The initial inspiration for this project came from some filming I did for an assignment shot on the old Cranbourne to Leongatha train line. This line closed in the early 90s leaving almost all its track still there and intact. Being two engineers with multiple months on our hands, my then star of the film Marcus and I realised that these tracks could possibly be used again by some sort of small train cart.

Upon further researched we discovered that across both Victoria the surrounding states, there is a vast network of disused railway lines. These have often close due to lack of passenger demand compared to cost of upkeep; or poor harvests and droughts making freight unviable. This sad fact did however mean there were hundreds of kilometers of track left unused and often overgrown throughout Victoria and often New South Wales and South Australia. In a bid to hopefully rediscover some of the lost history of these pipelines of industry, Marcus and I made it our mission to try and once again take a train down these rails. However first we needed to make ourselves a train.

Unfortunately most existing trains happen to be large, heavy, rather expensive and usually in use. So we had to think of a way to build one pretty much from scratch. Luckily over lockdown we had decided to pickup welding for a previous project meaning fabricating a frame which was both light and portable would be possible.

The first step was to figure out the wheels, due to reasons such as size, weight, cost and inability to move something that large, normal train wheels were highly impractical. This meant either finding some small wheels from something like a mine cart or making our own. We did consider creating some the wheels by getting some steel and turning it down on a lathe. However there were also issues with this mainly cost and access to a lathe. Luckily before we had to bodge together something we were able to acquire some small wheels off a cart.

Construction info coming soon

Level Design


The Alamo

San Jacinto


Open Meadows

Jungle Valley


Port City

Simple Camp


Landscape and Environments