Wednesday, January 21, 2009

workshop developments

Last night I cleaned up the shop from Monday night's project - lots of aluminum chips.  [inside joke: the older I get, the less like John Morse and the more like John Doran I become, in terms of housekeeping.  This is probably a good thing.]

I also centered the mill vice on the table and re-aligned it to the travel axis.  I can't remember now why I mounted it off center the first time.  I perceive that there is a small amount of art or craft to procedures like that.  As time goes on, I find it easier to do such things, and I find myself taking a certain amount of pride and joy in it.

I considered what I ought to do next with/on/to the mill, versus what I want to do.  The latter is an easy and quick project, but hardly necessary.  I think the order of near-term tasks for the mill will go like this:

* fabricate and install the new collet + wrench holder.  This is becoming increasingly necessary because the collets and wrench are constantly in my way, either on the mill table or taking up space on top of my surface plate (which is covered, don't panic).  In order to accomplish this, I have to buy a square foot or two of 3/4" gray PVC sheet.  Note to self: call around and find a plastics shop with some of it in their scrap bin.

* repair the power table feed.  I'm tired of having a crank handle only on one end, but I also really want the damned power table feed to work because it makes for smoother machined finishes and much less operator fatigue on long cuts.

* "everything else", which is convenience accessories like a hook to hang an air hose on the table, some mini-T-nuts to go into the front edge of the table for mounting accessories, and so forth.

I also considered, cogitated upon, and made mental inventories of the next few steps required for each of my open hobby projects.

Tesla Coil:
* either continue cutting the copper for the primary by hand, get busy fabricating rotary cutting wheels to fit my benchtop hoop bending machine, or buy a throatless rotary sheer.
* cut slots for primary winding into primary winding supports, stain and varnish same, mount primary supports
* finish top deck
* start on new control panel

Mad Scientist Light Switch Project:
* make small power supply to support solid state relay
* buy relay sockets and a small piece of DIN rail. I ought to have a short piece somewhere, but so far I haven't been able to find it.  Shouldn't matter, since it's cheap stuff.
* finish constructing plastic parts of the miniature Jacob's Ladder, buy copper elbow & fittings to mount
* install everything in box, do internal wiring, fabricate wall shelf, install unit and connect to shop light circuit & Big Scary Knife Switch

* cut longer rail to length, clean up ends
* clean up unwanted holes
* obtain copper rod stock, turn plugs for unwanted holes
* heat shrink plugs into holes
* mill rail surfaces precisely flat & parallel

High Vacuum System:
* buy octal socket cord connector(s)
* make cables for test fixture ion & T/C gauge tubes
* connect test fixture to spare gauge controller, compare to built-in gauge readings at vacuum

(I bet I'm forgetting something)

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