First game played

So since my last update as usual what progress has been made has been across a number of projects but not really anything pivotal. On the Lathe front several sections have been cleaned for painting and then install. The swing head assembly is ready now for masking as is the change gear guard backplate and the front and rear bearing guards.

IMG_0252 (Resized)

IMG_0251 (Resized)

Once the swing head assembly has been installed the belt guard will be remounted as well as the first belt and the motor. The bearing guards are still waiting on the headstock to be painted.

IMG_0253 (Resized)

Several more coats of paint have gone on the top of the arcade machine. Some troublesome screw holes have required a lot of sanding and repainting to cover them up but they’re almost gone. A couple more coats on the top and I’ll focus on finishing off the sides in preparation getting a sheet of glass cut for the top. The first control panel was wired to the Jamma board in the weekend and then rewired as it had initially been connected to the player two connections as opposed to the player one connections.

IMG_0247 (Resized)

(Screw holes can be seen in the middle of the top reflection of light)

The car stereo that is driving the speakers was also wired up as well as a couple of fans for some airflow. I’m still going to have to check that the screen doesn’t get too hot lying down as that the majority of the cooling will be passive and to having the screen lying down won’t exactly be the most efficient.

IMG_0244 (Resized)

The first couple of games were also played with good results.

IMG_0257 (Resized)

IMG_0258 (Resized)

The second controller has now been drilled and had several coats of paint applied so once this has dried the controls will be mounted and wired into the player two connections. After that the Perspex panels behind the controls will be mounted.

IMG_0254 (Resized)

Once the glass has been fitted to the top section that will be installed and the height and position of the screen will be adjusted to fit

IMG_0259 (Resized)

The petrol tap for the lawnmower arrived the other night, once installed the mower was filled with petrol with no leaks. The mower also started pretty quickly compared to the first time and after letting it sit overnight it started the next morning after only a couple of pulls. A cork gasket has also been installed between the mower deck and the engine which means that all three of the initial issues identified after it was initially restarted after being stripped down have been addressed.

IMG_0248 (Resized)

IMG_0249 (Resized)

IMG_0250 (Resized)

I still need to strip and paint the wheel mounts and height adjustment rods, once that is complete they’ll be reinstalled and the wheels and blade chucked back on. I still need to check that the carb and governor is running properly. At the moment the Heavy / Normal selector lever does nothing (although it shouldn’t really until the engine comes under load, all it seems to do is give preference to a more open throttle position) and the governor seems to be doing its best to throttle the engine back. I’m betting though that this is because the blade has not been installed. Hopefully both the air resistance of the blade spinning and the resistance between the blade and what it’s cutting should load the engine enough that the RPMs drop enough for the governor to control the throttle properly. We shall see….

One of the annoying issues that I’ve had with the motors used on my 3D printers so far is the motor shafts have a 4mm diameter as opposed the more standard 5mm shaft. This basically means that any of the readily available GT2 gears with either a 5mm bore or an 8mm bore don’t fit on the motors. I don’t feel like paying moonbeams either for a 4mm bore gear as investigations thus far have revealed them to be 3-4 times the cost. Thankfully the majority of the motors thus far have come complete with GT2 gears already fitted to the shafts and so I’ve been able to use those. On the Kossel however I decided that these gears wouldn’t be suitable, despite the fact that they have a low tooth count which helps with precision, they don’t have a flange on the outer edge to keep the belt from slipping off. On the shorter belt lengths on the I3 and the V2 I’ve managed to address this issue with careful alignment of the motor, idler bearing and carriages the Kossel doesn’t really have this amount of customization when it comes to the position of these components.

To this end I decided that the best option would be to order a low tooth count GT2 gear with an 8mm bore and then make a spacer to adapt the 4mm diameter of the motor shaft to make them fit the gears.

A perfect job for a lathe you might say! If only I was a month further along in reassembly I would reply. Bugger.

As a solution I went with an old trick. Mount a drill in a drill press the wrong way around, lower the bit into a vice and clamp, release the chuck and gently raise the press again. Insert the work piece, turn on the drill and slowly lower onto the drill. If you take it gently the drill should self-center and drill down the middle of the work piece. Imagine a lathe standing up on end.

IMG_0225 (Resized)

IMG_0228 (Resized)

It’s less than ideal and a bit of a pain to get everything aligned but I managed in about 15 minutes to turn out 3 spacers with a hole only .1mm off center, should be good enough.

Until next time



The Mower Runs!

One of the big concerns I had with taking the mower engine apart was whether it would run once it was all back together again… After replacing all the gaskets, finishing the cleaning and then remounting it 3-4 minutes of yanking on the starter cord caused it to fire up and settle into a regular idle. Three things became apparent very quickly. Firstly there is a decent leak from the petrol tap down onto the carb and then onto the mower deck so this needs to be replaced. Secondly there is a leak from the bottom of the carb where the drain valve is. This is basically a small rubber grommet held to the bottom of the carb bowel with a spring so it’s not surprising that its leaking. Finally there should be one more gasket between the engine and the silver muffler bit that bolts onto the mower deck, then it won’t belch smoke, oil (maybe I poured too much in) and other crud out onto the top of the mower deck.

The carb bowel issue was perhaps the easiest to fix, remove the old rubber bit and spring completely and then replace with a stainless steel m3 screw with a nitrile rubber washer. Whilst this means there is no way now to drain the carb it has stopped the leaking. Some decent legwork on Google located some new old stock of petrol taps and even more legwork located a guy in Florida that is selling more new old stock of the exhaust gaskets.

The petrol tap is on the way at the moment, the gaskets still haven’t surfaced at the YouShop depot in the US yet though :S

We’re basically at this point at the moment (the shroud and gas tank were mounted but needed to be taken off to fix the carb and I decided to leave them off until the new tap arrives).

IMG_0214 (Resized)

On the lathe the motor mount has now been mounted as well as a few other parts (added after the photo was taken) Next step will be repainting the swing head assembly and refitting that. Once that is complete then the belt guard and motor can be remounted.

IMG_0222 (Resized)

IMG_0223 (Resized)

The Arcade machine received its paint over the last week and with the exception of some troublesome screw holes on the top surface the painting is now complete. The green T-slot has been inserted into some of the slotted areas as has one of the control panels.

IMG_0217 (Resized)

IMG_0218 (Resized)

This control panel has been wired up but not yet connected to any of the rest of the gear yet. A power supply and the JAMMA board have both also been mounted.

IMG_0220 (Resized)

IMG_0219 (Resized)

IMG_0221 (Resized)

6 more of the wireless nodes have been completed this week as well bringing the total working nodes to 12 good and 1 slightly suspect node (called such as it was the first one built and initially had the power connected the wrong way… It works but still)

IMG_0210 (Resized)

On the programming front all 12 good nodes work on a network now communicating back and forth to the base node. The single digital pin and both the analog pins that are broken out onto the node header on the remote nodes can be controlled from a small (and still WIP) bit of software on a computer connected to the base node. The remote nodes can also report back to base the voltage of their power supply and temperature. Basically a serial string sent to the base node causes a message to be sent to the desired remote node toggling the pins or flashing the LED’s for identification purposes. At the moment the focus is now on developing the PC side software and building a higher power base node.

I’ve also started building one of these…

IMG_0197 (Resized)

IMG_0202 (Resized)

Lawnmower Engines, Mesh Networks and Lathe reconstruction commences

With the mower deck now all painted aside from the flappy chute thing I could now start to reassemble it. First step was bolting the mount for the exhaust and the motor back on to the deck. I had elected not to paint this and I think that it looks quite nice in contrast to the blue. When I had initially started spraying on the blue the color was nowhere near the color of the cap and I thought there was no way that it was going to change the amount needed, but thankfully after three or four coats its come up a deep blue that should go well with the red shroud.

IMG_0164 (Resized)

After that it was a case of squirting the gasket stuff into the 2nd half of the exhaust and then letting it dry before bolting together.

IMG_0163 (Resized)

Apparently this Blue Max stuff isn’t recommended for exhaust applications but whats the worst that can happen, It’s good for the temperature and is only a lawnmower after all.

Next step was tackling the dirty lawnmower engine shaped elephant that’s been sitting in the corner since the project started… I don’t think it’s ever been cleaned based on the amount of built up grass, dirt, oil, and unidentifiable gunge on most surfaces.

IMG_0172 (Resized)

This is after about 30 minutes of gunge removal. This and the next few pics were taken to increase the odds of getting it back together again.

IMG_0166 (Resized)

IMG_0169 (Resized)

IMG_0168 (Resized)

Two hours of rags, brushes and petrol though gave the following result, quite an improvement.

IMG_0173 (Resized)

I’m now waiting on some gaskets to arrive before further re-assembly, when I got the motor there was a two stroke leak from somewhere and I figure whilst it’s mostly apart the gaskets may as well be replaced to hopefully stem that. More to come when that happens.

Something else that I’ve been looking into recently is home automation / smart home systems. It seems that there is a lot that is coming out in this area now with the ease of access to smart LED bulbs and wireless door locks etc but at the same time not anything that is reasonably priced to implement and able to cover both a wide range of input methods (sensors, human control…) and outputs (lights, TV, blinds, arcade machine…) I suppose because any system would need to be fairly bespoke and therefore pricy. Since the interface between a micro-controller and whatever its controlling would seem to be the easy part (and also the part that would require customization depending on the output) I figured a good place to start would be with the network (I also decided that I wanted something wireless and reasonable easy to retrofit).

Looking around the internet I found a blog about how to network together a whole lot of Arduino nodes with the nRF24l01+ radios. This method ticked most of the boxes that I had, low-cost per node, low power consumption, easily expandable and versatile in regards to inputs and outputs.

To that end, after making a tweak to the design I sent the board off to iTead Studio to have a number of the boards produced, the bonus was that I was able to fit 4 of the nodes on the 10 x 10 area ordered from iTead resulting in 40 individual boards (once cut up…). These arrived on Friday.

IMG_0159 (Resized)

IMG_0160 (Resized)

A couple of days before the boards arrived I had received new toys (the components) from Digikey so no time was wasted soldering one up to test before putting together another 6.

IMG_0138 (Resized)

IMG_0162 (Resized)

Bootloader burned thanks to Arduino ISP sketch.

IMG_0139 (Resized)

I’m still waiting on some headers to arrive from China and then Ill plug the radios onto the boards and have a play with the network layer that maniacbug has put together before tweaking it for my own purposes.

On the lathe front, re-assembly has now commenced on the bed. Over the next couple of days as parts dry they’ll be fitted back on.

IMG_0176 (Resized)

IMG_0161 (Resized)

It seems that the parts that were sprayed don’t have the same level of gloss as the brush painted parts but aside from that the color of the two seems to be a pretty good match.

Arcade machine has not been plastered and after sanding tonight or tomorrow painting can commence!

IMG_0175 (Resized)



Cleaning up Lathe Handwheels and robo dollys

I’m going to start this post with a warning. Spinning machinery has the extreme potential to remove limbs and fingers. Be EXTREMELY careful when operating lathes, drill presses and other workshop equipment. I don’t want to be responsible for any damage you may do to your self whilst replicating the below. Do so in any form at your own risk.

This last weekend I managed to finish spraying final coats and touch-ups on several lathe parts and so decided that it was finally time to re-approach the hand wheels. Originally when I had started stripping the paint off with the sandblaster I’d hit the outside of the wheel in several places by accident which then dulled the finish on the wheel. As a stop gap measure, until I could work out what to do about this I sprayed the whole thing with a primer to stop any rusting. I figured that any attempt to re-polish the wheel would use some form of abrasive and so I may as well remove the primer at that point anyway.

After searching around the internet for a while I came across this website , the results that this guy has with some of his restorations is beyond belief and the end result he achieved with his hand wheels was pretty much what I was after so I decided to copy / modify the process.

Seeing as the restoration of the lathe has resulted in the disassembly of the lathe there was no lathe to turn the lathe parts on… so I had to resort to the wheel mounted on a section of M8 threaded rod mounted in a drill press.

1 (Resized)

Once I had confirmed it was mounted securely and wasn’t turning off center I flicked it on and started with 400 grit wet and dry sandpaper, moving through 800, 1000 and 2000 before finishing off with 00 and 0000 synthetic steel wool.

The wheel just after the paint removed,

3 (Resized)

and then whilst polishing with the 0000 nylon wool.

4 (Resized)

Note in the above photo the drill is turning in a clockwise direction and is pulling pad away from me and out of my hand. I believe this to be the safer side to be doing this on, if your hand slips it’s not as likely to get caught in the spokes of the hand wheel which will definitely result in fingers getting torn off.

After being cleaned up the wheel was masked and then had the first top coat applied. One more coat in a week followed by any touch-ups a week later should finish this off.

9 (Resized)

Whilst in painting mode I also put two more light coats of etch primer on the lawnmower deck and then the first top coat. I’ve only got it as it was ex the top coat but I’ll grab a couple of pics of it with the blue top coat on tonight and post them up.

7 (Resized)

That’s it paint and photo wise. Here are some videos of the first moving tests I’ve done on the camera dolly. A  model servo should hopefully arrive this week which means I can print the remaining parts to finish off the pan section of it before moving onto the tilt part.





Cleaned & Painted Lathe, Mower and what I’m printing now

So after the Lathe had soaked in the tub for a week it was taken out and all the black crud was scrubbed off with some 3M nylon pads whilst spraying it all down with water. After it was lightly dried it was then rubbed down with phosphoric acid, then washed down again before being quickly dried with hair dryers and towels. The end result was this

20140510_110646 (Resized)

20140510_110639 (Resized)

The whole thing was then given a good scrub with IPA before a primer coat from the Killrust range was applied. After drying for a couple of days the first top coat was then put on leaving it looking like this.

3 (Resized)

There is still one more top coat to go on but I think I’ll wait a couple of weeks to let the current paint dry. Its starting to get colder and more humid here which I suspect isn’t helping with drying times. There’s still a fair amount to do but once the final coat has gone on and its had some time to dry then reassembly can finally begin again. Most of the parts to get the headstock back together have either been painted or are in the process of being painted and should all be finished around the same time. Stay tuned for experiments in handwheel polishing and masking..

Also this last weekend William and I got the first coat of paint on the lawnmower deck. I’d been putting this off for a while because before painting there was still some finishing that needed to be done on the deck. The amount of trauma that this mower has suffered is beyond belief with numerous cracks on top of the deck, a massive split down one side and a fist sized hole in the other. The fist sized hole was pretty much the main repair that needed to be completed, it had already been patched (probably more thoroughly than needed) but in the spirit or over-engineering I also wanted to weld / solder it together.

I found this product on the internet called Durafix that is supposed to allow home users to weld aluminum together with a MAPP torch and no other special equipment. On their website there is a picture of two aluminum cans with their bases attached to each other with the stuff but I’m dubious aye. Admittedly it could be the stuff that the mower deck is made out of but the finished result hasn’t been as solid as I was expecting. On some of the smaller surface cracks I opened into a V groove with a grinder to get better penetration and the Durafix seems to flow into that alright but I’m not sure how strong the bond is. For example it’s quite easy to flick up the edges of any Durafix that has flowed out of the join and across the deck. I guess what I’m saying is the bond between the two materials doesn’t seem to be the same as say solder and copper… Time will tell whether the fixes will hold up I guess but I was hoping for joins that looked a bit more resilient. Just to clarify both the parts were scrubbed with the supplied wire brush and both were hot enough and were able to melt the Durafix without the presence of the MAPP torch.

All that aside we ended up with the following setup to weld the massive hole together,photo 1 (Resized)

Gas ring to add more hotness. End result.

photo 3 (Resized)

This was then cleaned off and ground to match a bit better the contours of the surrounding metal. It won’t win any awards but if it holds together then all well and good.

A couple of other minor holes were patched before it had a etch primer sprayed on.

photo 5 (Resized)

6 (Resized)

Before painting

photo 4 (Resized)

and after. This will get one more light coat of primer and then the first top coat in the next couple of days.

4 (Resized)

On the 3D printer front I’ve got 2 x new projects going. Firstly the parts for a Mini Kossel have started to come off the I3. Getting there slowly and I have the extrusion so just waiting on some hardware from China before frame construction can begin.

20140508_221441 (Resized)

Secondly I’ve started work on a robotic dolly for a small camera using OpenBeam extrusion. From design through to one finished section.

20140508_121958 (Resized)

20140508_220722 (Resized)

20140508_221327 (Resized)

20140508_220654 (Resized)

20140509_204002 (Resized)

Stay tuned..















Mower Restoration – Initial inspection

So recently I acquired an old 2 stroke lawnmower off Trademe for a real good price. From what I can find so far these particular engines were produced between 1954 and 1977 so the mower is very likely older than I am and yet still runs on the first pull.

IMG_6268 (Resized)

Whilst the mower runs perfectly I decided to take it apart to have a look at the workings and see what maintenance / cleaning could be performed to prevent any future issues from developing. After removing the top cover the first problem that needed to be dealt with was the massive amount of gunk that accumulated on and around the engine since it was last cleaned. Apart from that most parts looked to be in pretty good order, there were some mis-matched bolts and nuts and some peeling paint but the rest looked to be in pretty good order. The only other could-be-potential-I’m-not-sure-it-could-be-normal issue were a couple of wet patches underneath the carburetor and cylinder head. I guess only once a proper clean has been done will it be possible to know what is really going on here.

IMG_6269 (Resized)

IMG_6270 (Resized)

IMG_6271 (Resized)

IMG_6272 (Resized)

After scraping most of the gunk off the shroud and fuel tank Bill and I began stripping off the oily residue and flaky paint that was left behind. The end goal is to get these both to the point where they’re nice and shiny and ready for spray paint. Next the mower was tipped on its side so we could open up the muffler (banana shaped part behind the blades attachment). The inside of this was pretty clean with only minimal carbon build-up so I assume that the engine is running pretty well.

IMG_6273 (Resized)

Next step will be removing the engine from the base. We’ll strip the paint from that and inspect the repairs that have already been completed on either side of the base. It looks like at some point the deck has cracked and someone has gone and riveted some extruded aluminum across the crack to hold it together. These patches will then get removed, the cracks cleaned and then properly fixed with some Durafix or similar. Something similar will be done to the chunks that have been taken out of the front of the deck between where the blades spin and the front axle goes. Then it’ll be strip, clean and spray for the deck.

In regards to the engine a good clean will be first, and then an inspection to work out how it goes together before too much more is removed. Following that a greater break down into individual parts for further restoration and investigation into the potential leak. From a first inspection it looks like the cooling fins on the head may also need to be stripped and re-sprayed with some high temperature paint as there is some flaking happening. Hopefully the project should come together pretty quickly without too many issues, the fact that the mower runs well, has good compression and only a small amount of build-up in the muffler means that aside from the oil leak hopefully not much other than a clean and paint will need to be done.