Pre-Christmas things I’m workin’ on!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything (I think every post starts like this) so I’m gonna document a few things I’m working on right now. Things that are both for work and some things that are not.

First off, the Mikro C compiler deal. A few days ago I went over the the mikroelectronika site and noticed that they had a sale on their compilers, a large develpment board for free if you get the compiler. I already have the PIC-C compiler but I figured it’s time to buy a new on since I haven’t actually purchased one for years.

So, for $250 you get both the compiler and the large development board.

Lot's of buttons and lots of stuff.

So there is the BIGPIC 6 board. It’s a well built board, .120″ thick and the parts and overall quality are top-notch. Granted, I haven’t used it much since I’ve only had it a couple of days, but if you’re going to try out a compiler and want a development board to test out your compiler, this may be your ticket.

The BIGPIC 6 in profile

The only thing I was disappointed about was the lack of inclusion of the displays. They’re not that expensive and from the site has them for way too much money. You can buy them off EBay and wire them yourself if you want though.

Ok, and now for another item of interest of things from the work front. Gages! RTJ gages, BX groove gages and RX gages.

I’ve been tasked with designing our new series of RTJ groove gages. My primary idea is to make it completely electronic and build a non-referential gage. Basically my electronics version is a linear bearing attached to a DRO slide

Digital Gage
My Digitial Gage Design. I have most of the parts and am working on the electronics

Doesn’t look impressive, it’s just a prototype really. Here are the actually slide and dro scale. Right now I’m working on interfacing the LS7166 quadrature interface controller but that’s going to take a while since I have to work on the dial indicator version of the gage since the old design has started to reveal problems.

Dial Gage for RTJ Grooves

Anyways, I have all of the materials and I am working on the varieties of things needed to complete these things.

Linear glass encoder
Linear bearing
Yes, an Arduino!

Anyways, these things are all coming along nicely and not in a vaporware kind of way. I shall keep things updated.

A die, proper

Well, it’s been some time since I’ve made a die. This is a relatively simple one for a customer. I had some problems with alignment and some mixed up number on my part, but it seems to work adequately. As always, some pics…

So, here is the unpunched pin.

The pin, un-flattened
The pin, un-flattened

And here it is flattened… all while maintaining the angular alignment of the reed and guard.

The pin punched flat
The pin punched flat

initially it was a pain because the material would mash in between the guard and the plate but I solved that. Here are some more pics anyways…

The die open
The die open
The die coming closed on the plate
The die coming closed on the plate
Valve reed and guard in the pockets
Valve reed and guard in the pockets

Well, there ya go. Fun fun.

From start to finish, a cutter.

We had to build a certain cutter for a customer and I figured it’d be neat to document the drawing and then the finished product. This is a cutter I designed and I think it turned out nice.

Conception of the cutter
Conception of the cutter

And here’s some pics of the finished result.

From the side
From the side
Overview of the cutter
Overview of the cutter
Insert Installed
Insert Installed

Anyways, nothing spectacular, but I like to document these kinds of things. 🙂

The magic of EDM machines

The other day we were asked to remove a section out of a valve. It’s not a huge valve but milling it would’ve been difficult all the way to the center so we put it on the EDM to blast out the side to make the inside visible. through to the stuff on the inside. Here are the images.

another view
another view
EDMing of valve looking from the top
And a view from the top. gotta love the clean edges with the rough gritty surface.
EDMing of valve looking from the side
Here's a look at it from the side

This was all burned at 150 amps which is max for this machine.

A look as it was being burned, not much to see

Nothing crazy interesting, but I thought it may be neat.

Happy 2011! uuh, I guess a bit late though.

It’s been well over two months since I last posted. Frankly, not a lot has happened in the meantime anyways. Work is going well and life is pretty good. That said, I’ve begun to regain my inspiration for electronics again and I’ve been going hog wild building stuff in the evenings. Just some stuff to touch on I guess…

My Lab

Well, again I have a secluded labratory in the shop I work at. It consists of 2 desks, two shelves and all of my equipment. It’s nice to hang around and listen to music and stuff while having access to all of the manufacturing facilities I could ask for!

Here’s a picture of my lab as I was setting it up.

The new lab as of 2011
The new lab as of 2011, this is an early picture. there is more equipment, parts and shelves now

It’s a real treat here and I’ve been sitting up here for many hours on my projects lately. Yay!

A veroboard planner PDF

Not really a project per say, however, somebody might want it. It’s for printed pcbs from PCBIran which have a ground loop on the outside and sets of rows and columns. Somebody may find it useful. I dunno.


The Shop

The shop I’m at is investing in new technology (IE. CNC mill and CNC Ram EDM) and I figured it’d be neat to take an overview picture. Sure is crowded though. 🙂 The mill, as was stated earlier, is a Haas VF-5 with a 40 taper and the Machine is a large CHMER EDM, more on that thing later in the post

Shop Growing
The shop I work at is growing, but not in floor space. 🙂

It’s actually much tidier now, this is when we were installing the EDM.

Rotary Table and CHMER EDM

I am developing a rotary table interface for the CHMER Ram EDM. The fools at CHMER decided that the machine requires NO extra M-codes for interfacing to external hardware… WHY!!!??!?

So now I have to monitor the outrush current of the pump, turn it on and off a prescribed number of times and then the rotary table can index. I’m still kind of in shock that nobody has ever presented CHMER with this problem. Weird!

The TI Launchpad

I have just ordered the TI launchpad for $4.60 or whatever it cost. TI is attempting to break into the hobbyist market something fierce. unfortunately, after looking at the development tools available, they are all way overpriced.

While they do provide a code-size limited version, which is useful for most things, I think people like to have unfettered access to their chips and what kind they use from a particular vendor. When the development tools that allow this are in the $500 range, that’s simply too much.

Perhaps there will be some good 3rd party support like Atmel and Microchip has and they can really take their MCU’s to the next level. It’d be very cool. 🙂

The Rest

Well, there is probably still more to say after such a long hiatus but I can’t think of it now. I do have some other ideas banging around in my head like a new design of the coolant refractometer which won’t foul. A robot that is machined beautifully and function on sonar. And a new coolant nozzle design that will kick Spider Cool’s ass from here to main street (I’m actually pretty stoked about this one).

The new Haas Mill Features

The company I work for has recently purchased a Haas VF-5 40 taper machine to augment the capabilities of the shop. Seeing as they didn’t have one before, this will greatly improve the capabilities of the shop.

The item of interest to me is the fact that it’s brand new and Haas has made a number of changes to their CNC mill line. Aside from their new higher contrast 2-tone paint job and sharper featured shrouding, here are some interesting changes that they’ve made. This may not be new to some people but if you haven’t used a haas made in the last 4 years or so, this may be of interest.

The Control

Haas Control 2010
The new haas control

Nothing amazing about this control aside from the fact that the screen has a lot more info packed on the screen. Selecting one of the screen buttons toggles between the panels rather than actually displaying a different screen. None of the buttons have changed their functionality otherwise. I do find the screen switchovers to be a bit laggy and difficult to read at a distance but it is otherwise OK. Also Probong has a much more integrated setup than in previous versions whereby you can offset tooling from the tooling screen.

The Jog Pendant

Haas Pendant
The Haas Jog Pendant now has an LCD screen and greater functionality

Like the image says, the pendant now has an LCD screen. It also features two sets of dials and a toggle lever for axis slelection rather than the rotary switch allowing you to use it without looking too much at the labels.

The larger dial on the face is an analog dial that allows jogging at various speeds and goes about a quater turn left and right that springs back. the smaller one serves the original purpose of increment jogging. Increments are chosen on the screen rather than on a dial.

Also, things like current program, offsets, and various other minutia can be displayed.

Haas Jog Pendant LCD
The Screen on the Haas Pendant

There are is a problem though. That being the noticable lag from the pulse encoder to motion occuring on the machine. Often times when you want to move there is a considerable time difference from when you turn either the analog wheel or the pulse encoder. Also when you use the pulse encoder at a high rate, it skips many of the ticks or gets “jumpy”. the motion is not smooth.

Overall though the functionality is greatly enhanced.

The rest of the machine

Here are some of the other changes I’ve noticed.

  • Quieter Spindle
  • Different Coolant arrangement
  • Different design on the programmable coolant
  • Larger casting
  • Side window locks
  • an additional set of shelves on the side with a light
  • Power saving settings
  • Different Shrouding and duo-tone paint.
  • Removal of coolant tray around table
  • Shrouding around chip spigot
  • Raised handlebars for moving coolant tray

There are probably more changes than are what is listed here. Here are some pictures of the machine

Inside of a Yukiwa Rotary Table Control… and WTF!

So today I we got the power going to a brand new Yukiwa rotary table, unfortunately, it seems to produce dangerous voltages on the case of the actual rotary table itself… dunno why.

Anyways, if anyone’s interested in seeing the innards of the device, here’s some pics.

Unit and rotary table in behind
Inside of the AC3 unit

By the way, this is one of the most beautifully made rotary tables I’ve ever seen.

Some changes, some improvements, some fun.

Yes, it’s been some time, again. Every post I make seems to say the same things. anyways. Here are some things I’m working on and also no longer working on.


No, nope and no. They bore me now and plus I don’t think there’s much of a market beyond a select few. meh. No lonjger working on it

In-line refractometer

I’ve been slowly working on this. I had a sample of a special coating and tested it. Sadly it didn’t work as I had expected. The only way for me to figure this out would be for me to make the coolant into a mist or to pour it somehow.

EDM Wire Chopper

This is a relatively new idea for me. the Chmer CNC wire EDM here at work doesn’t chop the wire that comes out the back. Already I’ve had it bind up on me. So I’m developing a new chopper that doesn’t pull on the extra wire that comes out.

There are some criteria that are important here. The electrics of the chopper must not meet the wire and the frame of the chopper must not be conductive to the frame of the machine. Here are some pictures of my idea thus far. There is some work to do on it, no doubt, especially the chopper cutter, could be a bit more sturdy.

EDM Wire Chopper
A view of the inside of the prototype chopper module

EDM Chopper assembly wireframeEDM wire Chopper assembly drawingCNMG Facemill

I was thinking about this idea for a while. Since so many shops use CNMG432 for general turning, it’d be nice to be able to use the obtuse side of the insert for something. While there are turning tools that utilize the obtuse side, they are usually only for facing or OD turning. Not very convenient. So I designed a facemill for use with CNMG432 obtuse side inserts.

This particular design is of course only for facing, no shoulders allowed 🙂 Here are some images of this cutter.

cnmg432 facemill 4

cnmg432 facemill 2
Another rendering of the CNMG facemill. Of course the arbor mount isn't correct

Anyways, things being what they are, I should have some new and interesting things to post in a few weeks since I have access to EDMs and soon CNC mills on a more unfettered level. YAY!

Long time no post. Machining and trying to get back on my feet.

Well, it has been some time since I posted, about a month and a half or so. There have a been a number of events that have occurred in that time that have both beneficial yet disappointing. I’m not really sure where things are going right now but I hope they get better. 
Anyways, on to some things I’ve been working on.
While I am a decent machinist, it is a job that I vowed to myself I would never do again. Lo and behold, I am machining again in order to get some funds and to simply make it through the months in terms of rent and bills. Some of my previous stuff has left me bone dry in terms of money. Realistically, I should thank my lucky stars that I have a skill I can fall back on that pays well and is relatively easy, most others are not so lucky.
Luckily, the shop I’m working at is pretty decent, though I’m not the machinist I once was and my machining style doesn’t really match the pace and style of the jobber shop I’m working at. Hopefully I either get better soon or find something more along the lines of what I’ve become good at.
Stamping machine with the Haas mill
This is a little project that I came up with after thinking about dot-peen machines. Basically the idea is to take a Haas mill and allow full control of its machinery to turn it in to a makeshift dot-peen marking machine.
This feat is accomplished through the serial port with a pass-through interpreter box connected to a computer.

Haas Tool Room Mill TM-2

Here is how it is all achieved.
First Step: Computer – 
  This is where the points and fonts are generated and created. All of the end points are sent out from the computer at a lower baud rate than the mill uses. This allows for longer cable length on the RS-232. Of course I could use USB or RS-485 but RS-232 is more common an interface. A sample output might be:
MOVE X.455 Y1. (Basically a rapid move)
STMP X.461 Y1. (Stamp here)
STMP X.467 Y1. (Stamp here)
HOME (Go back home)
The communication is full duplex between the pass-through and computer so that the pass-through can request more data.
Second Step: Pass Through – 
Despite its name, it does not actually pass data through. It interprets the data and controls the stamping head. It will interpret the data and send the machine the appropriate G-codes to perform the commands. The pass through will communicate with the machine at 115200bps whereas the computer <-> passthrough is about 9600bps. a sample output might look like this (based on the above text):
G00 X.455 Y1.;
G01 X.461 Y1. F200.; (move to stamp position)
DPRNT [S]; (Is at position, passthrough will stamp)
G01 X.467 Y1. F200.; (move to stamp position)
DPRNT [S]; (Is at position, passthrough will stamp)
G28 G91 Z0;
G28 G91 Y0;
Third Step: Stamping head – 
Not really a step so much as device to peen the surface of the part. Here is a picture of an earlier design I made for a stamping head.
Solenoid head for custom dot-peen machine

I don’t know if I’ll ever do this one. Macros need to be enabled in order for this to work so a lot of machines won’t be able to take advantage of it. Also, my time is limited.
Programming a CAM system
Since the shop I’m at has no CAM system for the guys on the floor and I don’t want to use a cracked copy of say, Gibbs or MasterCAM. I’m writing my own. The going is slow but I am slowly developing a little 2.5D cam system. The math function are working and the object creation is starting to come on line. Now for an interface. I am thinking of migrating over the VB.NET for this program since it does have a lot of nice object handling functions and it is a little easier than creating a user interface from scratch.
Anyways, That’s what I’ve been up to for the last while. Hopefully I get a car soon so that I don’t have to walk in this anymore. 🙂

Walking down 97st in edmonton

This was taken on my walk home the other day.

A crummy little servo tester and other minutia

The little servo tester
Well, I needed a way to test all of these servos I got from EBay and I decided to spend a little time making a quick and dirty little board for doing that. It uses a PIC12F683 and has a linear pot attached to it. Simple.

Crummy servo tester
Crummy servo tester

Viscometer Board and stuff
I’ve been working on the software for the viscometer. Every function appears to work, at least based on the rudimentary prototype I have currently running. I am working on a scripting system for this device. I could make it just a basic viscometer but, as anyone that knows me, I simply can’t do. Here’s a pic of the working board.
The prototype viscometer board
The prototype viscometer board

An EEPROM file system
After thinking about how to store files appropriately and trying to have a file system that can work easily with 1024B of space, I started coming up with ways of defining a reasonable file system. Here it is.

  • First 2 bytes are settings, things like block size, filename size and special behaviors like for EEPROMS that can only be written to with blocks.also defined is the address size 8b, 16b or 32b
  • Each file in the FAT consists of a name of either 2,4 or 8 bytes. this is determined by the setting.
  • Following the name is one byte detailing the flags such as read-only, archive, and whether it’s open or not.
  • After the filename and attribute byte, are the addresses. These addresses can be 8, 16 or 32 bits, however, an 8 byte address can address something larger, say 2k rather than 256B if you set the block size appropriately. This of course lowers the efficiency of storage space but allows for some growth in the file. The file can have any number of addresses in order to remove time wasted moving stuff around.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been working on as of late. Fun!