Tuesday, June 6, 2017

From bad to worse and back again!

Alright.  Well things went from really bad to significantly worse.

Multiple items are getting scarce and there is no option to make more things. The heating problem has been repaired, with only one or 2 minor injuries. If you ever take 220 volts through a finger, be assured it is not fatal and feelings return to your extremities in as little as 2 days.

But the hydraulic system has utterly failed. Moments after the heating system got to working again. It seems to be a conspiracy.

This is going to take a major effort and it is very dirty, greasy work done by crawling about under the press.

So, expect some major delays unless a miracle happens. I will keep reducing the inventories as needed, until everything is gone.

I can not complain, the little machine was headed for the scrap pile and it has found a second life in my workshop. It has dutifully cranked out thousands and thousands of parts.

I guess it just wanted some downtime.

Ok, just enjoy the summer and hang in there.


EDIT:  The machine is back, and better than ever! I guess a miracle did happen, because for no reason I can figure out the machine is now pumping away. The new heater wiring is fantastic. Previously the machine had been wired with heaters in sequence and only using one of the 3 available phases. I wired everything in parallel so each heater is getting a full blast of power, and am using 2 phases.  (using all 3 would result in voltage jumping to 380)  The warm up time went from 45 minutes to 10. And the machine stays locked on the temp with no fading. You can almost hear the plastic pellets scream in agony as they are cast in to the fiery chasm. The machine shows no mercy as they are brutally crushed in to parts.

  The hydraulics just started working on its own. I unplugged a connector and plugged it back in, which had been done at least 3 times before, and it sprang to life. So all connectors got a good spray with contact cleaner and just like that things are looking much better.  I will be making parts every morning for a week or so but that should get things caught up.

  Regarding accidents; this is no laughing matter and I advise anyone attempting to do this to try not to be as stupid as me. The incident mentioned above happened during testing. Power was turned off, and the hot wire was disconnected and cut, so the shielding was covering the wire with only a tiny circle of metal exposed. This wire was placed in an out of the way spot and secured while I turned the power on to run a voltage test and figure out what was what.  Well I dropped the test lead and without thinking reached to grab it as it fell. This caused my finger to brush the very wire that had been moved out of the way. And it took a hit that was a bit surprising.  A real tough guy would not even need a fancy voltage meter.  He would simply grab each wire and determine the voltage by the amount of pain he felt, after wetting his fingers on his tobacco juice.  Those types of guys are getting scarce nowadays.

  So while it is fun to tinker around with discarded industrial machines, try to respect the fact that things can get serious in a second.  I have made a major effort to install safety guards and make the shop a very safe place to tinker. It seems that during maintenance things are most likely to go wrong. And this was a really freak incident that involved involuntary reaction to a falling object.



 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Old Yeller is dead.............for now.

  Hi again,

  Boy have I been busy. Work has become 7 days a week, in addition to making and shipping products every day.  There is a distinct possibility that my next day off the day job will be upon retirement.

  A couple of updates;
   First on the meetup. I had to leave that platform because they were spamming people with resist messages regarding President Trump. It is not the part of a social network platform to interject themselves in to things. The owners of meet-up offered free services to anti-Trump groups and even created them to help foster the resistance.  Not sure about Trump at this point personally, but pretty sure meet-up crossed the line by spamming my paid for group.

  Second on the demo. Attendance was a disappointing 0. Not sure why, but starting to reach the conclusion that this avenue is a dead end. It is obvious the local community is not going to produce any people who have an interest.

  Third.  Got another rejection on insurance. This one was looking good until they discovered I make the plastic parts. They assumed I merely assembled them. Luckily, this dovetails pretty well with point 2. Insurance is not needed if there is no one to get hurt.

   Ok, that is the bad news. It is strange to hear reality online sometimes. The world is full of false impressions that people try to create. It is something that has gotten a bit out of hand, to the point that most things online are a deliberate attempt to create an overly positive spin.   This blog tells the dirty and painful reality of plugging along one step at a time. 

   Oh, forgot to mention number 4-  Gremlins-  ( again)

  The plastic machine has died. It stopped heating up, and the breaker was thrown. Trying to reset it caused it to trip immediately.  With no manual or wiring diagram it was going to be tough to troubleshoot this. Compounding the problem is the fact the machine is 44 years old and has been used hard that entire time. There were so many sloppy repairs on the machine over the years that nothing is as it should be.



  This is the important stuff, and it looks pretty self explanatory. There are wires that goes here and there.........some breakers...........a transformer...................some other things..............a gismo............and this other part.  Pretty basic.

  Except it is 3 phase. In case you are wondering, 3 phase electric was invented by Tesla after drinking a case of Vodka and wondering through the forest eating hallucinogenic mushrooms. He thought it would separate the real electricians from the pretenders.  Regular 110 electric has a hot and a ground.  Regular 220 electric  has  2 hot and a ground. Three phase has 3 wires, all of which are simultaneously hot and ground. Apparently.

  Yeah, this one was a puzzler for sure but everything worked out in the end. Someone had wired all the heaters to the same phase, which is not as efficient as using all 3 phases. I am going to wire each of the 3 heaters to a different phase, which is going to save electricity and make pre heat up take a lot less time.

   Than there is this part.
  I actually re-wired this before so it is easy.

 And here is the problem, after much trial and error.

 The wire on the heater band is shorting out and is broken. New heater bands, relays, control units, and switches are on the way. When done it will be better than ever.  The parts are going to take a while to arrive. They were ordered from Amazon with 2 days shipping. But that means they will arrive 2 days after they are shipped. And they are not going to be shipped until mid to late June. So inventory is going to be stressed and things are going to get a bit crazy. Already 20mm rounds are out of stock and it looks like a couple more are going to be out before things get back to normal.

  And now the good news, besides the crushing Gremlin defeat already detailed.

   I am in preliminary communications with someone who might be a huge help and catapult things in an amazing direction. Online of course, the locals are no help.

  The current obstacle is the day job. But that is being sorted and should be better in the near future.

  In spite of the negative comments at the start this is a positive update. In many ways the things that I failed at are not meant to be. Not having helpers is probably better in the long run.

   Shipments will reach 10,000 packages sometime soon. Amazing, and I have to again thank all the people who are out there who keep coming back for more bases and bits.

  So there it is, another great summer is on the way. I hope you all enjoy it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Meetup- here it is

  Hi folks,

  I finally started the Meetup group for being creative.  Here is a link.  enter the madness

  The group is restricted, meaning I have to approve people joining.  There are 2 questions to answer, and already I have used those questions to screen out several people.  I will see how things go. It could be a waste of $60.

   One of the problems with meet-up is the volume of complete strangers you are going to end up meeting. I guess that is the point, but it is also supposed to be a method to find people at least partially of similar mindsets. As long as there is no gun play all should work out fine. The location is a comic shop nearby.

   After the event I will fully detail the good, bad, and ugly of the continuous quest to find the right folks to collaborate on projects. Right here on this blog.

  This is an interesting weekend at the house. I am going through the lead pile and cataloging every single model, entering it in a database, and storing it away in a referenced location. At least that is the plan. A casual observer would describe it as shuffling junk around. Again.

   I will also be purging the collection of areas I have no plans to dabble in. I have been doing that a lot of late. At a certain point it becomes evident that time is not a renewable resource. There are a lot of things that will simply not get done. The new goal is to finish the important ones. And figure out which ones are important.

  Anyhow, if you want to learn every secret I know, stop by the meet-up. 

  Spoiler alert- it is really not a great volume of knowledge.  More like a few tips.............

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Overloaded-3000 pounds of potential.

  Hello again folks,

  Well the year is off and running.  I guess a re-cap of last year is in order and as usual an insanely optimistic and completely unrealistic set of goals for the new year. All of which I will fail utterly to achieve, but try again anyhow.

  Last year was actually pretty amazing. Shipped 6400+ items plus some wholesale orders. I kept off forums for the most part, only once making a fool of myself and getting some strangers to vow never to buy from me. Forums are interesting. Some really great people and a couple of folks with an insatiable desire to flame. Not worth getting involved with the latter. Just raises my blood pressure.

   Speaking of which- I am on some new meds for said condition. Which lists these actual side effects:
Constipation; indigestion; dizziness; faintness; dry mouth; cold extremities -hands and feet; confusion; depression; insomnia; nightmares; edema; fatigue; lack of energy; hallucinations; sensation of pins and needles; skin reaction-rash, hives; blurred vision; difficulty speaking and hearing; unsteadiness; wheezing; stomach pain; low fever; dark urine; jaundice; bloody urine; lower back and side pain; swelling of face, fingers or lower legs; vomiting; weight gain; black, tarry stools; bleeding gums; loss of vision; bone and joint pain; disturbed color perception; double vision; feeling that others are watching you or controlling your behavior; feeling that others can hear your thoughts; feeling, seeing, or hearing things that are not there; halos around lights, night blindness.

  So nothing really negative and free nightmares as a bonus.

   Last year I picked up a lot of hardware and got it configured. A new PC with a Quadro graphics card, the EDM rigged and functioning, new controls designed and wired up for the Arburg, a new dust collection system for the ACT machine, actual non-toxic coolant for the Novakon,  and a 3D printer working. I printed out some tooling fixtures to hold and standardize things. So that was some progress.
 
  A couple of general points that may have good or bad implications this year. I am currently working 40+ hours per week in order to get health care and keeping up with orders in my "free" time. So far things are going well. Slow selling items are not being re-made until everything else is caught up. I will make them as time allows. My full time job is looking very promising, as I have a new staff person starting at the end of the month which will grant me the usual 2 day weekends.

  There has been a change in leadership here in America and it might mean a change in the health care law. If this happens I could be back at Proxie working full time a lot sooner than I expected. Not sure if anyone reading this is a small business owner, but trying to pay for mandatory health care is very difficult. Hence the full time gig.

  The only problem that has been really causing trouble is lack of time. Too many things to do and not enough time to do any of them properly. Gaining time through efficiency has helped a lot but things are moving along at about 1% the speed they should be.

  Some more positive developments.  A location to host meet-ups has been spotted. It is not my house, but the gaming area of a local comic book shop. I have to work out the details on times but this is going to happen within weeks, once those elusive weekends make an appearance. I loaned them my 28mm sci-fi scenery. I am selling off a lot of it and pretty much leaving behind this scale for sci-fi and switching to 1/72. So they get some scenery and I can some room to use once in a while.

  I was rejected for insurance again, and this time I was as charming as possible. So a friend offered some very sage counsel. "Don't let idiots in the shop".  A simple yet effective method to ensure there are no injury/lawsuits.  I can use the comic shop to meet and greet and cast a first level "detect idiot" spell over the crowd. Here is an example of what to look for-

   See what I mean? Of course I have to exempt my self from the policy.
 
   The shop is filled with supplies also.
 This is the low tech delivery system used to bring in plastic. This box holds up to 1500 pounds. There are 2 of them unloaded in the shop. One is neutral and can be died in to any color, and the other is black. 3000 pounds can make a lot of bits and it is nice to start the year fully supplied with materials. This is the smallest size box to qualify for free shipping and it just saves so much money to buy in bulk.

  Updates will be posted as things happen. If things go as usual this post will most likely be copied and pasted next year. Or maybe something better will happen. Or it could be another hallucination.

  Have a good day everyone!