Posts Tagged Mini-lathe

Vacuum Tube Lights: Plate Wire Plug

After replacing the WS2812 LED in the 21HB5A socket, I drilled out the hole in the disk platter for a 3.5 mm stereo jack, wired a nice knurled metal plug onto the plate lead, and it’s all good:

21HB5A - Audio plug cable

21HB5A – Audio plug cable

The plug had a rather large cable entry that cried out for a touch of brass:

Audio plug - brass trim turning

Audio plug – brass trim turning

Fancy plugs have a helical spring strain relief insert about the size & shape of that brass snout; might have to buy me some fancy plugs.

This time, I got the alignment right by clamping everything in the lathe while the epoxy cured:

Audio plug - brass trim gluing

Audio plug – brass trim gluing

I flipped the drill end-for-end, which was surely unnecessary.

It’s now sitting on the kitchen table, providing a bit of light during supper while I wait for a WS2812 controller failure. Again.

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Screw Cutting Fixture vs. Lathe Ways

A length of aluminum hex bar became a nice 10-32 screw trimmer:

Screw cutting fixture - 10-32 - first cut

Screw cutting fixture – 10-32 – first cut

The hex neatly fits a 5/8 inch wrench, so I can tighten the jam nuts enough to run the lathe forward, part off the screw, and clean up the end just fine.

Unfortunately, the second test cut didn’t work nearly so well:

Screw cutting fixture - 10-32 - wrecked

Screw cutting fixture – 10-32 – wrecked

With the cross-slide gib adjusted to the snug side of easy, the cut put enough pressure on the parting tool to lift the way on the tailstock side about 4 mil = 0.1 mm. The parting tool submarined under the cut, dislodged the fixture, and didn’t quite stall the motor while the chuck jaws ate into the aluminum.

Well, that was a learning experience.

After tightening the cross-slide gib to the far side of hard-to-turn:

  • Put a longer screw in the fixture
  • Grab it in the tailstock drill chuck
  • Crunch the hex end of the fixture in the spindle chuck
  • Remove the screw through the spindle (*)
  • Put a slight taper on the end of the fixture threads with a center drill
  • Deploy the live center to support the fixture

Like this:

Screw cutting fixture - 10-32 - rechucked

Screw cutting fixture – 10-32 – rechucked

Turns out that angling the bit by 10° dramatically reduces chatter. If I had BR and BL turning tools, I’d be using them with the QCTP set to 0°, but they weren’t included in the set that came with the lathe.

It’s a good thing I’m not fussy about the diameter of that cylindrical section:

Screw cutting fixture - 10-32 - reshaped

Screw cutting fixture – 10-32 – reshaped

I knew the craptastic lathe ways needed, mmmm, improvement and it’s about time to do something.

(*) By concatenating all my ¼ inch socket extension bars into an absurd noodle capped with square-to-hex adapter holding a Philips bit.

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Screw Cutting Fixture: Full-thread Aluminum

By and large, when you follow the recipe, you get the expected result:

Screw cutting fixture - M3x0.5 aluminum - side view

Screw cutting fixture – M3x0.5 aluminum – side view

That’s another length of the same aluminum rod, this time with a full-length M3x0.5 thread down the middle, and a screw with a neatly trimmed end.

Running the lathe spindle in reverse prevents the screw from loosening the jam nuts on the left:

Screw cutting fixture - M3x0.5 aluminum - in lathe chuck

Screw cutting fixture – M3x0.5 aluminum – in lathe chuck

Running the spindle forward does move the screw enough to loosen the nuts. Perhaps I should put wrench flats on the big end of the fixture so I can really torque the nuts.

That front nut was mostly decorative, rather than tight, because I didn’t expect the first attempt to work nearly as well as it did. A bit of filing to taper the end of the thread and it was all good.

That was easy…

 

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Kenmore 158: Presser Foot Tweak

After watching Mary fiddle with the shrunken presser foot screw, I tapered the tip as a guide into the hole:

Presser Foot Screw - tapered tip

Presser Foot Screw – tapered tip

A hint-and-tip (which I cannot, alas, find again) suggested making bushings to simplify trimming screws in the lathe. A rim on the bushing aligns it with the front of the jaws, the screw threads into the central hole with a jam nut locking it in place, then you can turn / shape / file the end of the screw just beyond bushing with great support and a total lack of drama.

For the moment, I just aligned the screw in the tailstock drill chuck, crunched the three-jaw spindle chuck on the screw head, backed off the tailstock, took unsupported sissy cuts, and it was all good:

Presser Foot Screw - chuck alignment

Presser Foot Screw – chuck alignment

Gotta make those bushings!

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Respooling Stainless Steel Thread: The Knack

The comments on my previous stainless-steel thread respooling attempt suggested that I was entirely too much of a sissy, so, when another empty spool appeared, I tried again with more vigor:

Stainless steel thread - second spool

Stainless steel thread – second spool

As before, I put the larger spool on the floor under the lathe and let the thread spill straight off the top toward the smaller spool. This time, I didn’t have a twist accumulating in the loose thread between the two spools:

  • Grab longer lengths of the loose thread
  • Absolutely no slippage between the fingers!
  • Put more tension on the thread at the takeup spool

As nearly as I can tell, the thread still has a slight twist coming off the larger spool, but grabbing longer lengths captures the twist and more tension lays it on the smaller spool. After cutting the thread, what was left had maybe three turns of twist, which was no big deal and obviously hadn’t accumulated.

Seems better: thanks for all the comments!

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Fordham FG-801 Function Generator Power Switch

The power switch in my trusty Fordham FG-801 Function Generator failed with an accumulation of oxidation / crud on the contacts. That’s fix-able, but the switch contained not one, but two powerful springs, and puked its guts all over the floor around the Squidwrench Operating Table. Even with (a preponderance of) the parts in hand, I couldn’t figure out how to reassemble the thing; the only way out was to replace the switch.

The OEM switch had a 0.360+ inch diameter pushbutton that fit into a ⅜ inch hole and, alas, my remaining stock of line-voltage switches had toggle levers and used ¼ inch holes. So I converted a bit of aluminum rod into a suitable bushing:

Fordham FG-801 Fn Gen - new switch hardware

Fordham FG-801 Fn Gen – new switch hardware

The lock washer in the middle started with a much wider tab that I filed down into a tooth for the dent from a #2 center drill. Protip: center drills don’t walk off like twist drills, even when you hand-hold the front panel at the drill press with all the electronics dangling below.

The bushing dimension doodle:

Fordham FG-801 Function Generator - Replacement Switch Bushing

Fordham FG-801 Function Generator – Replacement Switch Bushing

The internal wiring routes the 120 VAC line conductor to the switch, then to the fuse, then to the transformer. I don’t know whether it’s better to have an unfused switch or an unswitched fuse (surely there’s a UL spec for that), but I didn’t change anything. The new switch, being slightly smaller and mounting directly on the panel, required a new wire (the blue one) from the fuse:

Fordham FG-801 Fn Gen - power switch - installed

Fordham FG-801 Fn Gen – power switch – installed

The OEM switch mounted on two round brass standoffs and, wonder to tell, the new switch fit between them!

From the front, the new switch looks like it grew there:

Fordham FG-801 Fn Gen - switch in action

Fordham FG-801 Fn Gen – switch in action

The PCB mounts to the top of the case with one screw and four hexagonal brass standoffs. The standoffs have 6-32 tapped holes on one end and a 6-32 stud on the other; one of those stud had broken off. A 6-32 stainless steel screw secured in a clearance hole with a dab of epoxy solved that problem:

Fordham FG-801 Fn Gen - standoff stud

Fordham FG-801 Fn Gen – standoff stud

I stood it vertically and tweaked the screw to be perpendicular while the epoxy cured.

Memo to Self: The next time around, put a nut on the stud to make sure the answer comes out right. I didn’t do this time to avoid epoxying the nut to the standoff.

Done!

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Respooling Stainless Steel Thread

For various reasons, I needed a smaller quantity of that stainless steel thread / yarn, so I mooched an empty spool from Mary, ran a bolt through it with washers + nut on the far end, chucked the bolt in the lathe, and ran the spindle backwards at the slowest speed:

Stainless steel thread - smaller spool

Stainless steel thread – smaller spool

I started by letting the big spool unroll from the side, but that produced horrible twists in the slack thread. Remembering the lesson from our previous thread spool adventure, I put it on the floor and let the thread pull from the top:

Stainless steel thread - unwinding spool

Stainless steel thread – unwinding spool

It still accumulated a huge twist between the two spools, even while guiding it hand-over-hand onto the rotating spool. Either the factory lays the thread on the large spool with a built-in twist or, more likely, a multi-strand steel thread behaves like a spring, no matter what anybody wants, and comes off the spool with a nasty case of inherent vice.

Memo to Self: don’t let stainless steel thread slide through your hands under power, because some of the fuzz visible in the top picture will stay with you.

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