I’ve now gotten about 30 survey responses, which is enough to start looking for trends and doing research on some new articles of interest to the readership.
First, some observations about the overall tone and content of the responses:
I really appreciate the constructive view most have taken. With the Internet, and particularly when there is the opportunity to respond anonymously, sometimes you get a lot of hostile or very unconstructive feedback. Not here!
There is one major challenge, but it’s one I’ve known about for a long time–the readership is decidedly bi-modal. What I mean by that is that there is clearly a large group that wants articles that are more “high-end”, “professional”, or “advanced”. There is also a group that wants more “beginner”, “introduction”, “shopmade/homemade”, or “getting started.” I didn’t notice too much in between, and both groups are almost the same size in terms of feedback responses. That’s cool. As I said, I was already aware of it and think it’s very healthy that I don’t go off too far in one direction or the other. Accordingly, I will try hard to publish articles for both audiences.
One other observation–a few bemoan the articles and talk about G-Wizard. Sorry guys, but it pays the bills. You’ll have to learn to cope. Besides which, I do try to write about the products in a way that you could take the lessons discussed and apply them with or without the software.
Second, I wanted to publish some of the specific ideas so you could get a sense for what people are proposing. One thing to be aware of is I try not to write about a subject unless I have direct experience with it and have carefully researched it. So, for example, I had a request to delve into the hand scraping process to produce precision surfaces. This is an area I will get into when I learn how to do it, but I wouldn’t just go read a bunch of articles and then write about it like I had a clue, LOL.
Okay, here are some of the ideas that I think will make good articles, in no particular order:
– “Gcode interpreter for Mariss’s forth coming new drives.” This is a fascinating topic and a broader article about drives, their various formats, motion control boards, and the potential for the two to come together would make a good post.
– “Using a CNC mill as a lathe with gang tooling. How to set that up, tool it, and program it.”
– “DIY cool projects and ideas.” Amen. Always looking for fun quick projects. I was recently casting about for gift-worthy projects that could be CNC’d. I will try to do some of those on my own and write them up in the blog.
– “Scratch built spindles.” It’s coming. When I have finished my mill enclosure, I will probably CNC my lathe next, and then will look into belt drives. Meanwhile, I have been collecting research data like crazy on it.
– “Setting up home and limit switches.” Yep, I’ll be doing this as part of my CNC lathe conversion once I get going. I’ll be sure to detail that all out.
– “Fixturing” Oh yeah, this is one of my favorite topics. If you come across cool fixturing, or tooling that you particularly like for unique workholding, drop me a note!
– “Gear cutting.” Definitely something I will do at some point, if only because I want to add gear calculations to G-Wizard. Gotta build my 4th axis first though!
– “Custom CNC Builds.” You’ll see my lathe conversion before too long (I hope!). In addition, I’ll be on the lookout for cool builds on other sites and try to throw in some pointers here to them. I agree, it’s been a little while for that stuff.
– “Help and Restoration for Users of Old CNC Machines.” There’s some potential for this in conjunction with G-Wizard Editor. One of its missions is to translate g-code as a sort of post-postprocessor. You won’t see something in-depth until I actually get into restoring an old CNC. That’s on my list, but not very high up.
– “High speed machining” You bet, it’s one of my favorite topics. I follow this stuff closely and build it into G-Wizard. When I get my belt drive up and going on the mill, I’ll be showing some more HSM stuff in action too. I think you’ll be surprised at what a small mill can do with a suitably high speed spindle. I also have a series on chatter tee’d up that just awaits final research and software support. I’ve made some posts on Practical Machinist that allude to some of the chatter-related calculations you’ll be able to do. I also got a request to discuss Trochoidal Tool Paths. I’m going to write a little code generator “Wizard” that will do conversational trochoidal slots, just for the heck of it. That will let me play with the parameters. I want to compare Trochoidal with Constant Cutter Engagement paths, for example.
– “Highlight small shops” As many of you know, I do have the Home Shop Hall of Fame. I’d love to add to that. If you have a great small shop, either at hope or a pro shop, drop me a note with some pix. Happy to highlight your shop if it has something unique or interesting about it. The same goes for projects you’re working on, especially if you used G-Wizard to help (natch!).
– “Which cutters?” This is a good topic. The respondent wrote a detailed note about wanting to understand which cutters shops keep in their toolchangers, and how to select the best cutter for a job.
– “Blue Swarf” LOL, love the blue screamin’ meanies! This could also refer to the kinds of HSM things the folks at Blue Swarf are doing. Both are very cool.
– “Mill versus Gantry Router” I need to get more experience with a gantry first. But, the good news is my brother wants one bad, so I’m sure we’ll end up building one before too long. Probably a plasma table too!
– “Ramp Angles” It turns out, there are some upcoming “Mini-Calculators” being added to G-Wizard. We already have one to figure surface finish for ballnoses and turning. I’ll be adding one for figuring feeds and speeds ramping and one for interplated holes.
Phew! That’s a lot of wonderful feedback and great ideas!
Please don’t be offended if I don’t get them all written right away. As I mention, I like to do my homework until I’m very comfortable with a topic before I write it up. Some of these ideas are going to take some more schoolin’ on my part, but that’s always a good thing. In addition to articles I directly research and originate, I love to call attention to other great sites and articles. If you see one you like, drop me a line and I will spread the link love to it. Everyone benefits as my readers get to see a cool article and said cool article gets more traffic.
One more thought: if you think you’d like to try a blog post, why not a Guest Post on CNCCookbook. Send me your idea or article and I’d be happy to take a look. No advertising please, I reserve that for G-Wizard, LOL!
Okay, let’s keep those cards and letters coming. The surveys will be a permanent fixture here, although I may change what they ask from time to time.