Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Brass Sign

Here is a video of cutting a brass sign for a Christmas present. It was the first time I cut brass on the Taig mill so I went pretty slow. The video has most of the cutting sped up 4x so it is a little more interesting. Merry Christmas Brian and Amy!

 The first picture is what I was given for the layout. The next two are output from the design I made in VCarve Pro.  

To hold the sign in place during the through cut I used the Tabs feature in VCarve Pro. Then I used a hacksaw blade to cut the tabs and a file to remove the rest of the tab.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mario Bros. costumes with Sound Effects

This year the boys wanted to be Mario and Luigi. Kind of boring right? Well my wife didn't think they were ready for throwing real fireballs so we did sound effects instead. I wanted them to make the Mario jump sound when they jumped and be able to make the fireball sound too and maybe a few others. So I took a Wii Nunchuck, an arduino, a set of portable speakers and a birthday card to make this.

The Wii Nunchuck has an accelerometer in it so I used that to tell when they jump and also for them to control the rest of the sounds. The Nunchuck is connected to the arduino using an adapter that you can make or buy so you don't have to cut the cable.

For the sound recording and playback I found a birthday card that you can record 4 sounds on and playback the sounds by pressing each button. After tearing the card apart I found that it ran on a 3V battery so I used an arduino pro mini 3.3V for one and an arduino FIO which is 3.3V for the other. This way the arduino could directly control the sound board and power it too.

I have an instructable I made for this located here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halloween Firefly Costume

Last year we asked our sons what they wanted to be for Halloween and they both wanted to be fireflies so of course that was what they were going to be. It went without saying that they had to light up so my wife started working on the costume and I worked on the lights. Of course there wasn't much time until Halloween so it had to be pretty quick and easy.

For each costume I started with a cheap high powered LED flashlight and took out the LED assembly.

Then I took 2 AA batteries and put a piece of jumper wire at one end with some foam tape to hold it in place. On the the other end is the wire that goes to the battery connector and to the LED assembly. I soldered the wire to the LED assembly leads.

To make them able to light the lights when they wanted to I soldered a tiny switch and put heat shrink on it. I used the battery connector so the switch could be ran inside the sleeve of the costume and be removed from the light and the rest of the costume without having to pull the wire and switch out.

Here it is assembled. I don't have pictures of the rest of the costume parts but for the firefly light I cut out a sort of oblong half circle shape from thick styrofoam and cut a hole in the middle for the light. The battery pack was stuck to the styrofoam with 2 sided foam tape. My wife sewed a bag from yellow fabric and to make it keep it's shape she put fabric interfacing on the inside.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

CNC Router

 Here is my CNC Router that I built a few years ago based on plans from I was asked to make a sign for a friend and didn't like the router letter templates available so after doing a little research on the internet I found that you could build a CNC Router. It was a fun project to build and I never get tired of watching it move. Anyway, the sign may have taken a bit longer but it looked really good when it was done.

 The limit switches still aren't hooked up but I did make sure the E-Stop button works. I really like the Big Red Button I found at Gateway Electronics, it just makes it look more like a real machine for some reason. I also got the transformer for the power supply there.

I went with the Hobby CNC controller kit bundle which was very affordable but you have to solder it yourself and build the power supply. I am glad I did because this was my first big electronics project and it has been another hobby I have enjoyed ever since.

It is currently staying at the St. Louis Hackerspace called Arch Reactor. The video of it below is from the Arch Reactor open house at the old location and has some other cool stuff from there on it too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cutting the parts for the robot arm.

 I just got my Taig mill a few months ago and I am still learning a lot about machining (mostly how to break small end mills) and one of the reasons for getting the mill was to make robots with my 5 and 7 year old boys. So, we decided to start with a robot arm and I found drawings for one on I started cutting it out of 1/8 inch aluminum and realized pretty quickly that the time spent while the CNC mill cuts out the parts is spent removing the chips and spraying cutting fluid or else the aluminum welds to the end mill bit. After sitting for a couple of hours doing this I did some research and found that it wasn't that hard to setup a flood coolant system for the Taig mill. This lead me and my brother to build an enclosure to keep most of the coolant from flying everywhere and a tub, drain and filter system to get the coolant back to the sump. After a few hours of building and lots of on the fly re-engineering we ended up with this.


There are a few things I would like to change about it and a few things I will just live with but overall I am pretty happy with it. I had a pretty good idea of how to build it but as things went together I saw some problems with the design and just did quick things to get it working. I think I will at some point make a removable shield that actually mounts to the x-axis stepper mount and take down the table mounted shield on the right side.

I had seen a manifold to mount the coolant hose to the mill head at and so made something like that. It was my first real part that I made manually with the mill. It was pretty fun but I will probably do most things with the CNC.

So this is the difference between cutting without flood coolant and cutting with.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Robot Arm

 Just a quick post to have something to start with. Here is the new robot arm, just got it moving. It is based off of by jjshortcut. It is made from 1/8 inch aluminum cut out on my Taig CNC Mill. Halfway through cutting out the parts I had to stop and build an enclosure and flood coolant system for the mill but that's another post... It is controlled (currently) by a Wii Nunchuck connected to an Arduino which controls a Pololu Mini Maestro 12 servo controller.