Category: Equipment

Jul 08 2011

New Mill Project

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.

Jan 24 2011

Picking up more pieces

I am officially looking for a treadmill to rip apart. I almost had one tonight but went to make a sandwich and got bid-sniped before I got back.

I know, with all I’ve said about just going straight in with your max-bid.. :P

Maybe I just want something new to mess around with.

Thinking of combining several of my existing half-done projects to conserve resources. Like taking the steering rack off the electric kids car, the motor and axle from the golf-caddy and the wheels from the big robot to make an electric go-cart. I can allways re-use it for the robot project later anyway.

Likewise thinking to combine the never-quite-functional robot dog thing with the robot camera-arm to make a sort of Scutter robot.

The treadmill I’m after with a view to fixing up the milling machine more with new head. Would be relatively easy to mount a slender DC motor on the mill’s front compared with a chunky AC motor of similar power. Plus I’d get a nice flat torque curve and less pully-gearing requirements (I anticipate at least 3 “gears” to give additional range. 8000rpm motors will probably only go down to 150rpm before stalling. Proper mills can get to low double-digits).

I suppose they’ll always be these things around, and I should concentrate on more pressing matters. But likewise I want to feel like I’m progressing. And the easiest way is to try and buy progress.

I’m acting no better than those militant Doomers who pile up their homes with survival gear they’ve never used and have no idea how to, just for the safety blanket of feeling more protected.

Aug 19 2010

The new milling machine

One of my brain-relaxing passtimes is to randomly browse ebay for interesting machines, broken items for spares/repair and so on. Like Thomas Edison said; “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
Of course Edison didn’t have access to ebay or Google Image Search, so while I have a nice pile of junk, I can add a whole lot of extra random inspiration to it by just browsing images of junk.

One of my searches is usually for mill or lathe parts, to see if there’s any out there I could put to good use. I’ve been hoarding parts with the hope of building a mill or better milling accessory for my Conquest Lathe. Even a second-hand tiny mill will still run to well over £200, so my best chances of getting something within my tiny budget are:

  1. Find a machine so broken it’s cheap, but damaged in such a way I alone can fix it at very little cost.
  2. Find parts of other machines that I can assemble into a working milling machine.
  3. Find a machine strange enough that few other people will bid on it.

Last week, Option 3 occurred on one of my browsing sessions. And I won it.

Small Homebuilt Milling Machine In need of attention to bring it up to a good standard the drive pulleys do not match exactly , although 2 or 3 speeds are available

there is play in the rise and fall of the headstock and a clearance problem with raising the head fully , maybe a bit of re-design needed!

the table has been fitted with a thrust Bearing and 1 end modified to accept a power feed unit but was never fitted

the table and / or the headstock needs a bit of shimming to get true machining

heavy fabricated steel construction with 370 Watt 1/2 Horse Power Single Phase 230 Volt Motor with Full Overload Protection and remote Stop/Start Pushbuttons

A good quality Cast Table , Size 475 x 154mm (Table cost was £100 ) 1/2″ MT2 Chuck with M10 Thread Drawbar Tilting Headsock ( left / right )

Adjustable Taper Bearing Headstock overall height of machine is 960mm depth is 600mm table to chuck height Max. 250mm Weight aprx 120 Kilos

Some light water marks to table due to garage roof leaking but not serious

please ask any questions i can e-mail more photos if required

£50 delivery on a pallet OR collection from Braughing , near Ware , Hertfordshire OR arrange your own collection

Mainland UK delivery only NOT to the Highlands or certain places in Wales,please ask

Payment by Paypal Only within 3 days of auction end

Happy Bidding!

A home made machine! Perfect!
Collection verses a £50 shipping fee would further lower competition, and it was just 30 miles north of me. And while I don’t want to offend the builder of it, the punctuation in the description probably doesn’t inspire the confidence for others to give that extra bid.

All in all, a prime listing for getting a bargain. And at £155 for 13,700cm3 of machining capacity, that’s a bargain in my books.

Now while I’m going to have to discuss the machines faults, I again don’t mean to offend the builder of it. It’s in my estimation the same sort of machine I’d have built in 18 months or so, with a few hundred quid in parts and the same development feel (initial planning, careful use, leading into jury-rigging just to get it finally working). So this machine has saved me a year and a half and a hundred quid or so. So I can skip straight into taking this messy but functional machine and refining it.

Read more »

Jul 29 2010

Making new photographic lamps

One issue I’ve had with both taking photos of people and close-ups of items is the lack of light. A couple of small halogens really doesn’t cut it, so I’ve been thinking over affordable and adaptable replacements.

I picked up a couple of clip-on lamp holders cheaply from EFG Housewares, a wholesaler I use for some of my shop supplies. I wanted to get some simple reflectors for them, but couldn’t find any at a reasonable price online. Even simple one-piece pressed aluminium shades seem to carry excessive prices. So it was off to the 99p Shop in Walthamstow High Street, where I found a couple of suitably shallow 30cm cheapo stainless bowls.

I next borrowed one of my dads Q-Max sheet metal punches. They’re very nice and provide a clean hole in sheet metals very easily.

I used a 30mm punch, but really should have used a 28mm or so. I measured from the inside of the lamps collet, not the thread. Whoops. But that’s alright in the end. I used my home-made centre-finder to mark out the bowls. It finds centre well on circles, but I also forgot the pegs on it weren’t the same length, so on the bowls curves sides it skewed the centre. So the error on one was enough in the end to correct for the error on the other! There’s a lucky break, eh?

Next up, a 10mm hole is drilled so the bolt of the punch can go through. The bolt is tightened and pulls the cutter into the punch block from the other side of the metal.


Voilà! A nice clean hole! (can’t say the same about the bowl)

I took some burrs off with a hand file and did the other bowl to match, then took them back indoors to fit the lamp holders to them.

Next I ordered some energy-saving high-brightness “daylight” bulbs off ebay. It took a few more days and a trip to the sorting office, but I got them this morning.

They’re 36Watt (180Watt equivalent), rated at 2160 Lumens, an 8000Hr lifetime and a colour temperature of 6500! They’re also wide mushroom-shaped coils, so should give a fairly diffuse light with no harsh shadows.

Without new lighting


With new lighting

And finally, fitting them they work perfectly. I was a bit worried the light would be too directional, but it’s both bright and pleasantly diffuse. I’m sure my opinion will refine the more I use them, but for the moment I’m pretty happy with the results!

(auto-exposure doesn’t like looking directly at them when they’re on)

Total cost:
Lamps – £1.65 each (Total £3.88 inc VAT)
Stainless bowls – 99p each (£1.98)
Lamps – £4.29 each (Total £12.06 inc Postage)

TOTAL: £17.92

That’s about the same as for a single studio lampshade. A complete lamp runs to about £50.

May 28 2010

Back to casting

So back to casting again, now the mini degasser’s working (and working well at that!).

Success in casting the hemispheres in water-clear styrene!
Last night I carefully trimmed the silicone moulds back to make the walls very thin, so they were drawn in with the surface tension as the styrene shrinks. This meant no streaks anymore, and there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable distortion of the shape.

The biggest problem us then actually getting the styrene out of the tin, especially in small amounts. It’s provided in a paint-tin, so unless you’re using the whole lot in one, you need a way to extract small amounts, and a plastic mixing cup is too big to fit in. So today I quickly brazed together mini ladle out of the stainless lid from a cocktail shaker and a long bolt with a couple of nuts for grip.
I’m keeping it in a glass jar, since I only have one sort of styrene to use, and apparently it’s not hygroscopic like the PU resins are. So this’ll keep it from needing repeated cleaning.

Colour mixing
Tonight I finally got a really rich chocolate colour for the only remaining casting order from before Confuzzled. “What would a melted KitKat look like?” was a good visual guide.

10pts Green, 4pts Red, 1pt Black

The resin claws and footpads are setting overnight. As tomorrow is MCM Expo and I don’t know what time I’ll get home, casting will probably resume on sunday.

T-shirts
I’ve been making enquiries into new variations on the standard UKFur design shirts. I’ll be getting a few “4XL” in in the unisex. Technically they’re still 3XL, but of a shirt type where it corresponds to a 54/56″ chest rather than a 50/52″.

Also been gaining interest in getting some shirts in fitted ladies sizes. Currently looking at getting some in standard black.. but also pink. And other colours too, of course!

http://www.promotional-store.com/%28ec5bicj0gpbrwr45b3qfzt45%29/product.aspx?sqs=5lBamEO6TJFdo0YhKUaoMLQ1W5R4IEWzphCPIqTnTSY%253d

Oddly enough, this one is a heavier weight of cotton than the one I was previously looking at, but much more affordable, and should put the ladies shirts at £12 in whatever colour.

As the next LondonFurs meet is only a week away, I’ll likely make the next order after that (as I may need the extra cash I’ll hopefully earn there, to make this increasingly large order).

[20/06/2010: Amalgamating old posts from “Dreamwidth Creative Blog” into sci-fi-fox.com to re-purpose DW blog account.]

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