Paying It Forward

It’s all those little things. A month ago, I was working on the axes for a foam-cutting machine. (Project stalled, will pick back up soon!) A week ago, somewhere else on the Internet, people were working on sliders that would ride directly on aluminum rails, a problem I was personally experiencing, and recommended using drawer-glide tape — a strip of PTFE or UHMW PE with adhesive backing on one side. Slippery plastic tape solves the metal-on-metal problem. It’s brilliant, it’s cheap, and it’s just a quick trip to the hardware store.

Just a few days ago, we covered another awesome linear-motion mechanical build in the form of a DIY camera rig that uses a very similar linear motion system to the one I had built as well: a printed trolley that slides on skate bearings over two rails of square-profile extruded aluminum. He had a very nice system of anchoring the spacers that hold the two rails apart, one of the sticking points in my build. I thought I’d glue things together, but his internal triangle nut holders are a much better solution because epoxy doesn’t like to stick to anodized aluminum. (And Alexandre, if you’re reading, that UHMW PE tape is just what you need to prevent bearing wear on your aluminum axes.)

Between these events, I got a message thanking me for an article that I wrote four years ago on debugging SPI busses. Apparently, it helped a small company to debug a problem and get their product out the door. Hooray!

So in one week, I got help from two different random strangers on a project that neither of them knew I was working on, and I somehow saved a startup. What kind of crazy marvelous world is this? It’s become so normal to share our ideas and experience, at least in our little corner of the Internet, that I sometimes fail to be amazed. But it’s entirely amazing. I know we’ve said it before, but we are living in the golden era of sharing ideas.

Thanks to all of you out there, and Read More Hackaday!

21 thoughts on “Paying It Forward

  1. I do not care what your dog or cat says, you are a decent person Mr. Williams; and am certain that you have ‘good karma’.

    Conversely, no good deed goes unpunished. Someday I will write the bizarre story of dealing with the “hacker” community while attempting to support project designs that were opened by my employers and clients.

  2. I recently had someone out of the blue find some notes on my web page and offer to send me a piece of equipment (a ROM emulator) that his shop no longer used and was going to discard. And he did. And it was a much fancier unit than the one I have and had written about. So the world can definitely be a good place and I will aim to do what I can to pass along both knowledge and things.

    I have been thinking about Hackaday some. I decided that I should strive to make my comments more positive and less critical and snarky. Too darn much negativity around and I am negative about it! Seriously though, there is a bad trend of trying to look smart by criticizing everything and I am going to make an effort to not participate.

    1. Its a tricky line to draw between being helpfully critical or posing alternative options that might suit better and being actually too negative. Much easier to do that in person – as its an immediate discussion and if you upset them its easier to see and react positively to the rest of the project so they know you are not actually against them etc. I always try to remember this and put in the ‘great idea’ or ‘loved that bit’ part in text comments to give the maker their earned praise, but its easy to forget.

      Like if somebody builds a lovely pressure pot, perfectly fine for their pressure demands but doesn’t replace the tanks original much higher pressure safety valve with one more suited to the alterations they have made.. Its a lovely modification of whatever they started with to do the job they actually want to do. BUT they overlooked that one small something that in this case could make it seriously unsafe, in another perhaps just higher maintenance or harder to make.

      I know I learn loads of little bits from doing projects that I wish I’d shown to somebody who would already know I’m about to fall into this problem I haven’t seen yet… Sometimes its ok to bypass that learning it for yourself routine and use the wisdom of the ol’ grey beard master of this art…

    2. “I decided that I should strive to make my comments more positive and less critical and snarky. ”

      Darn, I suppose that means I’m going to “have to” be less snarky now too!

      Seriously, Kudos to you!

    3. I have had that happen too, a few times now

      Its cute at first then you start getting the person that tacks you down on every website you ever made a username for and badgers the absolute shit out of you cause “ya I had something similar but slightly different help me”


      which is why I am very reluctant to share, FFS I got an email about an instructable I wrote in 2011 just yesterday show up on 4 forum PM’s and 2 emails

      That’s what paying it forward gets you, I’m sitting here with my first kid’s 5th year birthday party on going while a 7 week old baby in ma arms and some asshat is bombarding me about a LM386 amp ciruit I made in 2009 on 4 different forums cause “shit for brains” cant get a LM386 to work

      that’s why I don’t post my projects anymore, fuck a bunch of that, its fucking never-ending!

      1. yep need to learn to ignore and forget buddy. Im well known locally for my automotive electronics experience. Im sure you can imagine how many people known or unknown to me badger me about their emergency. Im not an ass, but my family and my time comes first, I help folks, I bend over backwards for folks, but work contact and working hours only. this is a hobby for me, (and I assume you) .. so if its a bother, ignore it, and forget about it. you aint paid for support so if you cant be bothered or dont have time, dont. but more importantly, dont let it bother you, its bad for your mental and physical health.

  3. “I have been thinking about Hackaday some. I decided that I should strive to make my comments more positive and less critical and snarky. Too darn much negativity around and I am negative about it!”

    You appear to be more thoughtful than most. I hereby grant ‘Severe Tire Damage’ all of my positive karma (but I probably have none). Where politics is not involved, I have probably learned more from negative comments, snarky or otherwise. But please do attempt to remain positive in attitude, as there are fewer of your ilk and we do not need any more distrustful and cynical people such as myself.

  4. I don’t know about others but hackaday holds such a special place in my heart. It’s full of super interesting stuff from 5-minutes cool build articles to in-depth looks at historical engineering figures and concepts.
    The authors really make an effort to make their prose engaging and the custom art illustrations of the special series articles are simply wonderful.
    I’ve discovered electronics through Arduino a few years ago after high school. This site has been a massive source of both inspiration and knowledge, and despite not leaving a lot of space for direct interaction (you guys should create a Discord), it feels like a little community.

    I’m really glad Hackaday exists and I hope the contributors are proud of what they do.

    Thank you guys for your work

  5. “I have been thinking about Hackaday some. I decided that I should strive to make my comments more positive and less critical and snarky”

    I second you! And often wrote a commentary to thanks whenever the article is above the average either on entertainment or in things to learn.

    What makes HAD great it that it sticks to its own language, brewed across the years. See the website, for example: it evoluted without turning into something else – I mean those empty mobile phone websites so in fashion nowadays. Another example, the .IO community: The do not try to be a social media – after all most of us, avid readers. are anti-social in certain degree… No no, the community is solid because it is focused on sharing knowledge, instead of selling vanity. Not to mention that the community is really open in the sense that it does not require pesky subscription to browse through the articles and projects.

    That’s all HAD folks! Thank you and please keep going with your great work!

  6. I am using strips of plastic cut from a soda bottle for my glide strips. They are glued to the piece of MDF that must ride on the edge of the aluminium angle extrusions using double-sided adhesive tape. I used the cheapest soda I could find because it was in the most cylindrical bottle I could find, plus I didn’t actually want to drink it. A certain leading cola has a bottle with too many curves.

  7. I was fortunate enough to have access to several older people around when I was young that had great stores of knowledge and experience and were always willing to share it or “spit ball” on how best to (insert question). I have always tried to do the same. I helped one of those older mentors get onto the internet and learn the basics of computers in a few small ways many years ago and shortly he “turned me on to” Hackaday. I have been coming here as often as I can and continue to learn from the articles and maybe even more maybe from the comments, snarky or otherwise (and sometimes get a good laugh) … Thanks and keep it up all!
    PS I don’t have a lot of time for projects usually or a lot of machine tools so to keep part counts down and simple I’ve found casting slide bearings (and spacers ) out of West system epoxy (love the stuff) filled with graphite can solve a lot of problems quickly with some creative forms. One such project was a vertical camera support (was doing some industrial pics of manufactured parts for a company). It is about 20 years old and still comes in handy now and then. You can cast inside or outside of aluminum extrusions, and generally use it when cured, though on outside of an extrusion or rod you may have to put some shim stock to allow for minor shrinkage if the casting is large. Experiment!

    1. Graphite in epoxy? Neat idea. Kinda like those self-lubricating sintered bronze bearings that have oil trapped inside, but the plastic version.

      I’ve been doing some model airplane stuff, and fiberglassing is part and parcel, so I’ve got a ton (OK, maybe a kilogram) of epoxy resin in the basement just looking to get into trouble.

      Was thinking something with sand/gravel, just to see how that goes. Maybe those funny microballoons. And now, maybe graphite.

        1. hmm interesting link.. I have no interest in boat building (yet) but some of the fillers they mention are news to me.

          I wonder what the lifespan, load capacities and cost of the graphite vs sintered oil bearings and thin film or air bearings is. heck I wonder how epoxy graphite fairs vs delrin and other slipper plastics – certainly an idea that has scope, cast in place, and reuseable mould could make it a cheap and efficient way to create multiple bearing surfaces with the same geometry. Less wasteful that carving it out of the block too.

          1. I am sure for high loading, high speed reciprocating settings sintered bearings of decent quality likely surpass epoxy, but these could (and have) been cast in, for example when repurposing “thompson rods” and sintered bearings scavanged from old printers. The strength is good depending on filler content, though not as flexible as delrin, nylon, teflon etc. It is possible to crack when tapping thin sections <1/4" near an edge for example so adding a lightly lubricated and wiped clean screw to the form solves this.

  8. Here goes my 2 cents contribution on bearing wear. Instead of using a glued on strip, just cover the bearings with a PTFE bushing 1,5 mm thick and with a small increase of diameter you will solve the problem in a neat way ;)

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