Project Egress: A Bracket And A Bell Crank For The Latches

Put yourself in [This Old Tony]’s shoes: you get an email out of the blue asking you to take part in making a replica of a 50-year-old spacecraft. Would you believe it? He didn’t, at least not at first, but in the end it proved to be true enough that he made these two assemblies for Project Egress in his own unique style.

If you haven’t heard of Project Egress, check out our coverage of the initial announcement. The idea is to build a replica of the crew hatch from the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, as part of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing next week. [Adam Savage] at Tested has enlisted 44 hackers and makers to help, spreading the work out among the group and letting everyone work in whatever materials and with whatever methods they feel like. [Old Tony], perhaps unsurprisingly, chose mainly Apollo-era dehydrated space-grade aluminum, machined using a combination of manual and CNC machining. We really like the finish he chose – a combination of sandblasting and manual distressing to give it a mission-worn look.

As for exactly what the parts themselves are, the best [Old Tony] could come up with to call them is a bracket and a bell crank. From the original hatch drawings, it looks like there were two bell cranks, which will transmit force around the hatch to the latches that [Fran Blanche], [Joel] and [Bob], and no doubt others have contributed to the build.

We’re eagerly anticipating the final assembly, to be executed by [Adam] live at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on July 18. Project Egress is as much a celebration of the maker movement as it is a commemoration of Apollo, and we’re pleased that people will get a chance to see the fruits of the labors of all these hackers in so public a forum.

29 thoughts on “Project Egress: A Bracket And A Bell Crank For The Latches

  1. This whole business of “elite hackers” leaves me annoyed and cold about all of this. A bad trend. There may be interesting things going on, but I am more or less boycotting this whole series and keeping an eye out for more of the egalitarian and exciting work done by “ordinary joe” hackers. I will leave the elite hackers to pat each other on the back.

      1. I have no stake in this, and have no concern either way, but the project is sponsored by a US national (OK, Smithson was a Brit, but that is neither here nor there…) museum and is to celebrate an achievement made by and under the umbrella of a US government agency, so I am really not surprised at the USAian focus.

        This complaint is equivalent to complaining that a similar 50th celebration of Sputnik, sponsored by a Russian museum, should include non-former-Soviet contributors (the current political situation notwithstanding)

      2. It wasn’t intended to be racist, or a rant.
        I take the point about this being about NASA and the Smithsonian. Maybe that is a good enough reason.
        But if I was putting together a hacker / maker dream-team, I would be looking at input from Clickspring, Matteus Wandel, Stefan Gotteswinter, Laura Kampf, Myfordboy and Naomi Wu. (and many of those already on the list)

    1. That’s a shame if you are so cynical that you cannot distinguish the difference between hard work and a have-a-go attitude, and being fed by a silver spoon.

      All of these “elite” hackers started as “ordinary joes” that you so revere and have earned the respect that anyone with sanity willingly gives. The main talent that separates those “elite” hackers chosen for Project Egress is a willingness to put themselves out there, warts and all. They teach by sharing experiences, they inspire through their progress, and they caution through their mistakes. Along they way they often entertain too.

      John from NYCCNC started learning with a small CNC router in his NYC apartment living room and still makes mistakes on camera on a regular basis. IIRC, This Old Tony started by building a router in his garage. He has a rare talent for producing entertaining video. Quinn Dunki (Blondi-hacks) is not an elite machinist, but has great presentation skills Fran Blanche lists her eliteness as “Lifetime underachiever and World Record Holder in the list of also-rans.”. Bob (I Like to Make Stuff) says “I’m not an expert in anything I do.”. Tom Lipton is a career metalworker who worked his way up to supervise Berkley’s machine shop. He actually is pretty elite in his field but only because of decades of learning. We’d be dumb to ignore the wisdom that he freely shares.

      I for one am looking forward to meeting some of these people this week in DC.

    2. I watched the This Old Tony video on YouTube before it was posted here. I enjoy his build videos as they are filled with good information and humor. Adam Savage on the other hand… I thought that Jaime Hyneman was the real maker in Mythbusters and seeing Savage on his own can understand why Hyneman didn’t like Savage working in his shop.

    3. I beg you, please try to get over the “elite hackers” annoyance. It’s always going to be true that some hackers are simply excellent at both making stuff and gathering a following. Also, I always thought that hacking was best done in a cooperative way and nothing kills cooperation like jealousy. I say if you or anyone else does something cool and shares it with the community then *WONDERFUL!!* Besides hackers feed on creative ideas and those come on their own terms. Having a great idea and being acclaimed for bringing it forward to the public doesn’t make you a better person. It just means that you get to find a “golden ticket”. So enjoy the “magic”! …please :-)

    4. If there is not enough work in a task for everyone to participate, then it must be bestowed upon a smaller base, and there has to be some discriminative method to selecting it. We are yet to see a massive collaborative project which would engage whole “nation of hackerdom”, and obvious limitation for that is that huge projects usually have also some huge parts, components, which cannot be efficiently (or at all) broken down and are beyond abilities and means of any single human/non-corporate entity.

    5. Ouch. Using the phrase ‘elite hackers’ in a negative light shows that you really don’t understand a culture that is all about learning new things and getting better at them while celebrating the accomplishments of those who have achieved great renown through their own hard work. What’s more, you using the term in a derogatory manner in reference to the particular group involved in this project doesn’t put you in a good light. At all. NONE of these folks are the best at what they do, and would freely (…and humbly …and cheerfully in most cases) admit it. Your diatribe smacks of sour grapes to me.

      The most likely reason that they were chosen was–beyond their demonstrated ability to produce components of sufficient precision to be usable–because of how popular they are with other makers and the public in general. That means that literally MILLIONS of people will know about the project without the Smithsonian having to spend a dime on advertising. That’s gold.

  2. Personally, I like the idea of the project, but I’m tired of sacrificing authenticity for inclusivity. The hatch was made by machined parts, I wish every part on it were machined. 3D printing, ooh, modern, yeah yeah, I get it, appeal to the techies.

    3D printing something that actual machinists staked their careers to properly machine takes away a lot of the skill and difficulty of making this, and it just represents a shell of what impressed me on the original.

    ThisOldTony is one of the few Ive seen trying to make it close to the way it was made.

    Yes, I get that its a demo piece, but it says a lot about our current throw away plastic culture to make one of the most iconic mechanical spacefaring items of the moon landing out of cheap plastic.

    Using it as one person did to make prototyping a mold quicker would be the opposite to me- an ingenious use of a modern technology to make old parts quicker (of course, cast in metal though).

    A majority of hackers shy away from actual machined metal parts whenever they can, and it just dissapoints me.
    But I’m probably biased, as my main medium is metal as a machinist.

    1. i understand your frustration. but as a maker community some people have learned to do alot with different technologies. and thinking 3d printing is as easy as hitting print, doesn’t do it justice. people think CNC is as easy as hitting RUN, but their are many little things that come into play. both with CNC and 3d Printing.

      this project is not supposed to remake the original, but to make a model of it. and one reason i see to bring the maker community into it is publicity and awareness, and 3d printing is part of that. alot more people watch 3dprinting nerd than NYCCNC.

      Its not that makers and hackers “shy” away from machining, its that they dont have access to mentors and teaches and tools. they can buy a 3d printer for $500 and get printing with youtube. i cannot buy anything but a 2.5 axis cheap router for that. it costs thousands in tooling and time, your mistakes are more costly with metal.

      1. As for mentors and teachers there are plenty of skilled machinists on YouTube, and ThisOldTony is a good one. Stephan Gottswinter and Robrenz are my favorites, but to say there is noone available to teach people machining just isnt true.

        How many people can you walk up to and have them teach you to run a 3D printer? Perhaps it is more common to find people like this because they congregate in makerspaces and hacker spaces.

        There are magazines on learning 3D printing, but guess what, there are several for machining too. Home Shop Machinist, and honestly Model Engineer’s Workshop from the UK are my favorites.

        Its just not as common to find a random machinist who’s willing to teach in person like some kind of Pokemon the way it currently seems to be for 3d printing. But there are plenty of ways.

        Honestly I think the reason is simply because the price of entry in both physical cash and time investment is lower then actual machining. I am quite familiar with 3d printing in all forms. We use it at work, I’ve built them myself. I am keenly aware you can’t simply press a button and go.

        When even companies that make cnc mills for hobbiests brag their equipment can “cut steel!” as if it’s something extraordinary rather than utterly expected (I’m looking at YOU, Tormach), people are left believing there is something super exotic about cutting metals. In all honesty, its not that complex.

        You can get a serious ballscrew controlled CNC mill capable of cutting any metal just fine with sub 0.0005″ tolerances for around 3k, that will fit on your desktop, from Taig. Tooling yeah can cost, but you can make anything easily once tooled up.

        I think its too many people scared away from metal because of poor marketing from machine tool makers, bad targetting, and general mysticism left undispelled by a crowd of people easily distracted by yet another plastic yoda head.

        1. Just so I don’t seem like some kind of recluse in what I say-

          I have actually taught classes in Machining at my local hackerspace, and I have offered to teach many people Machining but few people we’re willing to invest the time to take me seriously and sit down for even 2 hours to go over all the basics.

          I had people constantly telling me how much they wanted to learn Machining when I was a member of my hackerspace, and nearly every time I offered to drop whatever I was doing and show them the basics. Before I was a machinist I was a teacher, so if anyone would be able to help them I would think it would have been me.

          I continually got well I don’t have the time now or any number of other excuses even though I just politely said okay most of the time.

          The one thing I notice about people who call themselves makers in hackerspaces is a lot of them are dreamers who don’t take the time to even sit down for a short. To learn something from someone who offers.

          The last thing I will say is for anyone who is actually interested in learning to machine metal- I offer one easy quick avenue here. Pick up a current copy of Model Engineer’s Workshop. They have an excellent series on learning basic Milling, and its up to part 11. Very well done, and they have cheap digital subscriptions.

          I try, but maybe noone really wanted to learn… the few that I did teach had never touched Machine Tools before and I taught them how to make a Turner’s Cube in only one weekend of about 10 hours. Both mill and lathe. It can be done- just be willing to focus and learn!

  3. I agree that this project does have its drawbacks. With this video, the product placement and style is spiritually cheap. I think it has to feel that way because it is trying to sell a corporate friendly image of the hacker subculture.

    I only use the word “maker” to describe myself in a job application because it is not pc to be a hacker. Anybody with half a brain knows there is a confluence of social dissident trends, ideals, and physical creation that make hacking a rich culture.

    1. Did you just call a ToT video “cheap”?? Dude, go watch some of his other videos. Best produced machinist videos on YouTube. He says right in the opening that the deadline on this project was more important than the video, and as such, the content is slightly lacking compared to his typical video.

      And what product placement are you talking about?

      1. He’s obviously talking about the diamond block. Why else would Tony have featured it so prominently in his finishing of the parts? I mean, I sure thought about going and buying one after seeing it help the tool marks show back up after the sandblasting.

  4. It is nice to see the project coming to an end, and as deadlines approach, let´s hope that everybody completes their pieces on time. I´m sure it will be a great event when all of the pieces are finally assembled !

    1. I’m having the exact opposite problem. I’m machining metric pieces that have to interface with camera lens mounts in the good ol’ USA and I’ve been amazed at how difficult it’s been to find certain metric tools that mirror common imperial parts.

      For instance, I needed a 25mm end mill for use it in an R8 collet. In the States it’s trivially easy to find a 1″ end mill with, say, a 3/4″ shank.

      I figured it would be a snap to find a similar 25mm tool with a reduced shank.

      Took 2 damn days looking at $400 end mills before I finally threw up my hands and ordered a cheap cutter from China.

        1. I saw those, but I kinda have a deep and abiding suspicion of any tool that doesn’t fit up into the throat of the spindle, and that implies a 7/8″ or 22mm shank maximum.

          I haven’t actually used a 25mm collet, but I’ve used a 1″ mill in the very similar 1″ collet, and the tool grip, being completely external to the spindle, feels pretty … well, let’s go with “tenuous”.

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