Sunday, October 26, 2014

CNC Stuff

I've been doing a few things since getting my CNC mill running again. A month or so ago my friend Mitch was saying that he had a gear on his scooter that he needed to get off. The problem was that it was seized up pretty tightly with no real way to hold the gear without damage while he broke the nut loose.

We took a bunch of photographs and such, made a bunch of measurements via email... and I cut a part. It was a horrible failure. So... when I had the chance, I went to his place and took more measurements, tracings, and pictures... then made a new part. I honestly totally forgot about it until I saw this post for this video...

So it worked... yeay!

I need to come up with a project so I can teach Mitch some machining... just because I think it would be fun to do.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Eve needs emergency gallbladder surgery

Last Monday we got up like any other day, and Eve said her tummy was really hurting badly.

She asked me to run to the HEB (local grocery) to get her some things to make her feel better. When I go back she didn't look so good... and she said she needed to go to the hospital. I figured she probably had something bad to eat, she thought she had an ulcer.

It didn't take long for them to realize that she had a huge gallstone and that her gallbladder was damaged beyond repair... it needed to come out.

The surgery went very well... but she was still having some issues... they ran some tests and determined that she had another stone which had fallen into the duct between her liver and lower digestive tract... she needed a second surgery to get that out.

To cheer her up, I made a little video for her...

The second surgery went very well... and within a couple of days she was able to come home. We were home about 1/2 hour and she decided she wanted to go grocery shopping... so off we went.

We are both glad things went well... she is still recovering, but she is already feeling much better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mill - First big project (In a long while.)

My friend Wolf came over last night... he wants to build a CNC machine from scratch. He wants to be able to cut foam with a hot wire... all under CNC control. He drew up the first couple of parts... one of which is a plate about 10x11 (254x279mm) inches made from 1/4 inch (6mm) aluminum.

The part as laid out in Aspire Software

When we laid it all out, we took into consideration the mill's maximum 11.5 inch movement in then Y-Axis... but we didn't account for the overall size of the sheet. So when we tried to move to the area for the outside cut, it would hit the mill. We had to make all the drill holes, then the inside cut.

For the outside, we had to cut the bottom, move the head forward, then cut the top. We learned to be more careful in laying out the parts... but we managed to get it all done in one evening.

Here it is on the milling machine... I have the inner-hole cutting file shown on the control computer. It worked flawlessly and finished the part nicely.

Wolf and the finished part.

We have several more to make... so we are feeling pretty good about the project so far!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's Alive! - After 6 years, the mill is back online.

It has been an eternity since I left St Louis to start my new life here in Texas. My milling machine was carefully packed in grease and sat for about 6 years in my old garage before I had the space and resources to get it down here to Kyle Texas.

I've been bringing the machine back slowly... doing it right.

When I first made the conversion to CNC back in 2001, I pieced it together as best I could... but there were a lot of things I wanted to do differently. This time... I took my time and worked out how to do each part properly. I want the machine to be capable of more than it was, I want it safer, accurate, and smarter. Right now it's better than it ever was... but I still need to add automatic home position, and error checking.

In the past, if a driver failed, I had to quickly hit the emergency stop, and figure out how to reset everything.  When I finish the new electronics, it will automatically stop and save it's position so I can make repairs and take off right where it stopped. (or one command line before that.)

But for now... I was making several weights for the iGlide when I noticed some were drilled improperly... instead of throwing them out... this was the perfect opportunity to test out the mill on some solid steel.

How did it do?

Take a look and see!

I think it's running very nicely.

Keep checking in... I'll be giving a tour of the workshop and showing all our additions and tools.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Milling machine Progress #2 - Getting the machine back online.

I bought a Dell Optiplex computer for $99 and wired up an interface for the milling machine. I also got the parts that I ordered in the last update... so real progress is being made.

Once I get the final axis wired up... I should be able to mill some parts. That could happen as early as tomorrow if I am up to it. Been working quite a bit lately... I may just want to take some time off to chill out. Guess I'll have to see how I feel in the morning.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Milling update #1A - Minor progress.

Just a minor milling machine update... I connected the PC and got the spindle (main 3HP motor) to come on/off under computer control. I also got the wet/dry coolant relay working under computer control. I'm running LinuxCNC:

I connected up the X-axis and started running tests on it... it was behaving badly... moving fine in one direction, failing in the other. Running okay at moderate speed but failing and stalling at low speed. I decided to try another driver so I pulled one off the A-axis. This time as soon as I touched the shaft it went nuts. (Actually a good thing.) It told me that there was a loose mechanical connection. 

I tightened the screw and it worked flawlessly... but I noticed the encoder flexing badly. I needed a shaft coupler...  they allow the shaft to flex slightly without changing rotational movement.

I looked at McMaster Carr and found one... $22 each... then decided to look on Amazon. found a better one... $6.35 each. I ordered 4 of them... but they will take 17 to 22 days to get here. 

(I can wait... don't want to... but it will be worth it.)

I also ordered 4 magnetic switches at about $7.50 each. These won't care if they get grease or oil on them... and will detect metallic objects up to 11mm (0.4 inch) away. I'll have to come up with some kind of mount... should keep me busy until the shaft couplers get here.

 I'll set them up as homing switches. It will allow me to have the milling machine automatically detect the end of travel and not allow someone to run the machine farther than it is designed to go. It hasn't had that feature before... but Eve's mill does... so now I'll have it too.
How many guys have to compete with their wife to have the better CNC machine??? 
Crazy huh?

 Next update should have more video... stay tuned!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 6th - Mill Progress #1 - Testing 3-Phase Power

Wolf came over today and helped me connect up the 3-phase power converter. Not only does this beast need 220 volts... twice what is normally found in an American household... but instead of one power line... one phase... and a ground line... this monster takes THREE power lines.

The converter makes the other two and feeds all three to the mill for power... 3 horse power in this case.

How did it go???

I think it went well!

Next up... set-up a computer and wire up the electronics.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getting the Shop Ready - Making Changes

This weekend while Eve has been at work, I've been in the shop all day moving things around to make the place more usable. Even though there is now a massive milling machine in the heart of the garage... I was able to make more room for use to walk around and use the tools.

This is a view looking back at the rear wall. I have been doing some insulating so there is still some stuff on the floor by the Laguna mill. You can walk in the back door, have access to all the tools on the table, reach the supply shelves, and walk to the mill, grinder, lathe... and newest addition... refrigerator. 

I still have several boxes of stuff to go through... and likely I'll be selling/giving away more stuff. I need to turn this into a workspace where we can start making things for the Etsy page, craft fairs, etc. I also want to get to where my friends can come over and work on projects with me.

This is the view when you walk into the back door... nice wide isles... and you can actually reach everything. Still a bit cluttered... but I'm going to take a rest... see a movie,  and work on it during the week.

I'll add more when I make better progress. Looks like I may need to work on the air conditioner as the lightning strike seems to have taken it out as well as the Laser Engraver mother board. It also seems to have taken out the LED night nights and controller.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The mill has been successfully moved!

It's been five years in the making... but the milling machine is finally moved from St Louis to Kyle, TX. I'm really happy about that. I still have a great deal of work to do putting the electronics back together and getting it all calibrated. But overall... very happy and excited. It was an epic trip... we had delays, engine problems, and more delays... but all said and done... it's home.

I'll post more when I get the electronics up and the new computer loaded and calibrated. I'm hopeful to have some really cool projects in the near future. A special thanks to my friend Riley for all the help, putting up with me, and for doing a great job. I also want to thank Mitch Bergsma for loaning me a second GoPro camera to do the time-lapse videos... that really made the video great.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Moving the Mill - 3500 pounds, 890 miles - The big haul

It's moving day... we are pulling the mill from the spot it has been since 2002 and moving it 890 miles from Overland, MO to Kyle, TX.

Driving from IL to MO with the new trailer... nice view.

We needed to buy a new trailer because U-Haul won't allow the larger ones to go cross-country. Eve was very helpful in finding a great deal... I owe her a lot for that. So, $830 later... a new trailer.

The main body of the mill... the rest is in the truck.

The trailer is rated for 2,900 pounds (1315 Kg) but the whole mill and electronics weigh 3,500 pounds (1587 Kg) so we had to tear down the mill into "smaller" parts. Size is relative...  the motor alone is a "holy crap this is heavy" part... but compared to the "block-o-iron" that is the mill body... it's lightweight.

Seriously... did I just call a 75 pound (35 Kg) motor lightweight??

A 1989 truck pulling a 1987 milling machine... old school, epic, and awesome.

So the adventure begins... I'm in the hotel waiting for Riley to wake up... seems he needs more than 4 hours of sleep. (The slacker.... kidding!) But here was the mood last night when we finished loading up...

Hopefully we can get everything there in one piece... the trailer is 98% of it's rated weight. But they told me that it actually has a 3500 pound rating... but if they specify anything over 2900, it has to have it's own brakes. The trailer is fully refurbished... new bearings, wheels, etc. So... the adventure begins.  (It's the VERY LAST thing I had left in Missouri... whoo!)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Traveling Man - Lots of stuff going on...

I'm going to Virginia tomorrow... was supposed to go home, but I got a last-minute repair job call.

I know my boss is wondering why I groan a bit when I have to go from a programming job to a repair job... but I have my reasons.  When I program, I need a second monitor... so I have one suitcase with a monitor and my ever-present GoPro just in case I see neat stuff to video... and one suitcase with a week's worth of clothing and such.

When I go on a repair job, I don't need the second monitor... but I do need test equipment, spare parts, stuff like that... and my usual suitcase for clothing and such.

So what happens when I have to do both jobs on the same trip? 

I become Mr. Pack Mule.

Yes... each one of them is just under 50 pounds. MY original laptop is having issues... so I have it and my new one... plus the one for the test equipment... yup... three laptops. Gotta pull each one out and put it into a bin at security... that's gonna look like a small parade of trays with my shoes, phone, etc. I plan to get there early.

The Mill - The saga continues...

I tried to get the milling machine shipped next week... I raised the price, had an interested party, then all I needed to do was click "BOOK" and it would have been locked in. Before making it final, I asked if he could do the pickup between the 19th and 22nd because I would be in Missouri... He said he was broke down right now, and could I put the mill on a palette so he could pick it up tomorrow.

Just put it on a palette...

Well... IF I owned a forklift and could put it on a palette... I could put it on a trailer and take it myself. (Which is what I will have to do now.)  I never heard back from him again...

I just got a BID REJECTED message and that was it.

So... Plan-B.

I'll get some TX friends, buy an engine hoist... and do it myself. I think I see a YouTube video in the works. Yeah... pretty sure. More on this adventure later... I'm taking some friends to dinner to discuss when I get back.

Ya gotta plan ahead when you are going to move 3,200 pounds (1450 Kg) of equipment.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

A reflection of 2013 - posted a bit late.

I started writing this around November of 2013, but I never clicked the "Publish" button so it sat here until today, May 4th. Now I suppose it is a bit of reflection as as much as my thoughts for that time as it is still relevant; and I thought it should be included as part of my ramblings.

 In June I turned 53, and on my birthday, June 12th, my aunt Sandy Clark... my lifelong mentor, guide, and friend suddenly had a fatal heart attack and was gone. It reminded me that life is a temporary thing, a gift that we only experience for a relatively short time in the eternity of existence.

 I met a new friend around that time, someone who would become a big influence to me. He is a fellow YouTube videographer... and to put that into perspective, where I had 200 subscribers he had almost 80,000. His name is Mitch Bergsma, and this is his YouTube channel.

 He is very active whereas I found myself doing less and less. He motivates me, and I guess I inspire him when we build and create. It is an odd mix...he is 20 years my junior... but somehow it works. 

An example is when we went to Jacobs Well in Wimberly, TX. It's a very deep hole... 30 feet at the main column with a cave at the bottom. I would not have imagined myself free diving to the bottom... and yet I did.

I think we all need someone in our lives that does that... pushes our limits a bit more, drives us to be better in life.

I have found this drive and energy in Eve... we fight constantly... but in the wake of our arguments it forces each of us to look at things with a better perspective... and in the end, that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

I love her... honestly I do... and I'm hopeful that through it all we both become better people from the experience. So far, my life has been evolving each passing year... generally not as smoothly as I would like... but always for the better as we move through the years.

2014 - I got Married (again!) And the mill is ready to ship... what a great year!

Hello folks... is anyone really out there?

Lots has happened since my last post... I got married again... 3rd times the charm right?

Another big event is that I am now in a position to get my milling machine down from St Louis. As fate would have it... I needed to go to St Louis for work... so while here I prepped the huge machine for shipping.

Before Prep Work

 After Pulling the motor and prepping.

The machine weighs about 3,200 pounds (1450 Kg)... yes folks... that's 1.5 tons of fun. The garage door is 81 inches tall (2.05 Meters)... with the 5HP motor and Z-axis mounted... 95 inches (2.4 meters) it was NOT going to fit through the garage door. Taking them off just got it down to size.

78 1/2 inches tall. (About 2 meters)

Nothing about this machine is small... here is the power supply for the machine... it has a 220 VAC to 70 VDC system. I had it running from 115 VAC and was getting about 30 VDC for the motor drives... but on the reinstall, I'm going to go for FULL POWER and even higher speed. (Scary stuff.)

Power Supply

It took three of us to get the motor unmounted and on the floor safely... it weighs at least 60 pounds (27Kg) by its self, the biggest issue was getting the belt off the V-belt tension unit and lifting the motor off the mounting plate. (See below)

 Motor Mounting Plate

To do it, you have to stand on top of the mill, put a steel bar through some chain rings, then lift the motor while a second person uses a screwdriver to work the belt of the pulley. Then you and a partner have to lift it off and balance it on the head of the mill. The other person shifts position to the front of the mill, and you heft this motor up and over... handing it down to the two people on the ground to receive it. (Like I said... nothing on this machine is easy.)

Motor (Left) and Z-Axis (Right)

Afterward I decided to lay the Z-Axis on the bed and wrap with packing plastic to keep it from getting beat up. I wrapped the motor as well as possible too to protect the spring plate and pulley assembly too. 

All prepped and ready to go. Motor in foreground wrapped in plastic.

I manually turned the screws and cranks... still feels fine... everything still moves smoothly. I guess my packing EVERYTHING in a thick coat of grease worked well. Once I get it shipped home, I'll have to strip everything on the mill down, and while doing that, I'll rewire it and install new limit switches and other safety features. It's gonna be a HUGE project... so if you like machines... stay tuned.

 Hummm... I should do a video... or two.