Wednesday, July 27, 2016

First Pieces Done

It has been a day of powder coating and learning lessons.  Learning a work flow and how to do everything I've only set up in my mind.  My 10 or 12 year old Sears powder seems to work as if it's new and everything is turning out well.  My only mistake was putting too light a coat on my first pieces.  I'm doing this all on the back porch because of the issues about fumes I mentioned last time.  It's only 90-ish outside, and the sea breeze that starts up mid morning keeps it feeling reasonably comfortable in the shade.  When I work on the metal, I use vinyl gloves to keep skin oil off them.  When I spray the powder, I use a 3M dust mask - and keep the wind at my back. 

First, I decided to do the right angle motor brackets, because these seemed easy with the exception of having six holes that I didn't want filled with paint.  The powder coat kit came with silicone plugs (like these, in a smaller range of sizes) for screw holes, but only four; not enough to fill all of the holes of one bracket.  One bracket got the silicon and two screws, the other got screws in all the holes, wrapped with heat resistant tape (like this) which also came with the gun.  Both of them had a piece of copper wire clamped under a screw to get that metal-to-metal contact with the rack.  I grounded one of them to the gun, but used a test lead jumper wire to connect to the other.  Here's what they looked like after the 20 minute bake at 400F to cure the paint.
You can see the one on the left has the white silicone plugs while the other has 8-32 screws (SHCS) wrapped with the heatproof tape. 

As these were the first parts, I gave them a good look over and while they're certainly usable, the paint on one came out a bit too thin.  Look at the piece on the left. Too light on its left.
So with that lesson learned, I decided to do the Z-axis motor mount - which is a pretty simple piece.  The center of the bore needed to be kept paint free (actually, I'm not 100% sure of that), so I used the heat resistant tape to mask that.  Made a deliberate effort to put on more powder, and this one came out better.
It's resting on the roll of heat resistant tape. 

So far, so good.  I have five big pieces to do - you've seen them all so I won't bore you - and four threaded standoffs that will probably just get the screws with heatproof tape.  I'm not sure how many of these things I can get in the oven at once, and I'm sure my cycle time will go down, so maybe a couple of days of doing this left.  After all that setup work I've done.  That's the nature of doing stuff like this. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Techy Tuesday - SmartBolts?

It's hard to estimate how many bolts are sold in a year, but suffice it to say there's a lot.  Bolts are so ubiquitous that no one questions their history and where they came from; they've just always been there.  Bolts as fasteners that allow assembly of complicated assemblies were around before the Industrial Revolution, perhaps as far as 400 years ago, although development sped up as the Industrial Revolution unfolded. 
The “History of the Nut and Bolt Industry in America” by W.R. Wilbur in 1905 acknowledges that the first machine for making bolts and screws was made by Besson in France in 1568, who later introduced a screw-cutting gauge or plate to be used on lathes. In 1641, the English firm, Hindley of York, improved this device and it became widely used.
In critical applications where the reliability of the bolted joint becomes important, bolts are pretensioned; that is they're stressed until they stretch a desired amount.  The restoring force of the bolt trying to return to its un-stretched length keeps the hardware tight and doing its job.  The most common way of prestressing a bolt is to torque it to some specification.  From a purist's standpoint, and one I recall hearing in classes, using a torque wrench to apply a known amount of torque is not the same as applying a known amount of stretch to pre-load the bolt.  When the torque is applied, the user is counting on that torque turning into the exact amount of stretch the system should experience, but that depends on everything else being perfect.  All the torque wrench can really tell you is how hard it is to turn the bolt, and anything from a badly threaded nut (or bolt) to a misaligned bolt/nut combo to something as simple as dirt under the bolt head can affect that.

A torque wrench can be misleading, but direct measurement of the stretch is difficult to impossible in many situations.  How does anyone know they got it right?  A company called SmartBolts has developed a product intended for verifying that the preload on a bolt is correct at a glance.  There's an indicator in the head of the bolt that changes color from a red when the bolt is completely loose to black when properly tightened (stretched).  I don't see how it could indicate the bolt was stretched too far, but understretched appears to be what it was designed to overcome.
Seems like a nifty little idea.  When you look at their website, there's more information.  As you might expect, due to the size of the components that need to go into the bolt, this is for larger sizes only.  The smallest they list is 7/16" diameter, so you're not going to see this on any 1/4-20 or 10-32 hardware for a while (if ever).   
Fastener TypesHex Flange Socket Stud Other
Diameter (Minimum) 7/16” (M10) ½” (M12) 1” (M24) ¾” (M20)  –
Diameter (Maximum) 2 ½” (M64) 2 ½” (M64) 2 ½” (M64) 2 ½” (M64)  –
Length (Minimum) 1 ¼” (30mm) 1 ¼” (30mm) 3” (75mm) 3” (75mm)  –
Most of us don't work with bolts larger than 1/2", if that, and the added complexity from the indicator is going to price this out of the reach of all but the most critical applications. As a guess, things like aircraft, possibly bridges and buildings, large trucks and other heavy equipment, especially equipment that's life-critical.  Still, I can see how this might simplify life on the assembly line and make the assembly operations simpler, faster, safer.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Russia Bombs US SpecOps Base

When I read Day by Day Cartoon today, I didn't know what it was talking about.  Easier to post than describe:
Chris Muir usually gives some link or reference to the story, but Breitbart has it (and H/T WRSA).  Russia did indeed bomb "a “secret base” near the Jordanian border in Syria used by “elite American and British forces” as part of efforts to strong-arm the Obama administration into agreeing to cooperate with Moscow,”.  This was back on June 16th.  Apparently their intelligence is good enough to conduct the bombing when the US and UK special forces weren't there, however four U.S.-backed Syrian rebels were killed by the Russians. They kill US-backed Syrian rebels pretty regularly if you haven't been keeping score.

The original source, the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) notes:
The risk that U.S. and British forces could have been killed at the border garrison hardened opposition at the Pentagon and the CIA to accommodating the Russians. But White House and State Department officials, wary of an escalation in U.S. military involvement in Syria, decided to pursue a compromise.
For reasons only Putin knows completely, Russia upped the ante on July 12, by dropping cluster bombs on another base near the Jordanian border that housed hundreds of family members of CIA-backed fighters and other displaced Syrians, adds the Journal, citing unnamed U.S. officials briefed on the strike and rebel commanders.
At least “two young children, aged two and three, were killed along with two young women and a man in his mid-50s,” WSJ learned from Tllass Salameh, a commander with the Lions of the East rebel group which works out of the base.  He added that “48 people were injured, all civilians.”
Oh, there was the pro-forma US and Russia disagreeing publicly, but that was followed by the inevitable US concession.
A provisional agreement reached by Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow last week—over Pentagon and CIA objections—calls for the former Cold War adversaries to join forces in strikes against the Nusra Front, Syria’s al Qaeda affiliate. In exchange for the U.S. easing Moscow’s international isolation, Russia would halt airstrikes on the U.S.-backed rebels and restrain the Syrian air force.
It's noteworthy that these joint US/Russia missions will also target ISIS, but the Nusra Front is one of Syria's most effective enemies, and Russia has gotten us to agree to fight their enemy.  Ironically, since they're an Al Qaeda franchise, you'd think we would already be fighting Nusra.  Russia is committed to propping Assad up.  We'll see if there really ever are any substantial Russian attacks on ISIS.  I suppose the State Department will routinely disagree with the CIA and Pentagon, but I find it kind of noteworthy how we got here.  Putin ordered the bombing of two secret US bases and did so when US and UK special operators weren't present.  He broke some stuff as a show of force, or as that SEIU thug Andy Stern put it, "the persuasion of power".  It shows how Obama won his no balls peace prize. 

There's a meme about Putin I've seen on Pinterest that seems to work here. The bottom half doesn't really apply to Syria, but the comparison of their styles is right.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

On The Road to Powder Coat

Another one of those Bob Hope/Bing Crosby Road movies?  The two of them singing "We're off on the road to Powder Coat"... ?  I used to love those movies when I was a kid.  Of course it's not one of those. 

My last post about my shop shenanigans ended with me saying that since some of the parts I'd been working on were going to be visible in use, I thought I'd powder coat them.  The next day, I dutifully got everything spread out to work on, read everything I had in my instruction manual, and everything I could find online.  (There's an excellent summary of how to powder coat parts online from the Houston Home Machine Shop Club (pdf), if you're interested).  The first thing I did was prep the parts mechanically; made sure the edges were all broken (not sharp) if possible, then wet sanded with 220, followed by 400 grit.  Then I started working at trying to get ready to spray and hang parts. 

This is something that needs to be done with the least amount of handling possible.  The biggest way powder coating gets good coverage is that the paint is charged with static electricity by the gun.  While you can get some paint adhesion without it, coating works best if the gun is grounded to the work; the paint literally jumps on to the piece.  If the colors stand out well, you can see the powder cloud moving toward the work.  Still, while the powder is clinging to the metal, it's just a powder that can be knocked off the part if you bang it around or (especially) touch it.  The easiest way to make sure you don't mess them up is to spray and bake on the same metal rack with the parts grounded to the rack by bare wire.  This is where I discovered my first problem.  My bake-out oven is a plain old toaster oven, and it has a limited selection of positions for the rack.  The oven maker envisioned food on top of the rack; I'm hanging metal pieces below it!  (If I put parts on top of the rack, they'll have bare stripes).
This is one of my motor mounts hanging from a clip looped over the oven rack.  There isn't much room in there and some of my bigger parts didn't fit.  

So now I had a problem.  How do I raise that rack, which is recessed into the sides of the toaster oven?  Thankfully, as I like to say, I know someone with a machine shop.

I first thought of simply making some standoffs and mounting the rack on them, but that rack is too wide.  You can see the grooves it slides in: about an eighth inch deep on both sides.  I thought about cutting the rack narrower, and that might have been an acceptable idea, but I eventually thought I'd just get a piece of perforated sheet metal with lots of holes in it and mount that.  My local Borg store had this stuff in stock - and it's almost exactly what I was thinking of.  All I had to do was cut it to size, and my jig saw cut it like a hot knife through butter. 

I made some 5" tall standoffs from some 1/2" diameter round aluminum bar I had, threaded them 8-32 down the axis, and then found that they were too tall to clear the burner on the bottom.  So I swapped the back two 5" standoffs for some 3" ones I had made for the CNC project.  Voila.  Here's one of my big parts in a fit test.  Tons of room - that motor mount above fits on this one over the big hole - the mount is actually a bit shorter than this end cap.
So, yeah, this had to be done to just get the parts into the oven.  I haven't painted the first part.  The parts are mostly clean, masked and ready to paint, but they've also been touched, or could have been touched, so prudence says I clean them again before painting.  I'll paint outside and maybe run the oven out there, too.  Not quite sure about that part.  Some sources say the fumes are toxic or irritating, and that's enough to say "do it in the backyard" since I don't have a fume hood that vents to the outside. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Political Dirty Tricks - DNC Scumbag of the Day

Politics is for scumbags.  In this case, the DNC are the scumbags de jour.  I'm not aware of the RNC doing something like this, but will publish it if I find it.

Thanks to the leaked DNC emails from Wikileaks we can see a DNC plan to try to make Trump look like a "sexist pig".  If anyone would be stupid enough to believe it.  (H/T to 90 Miles From Tyranny)   Breitbart has the story.
In an email dated May 18, 2016, Christina Freundlich, Deputy Communications Director at the DNC proposed that the Democrats impersonate the Trump Organization on Craigslist, placing a fake ad for “hot women” aimed at making the Republican candidate look as sexist as possible.
Now, if Christina's name should sound familiar to you, and you're not an Iowa Democratic Party insider, it's probably because she got some attention for taking a selfie at the site of an explosion in New York City that knocked down a building and hurt a lot of people.  A lot of people who live in the area were offended by that. 

Should you find this email interesting reading, the full archive of emails can be browsed and searched at WikiLeaks’ site.  You can be sure it's being searched as we speak.  The complete text of the mail follows:
On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 7:09 AM -0700, “Freundlich, Christina”  <<<>> wrote:
Mark and Luis –
digital created a fake craigslist jobs post for women who want to apply to jobs one of Trump’s organizations. This will be a microsite and we still need to send it to Perkins. Since we will be pitching this, need your approval please. Thanks

Multiple Positions (NYC area)

Seeking staff members for multiple positions in a large, New York-based corporation known for its real estate investments, fake universities, steaks, and wine. The boss has very strict standards for female employees, ranging from the women who take lunch orders (must be hot) to the women who oversee multi-million dollar construction projects (must maintain hotness demonstrated at time of hiring).

Title: Honey Bunch (that’s what the boss will call you)

Job requirements:
  • No gaining weight on the job (we’ll take some “before” pictures when you start to use later as evidence)
  • Must be open to public humiliation and open-press workouts if you do gain weight on the job
  • A willingness to evaluate other women’s hotness for the boss’ satisfaction is a plus
  • Should be proficient in lying about age if the boss thinks you’re too old Working mothers not preferred (the boss finds pumping breast milk disgusting, and worries they’re too focused on their children).
About us:

We’re proud to maintain a “fun” and “friendly work environment, where the boss is always available to meet with his employees. Like it or not, he may greet you with a kiss on the lips or grope you under the meeting table.

Interested applicants should send resume, cover letter, and headshot to
Ms. Freundlich's boss in this matter, DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda, was perfectly OK with running this fake ad, as long as "all the offensive shit is verbatim".  

This strikes me as clumsy, crude, juvenile humor not even at the college level, and a reader would need to have the IQ of a guppy to believe this is real.  But "IQ of a guppy" and "dedicated Democratic voter" kinda seem to go together - at least from what I've seen.  Congratulations Ms. Freundlich, you're our scumbag of the day. 
To paraphrase momma a little bit, "beauty is only skin deep, but scumbag goes all the way to the core". 

Friday, July 22, 2016

As the Tour de France Wraps Up

I know I've written about it a few times, but Mrs. Graybeard and I tend to follow the Tour de France every year.  No, we don't turn our lives inside out and watch the daily coverage every day, like we used to when we were Lance Armstrong fans, but we've watched a handful of stages this year and kept up with the progress.  We watched the insanity on Mont Ventoux last weekend.  Mont Ventoux, "The Giant of Provence" is one of the legendary mountain climbs in the tour, and the only climb to claim the life of a tour rider: British cyclist Tom Simpson in 1967.  (Other deaths have occurred in the tour, but on descents and other bad accidents).  This year, the crowds filling the road caused a camera-bearing motorcycle to slam on his brakes, which led to a chain reaction of cyclists smashing into the motorcycle and going down.  Tour Leader Chris Froome's bike broke, and his team car couldn't get him a replacement because of the traffic jam that caused the accident, so Chris started running up the mountain!  No one could recall ever seeing any cyclist run up the mountain.  There are "neutral assistance" emergency back up bikes, and they got him one that fit horribly.  His team car eventually caught up with him, got him a bike set up for him and he finished the climb.

The week before, riders started in a 100 degree hot valley to climb a different mountain, to Arcalis in Andorra, only to find a cold storm at the top of the mountain, dropping the temperature into the 40s and peppering the riders with penny-sized hail.

Tomorrow is the last mountain day and the last day where big changes to the final lineup are a real consideration: Megève to Morzine-Avoriaz.  This is almost in Switzerland, so after the stage the teams will be flown to Chantilly, outside Paris for Sunday's almost ceremonial ride into the city and the sprinters' race down the Champs-Élysées.  It appears Chris Froome will win his third Tour, putting him into a rarefied group of cycling legends - that haven't been kicked out for doping.

Shifting gears radically (see what I did there?), this year is the first year that Tour officials are monitoring bikes with infrared cameras for signs of cheating by embedding small motors in the frame to give the cyclist extra power.  They're calling this "mechanical doping". 
Infrared camera guns, developed by the CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission) were being used to capture the thermal envelop of each bicycle. Peculiarities in the envelopes would reveal whether or not a micro-motor was embedded in the cycle’s frame. The motors could be used to enhance the cyclist’s performance ― his hill-climbing ability or his speed on a straightaway ― but, used in a competition, it would be considered cheating.
As surprising as this might sound, it's not hypothetical.  This past January, the women's under-23 world cyclo-cross world championship had a competitor's bike seized by the UCI (competitive cycling's governing organization) - for being suspected of having a motor assist.
UCI inspectors had been examining bikes during the event, and the bike of European under-23 champion, Belgian Femke Van den Driessche was detained after something suspicious was found.
It was later confirmed that her bike did contain a motor and the 19 year old rider was given a six year suspension for cheating.   She was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs and ordered to pay legal costs.

Professional athletics is a domain of tiny differences between competitors.  In this year's Tour de France, Chris Froome currently has less than 5 minutes over the second place rider, after 82 hours of racing - 0.1% difference in time.  While that EE Times piece talks about 300 watt motors and using them for long periods, I don't think that's the scenario at all.  Picture the end of race stage.  Everyone has been putting out 700 or 800 watts - sometimes more - for as long as they physically can.  Everyone is turning themselves inside out.  Everyone's legs feel like they're turning to rubber.  A motor that gave a rider 50 or 100 Watts that no one could match would guarantee the stage win.  Think giving the rider just a little margin, not the power to ride the entire stage.  Just a small advantage to use when everyone is burned out.
Cross section of how the motor is setup inside the seat tube of the bike, with a gear to add drive power to the cranks.  The battery can be in the seat tube, in the down tube, or in the saddle bag that many riders keep under their seat.  (Source)

The consistent testing of athletes for doping chemicals hasn't eliminated cheating, it just pushed the cheating out of their bodies and into the bikes.  It's probably better for the riders' health, but it's still cheating.  While the UCI originally addressed cheating at the bike by mandating a minimum weight that bikes can't go under, this is a new frontier.  It never ends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Life Imitating Art Again

If you saw the Spider-man movies (or are familiar with the comic books graphic novels), you'll know that there's always a company trying to farm spiders to harvest spider silk.   It turns out that's really not that bad an idea.  As a fiber, spider silk has mechanical properties far better than many fibers available (pdf warning).  It has several advantages over Kevlar, currently used in thousands of products. 

Unfortunately, there's a serious problem.  Spiders are nasty animals to try to farm and get to produce silk for you; they're territorial and cannibalistic.

Who cares?  The Army has given a company called Kraig Biocraft a $100,000 grant to develop and test ballistic body armor based on spider silk.  Sort of.  Because of spiders' nasty dispositions, Kraig spliced the genes from the spider into domesticated silkworms, creating a new fiber they call Dragon Silk.  The result was a composite silk that was as strong as normal spider silk yet much easier to produce.
Dragon Silk has a number of applications, particularly in surgery. Many sutures are done with biodegradable silkworm silk, but the increased strength of Dragon Silk allows for much thinner threads. This is useful when performing surgery in sensitive areas, such as the eyes and brain.
With a breaking strength a bit less than Kevlar but superior elasticity, the company plans to make different fabrics and evaluate them.
The company will produce a series of ballistic "shoot packs" with different thread counts, thicknesses, and construction techniques to see how the Dragon Silk performs. If it meets expectations, the Army is prepared to increase the grant to $1 million.

Dragon Silk's primary advantage over traditional Kevlar is its flexibility. Kevlar is slightly more durable than Dragon Silk, with a strength of 3 gigapascals (GPa) compared to Dragon Silk's strength of 2 GPa. However, Kevlar only has an elasticity of 3 percent, meaning it's almost completely inflexible. Dragon Silk has an elasticity of 30 to 40 percent, which offsets the slightly reduced strength.
The genetically engineered silkworms.

I don't know.  It seems innocuous enough.  Folks have been farming silkworms for centuries, and in more modern times, have been researching the mechanical properties of spider silk.  There appears to be a handful of companies on the verge of commercializing spider silk.  What could go wrong? 

Still, I just can't quite shake the feeling that I've seen this movie several times, and there's always something in those spider farms at Oscorp in those Spider-man movies that messes everything up...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Techy Tuesday - Take a Look at the Apollo 11 Source Code

And the guidance computer that ran it.

This story has been in a few places this week, but my link is to Design News.
Chris Garry, a former NASA intern, has uploaded the full source code for the Apollo 11 flight computer to GitHub, a popular site where programmers share code and tips, and it's proven to be a nice slice of nostalgia in more ways than one.

The software for NASA's Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), which was installed on Apollo command modules and lunar modules, was developed in the 1960s at MIT. At the time nothing for what NASA was trying to do existed so the team from MIT had to code the entire thing from scratch. To do so they created their own version of Assembly language as well as a method for storing computer programs called “core rope memory”, which at the time offered greater storage capacity.
How much memory?  The computer contained a blistering 37 Kilobytes of memory.  For those of you younger than 40, that's .000037 Gigabytes or 1 millionth of the storage in a 32 Gig smartphone.  That's OK because it is a form of core memory, and each byte required tiny ferrite cores be woven into place, so building 37K bytes is a pretty difficult accomplishment. According to the Wiki:  
Contrary to ordinary coincident-current magnetic-core memory, which was used for RAM at the time, the ferrite cores in a core rope are just used as transformers. The signal from a word line wire passing through a given core is coupled to the bit line wire and interpreted as a binary "one", while a word line wire that bypasses the core is not coupled to the bit line wire and is read as a "zero". In the AGC, up to 64 wires could be passed through a single core.
The Apollo Guidance Computer and its display. 

The overall code required was quite a bit larger than 37K; the article quotes an estimate of 2 Megs.  Because that's such a severe size constraint, the engineers relied on switching programs and only running what was needed for a particular part of the mission.  Planning for the unforeseeable, they developed the ability for the code to swap less important tasks for critical tasks.  You may have read (or remember!) that during the last few minutes of Apollo 11's landing approach, the computer started flooding its display with warning messages.  This was intentional and probably saved the landing. 
Due to an error in the checklist manual, the rendezvous radar switch was placed in the wrong position. This caused it to send erroneous signals to the computer. The result was that the computer was being asked to perform all of its normal functions for landing while receiving an extra load of spurious data which used up 15% of its time. The computer (or rather the software in it) was smart enough to recognize that it was being asked to perform more tasks than it should be performing. It then sent out an alarm, which meant to the astronaut, I'm overloaded with more tasks than I should be doing at this time and I'm going to keep only the more important tasks; i.e., the ones needed for landing ... Actually, the computer was programmed to do more than recognize error conditions. A complete set of recovery programs was incorporated into the software. The software's action, in this case, was to eliminate lower priority tasks and re-establish the more important ones ... If the computer hadn't recognized this problem and taken recovery action, I doubt if Apollo 11 would have been the successful moon landing it was.
The code was written by a group at MIT who was literally "going where no man has gone before", at least in the software sense.  At some point, they took this publicity photo of a printer dump of the entire source code listing, alongside Margaret Hamilton, director of Apollo Flight Computer Programming at MIT's Draper Laboratory, and source of the previous quoted paragraph. 
Continuing our story, this code was never "lost", but it's about 50 years old and time takes its toll on any form of storage, including printouts.  Do you have any cassette tapes from the Commodore 64 era, or 5 1/4" floppies from your first 8088-based PC?  It's like that.  Efforts have been going on for some time to preserve this code.
Back in 2003 MIT scanned the physical pages of the AGC code and made them available. But Gary Neff, an airline pilot from Colorado saw how unreadable some of the pages were and decided to reconstruct the code himself. It popped up in a few other places, like on a Google blog from 2009, but Neff's work mostly languished in Internet obscurity until Garry found it and uploaded it to GitHub, where it has found new life among programmers poring over the code and suggesting ways to improve and change it.
Users scanning over the source code have found the coding comments peppered with jokes, asides, and even references to popular songs, Shakespeare, and cultural events of the time.
One of the online sources I came across was surprised that software engineers left jokes in the code comments.  A sure sign they never worked around any!

The code, though, is a monument to great thinking, excellent resource management, and the best of what geeks can do.  I hope it lives forever on GitHub.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The End of the Beginning

I don't actually know how long I've been making the parts for my CNC conversion job.  I find my earliest post was in June of last year.   Figuring a start date is complicated by the fact that I started out doing what the originator calls Phase 1; the simplest conversion that just puts motor mounts and stepper motors on the existing lead screws.  I switched over to the more complex phase 3 this past April.  I have posts from last September about working on parts.  Those parts took a long time to make because it was while I was still working and only had a few hours a week to spend at the machines.  I had virtually completed all of the metal pieces for phase 1, before deciding to switch over to his Phase 3 approach.  This uses ballscrews, and called for almost all new hardware.  Only one piece I had made for phase 1, the Z-axis motor mount, will be used as made.  Four of the threaded standoffs I made can be used after I shortened them 1/4". 

Based on all of that, it's pretty fair to say I started making parts in early April.  This weekend I finished making parts, when I completed the two piece X-axis end cap I've been working on for several days.  I posted about it last week when I completed most of the work (except for cutting the tapered outline).
The tapers are cut upside down.  Basically laid out like this
When the entire piece is tilted at the 16 degree angle like that, and you make a straight cut on the mill, you cut the taper onto the piece.  As you can see, I marked (messily) with a Sharpie and then cut the bulk of the metal off with my bandsaw, just using the milling machine to trim to the final lines.   (That black plastic clamp with the orange jaws on the end cap was just there to keep the angle indicator from sliding down the edge.  Not part of the setup.)  Two 16 degree tapers and two 45 degree tapers.  The actual cutting took almost no time.

So now that I'm done making parts, now what?  Now it's time to take apart the milling machine and start putting the pieces in place.  Before I do that, I'm going to paint the parts that will be visible to the user when the job is finished.  I spent most of the afternoon wet sanding aluminum pieces in preparation for painting.  I have one of the old "ray gun" powder coating guns from Sears.  Seems to still work, although it hasn't been in use in a long time.

Once the mill is apart, I need to cut areas out of the X/Y base, cut grooves into it and add the parts for a pressurized oiling system.  I'm going to add some sort of cooling system - spray coolant.  To do that, I'm going to need to build an enclosure.  All of the motors are going to have to be wired up, and an enclosure built for them.  There's a lotta lotta work left to do.  But I think I've reached the end of the beginning.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.  - Winston S. Churchill

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I'd Call it Stinkin' Thinkin'

I'd call it stinkin' thinkin' except for the fact that I'm not entirely sure there's much real thinking happening.

But I get way ahead of myself.  A friend who's still working where I retired from in December forwarded me a video on a thing called the Mandela Effect.  It's quite possibly the weakest, most illogical and most egotistical argument I've ever heard of, let alone wasted 20 minutes watching.  (Here if you must, but I advise against it).  He's somewhat of the kind of person who sees conspiracy theories everywhere; he'll tell you it's only for entertainment, but he seems to hold on to them a bit too tightly for that.

The idea of this effect turns out to be widespread.  There are many online groups where people gather to describe their "native timeline" (Reddit or BuzzFeed).  It's hard to explain this group of people, but the name "Mandela effect" itself denotes people who are sure Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s.  Since every reference one can find shows he died in 2013, long after getting out of prison and living a full life, these people conclude not that they don't have perfect memory, but that they are living on an alternate timeline or parallel universe that somehow switched them to this one.

It's hard for me to convey just how bizarre this all comes across to me.  The narrator of that video, for example, say that he recalls the name of an iconic breakfast cereal being "Fruit Loops" and that the name he sees now, "Froot Loops" indicates that he has moved between parallel universes.  He does many examples of similar, improperly remembered things.  It takes a special kind of ego to believe that if you never noticed the proper spelling of Charles Shulz, for example, that the universe has changed the spelling of his name.  Or, I suppose, moved you onto a different parallel universe where his name is spelled differently. 

I did a little reading on this yesterday and was astounded to find people who will swear to you the Challenger disaster was not in 1986.  They will swear they recall being in some class or other specific place and it was 1984 or some other year.  There are people who will swear that Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans not in September, but in April - a full two months before hurricane system, which would rate it as the biggest freak storm of all time.  There are large groups of people who will swear they watched the Chinese tanks roll over the solitary protester in Tienanmen square and kill him (rather gruesomely). 

Look, not remembering things correctly ain't exactly news.  It's a human experience.  We all find we remembered things incorrectly.  There isn't a court in the country, probably not in the world, that would rate an eyewitness' memory of something as more credible than photographs, recordings or other hard data.  Everyone knows memories are fallible (and I gotta echo the idea that the older you get, the more fallible memory might be). 

What's odd here is the implied thought that "since I remember it as X, and everything I can find today says it's Y, everything in the universe is wrong and I'm right".  That's a special level of ego.  While I never took those graduate quantum physics classes, I understand that parallel universes are a feature of quantum mechanics.  One of the implications of the Many Worlds interpretation is that every decision splits off new parallel universes where each possible outcome has occurred (a bit of an explanation), meaning that there's an incomprehensibly huge number of parallel universes in existence.  These universes are isolated from each other. Which means people can't hop between parallel universes and bring their memories of Charles Schultz eating Fruit Loops. 
An illustration of the splitting of parallel universes.  The guy suggests getting a drink to the girl.  At that decision, two universes come into existence: one in which she agrees and the couple eventually marries and has children (after another few hundred universes form and split off); along the other pathway, she declines the drink and they never get any closer.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Attempted Turkey Coup

Seems to have been a really poorly planned operation.  It's like the rebelling forces never considered they might have to fire on crowds.  I'm watching video of crowds of civilians attacking tanks and pulling soldiers out of them to beat.  At least one beheading has been reported.  But tanks are kinda hardened targets, right?  Kinda well armed.  Did they never think they might need to crank up their automatic guns and spray around themselves?  Is this their version of taking the high road?

The oddest aspect seems to be that the cleric being blamed/credited as the motivating force behind the coup, Fethullah Gulen, is living in the Pocono Mountains for Pennsylvania.  There, of course, is the usual blame/denial circle in process.  Turkey says, "Any country that stands by cleric Gulen will be at war with Turkey," and says we are failing to extradite him. 

It doesn't seem to be a surprise then that the American Incirlik Air Force Base has had its power cut and been sealed off from the outside world.  The US consulate is telling US Citizens to avoid the base.  The Turkish military is apparently denying the right to fly in and out of the base for "anti-ISIS coalition airplanes".  Does that make everyone on base hostages to the Turkish government right now?  Are they going to shoot down any US planes going into the base with supplies, or on health and welfare flights? 

What happens if Turkey tries to take over the base by force?  I think that would underline the "at war with Turkey" statement from the Turkish foreign minister. 

Incirlik houses American nuclear weapons.  They are as ready to use as any nuke deployed anywhere.  Does Turkey let ISIS become armed with American nukes? 

This could get really ugly, really fast, depending on how hot-headed the Turkish military gets. 
Incirlik - stock photo. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Awesome Weather Video

If you're a weather watcher, I don't have to tell you that thunderstorms, especially the truly dangerous ones, can be extremely beautiful and fascinating to watch.  From a respectful distance.  Photographer/storm chaser Mike Olbinski spent this spring collecting this footage and turning it into an amazing video. 

This is on Vimeo and I'm going to try to embed it here.  Thanks to the way Blogger works, I really won't know if the embedded version works well for a while.  If it doesn't work well, use this direct link to Vimeo.
Vorticity (4K) from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

And The Stupid Just Keeps on Coming

I didn't watch any of the president's talk at the Dallas memorial service the other day.  I knew it was going to be filled with stupid, and the clips I heard were actually worse than I expected.  It was embarrassingly bad, so predictable in its messaging and tone that it could have been any hack Hollywood writer trying to make up what a doctrinaire Marxist would say.  It's hard to come up with the kind of consistent, day after day stupidity that he does, but he's fully automatic:
As soon as anything triggers him, he goes into an automatic gun control rant.  Any incident whatsoever gets the same response.  Has anyone else noticed how the Orlando Pulse night club shooting went from being reporting by everyone as the "worst terrorist attack since 9/11" to the "worst mass shooting in US history"?  I noticed it being reported that way on Fox News some weeks ago and it bothered me.

Of course, the difference is that if it's a terrorist attack, Obama may have to blame actual terrorists.  Actual Islamic State terrorists.  God knows he's incapable of doing that.  If it's a mass shooting, he can blame the guns, as always.

Even last week, when we have testimony from the Dallas chief of police that the killer told them he specifically wanted to kill white cops, as clear an example of race-based terrorism as you get,  Obama went into full auto mode, reprising what I think is his most idiotic argument of all, that it's "easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a book".  In what country?  On what planet?  In the US, it's a federal felony; a teenager can't walk into the local gun shop and buy any firearm.  Do you mean they commit the felony and buy a stolen gun off the street?  Oh, that's right, you guys don't have the time to enforce those laws, so you want to create some new laws you can not bother to enforce.
Donald Sensing at Sense of Events does a great satirical piece on this preposterous lie, which I'm going to copy mercilessly here.

Outraged at this unacceptable situation, Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook announced that beginning Aug. 1, all teenagers and adult customers of Apple computers and devices will be able to buy Apple products as easily as they can buy a Glock pistol.

"It will be very simple," said Cook after touring the Glock factory in Smyrna, Ga. "From now on Apple products will be sold to teenagers using the same criteria used for them to buy a Glock. It's only fair and I am sure the president will agree."

Apple's press release summarized the new purchasing rules as follows:
  1. No straw purchases: Any person who attempts to solicit, persuade, encourage, or entice any Apple dealer to transfer or otherwise convey an Apple product other than to the actual buyer, as well as any other person who willfully and intentionally aids or abets such person, shall be not be allowed. 
  2. Furnishing a computer to a Minor - No Apple dealer will sell or give an Apple product to a person under 18 years old. All purchasers must sign a statement before the sale that they will not sell, give or otherwise transfer the computer to a Minor.
  3. Apple dealers must complete and have the buyer sign Apple Form 4473, Computer Transaction Record. 
  4. The dealer must verify the identity of the buyer through a government–issued photo identification. 
  5. No Apple product will be sold to any person who is not a legal resident of the state where the sale occurs. Purchases may be made online but the product must be personally picked up by the buyer in the buyer's legal state of residence. Before transferring the computer to the buyer, all procedures stated herein must be in compliance.
  6. No Apple device may be sold to any person who has previously been convicted of or previously entered a guilty plea to one or more of the offenses of murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, or any felony involving the use or possession of a computer and who shall have on or within arm's reach of his or her person a computer during the commission of, or the attempt to commit:
    1. Any crime against or involving the person of another;The unlawful entry into a building or vehicle;
    2. A theft from a building or theft of a vehicle;
    3. Any crime involving the possession, manufacture, delivery, distribution, dispensing, administering, selling, or possession with intent to distribute any controlled substance
    4. Any crime involving the trafficking of cocaine, marijuana, or illegal drugs.
  7. The dealer must contact local law-enforcement offices (LEO) to ensure that the buyer is not disqualified from buying or possessing a computer. A dealer may not transfer a computer unless the dealer receives a “proceed” response, or three business days have elapsed since the dealer contacted the law enforcement office. A dealer may not sell a device when a “denied” response is issued by LEO.
"These are only common-sense measures," Mr. Cook said, "and they will make sure that every teenager, especially in Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and other Democrat-administered cities in America, will find it no  more difficult to get their hands on an iPhone or MacBook Pro than on a Glock." 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Project of the Week

Well, it's no so much the project of the week as the parts of the week I've been making for my Grizzly CNC conversion project.  It's that enormous X-axis end cap I've been talking about.

Let me bottom line/short version the story first.  I've got a decent Rev 1 set of parts close to finished and they look like they'll work.  Yes, there are some goof-ups in there, but I don't think there's anything insurmountable.  First, the two piece end cap.
This is a half inch thick piece mounted on top of another half inch piece, and held together by the two black screws at the 2 and 10 o'clock positions of the big bearings.  The bearings fit perfectly.  The next part is a motor mount and stepper motor support that mount on top of this.  The motor mount's bore is considerably smaller than the bearings, sized 0.800" while the outer bore at the bearings is 1.024".  The motor mount compresses the bearings to help control backlash.

I started with the drawings that I purchased for the end cap, and then split them in two.  One became the small top piece while the other became the big bottom.  I partitioned features between them so that when the two pieces are joined, the result should be the same as the one piece end cap.  For example the original part had a dual diameter bore for the bearings: 1.024" that went down 0.638" and the rest of the hole is 0.875".  I split that into the top and bottom pieces, so the top is the larger diameter and the bottom piece has two diameters.

The goof up concerns those three holes around the bearings you can see in the top piece.  Those are not threaded and are sized to clear an 8-32 screw.   The base of the end cap (the large rectangle) has those holes threaded.  I moved them down from the top piece without it registering in my mind that the screws need to thread into the bottom piece but can't because they're not long enough to make it to the bottom piece.  What I missed is that motor mount I mentioned that goes on top of this piece.  The stack up looks like this (the parts are just stacked - no fasteners). 
The motor mount is 3/8" thick, the top of the end cap is 1/2", so a screw has to go through 7/8" of metal before it gets to the threaded holes, and you'd want some engagement there, like another quarter inch (1 1/8).  So instead of 3/4" screws, I need three longer screws.  No big deal.

There's another problem lurking in this piece, which is that when I transferred the base (7x2 piece) from the Sherline, where I drilled all the holes, onto the big mill for boring the holes, I flipped it upside down!  So the view you're seeing is supposed to be, and now is, the top, but the two mounting holes left and right of the 1" thick area are counterbored on the bottom.  That's also probably going to be fixed by two new screws. 

This part doesn't have the stylin' tapers that the original part I started from has.  I'll have to see if I can figure out how to add those without barfing anything up. 
Every part's a puzzle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Techy Tuesday - Bio Mimicry Develops a New Camera Lens

For decades, now, researchers have been turning more and more to studying biological systems to try to understand how they work.  The incentive is usually that the biological systems do things that no one has figured out how to do, or do things better than any system humans have come up with.

Design News brings a story this week of a biomimicry experiment at University of Wisconsin - Madison.  The aim is to produce a digital camera system that sees in less light; as close to total darkness as possible.  Their bio-inspired photosensitivity enhancer (BPE), is an "artificial eye" which was inspired by creatures that live in deep or murky water, where light is scarce.
Most efforts to develop such a device have focused on improving the sensitivity of the image sensor. But Professor Hongrui Jiang of the UW-Madison Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and his team have instead concentrated their efforts on the optics that focus the incoming light. The team hopes their technology can someday be used robots, space exploration, and even medical applications like endoscopes and X-rays, where highly photosensitive sensors could be of great benefit. "Inspired by natural scotopic visual systems, we adopt an all-optical method to significantly improve the overall photosensitivity of imaging systems," the researchers wrote in a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). "Such optical approach is independent of, and can effectively circumvent the physical and material limitations of, the electronics imagers used."
Their model was the elephant-nosed fish, found in the Niger River basin in muddy, slow-moving water.
As the name suggests, it has long slender protrusion that looks like a nose, but is actually an extension of the mouth. It uses an electric field to help sense its surroundings. But the fish also has unusual eyes with a combination of photonic crystals, parabolic mirrors and a clustered arrangement of rods and cones that help it to see in the dark. This clustered arrangement on the retina is composed of thousands of tiny crystal cups rather than the smooth surfaces common to most animals.

The water these fish live in is so turbid that light barely penetrates it. The fish don't have color vision because in water that murky, the blues and greens are filtered out in the highest surface layers, literally only penetrating a few centimeters. Only red light penetrates to the bottom, so they only have retinal cells sensitive to the longest wavelengths. Their unusual, cup-like retinal structure actually presents images to them that aren't very detailed, which ends up being strangely good for them.  The fish don't focus on the small details like gas bubbles or sediment in the water around them. Instead, the retinal cups let them see large, moving objects, like the potato fish that eat them.
Inspired by the fish, as well as the compound eyes of lobsters, which are known for their high light sensitivity, Jiang and his team built an array of tiny parabolic mirrors and placed them on the surface of a hemispherical dome. Based on the principle of superposition, the “cells” capture light coming in from a variety of angles and then concentrate them to a single point. The result was a fourfold increase in sensitivity. “That makes the difference between a totally dark image you can’t see and an actually meaningful image,” Jiang said in a news release. The lens can be used with any type of imaging system.
To overcome the naturally low-detail images the optical system provides, the researchers went back to man made technology: a super-resolution-processing algorithm to produce crisp, clear pictures.  Still, production is challenging because the optical features need to be very precisely aligned as they're fabricated.  Everything needs to be just right.  "Even the slightest misalignment can throw off the entire system," said Jiang.

Regular readers will know I rarely get into philosophy, but I can't resist pointing out that this will be interpreted completely differently by groups with a background in evolutionary theory or who espouse intelligent design.  Each side will say how it adds evidence to their view.  For evolutionists, they'll point out the obvious survival advantage the remarkable eye gives the fish and how it enables the fish to live where it does.  Consider how the "blind watchmaker" of natural selection could produce a system like this, a system if not unique in the world then one only observed once.  No other animal has a similar system so what did it evolve from?  How many versions didn't work and led to the extinction of different species?  How many millions or billions of different iterations had to be gone through to come up with this system - one which no human had figured out yet.  Is the universe old enough, or has life existed long enough on Earth to go through enough variations?  Intelligent design advocates will say "pretty darned intelligent design, huh"?  No human figured this out. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Dow Back Near All-Time Record Levels

In case you missed it, the DJIA closed today at 18,226.93.  The all time record is 18,351.36, a mere .007% higher.  So the world ought to be in the best financial shape in history, right?  Don't make me laugh.
I don't buy that the world is in great financial shape.  The world is awash in debt, flooded with phony money by the central banks.  There's about $11 Trillion dollars in negative interest rate debt - that insanity that charges bond buyers for the privilege of loaning money to the issuers.  The phony money distorts everything, but first and foremost the stock markets.  Distorting the stock markets is the central banks' intent, after all, as people in our country have a tendency to judge their personal degree of "well-off" by the price of their house and the value of whatever portfolio (401k or whatever) they identify with.  Pumping up both house prices and the DJIA were their goal, and if they create enough money out of thin air, it has to affect them. 

Friday’s jobs report said that 278,000 Americans found work in June – up from 11,000 in May. This is one of the things that commentators use to justify the stock rally last Friday and today.  But a single month’s number means nothing.  It's just noise.  Even honest numbers should be disregarded over smoothed series and trends; single points just don’t have any useful information.  Worse, the Fed.Gov numbers are so manipulated, massaged and then sugar-coated, they're likely to make you sick.  Or give you diabetes.

The only thing the DJIA proves is that all the talk about a financial crisis from the Brexit vote is much ado about nothing.  The central banks, in their roles of controllers of All the Money in the World, have much more affect on these things than the mere machinations of countries.  Countries voting to leave the EU and the beneficent mercies of the God-like European Central Bank?  Who do they think they are?  Sovereign governments that represent the people?  Please. 

Much like we didn't fully realize how valuable a real free press was until we lost it, we're going to have hammered into our heads how important real money is as an information system once this mess collapses.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Intertoobs Are a Weird and Wonderful Place

I was looking for a nice inspirational quote from Colonel Cooper on Pinterest.  The search tool takes the words you enter and creates a Boolean "And" to search for.  Which led me to this image of Colonel Sanders and Alice Cooper (sans makeup).

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Is There More to the Philando Castile Case Than Meets the Eye?

I think that of the recent rash of news stories involving police-shootings, the one that has captured the most attention from gunnies is the horrible case of Philando Castile, the Minnesota man who was a concealed carry license holder shot to death during a "routine traffic stop", as the story goes.  I'd hazard a guess that since so many of us are concealed carriers, this scenario is our worst nightmare, or close to it. 

Some things about that never seemed quite right to me; the first was the chatty girlfriend who live streams the event instead of calling 911 and seems almost emotionally uninvolved in the whole event.  She doesn't seem emotionally attached to Mr. Castile at all, more concerned with putting a video online.  Her "don't tell me he's dead" pleas sound as emotionless as checking off a box on a form.  The second thing that I noticed was that the traffic stop was about a bad tail light, yet the video appeared to be in broad daylight.  I suppose that can happen, but I've never heard of it, or had it happen to me. There are photos online, though, that show the car after dark and both taillights appear to be working. 

The Conservative Treehouse has been following this story closer than most and poking it with sticks.  They've turned up some things that, as least to me, demand attention.  The most trivial is that the county where is this occurred, Ramsey County, MN, has no record of issuing Mr. Castile a CCW.
This could be nothing.  He could be from the next county over or the opposite corner of the state.  It isn't a critical point, but at this point it can't be verified he had a CCW permit, or who issued it to him.  Far more important is a trail they weave showing that Mr. Castile was pulled over because he physically matched one of two suspects who robbed a store at gunpoint.  A store very close to where Castile's stop and shooting occurred.
The people at GotNews chased down the social media profiles of Diamond and Philando, and unfortunately a familiar set of social behaviors surfaces.

Yes, Philando Castile was a gang member (crips), frequently picturing himself with firearms, cash, drugs and gang signs; and Ms. Diamond also has a colorfully broadcasted social presence.
This is a confusing situation.  Depending on his exact ties to a gang, it could make it unlikely he really was a CCW holder.  The pictures on Conservative Treehouse include this:
Arrested, of course, doesn't mean convicted and it's all still possible that Castile had a valid concealed carry permit and everything is just as reported.  It just seems to be getting harder to think that.

Doesn't it change the whole scenario if, instead of a routine stop for a broken tail light, the officer was pulling over a vehicle containing a B.O.L.O driver who fit the exact profile of an armed robbery suspect from a few days earlier?  Even if he just happens to have the incredible misfortune to look a lot like the photos of the armed robbery suspects?  As Conservative Treehouse puts it:
Wouldn’t it be entirely plausible for a rather concerned police officer to be additionally, well, twitchy perhaps, about a possible armed robbery suspect -pulled over- who identifies he is armed inside the vehicle, and then makes an unanticipated movement toward….

Well, I think you get the overall thesis.
I'll be honest: I'm not 100% sure what to make of this.  In broad overview, the story fits with what has been reported but adds a lot of detail and nuance.  Their sources seem solid.  They link to local news outlets (self-starting audio warning) throughout their investigation.  I'm only sure it bears keeping up with the story.  Miguel reports the Second Amendment Foundation is following this case and pushing for a full investigation, which is good.  The officers are suspended (as always after a shooting, it seems) and there's apparently a real investigation going on. 

What's that line about, "may you live in interesting times"?

Friday, July 8, 2016

We've Just Passed a Climate Tipping Point

Over the years, I've noticed that I tend to utter my first "I hate summer" of the year several weeks before it has actually turned to summer.  We're always looking for signs that our misery will be short-lived. 

I note that yesterday the latest Sunset of the year clicked back a minute earlier (on my sunrise/sunset timer app).  That means that for the next five to six months, sunset will get progressively earlier every night.  Slowly at first, then faster as the months go by, the days will get shorter.  We had the earliest sunrise about a month ago, and sunrise is already running in the trend of getting a little later every morning.  Every day the amount of daylight will decrease.

Since we can directly correlate incoming solar energy (insolation) with temperature, I can predict that temperature will follow the same trend as daylight.  Slowly at first, then faster as the months go by, the northern hemisphere will enter a period of global cooling.  We've passed the tipping point. 

I await with eager anticipation.  Your mileage may vary.
It only feels like we have dual suns.  Sometimes. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Updates and Catching Up

I haven't specifically updated my personal situation since I was discharged from the hospital.  I have been posting pretty regularly, so I think anyone keeping track will see I'm doing steadily better.  So just in case anyone was curious...

Two weeks post surgery was two days ago.  I saw the surgeon for followup last Thursday, and he discharged me to my GP for care.  All of the surgical dressings are off and I'm adapting pretty well to not having a gall bladder.  Not much in the way of stomach upset and that was all last week.  By coincidence, on Tuesday we had to drive up to the hospital to get copies of some records I need to bring to a followup appointment, so two weeks post- was the first day I drove and walked around parking lots and buildings since before everything hit.  The car's temp sensor dipped below 98 degrees once, when we got into the shadow of a cloud for several seconds.  It spent most of the time at 100 or above.  A bit on the hot side here, but not freakishly unusual. 

I'm aware of the "don't push it!" axiom - and Mrs. Graybeard reminds me regularly - but I have gotten back into the shop and resumed cutting metal for G0704 CNC conversion. My efforts have been directed to the big X-axis end cap I've written about several times
As I talked about, I'm converting it to two pieces: a large, 1/2" thick end cap (bored and drilled according to the original design) and a smaller, 1/2" thick motor mount/bearing holder that will screw to that piece with two 8-32x3/4" screws.  The original design had an area of the end cap here (marked by dotted lines) that was 1" thick.  Changing it to two pieces makes the big hole bored in the top piece a single diameter, and the dual diameter bore in the bottom piece changes its depths.  The area that was 1" thick gets a 3/8" thick motor mount/bearing holder on top of it.  My approach yields three pieces instead of two, but the overall dimensions are the same.  Just the two new screws are added.
Original end cap from - it starts as a chunk of 1" thick aluminum and has most of it thinned away to 1/2" thick.  On the DVD, Hoss shows it being made, but he already has his G0704 running CNC and just lets it run for a while. 

As an aside, I have all the parts for my guitar meta-project but haven't actually assembled anything.  In that linked piece I said, "I could get a set of tuners, nut and saddle and have it able to make sounds for under $100 - maybe half that if I use no-name parts".  Actual out of pocket was $27, including shipping. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Comey's Copout

By now, everyone has heard about FBI director Comey's refusal to prosecute the Hildebeest for federal crimes related to handling of classified information.  At the least, she perjured herself at least a dozen times with her lies about handling her emails (some examples here) but under some nebulous, never-before-used definition of "intent", there's no reason to punish her for these crimes. 

I have to admit to being more disheartened and discouraged by this ruling than anything I can think of in the last couple of years.  It feels like it may well be the most corrupt ruling I've ever seen from the US government on anything in my life.  The director of the FBI has singlehandedly struck a mortal blow to the rule of law in America and simultaneously turned the FBI into a laughing stock agency that no one can possibly take seriously anymore.  We have transitioned into that dangerous territory of a nation Without Rule of Law.

Someone said Comey did a masterful job of putting together a speech.  Given 15 minutes, he spent 13 of them listing every federal felony and other crime that Hillary committed.  Then he spent the last 90 seconds explaining he was going to do nothing, turned and walked off stage without taking questions or interacting at all.  It was like some bizarre anti-car commercial: he spent 13 minutes telling you why it was the worst car in the world, then switched over to 90 seconds telling you you're stuck with it.  It was the ultimate bait and switch for people who think these laws are important - as important as their equitable application to everyone.
This is beyond outrage. Everyone who has carried a Top Secret clearance and had access to Top Secret information knows that Clinton has criminally violated the laws protecting classified information. These laws serve a purpose. Protecting security secrets is essential to protecting America. 
If you're thinking someone on the left has a franchise on horses' heads to stuff into the beds of chickenshits like Comey, isn't the FBI director supposed to be the kind of guy who will stand up to thugs like the mafia or the drug cartels without backing down due to personal fear?  Isn't the "Chief Law Enforcement Officer" of the country supposed to be fearless, willing to fight the thugs?  At 72, Rudy Guiliani comes across as much more fearless than the 55 year old Comey.  

I suppose like all of us, I'm trying to figure out what living WROL means in day to day life.   Kurt Schlicter's great piece on Townhall yesterday gives us some guidance, but still leaves lots of gray.
Think about it. If you are out driving at 3 a.m., do you stop at a stop sign when there’s no one coming? Of course you do. You don’t need a cop to be there to make you stop. You do it voluntarily because this is America and America is a country where obeying the law is the right thing to do because the law was justly made and is justly applied. Or it used to be.
So if you are still obeying the law when you don’t absolutely have to, when there isn’t some government enforcer with a gun lurking right there to make you, aren’t you kind of a sucker?

Don’t you feel foolish, like you’re the only one who didn’t get the memo that it’s every man/woman/non-binary entity for his/her/its self?
Do you obey new gun laws - if there isn't that "government enforcer with a gun" standing right there?  Do you obey any new restrictions on any of your freedoms; again without that government enforcer pointing his gun at you?  This is important.  A couple of weeks ago, after the Orlando terrorist attack, lots of blogs linked to a video by my county sheriff, Wayne Ivey.  I respect him and I think he's the kind of law enforcement officer that I wish James Comey was.  

Ted Cruz put it this way:
"While I have tremendous respect for the dedicated men and women of the FBI, I have serious concerns about the integrity of Director Comey’s decision, and how it threatens the rule of law.

"Director Comey has rewritten a clearly worded federal criminal statute. In so doing, he has come dangerously close to saying that grossly negligent handling of classified information should not result in serious consequences for high-level officials. In a nation where the rule of law is supposed to matter, this is troubling.
I can't help but feel it's beyond troubling.  It's more like the nadir of our Republic.  Born July 4, 1776.  Died July 5, 2016.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Techy Tuesday - Wearable Gesture Sensors

Think Tom Cruise in Minority Report in front of projected computer screens floating in space, controlling commands with gestures of his partially-gloved hands.  
The idea of wearable consumer electronics is still climbing the Gartner Hype Cycle, with lots of press regularly being devoted to products coming out, but the wearable segment is still plagued by a lot of disinterest from potential users.  With two exceptions: smartwatch phone interfaces and fitness monitors, there really hasn't hasn't been much interest in wearables. 

Electronic Design News spends several pages talking about the development of Thalmic Labs’ Myo gesture-control armband.  Of the miscellaneous other sorts of wearables, gesture control and other human-machine interface devices seem the most popular.  It could be argued that movies like Minority Report may well have inspired us with its portrayal of mid-air computer control, but the attraction of gesture control is genuine, as we look for different ways to communicate and interface with our machines.  These are complicated devices, though.  To get something like this onto the market requires development of lots of hardware, plus the software to control and interpret everything.  Without proper packaging, though; a system that can be worn comfortably and work flawlessly, it's nothing. 
Unlike Cruise's gloves, the Myo is an armband.  The band has six channels of data flowing: accelerometers in X, Y and Z along with rotation information on all three axes.  (There's also temperature and other information necessary to get repeatable readings).  Each channel (X, Y, Z) includes compasses to understand their positions in space.   That means the Myo contains a nine-axis motion-tracking device.  The Myo needs to communicate over a radio link with the systems that it will control, so that it remains wireless.    It's a long road from proof of concept to final package, as it’s fundamentally just not easy to put circuit eight boards together, wire them all up, and still make something that's “wearable” and aesthetically pleasing. 

The Myo appears to be on the verge of being unleashed as a product.   There's quite a bit of detail at the EDN article, including several tear down photos so you can see what's in one.  It's an interesting (not-so-) little product. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Happy Independence Day

I'm pleased to see that there's a move to not just call today the 4th of July, but to use the proper name.  Let's remember what it really was - the day we declared our independence of tyranny.


The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.


I would have highlighted portions that I think are particularly apt today, but the whole thing would be highlighted.

Enjoy your day.  To those who serve - and have served - to provide this gift of liberty for us:  Thank You from the bottom of my heart.