VariGage moving along nicely

The ugly prototype of the Varigage Circuitry.
The ugly prototype of the Varigage Circuitry.

Well, things are proceeding, slowly but well. I’ve been busy with Christmas and general work and relaxing but it’s time to carry on with the device.

This prototype currently has the following features:

  • An Arduino Mega (will be replaced with a PIC)
  • HD44780 display module, may replace it with a nice flat transflective LCD
  • an ugly keypad
  • Input for quadrature from linear scale
  • Output to DC motor
  • Switching 12v to 5v supply
  • rs485 transciever for communication to the anvil

All of the parts are made but not entirely finished. Going to finish them soon. I was able to assemble them and the actuation is smooth as silk.

Anyways, gonna try to finish the mechanical soon so I can have the ungly prototype up and running. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a finished version ready for the oil show.

Enough fucking around… The VariGage

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.

The prototype VariGage. Not much to it right now but the implications of a miniaturized version are great.
The prototype VariGage. Not much to it right now but the implications of a miniaturized version are great.

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. 🙂

Three years at Rejent!

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.

The project is finished! And other goings on.

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.

A view from above on the two sizes we made for the customer.
A view from above on the two sizes we made for the customer.

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 is my new office for 2013. I have a new computer coming soon.
This is my new office for 2013. I have a new computer coming soon.

Final version of Digital Gage almost done!

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!

DigiGage top Digigage from the right Digigage from the top panelThere 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.

 

An update on the ol’ measuring tool

The prototype gage and the gage ring. looking good so far.
The prototype gage and the gage ring. looking good so far.

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.

The display of the gage. the large 18650 batteries are housed in the right hand side. This will be rectified in later versions.
The display of the gage. the large 18650 batteries are housed in the right hand side. This will be rectified in later versions.

Anyways, this post was for posterity. As always I hope it turns out well. 🙂

The Electrolytic Deburring Machine

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.

The Mitutoyo AT715 and me

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 precursor to my project, the Ultigage.
The precursor to my project, the Ultigage.

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.

The prototype board for this device
The prototype board for this 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.

After all, this is simply a post for posterity. 🙂

The YIHUA PS-3010D DC Power supply – Quick Review

The glorious PS3010D with its blinking segment and cracked screen. The front panel to the screen was cracked because I flicked it with my fingernail seeing if I could shake it a bit to make the segment work. Nope, just cracked the screen.
The glorious PS3010D with its blinking segment and cracked screen. The front panel to the screen was cracked because I flicked it with my fingernail seeing if I could shake it a bit to make the segment work. Nope, just cracked the screen.

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.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Reasonably effective
  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Another EDM wave form post

Well, at work we have a pair of semi-manual Ram EDM machines. The old CHMER seems to cut very poorly, so I wanted to see what the difference was. Here are a few images from the oscilloscope.

The Mercury FPGA Prototyping unit – Review

The Mercury FPGA from the side
The Mercury FPGA from the side

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.

The Mercury FPGA unit from the side
The Mercury FPGA unit from the side

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.

The manufacturers website: http://micro-nova.com/mercury

Thanks for reading!