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Browsing articles from "December, 2010"

Nothing New Under the Sun: Starrett Caliper Pressure Device

Dec 14, 2010   //   by   //   Blog, Cool, Techniques  //  No Comments

Kenneth Maxon, who runs the fascinating Max’s Little Robot Shop, wrote to tell me of some Starrett calipers he has which incorporate a precision spring loaded device for precise positioning. He describes it thusly:
I am lucky enough to have some older starrett calipers that perform phenominally and they use a similar mechanism. Inside the head under the dial) there is a sliding spring loaded cam mechanism that moves the head by a precision amount of compression.
Most people look at the markings on the face of the dial and assume that each tick is 0.0001, however, the actual numbered ticks are 0.0001, and each individual tick if 0.00001 apart. The jaws have hardened / ground carbide inserts.

Super-precision Starrett Calipers…
The new-fangled electronic whiz bangs are cool and all, but the Old School pure mechanical approach is fascinating too. Like the audiophile stereos of yore versus today’s digital rigs, I’m not sure we are so terribly far ahead in terms of absolute performance, but we have made the high end level of performance available more uniformly and cheaply.…

A Caliper Pressure Device

Dec 14, 2010   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Products  //  4 Comments

Most machinists know that if you need accuracy to a thousandth (0.001″) or better, you can’t use a calipers. At the same time, the digital calipers is such a convenient tool for ID, OD, and length measurements. Machinist’s of yore were fond of their steel rule, but many of the newer generation are fond of their digital calipers.
Is there no way to make the darned things a little more accurate?
Enter the Caliper Pressure Device.
I’m going to call it a “CPD” rather than spell it out every time, but the basic premise of the CPD is that the accuracy issues of a digital calipers are due to flex associated with uneven application of pressure. We all know that if we anticipate the measurement we’d like too much, we are more likely to get that measurement, even though it isn’t real or repeatable. So the CPD is a spring loaded device that applies the same relatively modest pressure every time:

The CPD can press against the caliper from either direction of travel…

There is a constant pressure spring inside the barrel

Fancier versions are available…

The CPD is available from Danish company Flexible Measuring Systems (FMK). No sign of…

New Home Page and Screen Shots for G-Wizard G-Code Editor

Dec 10, 2010   //   by   //   Blog, Software  //  No Comments

The main screen with a popup “hint” showing…

Backplot / Simulator running a part program…

“Hints” tab with a couple of errors showing…
Check it out and sign up for the free beta test……

Tool Length Offsets and Tool Data Management: A New CNC Cookbook Recipe

Dec 10, 2010   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments

Managing your tool length offsets and other tool data is essential for successful CNC work. This new two part Cookbook Recipe article delves into topics like:
– How Tool Length Offsets are used
– Pros and cons of positive versus negative tool length offsets
– The many flavors of touch offs
– Gage lengths and all that goes with them
– How to turn your VMC into a zillion dollar height gage
– Probe-style tool setters
– Tool presetters
– Tool data management
– The importance of consistent tool length for chatter
Hope you enjoy the series. Part 1 is available now, and part 2, which will delve into presetters, data management software or systems, and chatter will follow shortly!

Probe-style tool setter. The spindle is running backwards, can you tell?…

G-Wizard Now Has Support for Carbide and Form Taps

Dec 10, 2010   //   by   //   Blog, Software  //  No Comments

We’ve always been able to properly calculate the tapping drill size for cut and forms taps, but now we’ve added feeds and speeds for carbide cut, carbide form, and HSS form taps. As you will see, these taps can bring a lot faster tapping performance to the table (pardon the pun!). G-Wizard will also tell you when a combination is not recommended, for example form tapping hardened tool steel is not recommended.…

Candy Red Powder Coating

Dec 10, 2010   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Products, Techniques  //  5 Comments

I love the finish on aluminum IronMan from CNCZone is getting here:

Translucent Candy Red Powder Coat, not anodizing!
While it looks like a nice anodizing job, IronMan reports it is Columbia Coatings Translucent Candy Red. I have the impression from the post he chose it because he didn’t want to go to the trouble of setting up an anodizing line. Whatever the reason, it came out looking great. Makes me wonder what the relative durability of this finish is compared to anodizing. He states a mirror finish on the aluminum is needed to get results like this. He obtained that finish first with 600 grit sandpaper followed by buffing with polishing compound.
Very nice!…

G-Wizard Store is now Open for Business

Dec 10, 2010   //   by   //   Blog  //  No Comments

We’re now accepting orders for the G-Wizard Machinist’s Calculator. Just click the link on the registration page to buy.
The Beta pricing is only available for 30 days and then it’ll be list priced. List is $69/year for a subscription and $129 for 3 years. Beta pricing is $99 for 3 years.
Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the free beta test of the G-Wizard G-Code Editor. This product has been coming along nicely, though it is still a number of months away from shipping.…

Last Week of G-Code Calculator Beta Testing

Dec 3, 2010   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Software  //  No Comments

In with the New (G-Wizard G-Code Editor) and out with the Old (G-Wizard Calculator). After having been tested by literally thousands of machinists from over 500 different companies from all over the world, I’ll be closing the G-Wizard 1.0 Beta Test next week. The calculator has come a long long ways with the help of many great suggestions from our Beta Testers. I really appreciate all the diligence and help!
You can still register as a Beta Tester until the end of the week, but Friday, October 22 will be the last day we accept Beta signups. I’ll close it at 6pm Pacific Time just so we have a defined cutoff. If you have any friends who might like G-Wizard, I suggest you let them know before the Beta Test is closed so they can sign up for it. The reason is that the Beta Testers will receive special pricing which I will tell them all about in a note that will go out when the test closes, so you’ll be doing them a favor by making sure they sign up in time to be eligible for the Beta Tester special pricing.

G-Wizard Calculator’s Tool Deflection Optimizer…
When the Beta…

G-Wizard G-Code Editor is Open for Beta Testers!

Dec 3, 2010   //   by   //   Blog, Software  //  No Comments

We’ve just finished up 2 weeks of Alpha Test and all the serious bugs reported by the initial group of 50 testers have been fixed. Therefore, I’m opening up GWE for general Beta Testing. If you’d like to try it out or just learn more about it, the home page is here with a registration button.

G-Wizard G-Code Editor……

Special Purpose Robots

Dec 3, 2010   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool, Techniques  //  No Comments

We’ve reached a point where its actually pretty easy to build special purpose robots for various manufacturing tasks. For example, here is a robot that cuts off blocks of resistors from the rolls that feed pick and place machines. It’s used to put together parts packages for electronics kits (hat tip to MAKE Magazine for this video):
Some of my other long-time favorites are this little CNC punch press:

It’s hand powered and just uses the CNC to position the material. I’d love to have a positioner like that with some sort of universal clamping system so I could move it around the workshop and use it where needed for various tasks.
Or how about this cool little CNC-automated bandsaw for cutting off small pieces of stock:
http://smg.photobucket.com/flash/player.swf?file=http://vidmg.photobucket.com/albums/v30/jglass/Automation%20Projects/barfeederfeedend.flv
It would be very cool to create a clamp-on attachment like that for my big Delta Rockwell vertical bandsaw. Give it a big bar of material and have it cut it to whatever dimensions I please while I’m doing something else in the shop.
I was recently talking with a machinist friend about the idea of creating a bar feeder for a CNC mill using technology similar to the little bandsaw. If…

Heated Outdoor Furniture

Dec 3, 2010   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects  //  No Comments

I’ve had this crazy idea for a long time, so bear with me as I explain it. I live in Northern California right on the Monterey Bay. The views are gorgeous and the weather is generally good, but it can get pretty chilly at night. It’s a shame, because the clearest most gorgeous nights are often the coldest. I was sitting around a little firepit we have with my brother one day when an idea hit me–what if the furniture could be heated, even just a little bit? You know how nice it is to have heated seats in your car, well this would be the same for the lawn furniture. While I was at it, I wanted to get the heat from the camp fire to do it, and I decided the best way would be a heat exchanger and circulate the hot water through the furniture cushions in some tubing of some kind.
As so often happens with these sorts of things, especially when a little alcohol and some cigars are involved, that idea vanished in a puff of campfire smoke. It was just an idle fancy anyway.
Okay, so what prompted this post? Well, scanning through the…

CAM Tip: Align Lead-ins and Lead-outs With Part Corners

Dec 3, 2010   //   by   //   Blog, Software, Techniques  //  1 Comment

If you want to minimize tool marks resulting from lead-in and lead-out moves while profiling, align those moves with the part corner. For example, check out those moves on this part:

Finished part is blue, toolpath is yellow. Note lead-in/lead-out on the lower corner, exaggerated for emphasis…
The technique works because the tool only touches on the corner during lead-in lead-out. If you can’t manage to use the corner, approach with an arc as described on the milling surface finish page.
 …

G-Wizard G-Code Editor Goes to Alpha Test

Dec 3, 2010   //   by   //   Blog, Software  //  No Comments

With the G-Wizard Calculator Beta Test nearly over (if you haven’t signed up, you should, as there will be special pricing for Beta Testers–pass the word!), I’ve been spending a lot of time getting GWE, the g-code editor, ready for some testing. This week, its been made available for Alpha Test, which is an exciting milestone. Alpha is the step before Beta, and it means things are likely still pretty buggy, not documented, and generally it may surprise you. You’ll have to decide whether you want to be an Alpha Tester or wait until things are a little further along and it gets more stable.
So far the reports have been pretty mild. In any event, the Alpha Test would give you a chance to take a look at it in the early stages and make some suggestions for where you’d like to see it improved. Feel free to check in, if interested. Full details on the GWE Home Page.

Once the initial flurry of bug reports have been taken care of, I will try to get together an introductory video. I know it makes it a lot easier to come up to speed, and it’s something I wish I…

Tic Tac Toe

Dec 1, 2010   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects  //  No Comments

How about machining up a quick little Tic Tac Toe game:…

Super Soaker Prototype

Dec 1, 2010   //   by   //   Blog, Business, CNC Projects, Cool  //  No Comments

Here’s the prototype for the Super Soaker:

Visit the Wired Magazine article for a bunch more cool prototypes……

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