30 Oct 2019

The big deal last week was my baby sister getting married. Since dad had passed away, I took on the role of both giving away the bride and making one of the speeches. Everything was going fine, right up until I went to get her, walked down the hallway, turned the corner, and saw someone right out of… what, a wedding magazine? A dream? With the lighting, the dress, and, well, her, it literally took my breath away. Time seemed to compress; it was like two ends of a string had come full circle and touched. One end was when I saw her when she was one day old… and the other end was her there in the dress. All those years flashed by in the blink of an eye, and there we were. It was oddly difficult for us to make our way to the front of the event.

So… back to guy stuff, later that weekend I made a bit of progress on the electronic lead screw, routing the cables several times before settling on running them to the back corner where the hinges are. The plan is to mount all the electronics to the outside of the end cover (not the inside for fear of dust and grit. The idea is that about the time that’s done, the developer of the project will be selling his interface boards. While it runs fine without it—using individual boards—it saves so much clutter I want to go that way. We’ll see.

20 Oct 2019

An update on the electronic lead screw mentioned back in August. As mentioned then, the software was developed by “Clough42” in a Youtube series. My highest form of flattery is when after reviewing someone’s design, I can’t see how I can do any better. Fortunately, the designer open-sourced everything. Also, he used off-the-shelf boards, so nothing has to be fabricated, mostly, meaning that the servo motor and spindle encoder need mounting, and a box is needed for the display, controller, and power supplies, all to tidy it up but also to keep chips from shorting things out. The picture shows the cobbled together—but working—mess . The bracket alone took a fair bit of time and made a huge pile of chips.

I’ll next make the enclosure for the power supplies and controller next, but worked a deal so I don’t have to make the small display box. That’s because the designer provided CNC files for milling the cutouts and engraving the text. Someone else is making one as well and mentioned he’d made his display box using the CNC files, so I asked what he’d charge to make a second box – deal done. It saves a lot of time and I’ve made enough electronic boxes in my youth that I don’t mind avoiding another.

Anyway, while the designer used commercially available boards, he did go ahead and design a small daughter card that combines several functions together, which really cleans up the installation, so I’m going to pick up one of those as well. It makes the whole installation cleaner and more reliable, plus it keeps my build so that if he modifies the code, there’s no concern about it not working.


5 Oct 2019

A couple things happened this week. First was coming home from work, thinking what I’d accomplish before dinner. That  changed when a puddle of water was found near the front door. “Hmm, and the hot water heater’s on the other side of this wall.” There went that evening. Then while walking Midi back home today, I saw a huge tree branch that came down the night before that had crushed our fence and a small fruit tree. The “good” news is that it’s the neighbor’s tree, but I went ahead and cut up my side of it.

In garage news: this weekend’s goal was to replace the very worn lathe cross slide screw and nuts. The screw is an odd 7/8-8 left-hand Acme thread, but I found a place that sells it in reasonable lengths. A buddy is making the same repair to his Takisawa TLS-800, so he bought a chunk of bronze, along with a 7/8-8 left-hand Acme tap, which he loaned me.

The first job was to machine the bronze block to create the nuts. The key was fully machining it as one block and only separate the two as the last operation. Doing this ensures that both would index to the same position when installed (rather than one ending up off by, oh, 37.5°, for example). With those finished, the next task was repairing the cross slide screw assembly. Rather than starting from scratch, the plan was to cut off only the worn threaded portion and attach the new part. This avoided having to mess with the drive gear, which may or may not have been permanently attached.

Taking out the old cross slide was an education but straightforward, but then I realized the Catch-22 I’d walked into. In order to replace the cross slide screw required using the lathe for two operations: cutting down the new screw shaft, and boring out the forward section of the existing assembly. Thankfully, only the first operation required the cross slide. One end of the new Acme screw was turned down to 0.624″ without issue, though it did act like it had been hardened; oh well, that’s what carbide inserts are for! Next, the original cross slide shaft was removed from the lathe (again) and the worn section of the screw shaft cut off (no going back now!). The bit was installed in the lathe chuck and was bored to 0.625″, with the help of a reamer I had from building Midlana. The new section of screw was installed into the original section, with the far end located with a live center to ensure it remained straight, then soldered together… yes, soldered. I intended to use silver solder that I’ve had for years, but the flux was all dried out and I couldn’t get it to flow. Finally I gave up and used ordinary rosin core solder. I did this because the torque required during use is low, and since it wicks between the two metals and sees only shear torque. I remembered seeing a demo where two plates were attached together. One was lap welded, while the other was soldered together, with the same overlap. Somewhat surprisingly, the soldered joint was stronger because it has much more surface area of contact. We’ll see how it holds up over time. If it fails, there’s always pinning it. Anyway, in the fourth picture from the last is a comparison between the new and old screw thread—pretty striking wear.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking about how to improve my driving. It all comes down to not being comfortable with it in turns (its capabilities are far too high to mess around on the street). Turns out that Willow Springs Raceway has, in addition to the main track and the Streets of Willow, a drifting track. Though smaller than I’d like, it might work for gradually upping cornering speed in order to learn how the car acts at the edge of adhesion. We’ll see.

(Oh, I’m trying something new. I set the native resolution to my cellphone camera low enough that the pictures don’t have to be resized. It saves a step and I think the shots look better.)