Well, After some time thinking about it, it’s time to take things into my own hands and design what I want, the way I want it. Since it’s shortly after my 34th birthday I’ve realized that time is getting short and I have to forge ahead.
Hence, the VariGage. I’ll change the name later but it suits it just fine for now.
This device will allow for a multitude of gaging options with full communication between the anvils and expansibility. Gagemaker makes something quite similar however, mine differs in a number of ways in both design and use.
Affordability, the average machinist should be able to afford a unit to fit in their repetoire. While it’ll be a very expensive tool, it’d be nowhere near the 12,000 bucks or so of the GageMaker device.
Anvil communication. The device will communicate with the anvils allowing for future use of anvils that weren’t available upon first creation of the device. also this allows for cheaper calibration of anvils rather than the device itself.
The device is motorized. It will position itself to the desired location and hunt when the user is pressing and calibrating a gage on the device. The final version will involve a clutch to allow rapid hand positioning
Light weight with modular display design.
These are a few of the differences. The market is completely different from what GageMaker sells. I’m not even completely sure it’s sell able but I simply have to build it. I have a few other ideas and designs I have to get done but this is the first in the line and I think it’ll be very interesting when done. Heck, it’ll be nice to have if I go to another shop even, who knows. 🙂
Well, It’s been three years at Rejent (plus a week). Since I haven’t updated in a while I figured I’d go through some of my Solidworks files and post a few of the things I’ve worked on during my time here. After looking through the files I am quite amazed at how freakin’ many parts I’ve worked on over the time I’ve been here. Hundreds of different things!
Anyways, here are some pics of a few things I’ve worked on during my time here, albeit a very limited selection of them.
That was just a few of them that I randomly found, nothing too crazy since some of I couldn’t really show. Well, let’s see what the next few years brings.
I have just finished the project that has taken up the last 3 months. Delivered to the customer and they are very happy with it.
I’m so glad to be done this project. While it wasn’t a terribly long project, I’m glad it all went off without any real problems. It measures better than they’d hoped and it’s a pretty attractive little package, for what it is. Next iterations will be significantly smaller and I will look at new encoders to use.
Also, as an aside I have set up my new office. It’s nice to get out of the basement. I now have a lot of free room now so it’s nice to spread out and be able to sort through all my shit and set it up as efficiently (for me) as possible.
This device is almost complete. Yes, It’s missing its buttons but the device seems to work well and nice and smooth. The real anvils are almost done and the device will ship to our customer fairly soon and I’m glad to see these guys be done!
There are still some tweaks to make especially in the realm of overall rigidity but overall it’ll be a neat device to attempt to bring to market in different ways.
Well, it’s coming along with some speed. I am now going to build the final version complete with internal battery charging, better logic and a severe reduction in mass. Hopefully this will go down well with the customer.
Anyways, this post was for posterity. As always I hope it turns out well. 🙂
Something I haven’t worked on in a while but is coming up is my new electrolytic deburring machine. I figured I’d post a couple of pictures for posterity.
In it’s current state, it does work to a degree. I need to work on the chemistry of the fluid. Right now it seems to just pit the material. Perhaps the voltage is too low or too high but I suspect it’s purely a lack of conductivity or the incorrect chemistry for this type application.
Eventually we should be able to deburr cutters and various other items. Just thought I’d share.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted and that’s primarily because I’ve been working on a project. I have to keep some of the details to myself but I will show some pictures of the prototype that has taken me a couple of weeks to design and build.
The device uses the AT715 from Mitutoyo and what an interesting device it is. With a resolution of .0005mm and an RS485 interface, it is an ideal device for measurement and for use on machines. The device, which uses magnetic induction, uses 30ma whereas a lot of other glass scales use up to 250ma @ 5v. This is a pretty cool device.
Well, I can’t get into a great deal of detail because the product I have in mind may compete with other gaging companies like Gagemaker with a universal, handheld, high precision, digital gage that has active, rugged and dynamic probes. The images shown are that of a rough prototype, I’m not normally secretive but once one is built in a few weeks I can post some images of the more refined version.
Having needed an adjustable power supply with a bit more current, I decided to buy this guy for about $140 off Ebay. I’ve played around with it a bit and I decided to review it because I’m sure there are a lot of people like me who buy cheap test equipment. You don’t pay much and you can’t expect much, but you can just hope it does the job.
I performed a few tests that you can see below:
So, if you looked at the values shown, you’ll see it works OK. Anyways, here are some pros and cons to this device.
Knobs and switched feel good
Nice high current for a unit like this
Nice grill effect over the LED’s make it look like a dot matrix LED
Standard size case
LOUD LOUD LOUD! Not quite vacuum cleaner loud but louder than anything else in my office.
Front power connectors are kind of flimsy and cheap
Displayed and measured values do not quite jive
Does not have a handle on the top, it’s nice to have a handle on test equipment
Otherwise, the unit works as expected and I’ll write the LED flicker off as a coincedence. It’s too bad that it’s so loud, they could’ve used a different fan or something, becomes a real distraction. If you need something like this that produces 30V at 10A, this may be good purchase.
A few weeks back I got my Mercury FPGA unit and what a nice little unit it is. The device plugs directly into a breadboard and could potentially be used as a drop-in for through hole PCB projects. When I got the unit I was impressed with it’s overall appearance, they sure packed this guy tight.
Having played with this a bit I can see the usefulness of this device. Here are some of the features.
A Xilinx XC3S200A-4VQG100C running with a 50Mhz oscillator
Complete with proper voltage regulation @ 1.2v and 3.3v
Some 5V tolerant IO pins
A USB port for direct programming and power from the USB port
A separate ADC with 8 channels linked to the FPGA
A couple of switches and a few indicator LED’s
You can program through the JTAG interface
You can use the Xilinx ISE design tool to synthesize the project and you can use the Mercury software to upload it to the unit. Just based on the little bit I played with it, it seems to be a very useful unit. It’s great for learning (like I am to a degree) and is well designed and labeled on the PCB. There aren’t a lot of bad things I can say about this device except a couple of minor issues.
Issue one would be the sheer size of it. The unit fits on the bread board but with only one spot left on each side to connect things. This is a very minor issue and they did a good job making it as small as it is with as many pins and size of chips it does have, but having only one remaining pin could be an issue.
Issue two is its price. At $65 USD it’s a but more expensive than some other units out there. That said, they are unique in their pcb profile and the developers have to get paid for their time. My serial number was 147 so with such small batches, it’d be difficult to lower the price point. Hopefully it becomes wildly popular and the price can come down to a point where it can be considered a consumable of sorts.
Anyways, aside from my very minor complaints, this device is pretty cool. I can see all kinds of projects benefiting from a DIP style FPGA unit unlike the others which seem to have an arduino style PCB that makes it difficult to include in a project. I recommend that anyone who is going to learn FPGA’s give the Mercury a shot.