Blog Posts

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Hey Everybody! Just a quick post about some excitement I've had the last couple of weeks and thought I'd share it :)

A few weeks ago I was doing a job - probably one of the biggest jobs I've done on the CNC machine in 10 years! So I set it up, as I normally do, and watched it for a few minutes to make sure everything was working as it should and then went inside to finish my coffee.

So I go out to the garage a few minutes later to check on things and upon opening the door I immediately smell it... You know it - that "Fried Electronics" smell - the magic smoke!

I round the corner to where the CNC machine it - and sure enough, there's my CNC controller board - on fire!

So I shut everything down, make sure power is removed from the whole system, and start to check things out...

Turns out one of my wires (The Y axis I think) got caught on the hold down clamp, pulled taught and broke - that blew THAT driver I assume and that caused the X axis driver to blow up too somehow... Here's a shot of the poor board!

This was a Hobby CNC pro board and has worked flawlessly for like ten years! It was a very sad moment when I realized that *I* killed it.

 So... Wiping tears... moving on...

I had a cheap 5 axis driver board I'd gotten off eBay a few years ago, it's the TB6560 board. So I wired it all up and got it all set up in Mach3 and went to tune the motors.

Now, with the HobbyCNC board I could get about 60IPM out of the machine with only the occasional stall, so I would cut at 40IPM to be safe... I could ony get 20IPM out of this TB6560 board! I tried everything - wiring the motors bipolar then Unipolar, tried another power supply, etc... It sucked, but I had to get this job done (which was already going to take 6 hours, now it'll be more like 20 hours!)

Find Zero again... Start the job... Let it go for like 8 hours, no problems... Paused the job and set the router at zero and took the rest of the night off... Next day I start up the job again, watch it for like an hour - no problems... Went inside for like 5 minutes to get a drink and sure enough, don't ya know it, when I came back out there had been a stall and the router had routed right through the piece! Here's a picture of that nonsense!

To add to that, the accuracy totally stunk because (hopefully you can see) the ridges on the finish? it's supposed to be smooth, so the Z Axis was not returning to the same spot every time at all! So at that point I was totally frustrated, something like 10 hours down the tubes! 

Turns out though that the guy I am making this for is going to use it to make a mold and cast them, so he didn't care if it was filled with wood filler - whew!

Still though, I wasn't going to mess around anymore - I jumped online and ordered all new motors (figured I'd upgrade them too) and all new driver boards, power supply, the works! I ordered from Automation Technologies, and they shipped the same day and I got everything a few days later - very pleased with them!

I Took Friday off to wire everything up and get back in business and I made a little video of the results - I finished cutting out that piece at like 100IPM and could consistently get 120IPM on the X Axis (which is my tightest one) - very happy with the results! Here's a pic of the final piece...

Oh and I also used some PVC pipe to construct and overhead wire harness thing (the X Axis wires are actually running THROUGH the PVC) - so no more chance that the wires will catch on anything!

Here's a shot of the new electronics wired up for testing

and finally - here's the video that shows some movement off the new stuff! - Thanks for checking out the post and I'll try to post more - I promise! :)

I got a Particle Photon in last month's Hackerbox and played with it a little and I needed a good idea to work on. I also bought an Amazon Echo device as well a few months ago and have been working on creating some skills for Alexa. So I worked out some integration between the two!

Here's an example of controlling the Photon through Alexa. The trick was using the IFTTT website to make the integration a breeze! If you haven't checked out IFTTT then you need to - it's very cool!

Without further ado - here's the video :)


You may be cool - but you'll never be "Jamie's homemade CNC machine plays The Entertainer" Cool! ;) hehe  

I thought this was cool anyway - Search Google for "MIDI to GCode" upload your MIDI File and set a few parameters - and download your GCode to play on your machine! Pretty Cool!

Make sure your volume is turned up ;)

Hey everybody! So recently I bought a Smithy Granite 1340 MAX Mill Drill Lathe - I love it, it's a great machine and a huge upgrade over my previous mill drill lathe. I do have one small problem with it though - there's no real "finishing pass" gear. The slowest speed and lowest gear is still cutting 52 threads per inch and while that's OK, and I could grind a tool with a radius tip to make it even better, I'd rather just have a finish pass speed!

So I made one!

I've worked with the Parallax Propeller and Easy Driver boards for years, I used them in my Monster in a Box project, and have used them with my stretching machine project as well - they are really easy to work with and the Parallax Propeller is super easy to program.

Here's a quick wiring diagram of how I wired things up

and here's a video of me explaining a bit on how I did it...

Title says it all - I've been playing around with a 2.5W laser I got off eBay and wanted to do a little laser engraving. So I mounted (and by "mounted" I mean used a clamp and simply clamped it) on my CNC machine and wrote a program to engrave a dragon.


At first I plugged and unplugged the laser to turn it off during the moves. But this post is about how I achieved control from Mach3 to turn it on and off.

Planning ahead I wired an outlet to a relay board suited for 100vac - I figured I'd be able to use it to turn on and off my router as well - why not :)

Then I used output 16 on the HobbyCNC Pro board and also pulled 5v from the HobbyCNC Pro board to power the relay board as well - pretty easy wiring really

Here's a video of the whole process - any questions - please ask :) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Hey everybody! Been a while! :) I've been slacking for way too long on posting anything, in fact I've been slacking on even working in the workshop! But I've bought a new machine and I plan on getting into some really fun projects and the PLAN is to document them as I have done in the past :) 

So the new machine I got is a Smithy Granite 1340 Max - It's a metalworking mill / drill / lathe - and yes I did already have an Enco 3-in1 but I sold it for this bigger / better one :)

This post is about my journey getting it home and set up...

First I built a new bench for it to sit on and secured it to the wall.
They were supposed to deliver it to my house on Friday, the crate arrived in Tampa on Thursday morning so I figured Friday would be a safe bet being in the area for a whole day+.

No call... No call... No call...

So I call them - not going to deliver it till the following Tuesday or Wednesday! ugh - that's no good! So I rented a UHaul and went and picked it up myself! Now this thing weights 900 pounds, and I had already rented a pallet jack to help me move it around the garage (Which I only had for the weekend already - another reason why "next week" wasn't working for me) So I drive to Tampa and they load it up in the UHaul with a forklift - pretty uneventful... Here's a picture of the Smithy in the crate, in the UHaul.
Trying to even slide it in the UHaul turned out to be very difficult - at 900 pounds this thing was not budging! So I decided to try and lighten the load but uncrating it in the UHaul. According to the email I received I was just supposed to remove a few screws and the top would come off - well that wasn't working! #1 there were screws around the bottom of the whole thing, not just the front where they said, #2 I wouldn't have been able to lift it off inside the truck anyway. So I had to disassemble the crate completely, some screws were stripped and I basically had to just rip it apart LOL - I eventually got it and here's a picture of it uncrated in the UHaul.
Even after taking off the crate and removing the tailstock and extra boxes that were in the crate, it was still too heavy to slide! So I took a come along and attached it to the lathe and basically ratcheted it to the end of the UHaul! Once at the end I could take the pallet jack, jack it up to the height of the bed (It was a High Lift Pallet Jack) and then using the come along ratchet it onto the pallet jack. Now we are getting exciting!

I eventually got it off the truck and onto the floor in the workshop. I was struggling with how to get it off the crate bottom and onto the bench, AND onto the chip tray that was included. There was just no way to do it without messing up the chip tray. So I basically pulled it off of the crate bottom and onto the forks. then raising it up to the level of the bench (and slightly over it) and with the help of my son, we slid it onto the bench! Whew! Below are the remaining pictures. I will probably eventually rent a engine hoist to raise it up a few inches and put the chip tray underneath - it's not necessary since I'm not really going to be using a coolant system, but it would still be nice to have it under there!

OK Stay tuned for some posts with my new toy - er um - Tool... soon :) Jamie

The first rail system was made with wooden dowels, and then I found some aluminum rods at the big box store so I decided those looked a little more "pro" and remember it's not about whether you win or lose - it's how you look playing the game ;) So here's a look at the new and improved DSLR Rail Rig

In the picture you can see my home made DSLR rail rig and also the homemade tablet holder mounted on the tripod - Using an app for controlling the camera from the tablet, I can face the tablet and camera towards me and see if I am framed in the shot or not - that's really helpful for my low budget DIY videos where I am the camera man AND the actor LOL

My camera rig consists of

  • Canon T4i DSLR Camera
  • Samson Zoom Microphone (actually have several mics to use for various occasions)
  • Zoom H4 Stand Alone Recorder
  • 3D printed Follow Focus (the red stuff in the picture) - the Follow focus allows me to focus the camera by turning the red knob rather than have to try and focus by turning the lens ring which is just awkward
  • Hot Shoe mount LED Light ring - In the picture I have this mounted below, not actually on the camera shoe because the light would be behind the sunshade - but I can mount it either way for different needs)
  • Two 1/2" aluminum rods (found at your local hardware store)
  • Custom designed / 3D printed Camera Mount
  • Custom designed / 3D pirinted Shoe Mount
  • Custom designed / 3D printed Matte Box / Sunshade holder (the matte box came with a rail mount adapter but it did not fit my rails of course)
  • Matte box / Sunshade (ebay - $15)
  • Viewsonic GTab Tablet - this one is nice because it has a standard USB port so I didn't need to get a special cable to connect it to the camera - lucky win!
  • Custom designed / 3D printed tripod mount tablet holder (the blue stuff in the picture) - I have another article with some details on that one
  • The rods are held together and there are couple caps on the end with custom 3D printed stuff

OK so here's a picture - sorry the picture is taken with my phone because the camera is mounted on the rail system! LOL

Hey everybody I'm back with another video :) two in one month! one week even! :)

In this video I'm going to show how I wired up this animatronic head with the Propeller Activity Board - The Parallax Propeller Activity Board is my new favorite go to board! :)

It's October! And you know what that means... That means I'm working on Halloween projects :) I have three props that I'll be working on this year and I will post videos and articles on all of them. So stay tuned and check back in a few days for the first video / article / update! :)








Hey everybody! I worked out some upgrades and improvements to the Monster in a Box Halloween prop I made last year - so check them out! And I'm also working on a new video format - hope it's not too CHEESY LOL


Wow I can't believe we are halfway through the year already - time flies!

I haven't been doing a whole lot lately - printed a few minor things, but nothing extraordinary. The CNC machine hasn't been fired up in months either - I guess I'm in a slump LOL I'm sure it'll come around ;)

Propeller Activity BoardI did buy the new Parallax Propeller Activity Board and started playing with that - it's by far the best Prop board I've seen with built on Analog to Digital and Digital to Analog converters, built in 1'8" jack for audio playback, built on 3 pin headers for servos and such, built on SD card slot and last but not least jacks for the XBe wireless module - oh! and a nice little bread board section too - very cool board and I probably will buy a few of them for my projects! Get yours here!

Also in the Propeller arena - I've started working in the new SimpleIDE and programing for the Prop in C - since I program all day in C# it's a lot more familiar than SPIN for sure - still got a few quirks to work out but I think it'll be tons better! Expect to see the Monster in a Box Halloween prop reprgrammed in C on the new Propeller Activity Board! :)

 and last but not least I started listing all my excess electronics on eBay - so please support the site and check out my auctions HERE :)


Workshop projects are for stuff in the garage (CNC, Reprap, woodworking, metalworking, electronics, metal casting, etc...)

These are my posts about my CNC hobby, now to include my new Reprap 3d Printer :)

These are my electronics projects, working with the Parallax Propellor, Arduino, stepper motors, you name it!

Here are some of my Metalworking projects, probably with my Enco 3-in-1 Mill / Drill / Lathe

Here are some of my woodworking projects using my Shopsmith Mark VII and other various woodworking tools

Here are some of my adventures in casting aluminum with my homemade foundry