Angled Drill Guide Helps You With Those Tricky Holes

If you’ve ever tried to drill a hole on an angle with a power drill, you’ve probably drilled some pretty shocking holes. To do it right, you really need some mechanical assistance, and this jig from [Kartik_Nandrui] should do the trick.

The device uses a guide that sits on the surface to be drilled, with a pair of angled connectors that fit two wooden dowels. These connect the guide to a corresponding sleeve that fits around the drill body. The sleeve then slides up and down the dowels, allowing the drill to move in a straight line towards the targeted area.

It’s a useful hack, but we can see room for some improvements that would take it to the next level. Having a way to lock the angle of the guide base would be great for accuracy. As it’s 3D printed, it would also be simple to create a version with a curved guide base that could fit over pipes, or other designs to fit complex geometries like roof sheeting or other corrugated materials.

Sometimes the most interesting hacks are the ones that get us thinking about our own potential projects. If you’ve got any creative tool hacks you’ve been brewing up in the lab, be sure to let us know!

Atmospheric High-Voltage Motor Makes Useful Power

While it almost seems like an insane fever dream from an otherwise brilliant inventor, Nikola Tesla’s plan to harvest energy straight out of the atmosphere and essentially give it away is more reality than fiction. It’s usually prohibitively difficult get that energy out of the atmosphere for several obvious reasons, although it is still possible to do as [lasersaber] shows with his most recent atmospheric motor.

To help solve some of the logistical problems of harvesting electricity from the atmosphere, [lasersaber] is using a Van de Graaff generator as a stand-in for the high voltage gradient that can be found when suspending a long wire in the air. He has been experimenting with high-voltage motors like this for a while now and has refined his designs for corona discharge motors like these to be big enough and have enough torque to drive a drill bit. The motors have a conductive rotor with a series of discharge tubes on the stator, and exposing a metal point on the wiring (where the atmospheric wire would attach) to a sufficiently high voltage will cause rotation. In this case, it’s around 30,000 volts but with an extremely low current.

There are a number of videos documenting his latest build, including this follow-up video where he drills an arbitrarily large number of holes in various materials to demonstrate its effectiveness. Even though he is using a Van de Graaff generator in these builds, he does also show them working with a wire suspended by a drone as well for proof-of-concept. He’s also become somewhat of an expert on high-efficiency and low-power motors and has a number of other interesting builds based on these concepts.

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A Nicely Accurate PCB Drill Press You Can Build Yourself

Making PCBs isn’t always just about getting nice copper traces on a lovely fiberglass board. There’s often lots of drilling to be done! This PCB drill press from [w_k_fay] should help you do just that with the finesse and accuracy of a pro.

The design isn’t particularly fancy or pretty, but just simply focuses on doing a simple job well. There’s a basic DC motor, sitting on a linear rail so that it has minimal deflection in the X and Y axes as it moves up and down. Special care was taken to ensure the linear rail was mounted perfectly perpendicular to the base to ensure the drill doesn’t wander or splay off target.

A collet chuck is used to center the bit as well as possible for a good price. The build also includes a bright LED in order to give you the best possible view of your work. Power is via a variable bench supply which allows for variable speed as necessary. There’s a foot pedal to activate the drill which allows both hands to be used for positioning the work for added ease of use.

The total build came in at under $50 spend by the time [w_k_fay] was done. Alternatively, you could use this 3D printed design to build your own as well. If you’ve been whipping up your own useful tools for the home shop, though, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

Drilling A Well With A Well Drill

Drill Does Well In Double Duty As Well Drilling Drill

There are a large number of methods commercially used to bore a hole into the ground for the sake of extracting drinking water, and the all require big loud equipment. But what if you just want a small well? Do you really have to call in the big guns? [The Working Group on Development Techniques] is a student association at the University of Twente in the Netherlands who shows in the video below the break that some simple homemade fixtures and a powerful hand drill are quite enough to do the job!

There's more to drilling a drill than drilling with a drill
There’s more to drilling a well than just drilling well

Chief among these fixtures is a swiveling mechanism that serves to hold the drill and its weight, give control over the drill, and inject water into the pipe that the drill bit is attached to. Plans for the swivel are made available on [WOT]’s website. What looks to be a DIY drill bit uses commercially available diamond tips for hardness.

What makes the video remarkable is that it discusses every stage of drilling the bore hole, lining it with casing, and then making it suitable for pumping water from. The video also discusses the chemicals and methods involved in successfully drilling the hole, and gives an overview of the process that also applies to commercially drilled wells.

Naturally you’ll want to make sure your drill is corded so that you can drill for long periods, but also so that it doesn’t grow wings and fly away!

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parser drill

Machining Wood Inlays, No CNC Required

It’s almost hard to remember a time when the obvious answer to most questions about manufacturing wasn’t “Throw it on the CNC.” CNC machines have become so entrenched that the acronym has become a verb; few people would misunderstand a statement like “Let’s just CNC that.”

But before CNC machines became so ubiquitous, there were plenty of clever tricks for cutting material in a controlled fashion, as [Pask] shows us with this tool to machine wood for inlays. The tool is called a parser (or passer) drill, and is designed for use in conjunction with a steel template. [Pask]’s version seems pretty easy to make; a pair of mild steel bars are forged flat into spade shapes before having a cutting surface ground into them. The two halves of the drill are welded together and ground down to fit in the chuck of a hand drill, a modern nod to the fact that few people will want to use the traditional bow and breastplate that drove the original parser drills.

In use, a steel template that determines the shape of the inlay is affixed to the workpiece. The cutting edges of the bits are plunged into the template cutout to machine out the wood; the overhangs of the bits act as depth stop and guide. It only takes a few seconds to make a neat, CNC-free inlay. The video below shows the tool being made and in action.

It’s nice to see what can be accomplished without the need for fancy CNC machines. Not that we have anything against them, of course, but when the same results can be had with some scraps of steel and a little ingenuity, it’s pretty impressive. Looking for something between manual tools and CNC for woodworking? The pantorouter might be just your speed.

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No Hole In One: Perseverance Strikes Out On First Mars Core Attempt

There’s a military adage that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. While we haven’t gone to war with Mars, at least not yet, it does seem to be a place where the best-laid scientific plans are tested in the extreme. And the apparent failure of Perseverance to retrieve its first Martian core sample is yet another example of just how hard it is to perform geotechnical operations on another planet.

To be sure, a lot about the first sampling operation went right, an especially notable feat in that the entire process is autonomous. And as we’ve previously detailed, the process is not simple, involving three separate robotic elements that have to coordinate their operations perfectly. Telemetry indicates that the percussive drill on the end of the 2.1 m robotic arm was able to use its hollow coring bit to drill into the rock of Jezero crater, and that the sample tube inside the coring bit was successfully twisted to break off the core sample.

But what was supposed to happen next — jamming of the small core sample inside the sample tube — appears not to have happened. This was assessed by handing the sample tube off to the Sample Handling Arm in the belly of Perseverance, where a small probe is used to see how much material was recovered — none, in this case. NASA/JPL engineers then began a search for the problem. Engineering cameras didn’t reveal the core sample on the Martian surface, meaning the sample handling robots didn’t drop it. The core sample wasn’t in the borehole either, which would have meant the camming mechanism designed to retain the core didn’t work. The borehole, though, looked suspicious — it appears not to be deep enough, as if the core sample crumbled to dust and packed into the bottom of the hole.

If this proves to be the cause of the failure, it will be yet another example of Martian regolith not behaving as expected. For InSight, this discovery was a death knell to a large part of its science program. Thankfully, Perseverance can pick up and move to better rock, which is exactly what it will be doing in September. They still have 42 unused sample tubes to go, so here’s to better luck next time.

[Featured images: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

DeWalt Literal Hack Upgrades Battery

There are several important decisions you make in your life: Coke or Pepsi; vi or emacs; PC or Mac. But, lately, you need to pick a battery ecosystem for your tools. DeWalt? Black & Decker? Or just cheapies from Harbor Freight? But what happens when your vendor of choice changes their batteries? That’s the situation [jleslie48] found when a DeWalt 14.4V battery died. All the new tools require 18V batteries, so buying an old battery for one tool didn’t make sense. Time to literally hack the old tool to accept the new battery.

Presumably, nothing in the drill will mind the higher voltage. It is all a matter of mechanics and nothing a Dremel tool won’t fix. Since the tool was old and the 18V batteries relatively new, [jleslie48] decided to limit modifications to the tool only leaving the batteries intact for use with the newer tools.

The only problem once you remove the pins and clips that interfere with the battery fit, it won’t actually stay on the drill. We might have turned to duct tape or zip ties, but bungee cord works, too, as you can see in the finished product.

Honestly, though, the bungee is good because you can stretch it to remove the battery for charging. We might have just cannibalized the drill for its motor, but next time you have a tool with no battery, it might be worth looking to see if you could modify the tool.

Bungees are great for robots, too. Or, you can lay siege on your neighbors.