Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Another New Year- off and running.

  Hello again.

  Well a new year dawns and with it my unrealistic expectations of what is possible. Constrained by the draconian impositions of a 24 hour day and the wasteful need to sleep it may be possible to get everything done.

  Fortunately last year sales were pretty much on par with the 2 years before that. Overall retail sales have been growing while contract work has been steadily dwindling. The latter due to the brutally short life span of some hobby start ups. Some things are doing well and others have been gigantic flops. The Magic poker chips may be the worst product ever. Absolutely no one likes them. It was rejected as a news item- (now you know why I need to be nicer to people), and got me banned for life from a forum for even mentioning them. And this was a marketplace forum of things for sale. The second worst product reception of the year, and would have been number one if not for that Sigmar thingy. Last year I ran about 35,000 parts so that keeps me busy. I do hope to make something new this year at some point. Not poker chips I can assure you.

  But things are looking up in a couple of ways.

  I continue the vertical integration strategy with this new beauty.

 It is the EDM machine. All 1350 pounds of it. Some days a fork truck would come in handy. In my feeble old age I was reduced to getting help moving it. What a disgrace. I am running wiring today to connect it. It runs 30 amp single phase. The problem is that it requires a specialty oil to use. I really thought this would not be a problem until I learned it takes 30 freaking gallons and it costs $30 per gallon. I almost needed a kick starter to buy oil for crying out loud. Instead it was some extra hours at construction and I am picking the oil up today. I got a discount code for checkout and saved a bit of cash which helped.


  This is the control panel. You can see there are switches, dials, knobs and buttons. Pretty much the entire range of things to play with. Not really sure what any of them do except maybe the on button. Will be finding out soon though. 

   The instruction manual includes the usual cliche safety warnings- "Acid is not to be used to rinse eyes" and other such drivel. It also has these helpful charts.
  Pretty straight forward if you have a degree in calculometry I am sure.  Unfortunately I skipped that class along with all the other ones so Google is going to have to be my friend on this one.

  The real advantage of the EDM is that it should allow me to do everything. It is the last piece in the puzzle, aside form the critical lack of manpower. 

  In reshuffling the shop I took the time to set up a resin casting and paint/hobby area.

 The speakers hanging on the wall are from my old Army days purchased in a pawn shop in about 1986. Kept them all these years and now get to enjoy them while painting. Even got a mini fridge now. The map on the wall is a magnetic campaign map for a failed Warhammer battle generator. The system seemed to work great but the game fell apart when folks got to fighting in real life and the tabletop. I will run this again someday.

  The 3D printer is taking some tinkering to get dialed in but results are improving. Tip #1- spray the bed with hairspray to make the first row stick. It helps a lot.

  And finally, the real carnage of a real battle.

  While replacing those leaking pipes I inadvertently opened up a passageway for yellow jackets living in my wall to invade. The ongoing  battle lasted weeks with the bees suffering heavy losses. Every day a new swarm was flying around in the rec room. They seemed to exhibit a primitive tactic of flying in to a window glass over and over again. When pressed, they adapted this to crawling up pants legs and stinging or falling down shirts and stinging. At the height of the blitz there were about 50 in the air at once. Now we are down to the occasional straggler. It seems the hive lacks the resources to launch another full scale attack. That might change in the spring. I have got to patch that hole someday. 

  My goal this year is to recruit some sort of partner, but that is not really likely so we will see what I can get done myself.  The ideal person can work and think. If pressed I will take a worker. Thinkers are out of the question. People who are convinced that thinking alone gets things done are frustrating to me. Thinking about making a sandwich is integral to making a sandwich. But if you don't crack open a loaf of bread you are going to starve to death setting on your ass thinking about it.  

   I want to once again thank all the great folks who have helped me along the way. It has been a great adventure so far. Last week  shipped the 5000th order. Really amazing. People have been wonderful with an extremely rare exception or two.   Not sure how many customers read this, but if you are thanks. And if you are reading this out of morbid curiosity waiting for the inevitable implosion, thanks to you as well. 

  Let's see where this year leads.


  1. Will you be cnc cutting graphite electrodes for the EDM to form mold cavities?


  2. Yes that is one possibility. That will allow sharper corners. The main bonus is being able to burn one side of the mold with the other to clean up the organic parting lines and reduce flash.

  3. Sorry to ask, what is an EDM? Electronic Dance Music/Machine? ;)

  4. Sorry to ask, what is an EDM? Electronic Dance Music/Machine? ;)

  5. Her is an overview on wiki-

    Basic idea is to cut with tiny sparks instead of milling tools. An old technology that is being replaced lately by ever more precise CNC milling machines. For my application it should be a good tool to have around.