Hardware

IMG_0807After setting up the Probotix Fireball V90 CNC machine, and using it to cut out a number of pieces for various projects, I decided I wanted a better way to control the router’s spindle speed.  Although the Bosch Colt router that I was using had a speed dial, it was impractical to adjust it as I was cutting a project, and impossible to tell what speed it was actually running at.  A setting of “7” on a 1-10 dial means nothing in terms of actual spindle RPM. Continue Reading

Main Clock 1Now that we have our first nixie tube clock built, it was time to step it up a little and make something a little more challenging.  Nixie tubes, using a glow discharge instead of LCD or LED displays, have an old world charm to them, yet can be made to operate similar to a modern display.  The plan here was to pair these tubes with a nice wooden clock case, made using the CNC machine.  The end result is something that has a warm wooden feel to it, with a colorful numeric display which is both attractive and, when used with a GPS for accurate time setting, highly functional as well. Continue Reading

V90 CNC MachineOne of my interests involves robotics, especially autonomous self-charging robotics. However, I realize most of my skills center around microprocessors, wood construction techniques, electronics, and some limited computer software skills. I knew I was missing the ability to make custom, metal and/or wood components for my various projects. Thus, the need arose for a CNC machine. If only I knew how to use one!

After some online research, I narrowed down my options to a Shapeoko or a Probotix Fireball V90.  The Shapeoko is significantly cheaper and everything is made with open source license rights.  The Fireball V90 uses some proprietary components, costs more, but has a stronger setup and is more capable than the Shapeoko.  After considering my needs, I decided I wanted to be able to carve and cut both wood and metal, focusing on aluminum.  I’ll need to dedicate space on my workbench for either of these two machines, and dust collection will be an issue for either one.  I understand I will need a separate computer if I purchase the Fireball V90, and I may need separate CAD software.   Continue Reading

A completed Yagi antenna.Every once in a while, we happen to lose something around the Rusty Nail Workshop. In most cases, if we wait a while, it will simply turn up again without us having to look very hard. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, and sometimes a better solution is needed.

For example, we are interested in high powered model rocketry. Along with these rockets come very big and powerful rocket engines. Engines powerful enough to cause our rockets to soar to great heights. Naturally, with even the slightest breeze blowing, the rockets tend to drift on the way down and can often travel large distances over land (a mile or two). If there happens to be a forest or corn field in the rocket’s landing area, finding the rocket can be a very big challenge. This is a problem when some of the rockets start to cost a lot of money and when you’ve invested a lot of time in their paint jobs. Continue Reading

Helmet CameraWith the miniaturization of camera components, including the increasing size of flash storage space in such small packages, the shrinking of cameras was inevitable.  With the decrease in size, the ability to record just about every aspect of one’s life is also possible.  Plus, the cameras can go where it was previously impossible.  This makes it attractive to record those moments where we really feel alive – when the adrenaline is rushing.  Thus, enter the world of the helmet cam(era).

POV1.5After conducting a bit of research on which helmet camera offered the best quality video, the smallest size package, and the most robust features and camera body, I selected theVIO POV 1.5.  It’s expensive, but I hope to recover some of the cost when I sell it later to fund another project. Continue Reading

Sony Vaio PThe Sony Vaio P has taken a lot of grief because it is a slower “netbook” than other models.  Yes, it is a netbook, and yes it is slow.  That’s not all bad.

First, the device runs without a fan, and if you get the solid state drive, without any noise or moving parts!  And did I mention it runs Windows Vista?  Yes, it’s slow, but it is usable. Continue Reading

WELLike any good do-it-yourself project, this one started with a need.  I have a home which has a radiant floor heating system.  I’ve never had a heating system of this type, and as such, I tried to learn everything I could about the operation of this system.  My biggest concern was the operation of the system when I wasn’t at home.  What if the house temperature dropped and the pipes froze?  How would I know?  Clearly I needed a way to monitor the performance of the system without actually being at home. Continue Reading