Posts Tagged MPCNC

Magnetic Field Visualization

Thinking about springs to apply downforce on plotting pen holders suggested magnets, so I extricated some neodymium bars from my collection of power toothbrush heads:

Magnets - single

Magnets – single

A snippet of magnetic field visualization film shows a dipole pattern:

Magnets - single - field visualization

Magnets – single – field visualization

Snapping two of them together in line:

Magnets - in line

Magnets – in line

… produces a quadrupole:

Magnets - in line - field visualization

Magnets – in line – field visualization

Now, if only I had some magnetic monopoles, this whole thing would be easier!


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MPCNC: Ground Shaft Pen Holder

Drilling a pair of holes into a length of ground steel shaft turned it into a holder for a Sakura Micron pen:

DW660 Pen Holder - printed plastic vs ground steel

DW660 Pen Holder – printed plastic vs ground steel

The aluminum ring epoxied to the top keeps it from falling completely through the linear bearing.

The hole sizes are the nearest inch drills matching the pen’s hard metric sizes:

Ground 12 mm rod - Sakura pen drill diameters

Ground 12 mm rod – Sakura pen drill diameters

While I was at the lathe, I turned another layer of epoxy on the printed holder down to a consistent 11.95+ OD. It fits the bearing nearly as well as the steel shaft, although it’s not quite as smooth.

The steel version weighs about 20 g with the pen, so it applies about the same downforce on the pen nib as the HP 7475A plotter. The force varies from about 19 g as the Z axis moves upward to 23 g as it move downward, so the stiction amounts to less than 10% of the weight:

DW660 Pen Holder - ground shaft

DW660 Pen Holder – ground shaft

However, the more I ponder this setup, the less I like it.

When the Z-axis moves downward and the nib hits the paper, it must decelerate the weight of the pen + holder + ballast within a fraction of a millimeter, without crushing the nib. If the pen moves downward at 3000 mm/min = 50 mm/s, stopping in 0.3 mm requires an acceleration of 4.2 m/s² and a 20 g = 2/3 oz mass will apply 0.08 N = 0.3 oz to the nib. Seems survivable, but smashing the tip a few hundred times while drawing the legends can’t possibly be good for it.

Also, the tool length probe switch trips at 60 (-ish) g, which means the pen can’t activate the switch. Adding a manual latch seems absurd, but you can get used to anything if you do it enough.

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MPCNC: Linear Bearing Pen Holder

The simplest way to push a pen (or similar thing) downward with constant force may be to hold it in a linear bearing with a weight on it, so I gimmicked up a proof-of-concept. The general idea is to mount the pen so its axis coincides with the DW660 spindle, so as to have the nib trace the same path:

DW660 Pen Holder - unweighted

DW660 Pen Holder – unweighted

The puck mimics the shape of the DW660 snout closely enough to satisfy the MPCNC’s tool holder:

DW660 Pen Holder - Slic3r

DW660 Pen Holder – Slic3r

The pen holder suffers from thin walls constrained by the 10 mm (-ish) pen OD and the 12 mm linear bearing ID, to the extent the slight infill variations produced by the tapered pen outline change the OD. A flock of 16 mm bearings, en route around the planet even as I type, should provide more meat.

In any event, 3D printing isn’t noted for its perfect surface finish, so I applied an epoxy layer and rotated the holder as it cured:

DW660 Pen Holder - epoxy coating

DW660 Pen Holder – epoxy coating

After letting it cure overnight, I ran a lathe tool along the length to knock down the high spots and set the OD to 11.9+ mm. Although the result turns out to be a surprisingly nice fit in the bearing, there’s no way epoxy can sustain the surface load required for the usual precision steel-on-steel fit.

A plastic pen in a plastic holder weighs 8.3 g, which isn’t quite enough to put any force on the paper. Copper weighs 9 g/cm³ = 9 mg/mm³ and 10 AWG wire is 2.54 mm OD = 5 mm², so it’s 45 mg/mm: to get 20 g, chop off 450 mm of wire.

I chopped off a bit more than that, straightened it, annealed it, and wound it around a random contestant from the Bucket o’ Sticks with an OD just over the pen OD:

DW660 Pen Holder - copper weight forming

DW660 Pen Holder – copper weight forming

The helix is 13.5 mm down the middle of the turns and 14 turns long (trimmed of the tail going into the chuck and fudging the tail sticking out as a partial turn), so it’s 593 mm long and should weigh 26.7 g. It actually weighs 27.6 g: close enough.

Which is enough to overcome stiction due to the holder’s surface roughness, but the mediocre epoxy-on-balls fit allows the pen point to wander a bit too much for good results.

The prospect of poking precise holes into 16 mm drill rod seems daunting, but, based on what I see here, it will produce much better results: rapid prototyping FTW!

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

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MPCNC: USB Camera Alignment

Adding a lock screw to the camera mount stabilized the camera-to-spindle offset enough to make calibration meaningful. Mark the spot directly under the camera:

bCNC - Camera - hot glue align

bCNC – Camera – hot glue align

Then mark the spot directly under the spindle, perhaps by poking a small cutter into the tape, measure the XY distances between the two center points, and use bCNC’s camera registration process to set the camera offset.

With those numbers in place, switching to the tool view (the green button with the end mill to the right in the ribbon bar) puts the camera at the spindle location:

bCNC - Spindle - hot glue align

bCNC – Spindle – hot glue align

The view from outside shows the relation between those two pieces of tape:

MPCNC - USB camera-to-spindle alignment

MPCNC – USB camera-to-spindle alignment

Now I can align the camera view to a fixture position and be (reasonably) sure the spindle will automagically align to the same XY coordinate when I switch to the “tool” view. Seems to work well in preliminary tests, anyhow.

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MPCNC: USB Camera Mount With Lock Screw

It turned out the previous version of the USB camera mount lacked sufficient griptivity to hold the ball’s position against even moderate bumps, so the upper “half” is now tall enough to hold a lock screw directly over the ball:

MPCNC - USB Camera mount - lock screw - Slic3r

MPCNC – USB Camera mount – lock screw – Slic3r

It doesn’t look much different:

MPCNC - USB Camera Mount - lock screw

MPCNC – USB Camera Mount – lock screw

A view from the other side:

USB Camera - lock screw mount

USB Camera – lock screw mount

The previous iterations used Genuine 3M foam tape, which seemed too flexy for comfort. This one sits on a bed of hot melt glue and is absolutely rigid. We’ll see how long it survives.

Tightening the cap screw requires needle-nose pliers, because the whole affair has no room for a hex key.

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

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MPCNC: Makerbot-style Endstop Switch Spring Constant

Using a lever-arm switch as a tool length probe works surprisingly well:

MPCNC Tool Length Probe - Plotter Pen

MPCNC Tool Length Probe – Plotter Pen

However, probing a pen mounted in a compliant holder means the actual trip point depends on the relative spring constants. Having measured the pen holder’s 100 g/mm spring constant by poking a scale with the pen, I did much the same thing with the endstop Z-axis Autolevel probe:

IMG_20180305_161831 - MPCNC - Z Autolevel probe force.jpg

Which produced a similar graph:

MB Endstop Switch - spring constant

MB Endstop Switch – spring constant

The force increases linearly at 30 g/mm up to the trip point, drops by maybe 16 grams, then increases linearly again.

Obviously, the “constant” applies only to switches on MBI-style endstops in the lot I happen to have, but given the ubiquity of parts from the usual eBay sellers, any identical lever switches may have the same “constant”:

Endstop lever switch - detail

Endstop lever switch – detail

Your mileage will vary, fer shure.

Poking a pen into a similar switch used as a tool setter means the Z-axis coordinate of the trip point will depend on the opposing springs. That’s unlike the situation with a cutter mounted in the DW660 spindle, which (by definition) shouldn’t move in response to the pressure from a little bitty switch.

Eyeballing the graph, the switch travels 2.2 mm to the trip point, where it exerts 64 g of force. The pen holder opposes that force and therefore deflects (64 g) / (100 g/mm) = 0.64 mm just before the switch trips: the trip point will be the same as with a rigid tool, but the tool’s Z axis coordinate will be 0.64 mm lower.

I’d been touching off pens in the springy holder, with enough pressure to draw a decent line. Setting Z=0 with the holder deflected upward by 0.3 mm means the pen first touches the height probe at Z=+0.3 and the switch trips at Z=-0.3 mm (-ish), making the force on the paper 60 g, rather than the 30 g I expected.

I think the pen plots worked out pretty well, despite not getting the numbers and, thus, pen positions, quite right.

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Bench Leg Repair

A long long time ago, I conjured a short bench for our Larval Engineer from a pair of junked folding-table legs and a truly hideous mid-50s Genuine Formica countertop salvaged from the kitchen refurbishment:

Bench Leg - overview

Bench Leg – overview

Most recently, it held a pile of test equipment and random stuff next to the MPCNC, whereupon the welds holding the tube with the feet to one of the vertical tubes on the far end failed. It wasn’t in the critical path, so I broke the welds on the other tube, propped the vertical tubes on wood blocks, and continued the mission. Having finally finished those measurements, I could clear off the bench and repair the legs.

I no longer have my welding gear and, in any event, it’s still winter outside, so a low-excitement repair seemed in order: drill suitable holes into the leg crosspiece, make threaded inserts for the tubes, and join them with 3/8-16 bolts.

So, we begin.

File the broken welds off the foot tube, align it in the drill press vice (where it barely fits!), center drill to make a pilot hole, then poke a 3/8 inch drill completely through to line up both holes:

Bench Leg - through drilling

Bench Leg – through drilling

By the Universal Law of the Conservation of Perversity, a 3/8 inch bolt didn’t quite fit the 3/8 inch hole, so I embiggened the holes with a step drill:

Bench Leg - step-drilling to size

Bench Leg – step-drilling to size

The step drill obviously has hard metric diameters labeled as weird inch sizes:

Quasi-inch step drill

Quasi-inch step drill

I can’t read the second step, either, but it’s apparently 25/64 inch = 9.8 mm, which is just enough over 3/8 inch = 9.5 mm to be useful. The next step is 14 mm = 35/64 inch, so the drill is a bit of a lump.

The leg tubes were a hair over 0.9 inch ID and not particularly round. Tolerances being slack, slice a bit more than two inches off a 1 inch OD aluminum rod:

Bench Leg - sawing rod stock

Bench Leg – sawing rod stock

I wanted more than one diameter in the tubes, but the bolts in my stash topped out at 2 inches and, really, an inch of aluminum won’t go anywhere.

Clean up one end of the rod to 0.9 inch OD, flip, and center drill:

Bench Leg - center drilling insert

Bench Leg – center drilling insert

Obviously, surface finish and concentricity aren’t critical, but the cleaned-up OD of the left end lined up at  barely perceptible mismatch with the (yet to be done) right end.

Sunder in twain:

Bench Leg - sawing leg inserts

Bench Leg – sawing leg inserts

Betcha you can’t spot the junction between the two ODs, either.

Drill 3/8 inch through, then discover you (well, I) have neither a drill big enough nor a boring bar small enough to embiggen one end of the hole for a nasty interference fit against the tips of a 3/8 inch hex nut.

Once again, a step drill to the rescue:

Bench Leg - step-drilling insert

Bench Leg – step-drilling insert

Because it’s a step drill, the counterbore isn’t quite deep enough for the whole nut, so turn the nut to fit the recess left by the drill:

Bench Leg - nut shaping

Bench Leg – nut shaping

Put a bolt through the insert as a guide, spin the nut on, backstop the insert with a machinist’s parallel jaw clamp (loose, just to give the head somewhere to go), line ’em up, and mash the nut into place with the bench vise:

Bench Leg - nut pressed in place

Bench Leg – nut pressed in place

Clean up the broken welds with a rat tail file, hammer the inserts into the tubes:

Bench Leg - insert installed

Bench Leg – insert installed

Which, as I expected, rounded them nicely while producing an absolutely solid, ain’t gonna work loose, dry joint.

Add threadlocker to the bolts and it’s all good:

Bench Leg - repaired

Bench Leg – repaired

Stipulated: butt-ugly.

Tell me you’d have fish-mouthed those inserts just for pretty, after noting the factory didn’t bother fishmouthing the vertical tubes before welding them in place.

But it was good for generous dose of Quality Shop Time!


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