May 2014 9

Saw horses

Having just bought a house, I'm back in full DIY mode again. And as everyone knows, DIY requires saw horses! So knowing that I would be needing a couple in the near future, I sat down with AutoDesk Inventor and quickly drew up a simple design, based on timber that was in cheap and plentiful down at The Ply Guy.

And a few minutes later I had a set of plans ready to go:

Timber used:

1x 2410x300x23mm industrial ply shelving4x 2700x65x40mm reject grade LVL timber (LVL = Laminated Veneer Lumber, a super strong engineered wood, basically thick ply)Small length of 150x10mm ply

$20 of wood later and I was ready to get building. First up I ripped the 300mm ply shelving into 150mm wide bits 800mm long for the top of the saw horses. Table saw made short work of that.

Then I made the brace under the top of the saw horse from the LVL. Next up some legs... these were a little fiddly with all the angles, but...

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Mar 2014 3

3d Printer - part 9

You might think I've completely forgotten about my 3d printer, but rest assured it is still receiving attention.

My main complain so far with the machine is that some of its prints were not very square. Often successive layers that should be on top of each other, ended up on a diagonal, getting more and more off axis. I didn't have much luck tracking down why this was happening, but I suspect it is a quirk of either the microcontroller not being powerful enough, or the firmware (Teacup) having a subtle bug.

So I decided to redo the electronics. I ordered a parallel port breakout board off ebay for a few dollars, same as I'd used on my CNC machine. This arrived and was duly installed:

These aren't designed to drive 3d printers so a little fiddling was required to make it work. X, Y, and Z on the machine matched up with the respective outputs on the board. The extruder was hooked up to the A axis, and the limit switches plugged straight in.<...

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Oct 2013 24

Wedding seal

As part of sending out our wedding invites, I wanted to do something a little special. Somewhere along the line we got the idea of making up our own seal for the envelopes. I fancied the idea of using my CNC machine to make up a stamp, and it didn't seem like it would be too hard to do.

First step was to make up a drawing. This was more work than I imagined, as there were a number of requirements:

Must contain no details smaller than the size of the end mill. That means fancy fonts with thin ascenders are a no-no. Thick block sans-serif only please.Can't be too big. The bigger it is the more wax that will be used and the harder it will be to machine.Must look good!

In the end I came up with a design that incorporated a bit of both of us:

M and R are our initials obviously. Below my initial we have a lump of railway track... again distorted and "chunked up" due to the above requirements. Then below Rachel's initial we have a daisy, the ...

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Aug 2013 16

MrCNC - part 5

My CNC machine has been receiving a bit of attention lately. It's been sitting a little forgotten for a while with a couple of problems:

No stepper motor drivers – I used them all on my 3d printer, and then blew them all up!The spindle doesn't run very well – something is slightly out of alignment and so the whole thing makes a lot of noise and draws a lot of power.

The stepper motor drivers have been replaced so that part is fixed. While I was at it, I decided to clean up the controller board. Here is what it looked like beforehand – wires and hot glue all over the place.

I decided to mount the board to the end of the machine. This would keep the controller off the bench  and the wires nice and tidy. I also opted to add a small control panel to hold the power switch, emergency stop button, a power LED, and two speed control knobs: one for the spindle speed, and one for the feed rate (how fast the machine runs through its program).

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Aug 2013 11

3d Printer - part 8

Progress continues on my 3d printer.

A lot of research and learning has been done, the learning curve with 3d printers is very steep! However my fifth print came out very well, with only a few minor flaws:

It seems that Printrun sometimes pauses on OS X, unless it is always in the foreground. In other words, you can't really do anything else on the computer at the same time. For a modern powerful computer and multitasking operating system this seems odd.

Extruder improvements

I quickly discovered that even my improved grippy roller for the extruder wasn't up to snuff. The sandpaper gripped the filament quite well, but then just sanded it smooth, clogging up the sandpaper and leaving it smooth! So I went back to the drawing board and dug out the Dremel.

I made up a jig out of spare wood, cable ties and masking tape which holes the steel rod in position, and allows me to position a spinning cutting disk at righ...

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