Monday, February 19, 2018

Quick update-

  Hi again, still sticking to some resolutions to keep posting. For better or for worse.  2 times a month.
   I am looking in to switching over to video updates. I made one youtube video and it was seen by over 100,000 people. This blog is read by about 20....................
  So here goes- finally got rid of that annoying blue screen saver. 
  It was not going to be stopping things for long. I was prepared to purchase an entire new machine, and I did buy a complete replacement computer and was in the process of installing the mother board when I noticed the cooling fan had come loose, breaking the seal with the CPU and causing over heating. How it is managed to overheat in my frigid workshop is a pretty amazing feat. But that is out of the way, a back up PC is standing by, things are running again and looking good.


  Here is a picture of just how fragile graphite is. My holding fixture flexed and this poor lass had her entire face broken off. Oh well, back to the drawing board.  Adjusting feeds and speeds is making an amazing difference in the speed at which these can be made. I have reduced the time it takes to just a few hours. And my process eliminates the need for artists and sculptors, which his a plus since none of them answer my e-mails anyhow.

   This car mold requires a LOT of metal to be removed.

But I am saving it and able to re-melt it in the amazing 1100 degree centigrade  crockpot.
   This thing really gets hot. Of all the various wounds and injuries I have had over the years I find pinches and burns to be the worst types. So being extra careful here.

  Here I a nifty little trick I learned online. By grinding all the teeth off of a saw blade it becomes a giant circular razor blade. And it cuts blue foam board with out making any dust. The black item is a 3D printed holding fixture to allow the cutting of perfect 4" hexagons. Make a 4" rip, nip the end off at 60 degrees, and then cut at your 4" stop. This create diamonds that fit in this tool. Slide the tool across the blade, flip the diamond and repeat. Perfect hexes.  I don't know why but the razor saw is somehow scarier than the one with teeth. Both will mangle you without mercy but something about the sharp edge freaks me out.

  Ok, have a good rest of the winter. Spring is on the way and life keeps renewing itself.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Book of Grudges

     Hi again.  I am in a bit of a melancholy and yet fiercely defiant mood this morning so please do not get offended. There is some good and bad news on all fronts.  The plan is to post every 2 weeks regardless if the only thing to say is " All is lost! Game over, game over!" or, " I am addicted to playing Tigers on the Hunt, no progress this month."

  There is a scene in the Firefly pilot episode where Zoe and Captain Reynolds are trying to conduct a business transaction in a canyon and the tactical situation is not at all good. Zoe says to Reynolds, "They will have the advantage over us."  And Captain Reynolds replies with a sense of resignation,  "They always do".

  And so it is.

     Ok, you may have noticed in a recent post the declaration that prices are not budging as long as I can possibly make that happen. Well, the post office just increased first class shipping to $3.50 minimum. I get a slight discount by printing online and if I keep my seller rating up on E-bay.

    But margins are thin enough on dirt cheap products and an extra $.50 added is pushing things even further.  There were a couple of options, from increasing prices per pack to adjusting shipping. The best solution for the customers was to increase shipping on the first pack only. It was the single pack buyers that are impacted me the most by this change.  I truly wish there was an option, but this is the absolute best that can be done.

  Now, of course the post office is happy to deliver products from China for free. No increase there.

  As Teddy Roosevelt said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

  Now that Grudge is out of the way, let's look at number 2.

  Working Class York Maker Space is not going to happen. Not soon, and maybe not ever. Government regulations have groin stomped the life out of another dream.  Hey, its for your own good.

  How to resolve this problem?  There is another Makerspace I just found located in Dillsburg which is not that far away. Great place, more tech oriented and less dirt and flames. Still it was a fantastic find.
  So both problem number one and number 2 are sorted. Never give up.

  And finally Grudge 3.

  Novakon is dead again. I hate this machine with the white hot intensity of 10,000 suns. Gremlins are back again with a vengeance.

  Here it is stopped in the middle of a program. A lot of wasted hours. It has started to just randomly, after several hours, re-boot itself.
  So I changed the settings so it will not reboot and now it gives the blue screen of death. I have recorded the error codes and will be conducting my usual repair protocol. Keep buying new parts until the bad behavior stops. Awaiting some new RAM chips from E-bay and hope that will solve things. (why I have time to write today)
  And now for some good news. That is the way life is, conflict and then least on TV.
  There is a Chromecast on the TV in front of my painting desk and it allows viewing of You Tube while painting.  Watching Tabletop Minions has really inspired me and made me want to try out some new painting.
  I actually painted a few of the Reaper Bones models lying about.
  And still working on making some custom slot cars.
 Someday it would be great to own a real one, but this is at least a nice car to race around with at 1/24 scale. If I live long enough the price on used ones will drop until I can afford it.
And work is not all bad. Most mornings I wake up as happy as the drummer from Powerwolf as I look forward to what ever the day holds.
  By the time the day ends I am  feeling more like Lizzy Borden. Die gremlins, die!
 The drivers side car mold has a buddy now. It takes 9 pieces of metal to be cut to make the car body mold. 7 are done. More are required to make the hood, grill and bumpers but this part is the hardest and it will get done if I have to tear the entire PC out of the Novakon and replace it.

  The CAD designs are getting easier, and if this CNC machine would work more than 10% of the time Proxie Models would be as big as Google by now.
  Here are a couple of things designed and awaiting their turn on the mill.

 The second picture is of car #2 I would like to make. I had a real one a long time ago but a huge tree got in my way one night and it died a terrible death. I walked away somehow.........
 And, some more altered state of mind and changing of direction.
 The huge volume and quality pouring out of China via Kick Starter has caused me to turn away from trying to make models for the gaming industry. I stated this before and publicly.  Frankly, it seemed utterly pointless. The big companies can leverage their buying power to exploit the free shipping and cheap manufacturing from China.  Plus, it is time consuming and a lot of things can go wrong. It is easier to pick the low hanging fruit.  
  There are a couple of things I still plan to make for my own personal use, and also offer to others. It has occurred to me that there still might be a market for low priced items, as in $5-10 range. Because if you happen to have $10 and want to buy something in the table top hobby you are pretty much S.O.L.   Keep your eyes open and see if something new pops out soon.
  This week the archers actually got a little progress. This is pose 2 being shaped on the ACT machine.
On the ASL in minis front there is an interesting choice to be made.
These are locking hex holders to allow the construction of hex boards with easy to change configuration. GHQ makes some Styrofoam in 4" hexes and these locking devices will hold them in place.
  In the near future- (once the Novakon is working..............) these will be made in 3" and 4" sizes. This will allow for people to make some very nice 3D terrain boards without the hexes sliding about.
  You can use marble bathroom tiles, cardboard, or cut your own tiles out of wood. However, the ideal material I think would be 3/4" insulation board from Lowe's or similar. (blueboard) It is denser than Styrofoam and a little tougher. It can be cut easily with a hot knife to shape hills and whatever. 3/4" will allow for some epic 3D scenery.
  After the hex holders are done the idea is to run a kickstarter to purchase a laser cutter. I know where a used one is at and around $10,000 will secure it and pay for costs to pick it up and install it in the shop. It has dual lasers and will accept a 4 X 8 sheet of material. It is so large I will have to tear the wall out of my shop to get it installed.
  The kick starter will be for plastic holders, blueboard hexes, and cutting tools to shape your hills.
  If it funds it will save people a lot of work in making tables. If it does not fund, the plastic holders will still be available and I will just  cut my own and not purchase it or offer the hexes for sale.  The problem is that hexes are a pain to cut out by hand and some people do not have a truck to haul around large sheets of blue board.  This would be a big help to a lot of people.
   The pricing on this is going to be tricky, as it has to be cheap enough for someone to create a table for a reasonable cost. But not so cheap it loses money.
  This plan is not 100% decided.  I am not willing to put that kind of money out of pocket, which is why the thought of using kick starter came to mind. Essentially if I could get enough orders for plastic holders and blue board hexes for the machine to pay for itself I will do it.
 More details will emerge as my brain sorts it. Right now I seem to be having the biological equivalent of the blue screen of death in my head.
  Ok, there it is. 2018 and I am keeping my goals to write more stuff. And paint some stuff. And work on some stuff.
  So far so good.
Have a great day everyone.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mid January, resolve is cracking........................

  Just a quick update on some little things.

  The car is coming along. Broke the last ball mill and am awaiting another. Trying to squeeze in work between bitterly cold bouts. So far it is working. We went from 0 on Monday to 60 on Friday and back to 11 on Sunday. What a week. The 0 and 11 are weather, but the 60 is global warming and will require a new tax..................................

  On my last blog I declared I would be starting nothing new. That resolution has been sorely pressed, starting on January 2nd.

    I was informed I have a large credit at my local store................ Can you get me Advanced Squad Leader stuff?

  No. But look at this new Necromunda ................

  Can you get me Plastic Soldier Company stuff for my Squad Leader miniatures project?

 No, but have you seen the new 40K?................

  Perhaps some units for my old Warhammer armies, which would not be a violation of my oath. A new unit of 20 witch elves and 20 Sisters of Avelorn.  A small addition to the good and bad armies would be great................ Wow, even with free money it hurts to pay those prices.......................

  Oh well. Here are some pics of the Squad Leader to minis project and some pics of other people's take on it. It seems there are 2 schools of thought. First you can print out large map boards and play like that.  Hex Draw allows me to add custom textures so the maps can look more realistic.

 I spent (wasted) some time getting aerial tree photos and damaged road textures and neat wall graphics. And printed out with 4" hexes it looks pretty cool and the 15mm minis fit well in it. But it is still a printed map board.

 Second option is to make your own hex terrain.

  GHQ makes 4"Styrofoam hexes, which I owned a few of 20 years ago. I found them fragile and it was too easy to knock them about during play. Just google GHQ terrain maker and look at the images. Very neat stuff.

And this guy has developed a tool to cut the Styrofoam to matching angles.  hex cutter tool kit

There is an ASL in Miniatures Facebook group and the guys share ideas. one of the guys cuts his own hexes out of wood, which is the direction I am leaning. The printed maps look great, but it is just not the same.

 This is a recreation of board 78 by the founder of the group. He developed a really neat locking mechanism to hold the tiles in place. At this point that looks like the best option.

 So that is hobby stuff.

  The car parts are coming slowly in the mail. I have 100 axles, 100 gears and 100 motors already.  Pretty easy to see the problem, as cars have 2 axles each........Awaiting spacers to get dimensions to spec out the chassis.

The crock pot is here, and it melts metal so that is nice. Graphite is stockpiled and ready for use.

 I really need to clone myself...............................

 And final note- still no word from the York Makerspace.  If this falls through plans will be set back again. Not sure what is happening, some sort of red tape must be causing them to delay opening.  I can only hope things fall in to place and we have that place to meet and collaborate.

 Ok, that is my promised more frequent update with out a lot to really report on. More in 2 weeks.

 Stay warm folks!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Back to the Future

  Well, Happy New Year to one and all.

  Today is the last day of 2017, and I always make a point to plan out the things I will fail to do in the coming year. Sort of a tradition. It is better to have planned shortcomings than just a random selection of shortcomings.

  First, a review of 2017.

   2017 was pretty good in a lot of ways. The groundwork for a many things continues to fall in place.  At this point the gremlins wars are calming down, and although they fought a valiant fight things are working in spite of their efforts.  And working pretty well. I broke 2 hardened steel taps off in metal and simply burned them out with the EDM sinker. Nice. Broken taps can be a huge problem if you do not have the means to melts the hardest material with the softest.

CNC is cutting with  a vengeance-
And we got a new shop heater.
  Does it work?  Better than expected.

Ok, that last picture is really misleading, but it helps a little.

  So the shop is running very well. Still anxiously awaiting the new Makerspace opening next month, and hoping to find someone passionate about creating something.

  As a last minute tax write off, the shop will be adding a crucible and furnace to melt metal and stocking up on fine grain graphite for electrodes. Both are in the mail as we speak. The crucible should allow for melting and casting brass electrodes. Not sure if it is going to work, but figured it might be worth a try.

  In addition the old computer is having a good cleaning and looking over some files.
  Take this picture for example. This is a LOT of work just going to waste. I made all these guys, they are 3D printable and a single watertight single mesh each. When I printed them they are the correct height but look puny next to "heroic" scale minis. They are anatomically correct and therefore out of place in the grim dark future. So they were just forgotten about.

  But it only took a little time for me to mess around and now they are much more compatible. They are still not He-Man carrying an engine block, but they are fine. So got to pencil them in for the near future.

  Overall, that is my main goal this year. To FINISH projects before I get side tracked.

  Hobbywise, for the most part the year had an overall theme was overcoming ADD. That is the persistent practice of jumping from one thing to the nest. (Oh look! New and Shiny!)

 The first step is admitting I have a problem.  The realization came when I spent $100+ on the year end FFG sale of 2016 and purchased a huge amount of stuff for Warhammer Roleplay. As a general rule I have not liked  many of the games I pick up from FFG and this was no exception. A quick read of the rules and I knew it was going to do nothing but set on the shelf, like everything else. What a waste, but I learned a valuable lesson. DO not buy something you do not want just because it is cheap. Maybe someday it will get used but most likely it will hit E-bay. Shipping is going to be a killer.

  So why keep up a frantic pace of consumption of new things? This idea has been cooking in my head for some time and it has finally evolved in to grim resolution. In the past  a couple of friends decided to get in to 15mm WW2 using the Flames of War rules. $200+ and a completely painted army netted me a single game before they had discarded the rules and raced on to something else.

  There is another problem with all the new and shiny. There is so much to do that time restraints are simply too difficult to overcome. And finding a group or persons who are of the same mindset can be challenging. I have really taken some time off from minis gaming in general because of this. Age of Sigmar really killed things for me in a lot of respects. It was  real heart breaker. Here are my Warhammer armies, or at least some of them.

  All retired now I guess. Oh, and let's not forget the lead pile-

 If I could have zoomed out it would have looked like this.

  There is a possibility of using them for Kings of War and I have purchased those rules, they just do not really inspire me a lot. It seems really suited for tournament play and I like a rules set that creates a narrative more than straight up competition.  So fantasy miniatures wise I think things are going to be on the back burner again this year.

  I did discover on Youtube that people are playing games solitaire.Guards Counterattack playthrough  I will be trying this out many times to re-learn the system. Here is an excellent and amusing battle write up by a first time player and it shows the craziness that makes ASL such a blast to play.Guryev's HQ battle report

  I used to be a huge ASL (Advanced Squad Leader) fan years ago and realized that I have been missing it. I always wanted to play ASL with miniatures and that project is now making a comeback. I purchased a program called Hexdraw that allows me to make maps and print them out as large as needed. Here is board 1 enlarged using Hexdraw-

  The old board is laying on top in the top left and the one I printed out is below it. I am still tinkering with the size and scale I plan to use. I could continue to enlarge up to the size that 1/72 scale models can be used.  It has always been a crazy idea of mine to play 40K setting and forces using ASL rules. I have some 1/72 scale WW2 stuff and have a 3D printed 40K tank. The boards would be pretty good sized when finished. Thankfully I have this eco-tank printer so printing things out is really cheap.

  I purchased that board back in about 1977 or 78. I used to make a few bucks picking strawberries for a local farmer and that board has travelled with me most of my life. More men have died trying to cross those streets than I care to think about. I am glad those cardboard counters do not bleed when hit because the board would be illegible by now.

  Going to sort these counters out soon. A lot of things are really getting organized and going through all the stuff I have hoarded over the years has been pretty therapeutic.  In addition to the Warhammer display cabinet there are now several other miniatures and slot car cabinets scattered throughout the basement
  I would suggest to anyone that getting your collection organized is just as important as collecting in the first place. It is very nice to have everything sorted and uncluttered. My basement has never been better, and I am really glad used bath water no longer pours from the ceiling and swarms of bees do not sting me without mercy. (see older posts for details)
  So what is the plan for 2018?  NOTHING NEW. NOT A SINGLE NEW THING. In fact this is my new theme song- Not safe for work or kids!
  The real new and shiny for me right now is a rule set called Across a Deadly Field by John Hill, designer of the first Squad Leader. Purchased the books and read through them.  Now I have a huge urge to print out massive armies from this book and play a few games. Paper armies   But NO!  I can not allow myself to crawl down another rabbit hole or my ASL minis project and model car bodies will never get finished.
  No new projects or anything, just learning to enjoy the wonderful things already piled around me. And finish some of the numerous started business projects.
  But boy are those Civil War rules are appealing.......................and printing out some armies will not take that long.................................
  See how hard it is?  ( the new year has not started, so technically I could still start the Civil War project today and not be in violation of my rigid resolution)
  I also want to try to post more often. Just something to keep me accountable. It might motivate me to have to report things.
  In any event, hope everyone has a Happy New Year and let's make 2018 a time of peace and prosperity.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ultimate Novakon meltdown, and other musings.

  Hello all,

  Again a fine fall day. Best time of year to me. Mostly because I no longer have to mow the lawn or clean the pool.

  Last post I commented that ting were running smooth. Boy did that ever piss off the gremlins and they launched an all out assault. Literally everything is going haywire, not the least of which was the Novakon CNC. It just sputtered, and simply lost its position again. I have had it with that piece of crap so I decided to re-make it. Every time it goes off mission it ruins a piece of metal and throws away hours of work.


  This is the VFD or variable frequency drive. It died a long time ago. These were junk from the factory and the company did not really offer much support other than to allow you to wait on hold for an eternity. The proximity sensors are also shown in the top picture. These caught on fire because no sealant was used to protect them from the coolant which flowed in and shorted them out.  So I disabled the proximity sensors and had no working limit switches for the past 5 years.

  This is an aftermarket VFD added to replace the factory junk. It works OK.  You can see on here also the toggle switch to control the coolant I added to replace the factory one that went bad. For years every time I turned on the machine it would start spraying coolant until boot up was complete and I told it to stop.  The strange coil of wires is an attempt to prevent magnetic interference from corrupting the pulse of electricity. It is some type of shielding.

   Also, the E-stop button has not worked for years. Not sure why since I tried everything I possibly could. So- no limit switches and no emergency stop. A limit switch is handy, but an E-stop is really nice when your sleeve gets grabbed by the spindle.

  And finally to twist the knife, the machine also began for no reason to spin the spindle upon startup to go along with the unwanted coolant spray, and randomly stop spinning while also missing steps and losing its location. When I opened the access panel it sprang to life. So the CNC machine was as reliable as the juke box at Arnold's that Fonzie would punch to enjoy music. This was not going to work.

  So it had to either go or be re-built. A new one is going to be over $10,000.  So I got this device off of e-bay for less than $10 and decided to go for broke and re-wire the mess.

  What you are seeing is pretty much the only directions that came with the device. It replaces this one that came on the machine.
  This is called a breakout board. It connects to the printer port on your PC and directs all the signals normally used to print stuff in to different sections of the CNC telling it what to do. The problem is that EACH pin has to be carefully programmed or the results are disastrous.
   I will be in therapy at some point for what followed, but somehow it seems to be working. Along the way the proximity switches were replaced and now work and the E-stop is working just fine. Two tubes of caulking should keep things dry and stop that expensive leak.  (coolant is $200 a bucket and watching it pool up on the floor is enough to make a grown man weep)  Going to return to milling and see how it does. Preliminary tests all seem to be a go. I can control the spindle off and on as well as RPM from this new board. This is done using PWM. This stands for pulse width modulation or some technical crap and it really is as screwy as it sounds. I input an incorrect setting and spun the motor so fast the cooling fan on the top exploded as the plastic fins could not withstand the force and were torn apart.
  The thing about the CNC home workshop stuff seems to be that you have to become your own engineer. And everyone is super helpful on forums but each person has a Frankenstein that they pieced together and no 2 are alike.
  Oh, and also the PC I design on and am typing on at this moment is having corrupted registry issues. Sometimes it forgets who I am and rejects my password. It hilariously locked me out of all my music, photos and e-mails. What a joy. Got that sorted but it might suffer a complete meltdown soon.
  So as you can see the gremlins have been beating me like a baby harp seal gets beaten by a fur trader.  Thank God I have 40+ molds lined up to make parts out of because these delays are frustrating for sure.
   Which brings me to something I saw today that was super inspirational-coolest man alive
Sorry about all the ads on the link. The internet is almost unusable with all the crap everywhere.
  Anyhow, think about what this guy is doing. He built a home made space ship and is going in to space to de-bunk the round Earth hoax. While running for governor. Seriously, who is NOT going to vote for someone who can get things done like this man. He also spent a tiny fraction of NASA's budget to do it. He does not just reject reality, he gives it a kick in the teeth.
  I got to say this has made me want to tackle even bigger challenges. This guy has the brains to build his own space ship and the balls to pilot the thing. His impending death will be a great loss.
 On that uplifting note, I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.  More posts on the way soon as nothing else can possibly go wrong.  And for that I am very thankful. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

More odd ramblings

  Hello again folks.

  Things are chugging along, more or less the same as always. Thought I would update on a few things.

   Sales are steady, with 10,000 packages being shipped since opening the store 7 years ago.  Only about 10% are from the store with the majority going via other sales channels. If things stay the same all will be well. There have been no price increases for about 6 years. None are planned. Every time one of my costs go up I find some way to offset it. I am on my 3rd packing supplier because of this.       

   Shipping is very challenging, and it has simply eliminated overseas sales. Go to E-bay and you will see a host of items being sold from Asia with free shipping. Some items as cheap as $1. Try to return said item and the cost is $22.50. The government subsidizes their shipping. Some times you just have to admit defeat and dust yourself off and move on. This problem has no solution.

    Machines are running as good as possible. There was some relay issues that caused me some grief but things are smooth currently.

   The die assemble is going to be replaced. It has pounded out over 100,000 parts and is now out of square. One side is down .060" from the other. This results in mis-aligned parts.

  It is going to cost some money and time but this has to be fixed. I am replacing the existing die, and making it perfectly flat with more re-enforcement to prevent future damage. Being slammed together with 28 tons of force hundreds of thousands of times I guess will tend to bend things a bit.

  In addition, a new die is being designed and built. This one is going to increase the working space available from 4" X 6" to a whopping 8.5" X 12".  The amount of plastic injected can not be increased, but the flexibility in part positioning and size is going to be a huge improvement. This die is going to accommodate 1/8" ejector pins and 1/4" ejector pins.  Waiting on materials to show up at the door any day to make this a reality.

  The primary driver for this new die is this all consuming distraction/challenge.


  Is it possible to create a mold to make this car? Yes. Can I do it? Not really sure at this point, but I am spending a lot of time and money to find out.

  From a business perspective, it seems to make sense to look for different types of products to create. The gaming industry is very crowded with better run and better equipped companies pouring out a flood of products. I posted in this Dakka thread and it explains things pretty well. dakka link

  I have been a life long fan of classic American cars and there are 3 that I want to make for slot car racing. It is going to take a slide action mold for this and thus the spending of large amounts of money to buy hardened bushings, springs, and pins. The mold pictured is the back of the wheels for the car design.
   All 3 cars are getting the same wheels, chassis, interior, and driver. What I am hoping to make is equal to these from long ago-

    As usual, failure is the best teacher. I made this mold for a guy, and now I have to make the whole thing over again. (sorry Andrew).

  The bottom door for the shipping container will not fill with plastic. The reason is because I put it on the wrong way. I did not notice that one door is inset and therefore thinner than the other. I filled the thinner part first. This does not work. The plastic fills in and cools before the thicker side gets filled. If you flood it with hot plastic it might work, but the thick side will get sinkholes as it cools. You have to flow from thick to thin. It is a shame because he did some stellar work designing it.

  Making figures is on the back burner for a while again. Although I ran some tests with the EDM machine and it was very promising. The only problem is that it is the slowest process I have ever seen. It sparks and cooks like a mad scientist lab but after hours of smoke and fire it has managed to drill a hole .01" deep. Something that could have been done on a drill press in seconds with a lot less cost and drama. But it is the fact it can drill a face shaped hole that makes it unique.

  The shop overall is in the best shape it has been in years. I purchased a label maker and it seems to motivate a person to label stuff and put it away. So things are organized and in place instead of the usual post-tornado look.

  And this was very fortunate, because a visitor stopped by. The goal of creating a maker space is going to finally happen, and not because of me.     makerspace

  The leader of the board of directors spent an hour or so visiting. This is a legit maker space, with a funding grant and actual grown ups running it. The building has 6000 amps of 3 phase electricity!!!!!

  I think a Tesla coil built there could arc to the moon. Although I will not be suggesting that right at first, instead trying to stick to more practical projects like time machines and re-animation of dead tissue.

  They are non-profit so no howling swarms of tax collectors to fend off, and they are INSURED. In addition, there will be free legal advice from Penn-State from their small business start up help called Launch Pad. There will be conference rooms and the chance to network with other locals. This is scheduled to open on January and I am hoping to secure a position on the technical committee. There is a good chance that the space will someday include plastic injection molding equipment for the members to use.  After seeing my workshop the director seemed very keen to replicate it for the maker space.

  So this is really good news if it comes to pass. The only unfortunate thing is that this maker space is going to be a slow process because of government involvement.  I am just glad to finally see one in our area.

  So that is where we are on this fine fall day. I will post some pics and updates if anything of note occurs.



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.