IMTS 2018 Manufacturing Fair in Chicago

My visit to the MHUB/NYC CNC event also allowed me to visit the IMTS 2018 manufacturing show in Chicago.   My goodness what an event.  Lots of walking and lots of drooling over the latest technology for wasting metal.   Some of the machines were almost as large as my home in the UK.   I have never seen so many cutting tools.

I did fall in love however …. with the Datron Neo milling machine.  It has a small footprint but a big punch with a 40k RPM spindle, 24 position tool changer with tool checking and an astonishingly elegant software user interface.  It is way out of my pocket but for a small prototyping shop or educational establishment I think it will be very attractive.

I also picked up a Centroid Acorn OEM machine controller board which looks like a panacea for Mach3/4 based systems.  More will follow on this as we get to grips with it.

So a good trip all round.  Two good events.  Two aching feet.  Some nice memories of a very beautiful city.

‘The Bean’ on the Chicago lake front.

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NYC CNC at MHUB Chicago

Rather than have the annual Open House at his factory in Zannesville, John Saunders at NYC CNC decided to have a joint event in Chicago at the MHUB facility under the banner of a Manufacturing Entrepreneurship Summit.

The format was for key presentations together with the attraction of having a tour of the MHUB setup which is a resource facility for product development.

John Grimsmo, a highly respected knife maker, told of his ups and downs prior to his current success.  This was followed by Jay Pierson telling his not dissimilar path to his company’s success in the machining work holding market.

After a break for a tour of the facilities there was an update from AutoDesk regarding developments on their wide portfolio of engineering software with particular interest in Fusion 360.   There was then a closing Q and A session.

The tour revealed the breadth and depth of the resources available to external organisations at MHUB to help get a product to market.   An extensive mechanical workshop, 3D printing, electronic workbenches and software development are just a few of the tools and resources available.   It was impressive.

The afternoon and evening passed quickly and it was good to see some familiar faces from my visit to last years Open House and the training course I attended in Zanesville.

John Saunders in checked shirt flanked by Jay Pierson, John Grimsmo

As I sat listening to Jay and John I could not help but identify with how they had got to where they are and the parallels with my business days.  We may be many years apart but we have all suffered the same ups and downs, long hours etc that are an essential part of getting to success.

An excellent event.

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NYC CNC Open House in Chicago this weekend coming

My travel agent (aka my adorable wife) has got my airline tickets ready so I can attend John Saunders’ Open House bash at MHUB this Sunday coming in Chicago with 3 days afterwards at IMTS 2018.

Hopefully I will meet up with some of the friends I met at the NYC CNC training week and last year’s Open House plus all the new contacts that I have made via this blog.   Also hoping to be blown away with seeing new technology (totally out of my budget) at IMTS.

Looking forward to it ! More to follow !

Woody

Imaging Astronomy in France

We are fortunate that our house in France is in a small village in the middle of nowhere, on top of a hill and with very little light pollution.   As a consequence I have installed a 10.25″ Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain telescope so that I can do some star watching.  I think the only other place where I have seen better skies is in the middle of a desert in Namibia.   It can be absolutely breathtaking  to see the Milky Way in its full glory and some of the star clusters are mind blowing.

One of my closest and  long standing friends John lives near Limoges and he is similarly smitten by things mechanical, optical and horological.   He recommended that I invested in a webcam to mount on my telescope to take some digital imagery of the planets.    As a result I picked up a NexImage Celestron camera on Ebay and was ready to experiment.

The process is fairly simple (in theory) ….. you find a planet and lock the telescope to it and then record a few seconds or minutes of video.   The video is made up of frames and you use software to select the best frames and then stack the frames ‘on top of each other’ to enhance the image.   (iCap to get the video footage, PIPP to filter the best images, Registax to stack the images). The results are startling in that you start with a wobbly blob in the eyepiece and end up with a pretty clean image of the planet in question.   Thankfully there is a lot of help and assistance out on YouTube to get you to a result.

So here is my first attempt at Jupiter which I was pretty pleased with.

celestron-icap-pipp-registax
Jupiter image processed with Registax

Yes I know you might be thinking how many other things does this guy play at ?? ….

Some people when they get to mature years want to travel the world and see places.  I just like to make things, experiment with stuff, stretch and widen my technical knowledge.   Do stuff that I never had time to do while busy working in order to give me me time and resources to do stuff when I stopped working ….. keeping the grey matter active.

Fortunately I have a wife that tolerates my eccentricity and for that I am eternally grateful.

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    Tower Clocks and Cooke of York

    We live in a small village and the local church has a tall spire with a tower clock movement.  Some while ago my friend Dave and I were invited to have look at the workings of the clock which was quite interesting.   The clock is still hand wound twice per week and it does not have any added technology to maintain the time keeping accuracy.  This was some time ago and I thought nothing more of it.

    My local village church and clock
    Church clock movement by T Cooke of York in the village church

    I am a member of the British Horological Institute (BHI) and attend the local meetings once per month.   Earlier this year the subject for the monthly lecture was the Tower Clocks of Cooke of York.   This was particularly poignant for me having spent my early years growing up in the York area.   To my surprise that evening I discovered that the clock here in the village was a Cooke clock.   For those interested the presenter of the talk, Darlah Thomas together with her husband have produced a book on the Cooke family containing a listing and description of the known Cooke clock installations and indeed the optical devices the company produced.  It is a splendid volume worthy of any coffee table collection.

    ISBN 978-0-9573733-3-4
    Turret Clocks of T Cooke of York by Steve and Darlah Thomas

    So back to the story …. the village clock, a Cooke clock and I was living in its shadow.

    At the meeting I met David Pawley who spends his life maintaining tower clock movements throughout the south of England.   You can read his website Tower Time here.  I mentioned where I lived and he asked if I would mind helping him with some maintenance on the village clock here in my village.   He had been waiting for the striking mechanism to wind down so the weights were fully dropped and the time was rife to lubricate and check the strike pulley system.   We spent a pleasant morning doing the necessary work and I enjoyed the experience.

    During the activity David asked if I could further help him to remove the dials from another tower clock in the local area.   The tower was on a farm estate and of wooden construction.   The woodwork was in need of repair which necessitated a temporary removal of the dials and motion work.   Dave (my friend) and myself duly turned up on the day to help David Pawley and had yet another interesting time working on and removing the items in question.

    What impresses me is that these clocks have run for years and years.   The technology available when they were designed and built was basic yet here are movements that keep to seconds accuracy after all these years.

    I would not be offending David Pawley if I say he is not young and I would compliment him by saying that he carries an enormous accumulation of knowledge and skills.  One day his knowledge and skills will pass into history and I do not see a new generation filling that gap.   There are a lot of tower clocks in the UK and I can’t see a new generation coming forward to fill the need for maintenance.

    Farm estate tower clock
    Clock mechanism

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