Thursday, June 12, 2008

More Machining Fun

Here's the scarab I mentioned before - I scanned the original with the MDX-20 and cut a new one out of machinable wax. It was finished with a 1/16" ball-nose end mill, which did a surprisingly good job of reproducing small details. It's also a lot more resistant to breaking than the smaller, more expensive tools I'm learning to use. So far I've broken two 1/64" end mills, both in their first 60 seconds of operation.

Here's another experiment. It's a model of Mount St. Helens, based on USGS digital elevation models. I'm sure there must be an easier way to generate stereolithography files from DEMs, but for this test I had to make a VRML file and convert it to STL format using an evaluation copy of Rhino.

I still haven't had much opportunity to mill PCBs with the machine, but I'm still finding other useful things to do with it. Today I fabricated a replacement lens for my Maglite out of Lexan. I figure that saved me at least $2. Or rather, it would have if the original lens had actually been broken. But at least I've got a spare, just in case.

Water, Water, Everywhere

I suppose it can't quite compare with the flooding in the Midwest right now (we were in Des Moines for the 1993 installment, and I hear it's worse this time) but we had quite a mess here over the weekend. The hot water hose on the washing machine burst on Friday afternoon, and fortunately I was home at the time, but I was working upstairs and didn't discover it for half an hour or so.

By that time the water was about two inches deep in the laundry room and had run all the way through the office, under the door, and down the driveway. I got the water shut off and started a siphon with the garden hose. Once that was going I grabbed the wet/dry vac from the garage and started slurping up five gallons at a time and dumping it outside. Took two days for my back and leg muscles to recover from that, but it got most of the water out.

Tory made it home about then and started making phone calls while I continued damage abatement. It took the water damage cleanup people three or four hours to show up, and we spent that time continuing to haul stuff out of the office and storage area while Charlie worked the vacuum, extracting as much water as he could from the carpet.

For the next five days that part of the house was sealed off, full of blowers and a giant dehumidifier. The temperature got up to about 105 F in there, so I didn't get a lot of hardware work done over the weekend.

In the end, the damage wasn't too bad - maybe a hundred bucks worth of packing materials ruined, some cables destroyed, and a bunch of camping and emergency gear made very soggy.

The lost time is the biggest inconvenience, I suppose. That was supposed to be my last free weekend this month - this weekend we're going to Magic Mountain, and I'll be in Dubrovnik for the two weekends after that.