Friday, October 28, 2005

Mechanical stuff

Last night I went over to "Open Shop" at Kent's. He has been having problems with his Lagun mill for the last year or so, it wasn't cutting square. He had tried a bunch of things, cleaning the ways, adjusting the gibs, but still had a problem, and he couldn't afford to take the mill out of service completely and try a rebuild. What made things so hard to diagnose was that the mill seemed to be true in the x-axis, but when cutting along the y axis the cut wasn't square, out by about .001"/1" which is not precise enough for his work (or most work).

So last night we tried a bunch of measurements. Checking a cylindrical sqare butted against the z-ways showed that there was no error in either x or y. What could it be? I figured it was either the vise or the head. Checking the back jaw of the Kurt vise showed it was parallel to the x axis travel. Clamping a square down in the jaws of the Kurt also showed no error. But then we put the square up on some parallels so that it was gripped by the top 1/8" of the jaws (which is how he holds most work in the vise). The error then showed up. It was the vise all along, not the machine. Seems it was twisting the work, and while when unclamped it was true, under the pressure of clamping it was out.Kent put a different vise on and the machine cut perfectly square. What was odd is that the vise was one he bought when he got the mill, new, about 20 years ago. All the Kurt vises he has have a key retaining the back jaw, but this one didn't. Maybe they added one later just because of this sort of problem, or maybe it has nothing to do with it at all. But he's happy now.

George was there to keep us on the straight and narrow, he was a machinist at GE and knows just about everything, when he pronounced our different test setups correct we knew they were, and when he saw problems we eliminated them.

George related a tale about how for one job he had to put a slot in the face of a bar, with the slot centerline through the center of the face. About half of them would come out with the slot slightly off of center, and he couldn't figure out why. Each bar had the same diameter and the setup wasn't shifting, but on some of the pieces the slot would be above or below the center of the face. he then realised that the bars were actually pentagonally lobed, and although when measured they would show consistent diameter, when put in the vise some would be on a flat and some not, causing the height to be different.

As you can see from the picture at the top, Max is now able to pull himself up and "cruise", even though he is only 7 months (not even yet) old. Yikes. Henry can now catapult himself over the baby gates, and I am loath to top them with razor wire. Henry has an annoying tendency to crank the volume on his computer. I asked on the Make "Talk" forum, but the only reply I got suggested that I should break him of the habit, rather than suggesting a technical fix. Like a boy can resist twisting a potentiometer all the way to "11"...Anyone know how to limit computer volume, besides operator adjustment?

Virtual Mechanisms Animated by Java

The Dreadnought Project

A Finnish Live Steam Site (in english)

It's cold and rainy and Felice is probably going to play hooky from the market tomorrow. My dad sent a 4 volume DVD set of Warner Bros. cartoons, so I hope to watch some Bugs Bunny while supine. I have no idea why he sent it, but it's great.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Caught in some sort of act

I don't know what was going on but Max sure looks startled.

I went to an auction yesterday down in Springfield. It wasn't an amazing auction but I did get a few good deals, like two Tapmatic tapping heads for $80.00, and a KDK toolpost set for $25.00, which probably means nothing to most of the 5 readers of my blog. The auction was poorly attended which accounts for the low prices. Talking to the auctioneer afterwards about why there are so few auctions happening, he said that the business climate was good for machine shops right now, which is good news. As with most auctions there was a fair amount of BS-ing, typical whining from the auctioneer, and some meaningless conversation. As at most auctions the auctioneer figured out that I was the guy who bids $5.00 for almost anything, so I positioned myself close by and started a lot of the bidding. Auctioneers are optomistic - they'll start an item at say $200, then drop to $100, then $50, $25, then having not received a bid, they'll look to a cheap guy like me and say "$5.00?" in a pathetically plaintive way. They refer to this as "pulling teeth".

Kent's big purchase was typical for him, an insanely heavy shelf and all the items upon it for $40.00. I got to use an electric chain hoist when we loaded it on his truck. He also bought all the oil cans, as he is crazy-oil-can-collector man.

The only downside to the auction was that the auctioneers didn't get a lunchwagon (roach coach) to setup at the site, so Kent and I were completely famished by the end of the auction at 3:30PM. We found a restaurant on the way back in Juntion City, and I ate a huge bolus of cheese fries and about 4 cups of coffee.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Catching up

Nothing going on lately. Max is crawling all over the place. Henry is still cute.
I'm going to an auction tomorrow with Kent.

This is one of the last pictures of Henry with binky. He decided it was "broken" and hasn't used it for 4 days. He did look for it in his ear last night, as that's where daddy finds a lot of henry's stuff...

Here are a bunch of cool things:
Is this furniture too clever? (via Funfurde)

This book, reviewed in the New York Times, is probably not going to be a guide as we raise Henry and Max.

Check out the picture galleries, incredible photomicrography.

Everything you wanted to know about barcode. And here's a page that will generate barcode for your name (or any other word).

I should subscribe to this new robot magazine, but I'm too cheap.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


We are all about parental discipline. Henry always eats at the table, napkin on lap for every meal.

I just can't believe that some people will let their kids turn the living room upside down while shovelling mac & cheese into their gullet with a side dish of mindless TV. Philistines.

The folks at Freesteel emailed me back, they are working on an open source CAM module, not necessarily a high priced program as I thought, which is great in terms of potential pricing. I find that I use more open source software as my software budget goes down. You really don't have to pay for most types of software, if you don't mind some hoop jumping and problem skirting. That said, some software (like Rhino) is well worth the price.

I installed a 2nd hard drive in my new PC today. Nowhere in the Dell instructions did it mention that you have to go into BIOS and enable the 2nd SATA controller. Good thing I'm smarter than the average bear. I also bought a cheap USB drive, Cruizer Micro, it was only $15.00 after rebate at Staples and I thought I might need it someday.

Here's another great birthday gift to get me.

And for the true geeks: Lego machine tools that actually cut toast.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I played around with POVray today...

We also went to the local farm and picked pumpkins with the attendant hayrides, etc.

Good night...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Wonder of Nature solved.

I received the following email from the local (OSU) university:

The beetle is a burying beetle, family Silphidae, genus Nicrophorus. I can't tell what species it is because ID is largely based on color patterns, which are obscured (totally!) by the parasitic mites on it. The orange antennal club suggests it could be N. investigator, a very common species in Oregon. Burying beetles feed their young on carrion, making a nest in the ground below the corpse, and feeding the young with liquified carrion. The mites belong to the Mesostigmata. They use the beetles for transport between beetle nests, where they feed on carrion, fly eggs, and sometimes beetle eggs. By reducing fly infestations, which would compete with the beetle larvae for the carrion, the mites are believed to have an overall beneficial effect on burying beetle reproductive success. Although I could find no literature stating that the mites feed on the adult beetles, carrying such a heavy load of mites is probably deleterious to the beetle carrying them.

Here is a website with a picture of another happy beetle, and another one in german.

On to other subjects, here is a site about the computer I first used to get onto the pre-internet "The Source"

Here is a blog about developing CAM software, which is fascinating if you have an interest in both programming and CNC. The blog doesn't care about interaction though, and seems mainly to be a way for them to let off steam. They need to be a little more outgoing as they state that they wish to be found on Google more easily. I will never be able to afford their software.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I need to clean the bathroom

This is what I found in my sink today. Any entomologists out there? It looks like a beetle being consumed by tiny spiders to me...
The beetle was sluggishly trying to climb the sink (it came from the drain? eek). I scooped it up and put it and the 100 spider babies outside for nature, or perverse abomination thereof, to take its course.
The beetle is roughly 1.25" long or so.

No worries about overeating at lunch for me!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Internet boy

Henry now knows to hit the "Back" button in IE to navigate a site. He doesn't know "Forward" though. We'll work on that next.

Felice managed to spill a glass of seltzer water on her head today. I heard a noise, then laughing from the kitchen. She has some sort of logical story about getting the baby sling stuck and pulling too hard, but I suspect her brain was overheating.

(For the TV addicted)
"Lost" is now on at the same time as "Veronica Mars". Must suck to be Veronica Mars, although I suspect that program times mean less in the age of Tivo than they once did. Yes, I enjoy both shows.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I finally did a massive site update. Nothing like editing pictures for hours with a headcold.

I have tons of Henry & Max pics but I need a better way of uploading and showing them I suspect I'll start using the blog, but I have been unable to utilize Picasa to put anything up but the tiniest pictures. I'll keep working on it... Well look at that, I added a pic to this post...Joe and Henry having a drink.

So my latest frustration with the Dell is that the 1GB of memory is divided up into 4 256MB chunks, so if I add, say 1GB (two matched 512 GB, for no reason I can acertain, but that's how it's done), I would only be upgrading to 1.5GB, not 2GB...Good thing I don't have any money for an upgrade...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

short little entry

I hate colds.

Henry can play the tambourine.

Here's a great blog about riding the steam trains of China (via BoingBoing)

Here is the web page of my latest customer.

Geodesic design software.

I haven't used it yet, and it was annoying to jump through all the hoops, but Acrylic is free and from the 5 minutes I've spent with it looks pretty cool...Oh, it's a vector/raster drawing program...Free is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying Illustrator or CorelDraw.

Night Night.