Turning a 1942 lathe into a functional piece of art

A couple of years ago, [macona] picked up a 1943 Monarch 10EE lathe. This monstrous machine is not only an amazing piece of engineering but an awesome work of art; not only can this lathe manufacture parts with exacting precision, it’s also a wonderful piece of machine age design.

The Monarch 10EE lathe was extremely high-tech for its time, and the War Dept Detroit Ordinance District tag on the cooling pump bears this machines lineage: this lathe was most likely used to make very precise military equipment such as the Norden bombsight.

After 60 years of faithful service, [macona]‘s lathe picked up several coats of paint in different colors and generally fell into a state of disrepair. [macona] spent a great deal of time overhauling this lathe by replacing a bent feed rod, troubleshooting the motor problems, and eventually replacing the whole motor with a modern AC brushless servo. You can check out the improvement the AC servo made in a video after the break.

Of course no post about a rebuilt lathe would be complete without a few beauty shots. We’re extremely thankful for [macona] for not only restoring this machine, but also for sharing it with us. Thanks to [macona]‘s restoration, this machine will hopefully be around for another 60 years.

[Read more...]

A six-year adventure into the world of CNC fabrication

Hackaday doesn’t always get the entire back story of a build. The usual assumption is that someone decided to build something, and with just a little bit of effort the project makes it into the Hackaday tip line. This doesn’t do justice to the builder, with skills honed after years of practice and experience. A 200-word summary is deceiving, and makes everything look almost too easy. [Michal] decided to buck that trend and sent in his half-decade long adventure of becoming one of the best micro-scale machinists we’ve ever seen.

In 2006, with years of robots made out of hot glue and cardboard behind him, and the quality of 3D printers not up to his exacting specifications, [Michal] snapped. He sunk the better part of $3000 into a Roland MDX-15 desktop mill. After several months of futzing about with acrylic sheet, [Michal] came across the wonderful machining properties of modeling board.

Determined to do something useful with this modeling board, [Michal] started looking into resin casting. Casting in resin is a common technique in the artist and model maker communities to mass produce small plastic parts. After getting his hands on eight liters of polyurethane resin, [Michal] made a useful part guiding the direction his skill set would grow in the coming years.

After years of experimenting with techniques, materials, and mediums, [Michal] eventually honed his craft and was able to finally start building real robots. These projects were a far cry from the cardboard and milk jug contraptions made earlier in his career. [Michal] was now producing incredibly precise gear assemblies with accuracies within 0.002 mm.

You may remember [Michal] from his robot with pivoting wheels we showcased last week. He got a lot of email from people wanting to know how to start delving into his unique blend of artistry, engineering, and craftsmanship. The good news is you can now learn from his mistakes, so a planetary gearbox shouldn’t take more than a few months to finish.

Converting a mill to CNC

For most of the past year, [Joel] has been working on converting a manual mill to a CNC mill with the addition of a computer, brackets and stepper motors. He’s put an amazing amount of effort into his project, and the result is awesome and much less expensive than buying and shipping an old Bridgeport mill.

The project started with this mill from Grizzly. It’s a step above the small ‘hobby mills,’ but still very affordable at $1200 shipped to [Joel]‘s driveway. The work began by fabricating an enclosure for the PC and motor drivers out of an electrical panel box. The controller box includes a touch screen, keyboard and computer running Mach3 CNC software. The computer connects to a breakout board with a trio of motor drivers providing power for the stepper motors on each axis.

After a few months (good things take time), [Joel] was ready to attach the stepper motors to the axes of the mill. He’s just put up a few videos of milling copper-clad board for PCBs and surface machining ABS, viewable after the break. For a total investment that is less than finding, buying, and repairing an old industrial mill, we’ll call [Joel]‘s project a success.

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Guerilla guide to CNC machining

[Ian] wrote in to tell us about the Guerilla Guide to CNC Machining and Resin Casting. He came across it in the reference links to another project and says he wish he knew about it a long time ago. We took a look and there’s a mountain of useful information in the guide, which is written by [Michal Zalewski]. We won’t pretend that we’ve read the whole thing, there’s days worth of information here. But we will. The range of topics includes types of milling machines, milling materials, software options and use, safety, and the list goes on. Bookmark this (don’t forget the second volume), it might be just the thing to get you through the holiday with your family.

Machining an SLR camera from scratch

It took us a while to stop drooling long enough to write about this amazing machining project. [Denis MO] made a single-lens reflex camera from scratch. The banner image above is not the finished product, but just one step in the production chain. [Denis] has been thinking about doing this project for 25 years and finally took the plunge. From the start, the only parts he planned on NOT making himself were the screws, ball bearings, shutter, curtain fabric, and interchangeable lenses. Everything else is his own creation based off of his own design. Spend some time looking over his project. There’s plenty of information and images of both the machining process, and the drawings he mocked up in the design process. We’ve also included a pic of the finished camera and the contact sheet from his test roll of film after the break.

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Devote your life to replicating a lightsaber

Life-sized Star Wars replica props, it’s one way to keep the ladies away. But if you’re going to make them, you should do it right. [Bradley W. Lewis] spent some serious time getting this [Obi-Wan Kenobi] lightsaber right. The seven-page build log provides plenty of eye-candy. We especially enjoyed the machine and coloring of he grenade-fin portion. The LED ladder that lights the blade is also quite interesting. For the icing on the cake he incorporated a high-performance speaker connected to the sound board from a Hasbro Force FX which provides that classic swashbuckling sound from a galaxy far, far away.

Precision grinder is a thing of beauty

This beautifully crafted grinder would make any machining enthusiast salivate.It features a fixture for holding your work at any angle or orientation to the grinding wheel but the slotted bed also allows for other attachments to be used. Two of the examples shown in this highly detailed (machine porn) writeup include sharpening bits and light surface grinding. There’s not much more to say because the pictures speak for themselves.

[Thanks Bud]

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