A better dust skirt for your CNC mill

[Joshendy] wanted to get a better look at the cutting head on his CNC mill when it was running. The problem is that the rotating blades throw up a lot of junk which you don’t want flying around the shop so they’re usually surrounded with a shroud connected to a shopvac. He just milled is own transparent dust skirt to solve the problem.

The original dust skirt uses black bristle brushes to contain the waste from the cut. In addition to obscuring your view of the cutter this didn’t do a very good job of containing bits and pieces. The solution seen on the right uses clear, flexible PVC as the skirt. The video after the break details the build process. [Joshendy] cut out a replacement plate which is then fitted with magnets to connect to the cutter. The skirt is affixed to that plate with a series of screws, making it easy to replace if it ever wears out.

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Shoulder mount for any camera

Whatever your reasons may be, if you’re going to be holding a camera for long periods of time this shoulder mount will both steady the image, and help save you some aches and pains. [Kyle Jason] built the rig seen above for just $20 by following this guide.

[Knoptop] published the guide about a year ago. It doesn’t make use of any special PVC connectors, so you’ll have no problem finding everything you need at the hardware store. Connectors used include 45 and 90 degree angles, straight pieces, and a PVC conduit box to serve as the mounting bracket. After cutting, dry fitting, and welding everything together the rig really benefits from a couple of coats of paint. Don’t forget the grip covers to make the thing easy to hold onto.

Don’t want to read the build guide? After the break you’ll find [Knoptop's] build video which is actually quite a fun eight minutes to watch.

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Workbench overhead camera boom made from PVC

pvc_overhead_camera_ boom

It looks like [Dino] is getting settled into his new digs, and while the moving process has kept him pretty busy, he’s slowly but surely getting his workshop area set up. One thing that he really wanted from his new bench was a better way to record video, for both his Hack a Week series as well as broadcasting over Ustream.

He bought a nice little Hi-Def web cam for making videos and set out to build a camera boom for his bench. The boom is constructed mostly from PVC piping along with some other odds and ends for mounting. In the video below, he walks through the construction step by step, making it easy for anyone to follow along and build one of their own.

The boom looks like it works very well, and is a bargain at under $40. It articulates every which way giving him complete coverage of his workbench, and makes it easy to film whatever he’s working on – big or small.

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Robotic arm follows the movements of your own limbs

[Alejandro] and his friends recently finished a first prototype of scratch-built robotic arm. They’ve got some nice electronics bench equipment for use with a project like this, but for the actual fabrication work it’s off to the kitchen.

As you can see in the video after the break, they’re using PVC as the stock material in this build. Flat sheets are produced by slitting a PVC pipe down the middle, warming it in oven until soft, then compressing it between two floor tiles with a big jug of water used as a weight for the makeshift press. Mounting holes for the servo motors that make up the joints are drilled with a hand drill, and the assembly was affixed to an old CD as a base.

Once assembled they wired it to the control circuitry and build a set of sensors that you wear on your arm. Now your elbow, wrist, and pointer finger are in control of the servos. A demonstration of this functionality starts around two minutes into the video.

We’ve seen other examples of robot arms built without the use of machine tools. This arm made out of ShapeLock plastic is one of the most interesting examples.

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Sustainability Hack: Wind turbine battery charger

Hit your parts bin and set aside an afternoon to build a wind turbine that recharges batteries. You can see two AA batteries hanging off the side of this small generator. You only need a few parts to make this happen, and chances are you have them sitting in your junk bin already.

The generator itself is a small stepper motor which can be pulled from a floppy disk drive or a scanner. The blade is cut from a single piece of 3.5″ (90mm) PVC pipe, with another piece of smaller-diameter pipe serving as the body of the turbine. The tail-fin makes sure it’s always pointing into the wind and was made from some plywood. As the blade spins, a current is induced on the control pins of the stepper motor. By building a pair of bridge rectifiers and using an RC filter you’ll get the most out of the generated current.

This turbine can charge a pair of NiCad batteries in about 10 hours, but it might be worth developing some smart circuitry to manage charging. If it were able to choose between a dedicated storage battery and the on-board battery holder you could put all of the wind energy to good use.

[Thanks Michael]

PVC boombox is not a potato cannon

After [Luke] built a suitcase mini-ITX rig for LAN parties he was left with one problem: he didn’t have any speakers and he didn’t want to use headphones. Not wanting to do something boring like a USB-powered speaker setup, he built a PVC Boombox.

Built around 3 inch PVC pipe, the boombox houses an off the shelf 15 W amplifier, bluetooth receiver, and charge controller. [Luke] found a deal on a dozen 1400mAh lithium ion batteries and despite the standard, “if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t use lithium” trope commonly given as advice, he forged ahead anyway. [Luke] picked up a power converter that charges the batteries and provides some protection. The batteries are charged though wall power with a transformer and a huge cap scrounged from an ATX power supply.

[Luke] is pretty pleased with his boombox. Not only does it put out some decent quality sound, the battery life should be tremendous. It’s not a ground-up build, but we think it’s a pretty nice project. [Luke] will be taking the ‘boomtube’ to the Detroit Maker Faire next month, so if you see him make sure to say hi.

PC case using CNC router and home building products

[Reinventing Science] needed a project that he could use to test out his skills on a new CNC routing machine he recently acquire. He settled on building a PC case using easily obtained materials. What he ended up with is the clean-looking case seen above that was machined from materials you can pick up at the home store.

The bulk of the case is made from extruded PVC which is designed to perform like solid wood trim. He picked up one piece of the ‘lumber’ and cut out the front, back, top, bottom, and drive bay bezel. We expected the joints between the horizontal and vertical pieces to either be butt joints, or rabbits. But [Reinventing Science] wanted a cleaner look and managed to mill mortise and tenon joints. These are strong joints that leave a very nice finished look. Since the material is designed as a lumber replacement it shouldn’t be too surprising to see drywall screws used as the fasteners.

In addition to joinery, some other CNC tricks were used. The sides of the case were cut from clear acrylic, with a decorative bead milled in the surface. There’s also fan ports cut in the top and vents on the bottom, as well as some engraving with the name of the project just above the optical drive. The wood-grain embossing makes for an interesting final look; we’d like to see how this takes a few careful coats of paint.

If you’re interested in the CNC hardware used, take a look at the unboxing post that shares a few details.