So, maybe right now isn’t the best time to get into the high-altitude ballooning hobby? At least in the US, which with the downing of another — whatever? — over Alaska, seems to have taken a “Sidewinders first, threat identification later” approach to anything that floats by. The latest incident involved an aircraft of unknown type, described as “the size of a small car” — there’s that units problem again — that was operating over Prudhoe Bay off the northern coast of Alaska. The reason that was given for this one earning a Sidewinder was that it was operating much lower than the balloon from last week, only about 40,000 feet, which is well within the ceiling of commercial aviation. It was also over sea ice at the time of the shootdown, making the chance of bothering anyone besides a polar bear unlikely. We’re not taking any political position on this whole thing, but there certainly are engineering and technical aspects of these shootdowns that are pretty interesting, as well as the aforementioned potential for liability if your HAB goes astray. Nobody ever really benefits from having an international incident on their resume, after all.
Machining With Electricity Explored In The Hack Chat
As a Hackaday reader, it’s safe to assume you’ve got a better than average understanding of electricity. There’s also an excellent chance you’re familiar with machining, and may even have a lathe or old mill in the workshop. But combining the two, and actually machining a piece of metal with electricity, isn’t something that many home gamers can boast first-hand experience with.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an interest. To help answer the burning (or at least, sparking) questions from the community, CEO and founder of Voxel Innovations Daniel Herrington stopped by this week’s Hack Chat to talk about the cutting edge of both electric discharge machining (EDM) and the closely related field of electrochemical machining (ECM). While his company uses the technology to produce components at incredible scales, Daniel got his start tinkering in the garage like so many of us, enabling him to provide both a professional and hobbyist prospective on the technologies.
Naturally, the first big question to be addressed was the difference between EDM and ECM. Put simply, electric discharge machining uses high-voltage to literally blast away material from the workpiece. The resulting finish is generally rough, and progress through the material tends to be slow, but it’s relatively simple to implement.
In contrast electrochemical machining could be thought of as a sort of reverse electroplating process, as the material being removed from the workpiece is dissolved and transferred to the cathode — though in practice the flow of pressurized electrolyte keeps it from actually plating the negatively charged tool. ECM is a faster process than EDM and allows for an exceptionally smooth surface finish, but is considerably more challenging from a technical perspective. Continue reading “Machining With Electricity Explored In The Hack Chat”
Hackaday Links: January 15, 2023
It looks like the Martian winter may have claimed another victim, with reports that Chinese ground controllers have lost contact with the Zhurong rover. The solar-powered rover was put into hibernation back in May 2022, thanks to a dust storm that kicked up a couple of months before the start of local winter. Controllers hoped that they would be able to reestablish contact with the machine once Spring rolled around in December, but the rover remains quiet. It may have suffered the same fate as Opportunity, which had its solar panels covered in dust after a planet-wide sandstorm and eventually gave up the ghost.
What’s worse, it seems like the Chinese are having trouble talking to the Tianwen-1 orbiter, too. There are reports that controllers can’t download data from the satellite, which is a pity because it could potentially be used to image the Zhurong landing site in Utopia Planitia to see what’s up. All this has to be taken with a grain of dust, of course, since the Chinese aren’t famously transparent with their space program. But here’s hoping that both the rover and the orbiter beat the odds and start doing science again soon.
3D Printing Aids Metal Polishing
While a machinist can put a beautiful finish on a piece of metal with their lathe or mill, to achieve the ultimate finish, a further set of polishing procedures are necessary. Successively finer abrasives are used in a process called lapping, which removes as far as possible any imperfections and leaves eventually a mirrored smoothness. It’s not without problems though, particularly at the edge of a piece it can result in rounded-off corners as the abrasive rubs over them. [Adam the machinist] has a solution, and he’s found it with a 3D printer.
To avoid the rounded edges, the solution involves fitting a piece of metal or wood flush with the surface to be lapped, such that the pressure doesn’t act upon the corner. This can be inconvenient, and the solution avoids it by 3D printing a custom piece that fits over the entire machined object providing a flat surface surrounding the edges. We see it being used with a demonstration piece that has three separate surfaces in the same plane to lap,something that would have been challenging without the 3D printed aid.
Lapping isn’t a process we see too often here. But it has cropped up as an extreme overclocking technique.
A Pokemon Silver Cartridge Made Of Pure Silver
The big problem with Pokemon Silver is that it came in a cartridge made of only-slightly-sparkly grey plastic. [Modified] decided to fix all that, making an all-silver cartridge instead.
The cartridge was first modeled to match the original as closely as possible, and 3D printed for a fit check. From there, a test cartridge was machined out of a block of aluminium to verify everything was correct. It’s a wise step, given the build relies on a 1-kilogram bar of silver worth roughly $750.
With everything checked and double-checked, machining the silver could go ahead. Every scrap of silver that could be saved from the CNC machining was captured in a box so that it could be recycled. Approximately 28 grams of silver was lost during the process. WD40 was used as a coolant during the machining process, as without it, the silver didn’t machine cleanly. The final cart weighed 164 grams.
It’s not a particularly hard project for an experienced CNC operator, but it is an expensive one. Primary expenses are the cost of the silver bar and the Pokemon cart itself, which can be had for around $50 on the usual auction sites.
However, the “heft and shine” of the finished product is unarguably glorious. Imagine handing that over to a friend to plug into their Game Boy! Just don’t forget to ask for it back. If you’re rich enough to do the same thing with Pokemon Gold or Platinum, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
We love a good casemod, and this one reminds us of a brilliant crystal PlayStation 2 from years past.
Continue reading “A Pokemon Silver Cartridge Made Of Pure Silver”
Custom Lathe Tool Cuts Complex Oil Grooves
Oil grooves are used to lubricate the inside of a bearing, and can come in many forms — from a single hole that takes a few drops of oil, to helical patterns that distribute it over the entire internal surface. The ideal arrangement is a looping figure eight pattern similar to an oscilloscope Lissajous figure, but cutting these is a nightmare. That is, unless you’ve got the proper tool.
We figure [Machine Mechanic] must need to cut a lot of them, as they spent quite a bit of time perfecting this custom lathe attachment to automate the process. Through an assortment of clever linkages and a rod-turned-crank that was welded together in-situ, the device converts the rotational motion of the lathe into a reciprocating action that moves the cutting tool in and out of the bearing. Incidentally the business end of this gadget started life out as a bolt, before it was turned down and had a piece of tool steel brazed onto the end.
With a little adjustment, it seems like this device could also be used to carve decorative patterns on the outside of the workpiece. But even if this is the only trick it can pull off, we’re still impressed. This is a clever hack for a very specialized machine shop operation that most would assume you’d need a four-axis CNC to pull off.
Lathes seem at first like rather single purpose machines, we’re always pleased to discover strange and wonderful things being done with them, like this seemingly impossible-to-turn piece, and this combo wire EDM and lathe.
Continue reading “Custom Lathe Tool Cuts Complex Oil Grooves”
Cut Just About Anything With This Combination Lathe And Wire EDM
They say that if you have a lathe, you have every other machine tool too. To some degree, that’s true — you can make almost anything on a lathe, including another lathe, and even parts best made on other machine tools can usually be made on a lathe in a pinch. But after seeing this lathe attachment for a DIY electric discharge machining tool, we might be inclined to see the EDM as the one machine tool to rule them all.
Now, we’ll admit that the job [BAXEDM] built this tool for might be a little contrived. He wanted to make some custom hex inserts for his Swiss Army knife, which seem like they’d have been pretty easy to make from hex bar stock in a conventional lathe. Then again, hardened steel is the kind of material that wire EDM was made for, and there seem to be many use cases for an attachment that can spin a workpiece against an EDM cutting wire.
That was really the trick of this build — spinning a part underwater. To accomplish this, [BAXEDM] built a platform to carry a bearing block that supports a standard ER-25 collet, with a bracket that holds a stepper clear of the water in the EDM cutting tank. There are plenty of 3D printed insulators too, to keep most of the attachment electrically isolated from the EDM current, plus exotic parts like ceramic bearings that won’t corrode under water. There were a ton of other considerations, too; [BAXEDM] goes through the long iterative design process in the video below, as well as taking his new tool for a literal spin starting at about the 27:00 mark.
If you’re intrigued by what EDM can accomplish — and who wouldn’t be? — but you need more background on the process, we’ve got you covered.
Continue reading “Cut Just About Anything With This Combination Lathe And Wire EDM”