It’s been about a month since I broke myself from Expo. Certainly learning from that for the future.
I’ve tried taking some downtime in the interim but other matters have kept coming up. The most rest I’ve had has been over the past week or so, but only from being bedridden with salmonella poisoning.

We still need to re-home the last pair of “kittens”, and frankly their mother too now. Shelters/RSPCA won’t take them anymore as there’s just too many cats out there now.

Rant about YouTube changes
The alleged copyright infringement on my YouTube account has finally been resolved, and my 15 minute limit lifted. Sadly just in time for the interface to be updated and made awful for instantly managing subscriptions.

Instead of being able to instantly remove videos you don’t want to watch from your subscribed uploads, now you can’t at all, and they don’t even self-remove once watched. Also they form a monolithic list of all uploads in chronological order, so multiple sequential uploads from one channel get interleaved with uploads from others. I can’t see any way to filter. The only option made available is to add them to a playlist, so I presume the logic is that you’re supposed to go through, make a playlist of the ones you’re interested in, then load the playlist and watch them from there, then remove them from that, and keep a perpetually modified playlist to emulate the functions removed, but with more work involved.

They’ve also decided to put your subscriptions list in a bar filling up a 3rd of the screen estate. Do people really remove their subscriptions that often? Because you subscribe via set videos or channel pages. If you’re subscribed to more than 7 channels then you’ll need to go to a separate subscription management page to edit them anyway. If you have less that 7 or so then odds are all the videos from those channels will already be shown on your homescreen as it is. Why is this there? All it does is reduce the amount of page space available for actual videos.
Suggested channels was previously an option at the top of your recent subscribed videos list. It could be clicked away to make your page more usable. Now it’s a permanent sidebar addition along with the useless subs list and your personal info header (which contains duplicate links of the top-right account pull-down menu).
And the subscriptions activity is now only visible when merged into the recent uploads. Again it’s no longer tiered by account so each entry stands on it’s own, readily jumbled into a raw unsorted feed.

Interface updates are supposed to improve things. This means adding functionality, removing or replacing useless items, hiding or removing little-used functions and making navigation easier and clearer. This update has added redundant duplicate links, listings that take up screen estate which are functionally useless, jumbled updates into an unfiltered and now unfilterable single feed and drastically reduced the amount of information visible on each item, apparently all to give YouTube a modern-for-2002 3-column design makeover.

Do Google do ANY beta testing before these things? They’ve removed functionality and added obscuration, and suddenly I’m finding it distinctly unenjoyable to use YouTube as a result. The only ok thing has been the minor cosmetic changes made to the video and channel pages, but I still dislike the new video control icons which with the exception of the replay button seem less intuitive. It’s all about adding channels, but has removed the ability to actually deal with the videos you’ll get from them.

The mill
The milling machine is finally in the country. Due to the poor sales at Expo, I didn’t get enough money back to pay for it, so I’m borrowing from within the family to get it here.
Friday I’ll be taking some bulky items off to the Hackspace for use/loan which will clear needed space. Delivery is set for next Thursday, and I will need to take the garden gate off it’s hinges to accommodate it. It’ll have to be dismantled in the front garden to move through the house to the workshop, which isn’t such a bad thing as I can remove packing grease as I reassemble it.
Once it’s here I’ll be able to measure and order the correct size of couplers and build the stepper mounts. The control gear is ready to go and the spindle servo drive is nearly there. Got an idea for re-positionable optical end-stops too which I think I’ll be trying.

Business
I’ve crashed pretty hard since Expo. I did a lot of late nights and a lot of all nights to prepare for it, things went wrong at pretty much every turn. Moulds failed or ripped, equipment broke and repairs were useless, supplies were wasted, suppliers sent the wrong replacement materials, and I ended up with less of a product for sale than intended that finally turned out to sell very poorly there. It was a huge amount of work and pain for relatively little return.
The horns did generate a lot of INTEREST, but few sales. Expo is not the place to sell costume parts or things that work best as part of an outfit, only stand-alone ready to wear items. In retrospect trying to ape the activities of other people I know by selling directly at conventions has been a costly mistake at almost every turn. I’m a supplier not a trader, and I should be sticking to my strengths so I can grow the business rather than limp along using my strengths to recover from self-inflicted mistakes.
Getting the base products rebooted, remoulded and tuned for ready production. Stay away from custom orders/mods unless I genuinely have the free time. The rush job has an allure, but it’s always costly and I can’t set prices at what they’d need to be to make up for the extra effort without killing the order and alienating clients.

Time management
Someone’s sending me a PDA. At the momment my desk is smothered with paper, mostly notes and to-do lists. It’s bad enough that I’m loosing lists amid other lists. A PDA makes sense as it can be updated on the fly and paper you end up filling up.
Made some time for drawing and managed to progress a picture. Started having a hard time with finishing details though. Out of practice and don’t have the time to get my hand back in.

Money
I’m in a hole. I may have to sell some things I don’t want to to try and get out of it, but mostly I simply need more income, which is back to improving the business.

Going to stop here as I’ve reached my daily limit for rage/depression/bleak-determination.

I’m a bit afraid right now.

The milling machine’s been delayed another month. ETA is now early December. But I’m not complaining. Technically I don’t have enough money for it anymore. Once it arrives I’ll have at most a fortnight to pay the rest of the outstanding balance.

Since the £700 set aside for it was going to be sitting in my bank account for some 3 (now 6) months longer than expected, I decided to try and grow the money a bit before it went finally into low-fluidity material goods.

I’ve been spending a lot of money this week. A lot of it either on repairing or replacing tools, but mostly on these horns I’ve won on ebay tonight and the upright rotary table for the 4-axis mill project.
And I’ll be spending more once the horns arrive. I’ll be casting a lot, painting, trying out foam-rubber casts, mostly in the hope of getting enough wonderful quality items ready that I’ll be able to storm both Etsy and MCM Expo with them.

I think I can do it. But I’m still gambling again. And to be honest with myself, my previous gambles haven’t had very good returns.

It’s a supportive routine though. Waiting for supplies and parts to arrive sets me up with a waiting list in my mind, so I get on with immediate jobs a lot faster.

All I do is talk about what I do now. I’m sorry it’s likely not a very interesting subject to most.

Backlog/owed items are almost all done. Legacy projects are either scrapped or progressing. Things are generally improving. Life’s clearing out the chaff.

Will try and get back on Skype in the workshop again tomorrow. Talking while I work may help further.

The enclosure found on ebay arrived today. My guestimates (since internal size wasn’t mentioned) look to have panned out, and it’ll contain all the parts quite nicely.

Fortunately I had a piece of aluminium plate left over from my grandfathers materials which will provide the needed backplate for the plastic box. It feels nice using something that was his in any of my projects.

The driver board will just about fit in, though I’ll need to be creative with mounting the power supply. I’ll be cutting some holes in the top access panel for the driver’s D-connectors, the IEC connector will probably go on the top or side where gravity shouldn’t let it fall out. Bottom is probably going to have the illuminated mains switch and the five 4-pin XLR connectors for the steppers and motor drive. The left-hand panel will have the filter-protected exhaust vent.

A fine wire filter grill will be going on the front panel to direct air onto the PSU, which will flow across the box and out the exhaust. The box should be kept at positive pressure. The box is far more environmentally sealed than I really need. All I really want to ensure is no dirt and spiders get in it.

Also found a few little 12v fans that should replace the defective one on the driver board. Got a 24v 80mm fan for the front that came off an old LaserJet printer. Not sure where to put the emergency stop yet. Got to be the soft-off interlock on the driver board I think, since cutting power might still leave steppers moving for a short time. Also might not want it on the enclosure itself, but remote.

Mounting the readout is also a puzzler, but can be done later.

With the money I’ve been gifted, I’ve just put a deposit down on a BIG milling machine in the last few hours it was on special offer pricing. A Chester Eagle 25. I’ve also bought a Chinese 4-axis CNC driver board.

The mill is out of stock currently, so I’ve got a 12 week wait there probably, and 12-24 working days to wait for the driver board. Once the driver board’s here I’ll be grabbing the four steppers and PSU rather than have them sit around untested. :)

While it sounds like an unpleasantly slow process, it will give me the extra time I need to sell the current mill and replace workbenches it’ll all be going on.

If you have to cut through a product with a hacksaw, it’s probably never going back together again.

I was fortunate enough a couple of weeks ago to win an Ebay auction for a Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub gear unit. It was a bit grubby and didn’t come with the shifter, but I did manage to get it with the roller brake unit thrown in.

Ordinarily you can get the Nexus hub without the brake unit and a little bushing-cum-cover for the blank side of the hub, but I have a different idea. I think I can use the brake mount to fit a hub generator to.

I’ll probably go over this in more detail once I acquire the needed dynohub to gut and show some of the reasonably minor mods I’ll be making to the Nexus hub itself (all reversible I expect, so don’t panic). But for now I just need the plate that meshes with the gear hub.

The middle bit with teeth is what I'm after

The other side of the brake was brown from overheating, and the drum’s aluminium heat-sink was pretty warped too, so there wasn’t much guilt in tearing it open. Plus the frame I have is made for rim-brakes (even if it wasn’t, I’d rather not put that extra force on the spokes of using hub-braking).

I clamped it carefully in a vice, after finding there wasn’t enough clearance to simply pry up the three retaining lugs and release the brake drum, and used a hacksaw to cut across the fold of the lug. I cut through enough that it folded back and the drum got a lot freer.

A lucky fluke, the tab stayed attatched but folded aside

That didn’t quite get it loose enough though, so I had to do the same to another tab until it finally popped free.

These things are not meant to be taken apart. They’re sealed units that are only available for replacement whole.

Parts apart

From here it just took a few taps with a leather mallet to knock the steel drum out of the heat-sink. It was just a press-in fitting with some mating teeth.

The prize!

The 4 holes, btw, are for the dust-seal which I’d already removed before cutting began.

Hopefully I’ll attach this to a custom aluminium enclosure I’ll be housing the guts of a Sturmy Archer Dynohub in. It’ll be a lot easier than designing and making my own generator from scratch, and I’m pretty sure it’ll fit once all the heavy steel shell is removed. But anyway..

The mechanism of the roller brake is interesting. It’s similar to a drum brake, but the brake pad is spring-retained. The “nut” in the middle turns when braking is applied, pushing the rollers in a carrier outward as they’re usually against the flats of the nut, but get pushed to the higher corners. This makes the rollers push the brake pad outward in all directions against the brake drum. I thought there might be some braking force applied against the rollers directly, but the brake pad doesn’t move relative to the rollers.

Brake actuator

Roller carrier and rollers

Like the hub gear, these brakes need an anti-rotation/non-turn washer on the axle as that’s what it uses to anchor itself, not to the frame directly.

Unless I’m missing something, calling this a roller brake seems mostly a way of avoiding calling it something as old-fashioned as a drum-brake. But that’s essentially what it is, though with a clever mechanism for increasing brake-pad contact area.

It’s probably about the same contact area as rim-brake pads, only without the benefit of as much mechanical advantage on the wheel.

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