Argh, thar be a big wheel

If you’re marooned on a desert island, you want to have a Professor who can build useful items out of coconuts. [LostMachine] is one of those guys, and he’s currently building a land-loving pirate ship. The wacky vehicle will use the giant wheel above to propel the vessel while the captain sits comfortably in the lofty crow’s nest. A crack-pot concept? Not really, he plans to take this to Burning Man where it will be a fairly useful build compared to the folks who have really gone off the deep end.

The story here is the build quality. Take some time to watch his videos which we’ve embedded after the break. In the first, he details his method for creating a precisely level building surface on top of his uneven driveway. This is accomplished by welding supports in a circle that are level compared to the center point. He goes on to share his liquid-cooling system for cutting the pipe supports with a custom-built jig and an old windshield washer water system pump from an RV (second video). The final video shows the construction of the wheel which came in with 2000 welds and about 250-300 hours of construction time.

If you hadn’t guessed, [LostMachine] is a structural engineer. Unfortunately he was laid-off this spring which has put a damper in his building schedule. We hope that with a quality project like this in his portfolio a new job is just around the corner for him.

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How-to: Build your own spot welder

Welding stainless steel

Spot welders are used in the fabrication of automobiles, PC cases, power supplies, microwave ovens, electrical junction boxes, Faraday cages, and various electronics. A spot welder is used because it produces a highly defined point of contact weld. The materials are welded without excessive heating, so working pieces are handled easily. The weld is also highly controlled and repeatable. In this how-to we cover the basics of a spot welder, and then show you how to build one from a microwave oven transformer.

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High frequency start box

start_box

When welding with an AC arc welder, it is often necessary to “scratch start” them to get the arc going. For those unfamiliar, it is just like it sounds. You drag the head across something just like a giant match. There are some that come with an arc stabilizer or “high frequency starter”. This is preferred, but they can be hard to find. [Bill] shows us how to make one of our own. Though you may have an easy enough time finding a big transformer, you might run into some difficulty finding the capacitors, and tungsten spark gaps. If you manage to get your hands on them, you can follow [Bill]‘s schematic and build one of these starters for yourself.

Columbus Day: What are you working on?

Wow, Caribbean Conquest Day is such a dull holiday. If it’s a holiday at all: we’re at work today and you probably are too. We decided to post what we’re working on in hopes of breaking out of our holiday slump. Pictured above are two IR illuminator boards we assembled this weekend. We bought the kits from BG Micro. We’re planning on testing their camera blocking ability once we come up with a ~13V portable power source.

That’s what we’re doing. What have you been working on lately?

(If anyone can find a source for the welding goggles in the picture, we’d love to hear it.)

Pedal powered Panzer tank built for crashing parties


A group from Philadelphia PA calling themselves Team pzkpfw decided to recreate a Panzerkampfwagen III, but not entirely according to the original specs. Instead of treads and an engine, they used a system of pedals, gears and chains powered by up to six riders. The team of roughly nine men spent eleven days welding beams and plates, drilling and shaping sprockets, and painting the tank a fearsome pink camouflage. They were planning on crashing the 2nd annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby with it, which they crashed last year in a pirate ship, but they ended up being too tired from their tooling around to actually do it. There’s always next year. Get a look at their promotional video after the break, or if you’ll be in the Philly area soon, “visit the tank on Frankford Ave, just north of Norris St in Philadelphia.”

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