Tormach PCNC440 blood donning solved

Hands up all those owners of a Tormach PCNC440 who regularly skin their hands, mostly their thumb knuckle, on the corners of the X axis stainless front skirt ? 

I have tried to de-burr both corners but to no avail.  It is just lethal to get anywhere near them when rummaging for a dropped part in the swarf (chips) or cleaning out the pan (do people do that or is it just me ?).

After a recent blood letting I decided enough was enough and fitted some electrical endless grommet around both corners.   You have to nick out a 90 notch to allow the grommet to follow the curve but that aside job done.  Hopefully less expletives in the workshop from now on but there again there will always be broken tools and Haimer tips to contend with.

electrical grommet protecting the skirt sharp corner
Electrical grommet protecting the X axis skirt sharp corners

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Haimer Taster and vacuum table retrospective thoughts

Today while in the workshop running a CNC metalwork job and then following this with running a quick PCB artwork, the following came to mind.

These days since I bought the ITTP Hallmark probe I rarely use my Haimer Taster to do my referencing.  It still has its uses but less and less so.   A good example is when remounting the CNC vice on the tooling table. I use the Haimer to give me a running check on the vice jaw axis tracking.  Beyond that the ITTP in conjunction with PathPilot probing routines meet all my referencing needs to a level of accuracy that suits.

The other thing that stuck me is how automated my process for milling printed circuit board prototypes has become.   Fusion 360 Electrical module becomes more familiar to me with each passing project. It exports my PCB designs as Gerber files to import into FlatCAM.   After a few clicks in FlatCAM I have a GCode file for drilling and routing.   The PCB blank is gripped on my small vacuum table ready for milling and the ITTP probe references the spindle.   My recent use of kitchen anti-slip material as the sacrificial layer between PCB and vacuum table top surface has made the grip on the vacuum table so much easier to achieve.  The overall PCB process, whether single or double sided, has become quick, easy and repeatable.   Once the board is milled I can get a reasonable looking tinned finish using a hand soldering iron and copious amounts of flux.

Techniques almost subconsciously evolve and sometimes you need to step back and see how far you have come along the road.  The alternative view might be that this ‘lazy man’ has just become even more lazy.

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Engineering Video Favourites Updated List

As the months (and years !) have passed while authoring this site, my favourite YouTube sites have morphed and changed as my skill level and interests have become more focussed.   The other aspect is that many of my early favourites have just faded away and now rarely post if at all.  I guess it takes a great deal of commitment to create regular footage over a long period of time so it is understandable that people come and go.

At the risk of everyone clicking and leaving, here is a share of the sites I now look forward to visiting and viewing : –

Top of the list is Clough42 for his highly professional, regular posts on home workshop activity but key for me is his use of Fusion 360 for all his engineering modelling.

I met Jimmy Diresta at NYC CNC in 2016 and I love to watch his almost ‘off the cuff’ creations in metal and wood.

For TIG welding I have watched many sources but Pacific Arc TIG Welding is my current favourite and Dusty does some amazing stainless TIG welding artworks.

I need to mention This Old Tony even though he has been absent from the scene for a long period.  He is now back and on top form.

Then of course for serious CNC activity there is John Saunders and John Grimsmo.  Both these guys have done incredibly well as they have emerged from their garages and blossomed into YouTube stars.

Finally a less well know site for Fusion 360 is Mechanical Advantage hosted by Kevin who was my instructor on the NYC CNC Fusion 360 course.  Really nice guy and always helpful if you have a problem.

So that is my current short list of ‘ones to watch’.   If you haven’t discovered any of them then check them out.   But don’t forget to come back here every now and then just in case I get up to something interesting.

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Experiences with SFR – Orange – FreeBox in France

We have been to France, hence the lack of posts.  Initially the idea was for 3 weeks to sort out the house and make sure all was good before winter but we ended up staying for over 5 weeks.

Why ?  Well there was the weather which was stunning over the whole period. Then there was our broadband connection.

Until June 2021 our broadband to the house was arranged by UK Telecom who subcontracted to SFR locally in France.   UK Telecom decided to change to Orange as the provider so our broadband got chopped in June while Orange took up the reigns …. or not as the case maybe.

We arrived in September and still no broadband via UK Telecom from Orange.   I visited the local Orange Boutique and they were keen to subscribe us directly to their fibre service which is now available in the village.  We signed up and 2 weeks later had heard no more.  Promised installation dates came and went with no contact or visit and we stayed in specially for these dates.   After my third visit to the Boutique we told them we were no longer interested and to cancel the contract. This they did without quibble.

We then went to FreeBox who are a new kid on the block.   Same routine, keen to sign us up, promises of dates etc.   Nothing further.   So we did not have a broadband connection at the house and had to depend on Vodafone roaming for the 5 weeks we were there. This meant buying another 2GB of data to keep us connected.

I am working on what the plan will be for the next visit … should we go back to SFR direct ?

We love France and we love the local people.   I don’t know what it is about businesses in Frances that makes them incapable of managing customer expectations.  We are blessed in the UK with a high probability that if you email a company you will get an answer or at least an acknowledgement of your message.   This probably spoils us when we are in France where there is an enduring black hole of little or no comms or at least no timely comms in response to messaging them.   This assumes that they give you a contact email address but usually they hide behind web based decoupling. You would think that the likes of Orange or Free as communications companies … would communicate ?

Rant over.

Back to the workshop and am I am trying to remember what was work-in-progress 5 weeks ago.

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Mach3 alternative GUI

A Refreshing New GUI

It seems that many user of Mach3 CNC control software love the concept but hate how it is presented as a user interface.   I tend to agree as I used to tolerate it on my small CNCEST milling machine.  It is certainly not a patch on Tormach’s PathPilot.

While browsing YouTube I came across Physics Anonymous and enjoyed a rant by them about Mach4 and then the joy of seeing their version of a Mach3 GUI which I have to say was a breath of fresh air improvement.

If you hate your Mach3 GUI then have a look at what they are offering as a free download.   It isn’t totally bug free but an upgrade is promised.

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