Overhead Trolley Helps Clear the Air over CNC Router

[Frank Howarth] has a shop most woodworkers would kill for, stuffed with enough tools to equip multiple hackspaces — four radial-arm saws alone! But while the CNC router in the middle of the shop, large enough to work on an entire sheet of plywood, is a gem of a machine, it was proving to be a dusty nightmare. [Frank]’s solution was as unique as his workspace — this swiveling overhead dust extraction system.

The two-part video below shows how he dealt with the dual problems of collection and removal. The former was a fairly simple brush-bristle shroud of the type we’ve featured before. The latter was a challenge in that the size of the router’s bed — currently 8′ but soon to be extended to 12′ — and the diameter of the hoses needed to move enough air made a fixed overhead feed impractical. [Frank]’s solution is an overhead trolley to support the hoses more or less vertically over the router while letting the duct swivel as the gantry moves around the work surface. There were a few pitfalls along the way, like hoses that shorten and stiffen when air flows through them, but in the end the system works great.

Chances are your shop is smaller than [Frank]’s, but you still need to control the dust. This dust collector for a more modest CNC router might help, as would this DIY cyclonic chip separator.

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This Way to the Ingress: Keeping Stuff Dry and Clean with IP and NEMA

When designing a piece of hardware that has even the faintest chance of being exposed to the elements, it’s best to repeat this mantra: water finds a way. No matter how much you try to shield a project from rain, splashing, or even just humid air, if you haven’t taken precautions to seal your enclosure, I’ll bet you find evidence of water when you open it up. Water always wins, and while that might not be a death knell for your project, it’s probably not going to help. And water isn’t the only problem that outdoor or rough-service installations face. Particle intrusion can be a real killer too, especially in an environment where dust can be conductive.

There’s plenty you can do to prevent uninvited liquid or particulate guests to your outdoor party, but it tends to be easier to prevent the problem at design time than to fix it after the hardware is fielded. So to help you with your design, here’s a quick rundown of some standards for protection of enclosures from unwanted ingress.

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From Shop Floor Dust To Carbon Steel

[Chandler Dickinson] did his monthly sweep of the floor in his blacksmith’s shop when it occurred to him that all that metal dust had to go somewhere, didn’t it? So he did the only reasonable thing and made a crude foundry out of cinder blocks, melted his dirt in it, and examined what came out the other end.

His first step was to “pan” for steel. He rinsed all the dirt in a bucket of water and then ran a magnet at the bottom of the bucket. The material that stuck to the magnet, was ripe for reclaimation.

Next he spent a few hours charging a cinderblock foundry with coal and his iron dust. The cinderblocks cracked from the heat, but at the end he had a few very ugly brittle rocks that stuck to a magnet.

Of course there’s a solution to this non-homogenous steel. As every culture with crappy steel eventually discovered, you can get really good steel if you just fold it over and over again.  So he spend some time hammering one of his ugly rocks and folding it a bit. He didn’t get to two hundred folds, but it was enough to show that the resulting slag was indeed usable iron.

He did a deeper examination of the steel last week, going as far as to etch it, after discovering that the metal sparked completely differently when sanded on one side versus the other. It definitely needed work, but all seemed to have worked in the end.

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Quiet Dust Extractor from Scavenged Materials

As with many of the projects covered on hackaday, [bongodrummer]’s Dust Sniper came about because of a lack of effective commercial solutions, in this case to the problem of quiet dust extraction.

Workshops are generally full of dust and noise, both of which take their toll on the human body. This is why safety regulations exist for noisy and dusty workplaces and–as [bongodrummer] rightly points out–we have to take precautions in our own home and community workshops. Hearing protectors, dust masks and safety goggles are integral, but reducing the amount of dust and noise in the fist place is paramount.

Using mostly scavenged materials [bongodrummer] did a quality job building the Dust Sniper–and all for a bill of materials totaling £20. It has an integrated work surface, automatic switches on 2 vacuum lines to sync up with power tools, a cyclonic air filter that prevents clogging the HEPA filter and reducing suction power, inlet and outlet soundproofing, and a plain old power outlet for good measure.

Whether or not you’re interested in building an integrated workbench/extractor system like this one, we recommend you check out the details of the cyclone filter and the sound reducing components. Not only are they an interesting read, but they could be useful to apply in other projects, for example a soldering station with fume hood.

We think it would be really neat to include more cyclones in our projects. Stick around after the break to see [bongodrummer]’s prototype cyclone filter in action.

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DIY Dyson vac hack

cyclone

[James Dyson] may have built eleventy billion prototypes to perfect his famous cyclonic vacuum, but sometimes just one will do the trick.

A cyclonic separator is used in workshops to keep larger cruft out of the dust collection system. The airflow inside a separator creates a vortex that flings heavier bits and particles to the periphery of the chamber, where they settle out the bottom, while relatively clean air escapes the vacuum port at the top. This makes for fewer filter changes and a more consistent pull from the vacuum.

You can go buy a fancy professionally-made separator, but [neorazz] shows how to create one from an assemblage of PVC fittings and a five gallon bucket. The design may lack the power and slick design of the big units, but for garage hack use this may be all you ever need. They demonstrate it to be about 95% effective, and it’s very simple to make. A prior cyclonic separator hack appeared a bit more work-intensive, but the principle is all the same. It all comes down to what skills you possess and what parts you have on hand.

Cyclonic dust seperation

[Don] was having issues with dust when working with MDF. He had a shop vac overheat and die because of it. When looking for solutions, he saw several systems that used cyclonic dust seperation. Not wanting to buy something he could make for cheaper, he left the store and started scrounging parts. You can see his home made system in the video above. This seems like an absolute must have item for any workshop. Great job [Don].