Sunday, April 18, 2021

Taking a Wee Break From the Shop

My trusty ICOM IC-718

This weekend I took a bit of a break from the shop to say hello to some folks that I hadn't spoken to for a little while. 

In most cases, I have never met these people in person, and they live literally hundreds if not thousands of miles away from me, and to be honest, I need to do a lookup to see what their actual names are since  I only really know them by the government issued code name that has been given to them. Likewise, they only really know me by my own special code name - which happens to be VA3ATW, and in certain circles that is the name, I go by.  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Time for an Upgrade - Moving from a 3018 to a 3018-PROVer CNC router


Sainsmart 3018 PROVer

A couple of years ago I bought myself a pretty cheap CNC router off of Amazon, mainly just to experiment and learn how to use one in my woodworking projects. 

The router that I had bought was a very cheap one based on the very common 3018 router platform, which uses an Arduino as its brain and uses the GCODE language as its instruction set. It was a very basic router and I could tell that it was certainly made on the cheap since a lot of the plastic parts, particularly the spindle motor mount was made from a 3D printer - so it wasn't necessarily made to precise tolerances. But for a learning machine, I figured it would be a good one to start with, 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Repairing a Lawn Tractor Muffler - A Tale of Baling Wire and Bubble Gum

My muffler is broken!

When springtime comes a not so young man's thoughts turn to lawn care. 

And so this weekend I hauled my old lawn tractor out from its winter hibernation.  After giving the battery a quick charge and adding some fresh gas to the tank, I started the old girl up for the first time this year. 

I've had this tractor for about 10 years and it always provided faithful service in keeping the grass around the house nice and trimmed. 

So I was a bit bummed out when, after starting the engine I was greeted with a metallic clang and a really loud noise coming from the engine,. 

Hopping off the tractor, I immediately found the cause. On the ground, in front of the tractor, I found a large metal box - more commonly referred to as a muffler.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Finishing Up the Whirligig


All painted up and ready for summer

Last week I developed and built a prototype of a whirligig that I derived from plans that I had found in an 80-year-old copy of Popular Mechanics, 

I wasn't quite sure how it would all turn out, so I built a very basic prototype that was really more functional than decorative. 

I was really please with how the prototype looked and worked in the wind, but the true test was to see how it would last over an extended period of time. 

The bare wood version of my prototype definitely was not conducive for surviving very long in the elements. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Different Take on an Old Whirligig


A prototype Whirligig

I've always been a bit fascinated by the weather. If you take a look at some of my past posts on this site, you will find the odd little project that either entails tracking the weather conditions or using something weather-related (usually solar-powered) to drive some sort of device that I've dreamed up. 

As a kid, my grandmother had a few whirligigs in her backyard that performed some sort of activity whenever the wind blew.  More of them performed some sort of crude animatronic action, like making a lumberjack saw a log or a donkey kicking a bucket over,  I was fascinated by the concept that some invisible force was making all this happen. 

In subsequent years, I did some experimenting by hooking up a fan blade to a stepper motor and a LED and watching the wind create the power to light up the LED, but I couldn't really something really tangible to apply it to. 

I hadn't really thought too much of it for a while until I recently found a plan for a pretty simple-looking duck whirligig in an issue of Popular Mechanics that was published back in 1940.