Tuesday, 30 December 2014

PocketQube PQ60 Breakout and Prototyping board

It's been a while since I blogged about Satellites and stuff but wanted to do a post about this board I received as a gift from my antipodean buddy Stuart. Stuart is the man behind OzQube-1 Australia's first PocketQube satellite and very kindly sent me this board as a Xmas present!

So it's the first of hopefully more boards that Stuart plans to sell that adhere to the new PQ60 standard. It is a breakout from the Hirose FX8C-60 and also has a nice breadboard/proto/kludge area!

It's great that Stuart is getting boards out of the door and (we talk a lot on PM!) he is so dedicated to his project and is working really hard to get his PocketQube built. There's more detail about these boards HERE

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lasercutting and Longworth Chucks

Little lasercut Longworth Chuck from concretedog on Vimeo.

Rather decently the emerging innovation quarter of Pontio at bangor university allowed me to sit in on their Co Lab laser cutting training this week. Rather than turn up with nothing I thought I'd better take/draw something to laser cut. I had been playing with making laser cut plywood scalextric car chassis as a learning project using Ellesmere Port Fablab's laser but thought I'd do something else. So Tony at Fablab had been making these "Longworth chucks" which I had never heard of! They are essentially two similar discs of material with arced guides which hold bolts/threaded bar which move in a self centring fashion to hold work, creating a motion similar to a camera iris. They seem to be a useful bit of kit (in a larger form) for wood turners who need to turn the underside of bowls etc, but could be useful in many work holding situations. (I plan to make one and turn up an adapter to have as a chuck on my DIY rotary table/dividing head project).

I didn't have a file to cut though, so a search revealed this excellent tutorial from Nerd Club which I followed through and made a design for a 4 jaw 60mm chuck. Its a well written tutorial but, even so, you go through some complex stages to get to the finished design!

The thing about laser cutting is it is so quick.. maybe an hour to draw the thing using free opensource package Inkscape and then 2 minutes to cut the discs.. in fact I snapped one whilst assembling it and had another cut within 2 minutes.. thats amazing!

Friday, 3 October 2014

olympus trip 35

I have got interested in shooting some film again and recently picked up this lovely olympus trip 35 for not very much off ebay. They are glorious little machines, beautifully built and are notable in that they are almost totally mechanical and battery less. The only concession to electricity is they have a selenium element on the end of the lens.. (early photovoltaic/solar panel) which sends current to a little coil which sets a pin that mechanically connects to the aperture to correctly adjust the aperture diameter for the exposure...if there's not enough light it pushes a red bar up in the viewfinder and refuses to fire the shutter.. such an elegant system.

Mine however had the common stuck aperture syndrome that lots of these have so I had to completely strip down the lens and rebuild which was entertaining (my best tip is to mark a line on the body and then mark every piece you remove lined up with the body mark so you can rebuild the lens with everything in the right place!!) There's some good instructions/advice about stripping down the trip 35 here.

So here are some shots from the first reel of film I chucked through it with no post tweaking at all..(poundland agfa vista iso200 film if your interested!) I am pretty pleased with them...(double click to view larger)

A small tag in bangor

One of my most favourite walls..


This last shot is of a collaborative piece of artwork I did with Morgan Griffith... a blog post about this will occur soon!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Soundlab at Beautiful Octopus Club

So.. it's been a while! Over 6 months..... shocking behaviour!

To kick things back off thought I'd do a blogpost about how I went and helped out my old mucker from Palmsounds (which incidentally is the first blog I ever followed!) with the Soundlab project which was running 3 spaces at the Beautiful Octopus Club at royal festival hall.

Soundlab are setup to try and make music technology accessible to everyone and as such run soundlab events featuring cutting edge music tech at different events.

I was running one of the workshop spaces where we were getting loads of people to interact with a couple of bits of great music tech. These were ototo by dentaku and also mogees Above is a shot of ototo and below how we set it up as a curry dish organ! (and yes thats me in the labcoat!)

It was a tremendous event and I was darn proud to be part of it, the soundlab project is doing sterling work helping push the envelopes of accessibility enabling creative expression for everyone regardless of ability or physicality..

Sunday, 16 March 2014

DIY rotary table/dividing head WIP

DIY Rotarytable/Dividing head project from concretedog on Vimeo.

So I've been tinkering on this for the last week or so..I've wanted for ages a rotary table setup but never got round to forking over hard earned cash and slowly the idea of building one has worked it's way to the front of my mind.

The video above shows where I am up to..although this could only be used for small work and the extremely cheap stepper motor has some backlash. I think I will finish this and box it up with a small lcd and maybe write an instructable about making them. I think..if I were to use a standard none glowy encoder (note to self...I NEED TO DO A BLOGPOST ABOUT THESE SMART ENCODERS I DID) and were to make a shrimpingit vero board Arduino equivalent, people could make these for about 20quid.

Just need to make the mini 3 axis cnc machine now!!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Lathe tinkerings...beer cans to bits!

Got a little bit of shed time today and managed to get a couple of useful bits (above) made. The simpler of the jobs was an aluminium coupler that fits onto the 5mm shank of this stepper motor but is bored to 6.1mm for half it's length to couple it to a shaft for something I'm prototyping for someone. The m2 screws will be shortened at some point!

The other job is a die holder...I have a large die holder but had need for one that holds these smaller diameter ones..of course one could buy this but it was a nice little job and afforded me the chance to practice a bit of boring. So both these jobs are made from aluminium thats been melted down in my furnace so contains old beer cans, tv aerials etc etc..the silver steel rod through the die holder also came out of a scrapped printer so lots of recycling here as well!

I've also since last september been doing an engineering operations evening class locally which has been great and I'm just getting beyond the bench fitting stage to use the big lathes and mills there. (The lovely emco 17d lathes they have put my old lathe to shame but there we go!)...here's a couple of pics of 2 jobs from the course that reflect MANY hours of filing!!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Hand cranked drill - a quick restoration

Before shot...


So I was given this old hand cranked pillar drill a while back and every now and then I've grabbed a quick ten minutes here and there and done a bit of a restoration. It was pretty much all in working order but had been left for a while and I felt it deserved a bit of a spruce up. It's an interesting type of drill in that it has a lead screw and a clutch mechanism so as you crank the handle the drill chuck turns but also steadily lowers through the work until it hits the depth limit and the clutch kicks in...it's kinda hard to explain but once you've had a go you get the concept!

So I stripped it down, cleaned it up and gave it a few licks of paint with the airbrush as I've picked up a cheap compressor and am getting to grips with airbrushing on various little jobs like this. At some point in it's life someone has hacked a great lump of the main drive gear and "turned" (with a file in a vice!) a section so that a pulley has been fitted...it must have been a failed experiment as they have then bolted a handle back on through the pulley! At some point I might turn up something more fitting in the lathe...but actually the arrangement works. I haven't been to precious about getting this finished to a really high standard as I am going to keep it and use it.

The chuck was a bit tricky...when I received it the 3 chuck jaws were rattling around inside the chuck housing and when I finally got the well seized beast open found that the chuck jaw springs had rusted to nothing. After a bit of jiggling and cutting and pliering I found I could get the jaws set using 3 springs from a ball point pen and it's now fitted and working well.

Will have to mount it to a base at some point but all in all I'm pleased how it's turned out.