Current Status and Cross Fertilisation of Assets

Not getting a lot done in the workshop at the moment.   Major distraction with the soccer World Cup (we dare to dream …) plus some garden engineering projects have kept me away from things.

It’s great how workshop resources have a significant use and payback when doing other activity.   We had to stake some sleepers (not sure if this is a universal name – the wooden beams used to lay railway steels on) in a new feature in the garden and these needed staking together with through rods.

The Kennedy hacksaw came into play to cut the rods to length and the bench grinder to sharpen the ends to penetrate the soil.    The SDS drill was indispensable to cut the holes in the sleepers etc etc.    All of which justifies the acquired assets to the lady of the house so some points scored.

I also want to install a new desk in the office in our house in France.  The current one is running out of space for the IT router, switch, CCTV DVR, ham radio transceiver, computer etc etc.  I debated buying the materials to make a desk but then looked on EBay and found a complete desk for GBP10 in easy pick up distance.   While picking it up the seller had a drawer unit in poor condition that she threw in for free.   After a day’s remedial work I have a good looking desk with some new chrome handles that were on offer at the local DIY store.   Total material cost under GBP15 which can’t be bad.  I just have to transport it to France on the next run along with all the other items currently stacked up ready to go.  The car could be low on the suspension.

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Holiday Twitching

I know it has been quiet for a couple of weeks but we took a holiday to get some sunshine, some golf, some snorkeling, some eating and sleeping.  Much enjoyed but I am starting to twitch now and need to get back into the workshop.  Still it has given me time to think about the next project and I have had time to book for the NYC CNC Open House in Chicago in September.

I got a Dell XPS13 from EuroPC just before we left home which I have been playing with under the guise of sitting ‘relaxing’ on a lounger.  I am impressed with it as a machine.  Nice screen,  decent battery life and quick to boot.   It came with Win10 Pro which I had never ventured into and while it has some nice touches I still prefer Win 7.   I managed to download all the apps I needed at the airport lounge before we left (including Fusion …) so it has been fun to play but you need a real job to do in order for things to sink in and to learn.  Incidentally I did a speed test at the airport and was staggered to see 100Mbps download and upload speeds with a few ms ping time so clearly on fibre.

I also downloaded a load of books onto the Kindle to keep me occupied and was impressed by Los Alamos by Joseph Kanon which is a ‘who done it’ woven around the Manhattan Project.  This lead me to Wiki to refresh me on the background on Trinity etc.  Incredible engineering and if I have my dates correct, no CNC systems to manufacture the parts.

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Back to It, ducting and mill turning (again)

Back from France

Two weeks in France flew past and all we seemed to do was jobs around the place.  Weather pretty mixed but one very hot day which of course was the day before we left.   Surprise surprise.  It has since been very hot out there but equally the weather here has been excellent.

Background Air Extract System

I have often been slightly concerned about fumes in the workshop.  You know the pervasive smell of cutting fluid and welding smoke etc so first job back was to install a background extract system.   My colleague Dave arrived this morning and between us we put in a fan and ducting to vent through a custom roof tile (shingle ?).   OK the draft won’t rip your clothes off but it will just keep the air moving especially in winter when the hatches are battened down.

Mill Turning Tooling Jig

Having tested mill turning with a Heath Robinson set up I have been accumulating parts to create a proper custom jig to fit on the 440 table.  This will take 3 turning tools, 3 ER16 collets for drill bit holding, a centre drill and a boring bar.   Currently it is drawn in Fusion 360 but there are one or two issues to sort before committing to CAM.   More to follow once it is fully underway.

G53 Tool Change Location Update

Another update (not yet resolved) is my G53 tool change routine which has a slight weakness.   As previously mentioned the Tormach post processor does not always put a WCS following a tool change.   To overcome this I was hard coding a G54 after the new G53 tool change routine.   The problem is that occasionally I might not be using WCS G54 but any one of the eight other available references. So some extra code is going to be needed to make the WCS a variable that mirrors the WCS being used.   Head scratching so far reveals that the post processor sees the WCS as a number from 1-9 and then converts this to G54 through G59.3 in a separate sub routine.  I need somehow to overcome this.  More to follow on this one too.

Sign Off

Anyway good to be back in the UK (and the workshop), great weather for the last three days and it looks we are going to sit out on the terrace tonight with steak and chips washed down with a glass or two of red. Takes some beating.

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Open Thinking when Solving a Problem

I think I have mentioned this before …. when you have different ways to solve a problem it is often easy to get locked off into a long winded but potentially elegant solution and miss the point.

3D printing has brought this home to me on a number of occasions.

An example – I have variable speed controllers on my Myford Lathe and Myford mill.   The controllers are identical and each have an ON and OFF push button.  The bezel around the ON button on one of these had cracked and come away leaving the switch floating in its mounting hole.

My first reaction was to replace the switch.  I contacted the controller supplier to ask for a part number and distribution source to buy a new switch.  They ignored my email which was fortunate as I would probably have ordered a complete new switch assembly.  I would then have had all the grief of stripping down the controller case and wiring in the new switch.   This would probably have invalidated any warranty etc etc.

Instead I stepped back and looked at the problem from a different angle.  The bezel while broken still had enough of the ring and thread intact and simply needed gluing back together.   However it would not have been strong long term.   What it needed was an outer strengthening ring.

Fusion 360 called and the Sindoh 3D printer.   A ring was designed and printed  (20 minutes) and the bezel strengthened and made good.   I also printed three more rings and put these around the remaining three switch bezels as a preventative action should they also weaken and crack.

A simple, low cost and effective solution with the added benefit of reduced downtime in the future.   But the point is that it wasn’t the first solution I was considering correct though it might have been.

3D printing is such a useful resource to have available but you need to think outside of your normal approach to a problem to realise its potential.

Sorry that wasn’t mega interesting but I thought it worth sharing …

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Heading home from France and Welding Course

Well we came out for the New Year to France with lots of jobs to do and both ended up totally incapacitated with flu.  Not felt so miserable in a long time and now totally weak and wobbly.

We did manage to get the new office sorted and it’s nice to sit here working in it.

We have decided to leave early and stay overnight near Tours on the run to the ferry.  The prospect of the normal 7 hour drive in one hit did not appeal to either of us.

You know what, if you are going to be ill, it is best done at your home with your own bed and I am really looking forward to unlocking the front door on Tuesday.

Wednesday night looms exciting however as my mate and I have registered on a 21 hour introduction to Welding Course over the next 7 weeks.  Got to get back on my feet ready for that.   Hopefully some new skills to be added to my very mature CV …

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