Portable Pizza Oven Has Temperature Level Over 900

While it’s possible to make pizza from scratch at home right down to the dough itself, it’ll be a struggle to replicate the taste and exquisite mouthfeel without a pizza oven. Pizzas cook best at temperatures well over the 260°C/500°F limit on most household ovens while pizza ovens can typically get much hotter than that. Most of us won’t have the resources to put a commercial grade wood-fired brick oven in our homes, but the next best thing is this portable pizza oven from [Andrew W].

The build starts with some sheet metal to form the outer and inner covers for the oven. [Andrew] has found with some testing that a curved shape seems to produce the best results, so the sheet metal goes through rollers to get its shape before being welded together. With the oven’s rough shape completed, he fabricates two different burners. One sits at the back of the oven with its own diffuser to keep the oven as hot as possible and the other sits underneath a cordierite stone to heat from the bottom. Both are fed gas from custom copper plumbing and when it fires up it reaches temperatures hot enough that it can cook a pizza in just a few minutes. With some foldable legs the oven also ends up being fairly portable, and its small size means that it can heat up faster than a conventional oven too.

This is [Andrew]’s third prototype oven, and it seems like he has the recipe perfected. In fact, we featured one of his previous versions almost two years ago and are excited to see the progress he’s made in this build. The only downside to having something like this would be the potential health implications of always being able to make delicious pizzas, but that is a risk we’d be willing to take.

Continue reading “Portable Pizza Oven Has Temperature Level Over 900”

Mining And Refining: Copper, The Metal That Built Technology

It’s hard to reckon exactly when in history humans became a technological species. Part of that is because the definition of technology is somewhat subjective; if you think making a stick pointy enough to grub roots from the dirt or to poke enough holes in an animal to convince it to let you eat it is technology, then our engineered world goes back a long, long way indeed.

But something about pointy sticks just doesn’t seem transformative enough, in the sense of fundamentally changing a naturally occurring material, to really count as a technological line in the sand. To cross that line, it really seems like the use of metals should be part of the package. Even if that’s the case, our technological history still goes pretty far back. And copper ends up being one of the metals that started it all, about 11,000 years ago, when our ancestors discovered natural deposits of the soft, reddish metal and began learning how to fashion it into the tools and implements that lifted us out of the Stone Age.

Our world literally cannot run without copper, forming as it does not only the electric-motor muscles of civilization, but also the wires and cables that form the power and data grids that stitch us together. Ironically, we are just as dependent on copper now as we were when it was the only metal we could make tools from, and perhaps more so. We’ll take a look at what’s involved in extracting and purifying copper, and see how the methods we today use are not entirely different from those developed over seven millennia ago.

Continue reading “Mining And Refining: Copper, The Metal That Built Technology”

Tech In Plain Sight: Primitive Engineering Materials

It isn’t an uncommon science fiction trope for our hero to be in a situation where there is no technology. Maybe she’s back in the past or on a faraway planet. The Professor from Gilligan’s Island comes to mind, too. I’d bet the average Hacakday reader could do pretty well in that kind of situation, but there’s one thing that’s often overlooked: materials. Sure, you can build a radio. But can you make wire? Or metal plates for a capacitor? Or a speaker? We tend to overlook how many abstractions we use when we build. Even turning trees into lumber isn’t a totally obvious process.

People are by their very nature always looking for ways to use the things around them. Even 300,000 years ago, people would find rocks and use them as tools. It wasn’t long before they found that some rocks could shape other rocks to form useful shapes like axes. But the age of engineered materials is much younger. Whether clay, metal, glass, or more obviously plastics, these materials are significantly more useful than rocks tied to sticks, but making them in the first place is an engineering story all on its own.

Continue reading “Tech In Plain Sight: Primitive Engineering Materials”

Keep The Sparks Away With A Plasma Cutting Table

For one-off projects or prototypes it’s not uncommon for us to make do with whatever workspace we have on hand. Using a deck railing as an impromptu sawhorse, for example, is one that might be familiar to anyone who owns a circular saw, but [Daniel] has a slightly different situation. He had been setting up metal workpieces on random chunks of brick in order to use his plasma cutter, but just like the home handyman who gets tired of nicking their deck with a saw, he decided to come up with a more permanent solution and built a custom plasma cutting table.

Plasma cutting has a tendency to throw up a lot of sparks, so most commercial offerings for plasma cutting tables include a water bath to catch all of the debris from the cutting process. [Daniel] builds his table over a metal tub to hold some water for this purpose. The table itself is built out of aluminum and designed to be built without welding even though most people with plasma cutters probably have welders as well. The frame is designed to be exceptionally strong and includes curved slats which add to the strength of the table. The table is also designed to be portable, so the curved slats stay in place when the table is moved.

While this might seem like an average metal table at first glance, the table is actually being designed with a homemade CNC machine in mind which [Daniel] is working on. The CNC plasma cutter needs a sturdy, flat surface and can’t be set up on bricks in the driveway, so this table suits both [Daniel]’s immediate needs to not shower himself in sparks every time he cuts something and also his future CNC machine’s need for a sturdy, flat workspace. We look forward to seeing that build being completed but in the meantime take a look at this motorized plasma cutter which has the beginnings of a CNC machine if in one direction only.

Continue reading “Keep The Sparks Away With A Plasma Cutting Table”

3D Printer Cuts Metal

Every now and then we’ll see a 3D printer that can print an entire house out of concrete or print an entire rocket out of metal. But usually, for our budget-friendly hobbyist needs, most of our 3D printers will be printing small plastic parts. If you have patience and a little bit of salt water, though, take a look at this 3D printer which has been modified to cut parts out of any type of metal, built by [Morlock] who has turned a printer into a 5-axis CNC machine.

Of course, this modification isn’t 3D printing metal. It convers a 3D printer’s CNC capabilities to turn it into a machining tool that uses electrochemical machining (ECM). This process removes metal from a work piece by passing an electrode over the metal in the presence of salt water to corrode the metal away rapidly. This is a remarkably precise way to cut metal without needing expensive or heavy machining tools which uses parts that can easily be 3D printed or are otherwise easy to obtain. By using the 3D printer axes and modifying the print bed to be saltwater-resistant, metal parts of up to 3 mm can be cut, regardless of the type of metal used. [Morlock] also added two extra axes to the cutting tool, allowing it to make cuts in the metal at odd angles.

Using a 3D printer to perform CNC machining like this is an excellent way to get the performance of a machine tool without needing to incur the expense of one. Of course, it takes some significant modification of a 3D printer but it doesn’t need the strength and ridigity that you would otherwise need for a standard CNC machine in order to get parts out of it with acceptable tolerances. If you’re interested in bootstraping one like that using more traditional means, though, we recently featured a CNC machine that can be made from common materials and put together for a minimum of cost.

Continue reading “3D Printer Cuts Metal”

Chainsaw Cuts More Than Timber

We often take electricity for granted, to the point of walking into a room during a power outage and still habitually flipping the light switch. On the other hand, there are plenty of places where electricity isn’t a given, either due to poor infrastructure or an otherwise remote location. To get common electric power tools to work in areas like these requires some ingenuity like that seen in this build which converts a chainsaw to a gas-driven grinder that can be used for cutting steel or concrete. (Video, embedded below.)

All of the parts needed for the conversion were built in the machine shop of [Workshop from scratch]. A non-cutting chain was fitted to it first to drive the cutting wheel rather than cut directly, so a new bar had to be fabricated. After that, the build shows the methods for attaching bearings and securing the entire assembly back to the gas-powered motor. Of course there is also a custom shield for the grinding wheel and also a protective housing for the chain to somewhat limit the danger of operating a device like this.

Even though some consideration was paid to safety in this build, we would like to reiterate that all the required safety gear should be worn. That being said, it’s not the first time we’ve seen a chainsaw modified to be more useful than its default timber-cutting configuration, like this build which turns a chainsaw into a metal cutting chop saw.

Continue reading “Chainsaw Cuts More Than Timber”

Retrotechtacular: The Drama Of Metal Forming

It may seem overwrought, but The Drama of Metal Forming actually is pretty dramatic.

This film is another classic of mid-century corporate communications that was typically shown in schools, which the sponsor — in this case Shell Oil — seeks to make a point about the inevitable march of progress, and succeeds mainly in showing children and young adults what lay in store for them as they entered a working world that needed strong backs more than anything.

Despite the narrator’s accent, the factories shown appear to be in England, and the work performed therein is a brutal yet beautiful ballet of carefully coordinated moves. The sheer power of the slabbing mills at the start of the film is staggering, especially when we’re told that the ingots the mill is slinging about effortlessly weigh in at 14 tons apiece. Seeing metal from the same ingots shooting through the last section of a roller mill at high speed before being rolled into coils gives one pause, too; the catastrophe that would result if that razor-sharp and red-hot metal somehow escaped the mill doesn’t bear imagining. Similarly, the wire drawing process that’s shown later even sounds dangerous, with the sound increasing in pitch to a malignant whine as the die diameter steps down and the velocity of the wire increases.

There are the usual charming anachronisms, such as the complete lack of safety gear and the wanton disregard for any of a hundred things that could instantly kill you. One thing that impressed us was the lack of hearing protection, which no doubt led to widespread hearing damage. Those were simpler times, though, and the march of progress couldn’t stop for safety gear. Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: The Drama Of Metal Forming”