Quick and Dirty Combo PC board & Box

PCB/box combo ready to go after a bit of deburring.

Maybe when you get a new hammer, everything is *not* a nail, but when you have CNC, everything turns into a CNC project ;-). I used to hand-cut a lot lot of copper-clad circuit board material for a variety of projects. It was a quick and dirty way to get stuff built, but cutting PC traces and peeling copper with a hobby knife is slow and hard on your hands.

After needing more than one of this little test box, I turned the board AND box into a quick CNC-cut “kit”, much like model airplane parts.  Continue reading

Smartphone Microscope Mount

I needed to get decent images off a microscope in fairly short order. Though I was in a “rush”, it still took a full day to get to a working solution. It is still incredible to me how much time it takes to make something that doesn’t obviously suck.

Phone mount clamped to eyepiece. Unfortunately I couldn’t show a phone in place because I need my phone to take the shot. The phone mounts between to two cork pads.

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Emco Maximat V10P lathe QC gearbox bearing replacement

Years back I managed to find one of those “dream” home shop machinery deals. An Emco Maximat V10P lathe was sitting in a dusty pile at the back of a bike shop in Alameda, CA. This is a very much sought-after home shop machine. The shop owner said the machine was taking up space, so we made a deal and it followed me home for a more-than-fair price. It’s been a great lathe, but was in far from tip-top shape and has needed some TLC and upgrades. One thing that I’d been meaning to address for long time, is that oil constantly dribbled out of the quick-change gearbox onto my bench. What follows details that fix.

Emco Maximat V10P after most of the fixes/upgrades

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Bose L1 Tower PA Repair

This is a repair of Bose L1 tower PA system. These skinny tower speakers are somewhat of a marvel because they are designed to stand behind the musician (aimed RIGHT AT the microphone) and don’t generate feedback (in most situations). Ah, the miracles of DSP.

It turns out these PA’s have a frequent failure in their power supply. Read on for details.

1st generation Bose L1 tower PA system

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Tormach PCNC 770 DIY Enclosure

I recently got a Tormach PCNC 770 CNC milling machine. So far, I’m very happy with it (but have not cut much yet). I figured that since I wouldn’t be using flood cooling, that I could get away without a full enclosure. But even with mist rather than flood, chips were shot everywhere, so I decided to roll my own enclosure using 80/20 parts https://www.8020.net/

There are lot of similar designs on-line, but the one I used most for guidance was by sauni68 on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FddiAAuI2Rg

His was a design for a PCNC 1100, but his video still has several good tips that are appropriate for the 770.

Photo Feb 19, 4 47 45 PM

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TouchDRO Machine Position Digital Readout for Emco Maximat V10P Lathe

NOTE 7/2020: I have discovered a limit on how fast the saddle can be moved without losing Z counts.  I assumed the limit would be above my maximum hand crank speed, but it turns out that you can lose counts even with moderately fast cranking – somewhere around 2″/sec saddle movement. For now, I manage by watching my handwheel speed, but it appears a faster uC than the MSP430 is needed. I will update when I have a solution.

12/7/22 – I just stumbled on this ESP32 Touch DRO setup on a site called Stockholmviews.com. This would most likely solve the above speed limitation since the ESP32 is much faster than the MSP430. I have not tried it yet: https://www.stockholmviews.com/wp/touchdro-diy-esp32-interface/?fbclid=IwAR0r8TOkRoQZHnrKf1z1ZNt1GjiT2w0daOuAEruxRSRDF2HHSnfO1FZsTZI

This is an outstanding machine DRO for hobbyists, not just an outstanding DIY project, but a super DRO even compared to high-end pro machines. The beauty of TouchDRO is that it uses a (cheap) Android tablet for the display and control (I used a 1st-generation Nexus tablet – $50 on eBay) while the scales connect to a small (user-built) box that wirelessly sends data to the tablet via Bluetooth. The extra cute thing about this particular DRO installation is that all that parts are very small and don’t interfere with any travel distances or setups on this already smallish machine.

2014-09-25 22.18.32

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Brass Rod Bender for Banjo Hooks

This is bender specifically made to put a very tight radius bend in 5/32″ brass rod for banjo hooks. The original design was modified from this:  http://www.micromark.com/universal-bender,8229.html  but required a few revisions to get the desired result. Finally, when I was able to force the rod into a tight radius bend, some would crack. I learned that they needed to be heated with a torch before bending, but don’t have to be bent while hot.

The key difference between this and the little universal bender (besides less “slop” and tighter-tolerance fittings) is the movable round die is a “cam” that can be pivoted (with a 3/4″ wrench) and forced tightly against the stationary die while the bend is being made.

This was also my first exercise with hardening O1 tool steel. There are tons of guides on line covering this topic so I won’t go into detail here. Having the working surfaces hardened may not be necessary for bending brass but I wanted to play with O1 steel and this was pretty forgiving applications for a first try. It went quite well.


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