Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fly Cutter

I need a fly cutter to square up the 1.812"x2.000" block for the stirling. I could buy one, but I can also make one pretty easy. Id rather it be from tool steel, and I have a piece of 4140PH that would be perfect, but with these ball bearings in the spindle there's just no way. So aluminum it is! The first challenge is getting a piece cut off the hunk of stock I have. Since I have no bandsaw, part off is my only option. I used the part off tool down to about .6" diameter then finished it off with a hacksaw.

You can see how close everything is. Had I not milled that one part down so I could flip the compound around I wouldnt have been able to get the travel out of it.
Look at the crappy fine chip. The chatter is unreal. I need to put those tapered bearings pretty soon. Why they don't already do that when they build these is the one and only serious gripe I have with this machine. 

Finally, a piece I can work with. Now let's make it look like a fly cutter. Below is a short clip of me roughing the OD down.

I decided on .75" shank. First side is done!

Picking up center with the ol' trusty edge finder.

Now we're making a bit of progress. This is one of the first 2 or 3 cuts.

Thats all we need, three 1/4-20 drilled and tapped holes where the lines are, and it's done.

This is the angle the tool will sit. I could have gotten by with a smaller angle, but this'll work just fine.

Here you can see how the end mill dug in on a few of the beginning cuts. To clean it up, I would have had to take too much off that face and it would've blown my centerline by .04" at least, likely more, to get all that out. It's not gonna hurt anything like this. I struggle with rigidity on this little thing. Between the shoring block and tightening the gibs way down it did okay, but its a bitch to turn, because everything is so tight. I do plan to do some rework or whatever it takes to squeeze a bit more rigidity out of this thing.
Ill probably make another one. I think .5" might be a bit much maximum capacity on a little two inch aluminum fly cutter. Not too much to work, it'll still work fine, but mill it for 1/8" HSS blank, which I have a few. I think it would do a much better job. This will work for now, though. I can fit any tool I have in this one, though. The tool I plan to use is a 3/8" indexable(surprise, the one in the pics), but I'm likely to throw a chunk of HSS in there too depending on how well the indexable tool cuts. I haven't been real pleased with them so far and never use them. Im hoping to redeem them by finding they work perfect for a fly cutter.

That finish isn't the greatest, but it's because of wobble in the milling attachment, it too needs some attention to make it more rigid. But its cutting great. It sounds good, no chatter, just all around doing a great job. I am going to make another, though. I've realized some things that are important that I didn't realize before, for instance, making it to use 1/8" HSS blank and also to have a 3/8" shank so it can go in my end mill holder. Those two things alone will make a huge difference for the next tool. 3/8" shank wouldn't be nearly beefy enough if you were whacking at something with a tool like what I have in there now and taking a decent depth of cut, but 1/8" HSS blank, nice and sharp, shiiit, be perfect. I didn't have set screws, so I had to use those big honkin' socket head cap screws.

Now I can square up the main block of the stirling easily. Below is a short clip of it cutting. Listen to that cut, that's just how you want it to sound.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Test Tube Stirling - 2 Cutting The Glass

I remade the one I cracked and I shortened the displacer by about a half inch. I'm getting pretty damn good at cutting this glass! Ill take this post to briefly explain how I cut them on the lathe with a diamond file and to show the reworked and new parts.

Masking tape is the biggest thing you can do to help yourself since until a groove is established the file wants to slide all around. The gap I leave is not much wider than the width of the edge of the file I use.

Chucked up in the lathe and ready to go, I turn at about 1200 rpm and use no lubricant/coolant.These are the two files I usually use, though I do use a flat one sometimes if the edge is jagged from chipping or breaking catiwampus, the flat file lets me bring it all flat again relatively easy. The one I cut with is a knife shaped one with a fairly fine "cutting edge" of about .03"(I put that in quotes because technically the whole file is a cutting edge since its coated all over). I use the round file to clean up the inside edge after the cut is complete. You can get a cheap set of diamond files for $10 online or at Harbor Freight. It cuts this borosilicate glass great and they're also great to have around for doing detail when shaping a HSS tool bit or just putting a nice radius on a newly ground tool tip. They're nice to have around, get some!

You never want to put any pressure on the file besides what is necessary to keep the file flat and in contact with the workpiece. If you're impatient this may be a bit of a challenge to not put any pressure at all on it, but trust me, its cutting and after a couple minutes itll just fall off nice and easy and there'll be no chips, cracks, jagged or sharp edges, just a beautiful smooth edge. I polish the edge with some 220 grit emery cloth to finish up, seems to work pretty good.

Here's some more pr0n-

This will be the power cylinder. I did put a scratch around this one on the one end. Taping it up good is necessary unless you can manage to not deviate at all from where you first put the file, and before a groove is established that's pretty much impossible.

Here's the reworked displacer. I shortened it by ~.5". On the left is the cut end of the new main cylinder, the one I cracked in the previous post. Look at that beautiful edge! 

Here they are they way they will be assembled in the end. The fit is so close that dropping the displacer, even with the heavy shaft attached, it comes to a fairly soft stop. It's not so much that friction or drag will be an issue, but just the perfect amount, .006" per side, .012" total, to be exact.

Here's a sketch that is still evolving, but it does show how I intend the main body to be laid out. The flywheel will be situated in between the shaft from the displacer and the power piston on the left. I will provide actual cad files for things soon as I need to stop using my notebook for EVERYTHING. I know how to use the software, I just need to install it and do it. But, for now, this will give you some idea of the direction Im headed with this thing.

This is gonna be a pretty fun one to get going. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Test Tube Stirling

I have the burner mounted in the grill and its ready to be put back together and can actually be used for cooking, well, testing, at this point, but the servo, lcd touch screen, kickassedness etc will have to wait since I'm a bit dead broke and I dont have any of those parts on hand. Ill post about all that in more detail in the next OSGP post. Anyway, I decided to let all of it sit and work on something completely new tonight just for the fun of it and the test tube stirling was the winner. I had already made a displacer piston and attached it to a shaft that was left way long to be finished later when dimensions were established. I have a small scrap aluminum block that measures about 1-3/4"x2"x1" that should work great for the main body/manifold, so I made a committal move and cut the main test tube to length. I decided on 3" OAL, based on the stroke of the displacer, by eye of course. To cut the test tube I wrapped masking tape around the circumference of the test tube where I wanted to cut, chucked it up in the lathe(with god almighty super light pressure) and at about 600 rpms I slowly cut through using a small diamond file. As you can see from the pic it did a great job. I got no cracks and a nice smooth edge that wouldn't cut a baby (while taking the pic of all the parts on the surface plate I knocked it over and put a huge crack around the lip. Not sure if it's fatal, I think I can still work with it, but GOD DAMMIT). 

Here's the pr0n.

I'll take this opportunity to show off my surface plate cover I made from an old shower curtain. Its just as good as the ones you can buy and I think the material is the same too lol.

It sure was a beautiful edge I cut. Just look at how perfect. If I had another test tube this size Id just redo it, but I don't.

If you look at the bottom of the test tube that's standing up you can see the crack I put in it when I knocked it over. But, here are all the pieces I plan to use so far. The black piece is a piece of graphite I turned from square from the art store that I plan to use for a piston. I'm hoping the cracked test tube is gonna work out. Since nearly half it will be permanently epoxied into the aluminum block, I think it might be okay. You cant feel anything with your fingernail if you try to feel the crack. If not Ill be forced to go to the science store and drop $1.50 on a new test tube.
Ill probably use these gears so I don't have to worry about them melting. These are actually novelty steam punk costume gears, not functional in the least, but a half hour with a set of needle files to remove flash and thin bits of metal from in and around the teeth, and they mesh. I believe they'll work just fine. It would be nice to have a stirling operated fan in the grill to create somewhat of a convection grill/smoker. Who knows what all will happen between now and 2025 when the grill is finished? The only way you will ever know is to keep checking here. Besides, you cant find comedy as funny as this.
That's it for this post. Just wanted to take my mind off the grill for a few minutes and play with glass.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another Quick Shop Tour

Though Im still in need of some key items, like a band saw, I'm already almost out of room in my tiny basement laundry room/shop. Gaze in amazement at my clutter magnet, my little shop of wtf, Mad Science Inc.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I Couldn't Resist

Oobajeeba, if you're out there--check him out!
For most of you who have no idea wtf is up with the mask wearing bat, he is the OSGP's mascot. He is yet to  be named, but it's coming, I can feel it. He was created as a half joke kinda of thing by someone in irc specifically to be the OSGP mascot, yet not entirely serious, as I said. Due to it's cuteness and overall likability I have continued to use it. There is a bit more behind it being a bat rockin' a lone ranger mask, but that's not the kind of shit you try to explain to people who weren't there. I'm afraid if you don't already know all the back stories involved, you never will.

Well, I couldn't stop messing with it, so it's definitely not awesome now lol, but it's not complete shit, either(see below-I wish I had left out the red eyes). If it all gets to be too much to bear, acetone makes fairly quick work of that cheap paint and marker ink. Though I don't see that happening. Looking at the pic it looks like I had ideas of giving him a mouth, but nope. I didn't even notice said suggested mouth until I saw the pic lol.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Break From The Norm - Occult Jewelry And Tools

A small dragon charm I'd like to cast from silver with two pieces of banded amethyst. The long tube protruding from it's neck is the sprue tube, it would be cut off on a finished piece.

I have a bunch of stuff for making jewelry. I have 50 or 60 wax patterns, mostly for rings, I also have this mold making compound called 'Cold Mold - Platinum Cure Silicon Mold Putty', which should be pretty fun to play with. I've never even heard of the stuff, but I cant wait to change that. I have a small selection of hand tools for this task as well, but not much. I know nothing of making jewelry, so I have some reading to do. I do want to try my hand at a piece of jewelry or two. The small dragon in the pic wouldn't be jewelry, but more of just a small charm, knick-knack, or whatever you want to call it. I want to cast the dragon in silver and mount amethyst on it somewhere. In the pic you see I have two pieces on it, I'm not sure that Ill use both of those, or even if I'll use those actual pieces. I may buy a piece of better amethyst since what you see in the pics is banded amethyst.

Another aspect of this type of work that appeals to me is to make stuff for my wife and for the local 'magic' market. My wife is a practicing witch, well, she practices sometimes. What I feel about that is immaterial, it makes her happy, therefore it makes me happy. But I would like to make some of her implements that she uses, and has so far had to buy. One is a wand. Yes, people buy magic wands lol. There are procedures, very detailed, very old, procedures, that describe how to go about making a wand and how to imbue it with the right kind of energy that it needs in order to be effective. I think to dismiss these things as nonsense shows a fundamental lack of appreciation for the huge hole we have in our understanding of energy and it's relation to matter. After all, when you get to an atomic level the line between matter and energy is not at all a solid line. Laugh if you want, but the fact of the matter is you don't know and neither do I, nobody does. So, I'd like to make her a wand and do it right, ie harvest the right kind of wood at the right time of year/month/day, then see if she notices any difference in it's energy when she handles it during her rituals.

Anyway, that's your warning that I may depart from my usual type of project every now and then to mess around with this other stuff. There is also a market for these type things that I would love to tap.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

OSGP - Burner Valve

Ive changed my entire direction yet again. Thats how it goes when you have no clear plan from the beginning. Its how I like to build stuff, though. Now I've decided to mount the entire thing low on the grill body since mounting on my newly created control panel will have the burner much too high. After I mount everything Ill be able to test and see how it heats and kinda make sure everything is going to work out. Once it does work out, I can mount a servo on the knob and then control that with a regular potentiometer, Ive played with that code many times and it works well and easily. 

Here's some pics of the valve.

Here's the standoff I attached, which broke the thin aluminum ear that I attached it to.

A rubber band and a washer hold the standoff straight until everything is dry.

Thoroughly goobered up with JB-Weld it's left to set and cure.

The finished standoff stud, dry, straight and ready for duty. Gotta love JB-Weld


It broke again(the tab where I added the standoff stud), so I decided to try the JB-Weld SteelStik which I've had for months and have yet to use, in fact, I really don't know what to expect because I had never used this stuff period. Well, after using it, I can say it's great. Its sets up hard very very quick. The package says the work time is 3-5 minutes. That sounds about right, I had to throw away a couple big pieces that were straight up hard and dry before I got done shaping it up and applying it. I put enough to cover both faces of the tab and added a nut to give the putty something to lock on to. I've pulled and pried pretty hard on the stud just to see how well it's attached, and it's on there this time. It sands really nice and smooth easily, too. I like this SteelStik stuff!

I give up if it breaks off again.

Friday, June 6, 2014

OSGP - Control Panel pt.1

I know I said in this post we would be wounded and cutting metal(I actually make good on half of that by post's end), but I have to squeeze this in right quick like. I decided how I was going to do the knob panel and thought it might be interesting to someone to show what I did and how.

Rather than try to explain it, here's a pic of me working it out on paper.Its not complicated, but if I don't draw it I find it hard to keep things straight in my head. Back before my accident and I did this kind of stuff everyday I didn't need to draw it out unless it really was complicated, but these days I have to draw everything. Looking at the drawing though you can see how the basket sits at an angle and by cutting that triangle out and bending it a little I should end up with a condiment basket/knob panel that sits perfectly perpendicular to the grill body, which is necessary for the knob to function properly, unless I make a universal joint.

You can see that the bolt holes for holding the condiment basket are a bit below the center of grill body's radius. I measured the locations of the two holes from where the two halves meet with a square to ensure that optical illusion played no part. With the holes being along a radius you must use a square or you will measure wrong, guaranteed. The dimension we are after is how far in the holes are, since they are along a radius they get deeper the further you go down. Once we know how much deeper the second hole is than the first hole we can figure the angle(actually just having 'a' and 'c' is enough to find our angle). First lets establish side 'a'.

The first hole is at 2.0" and the second is at 4.687", so side 'a' of our triangle is 2.687"
Now for the hypotenuse, which checks 2.812. See that big gap in the middle of the rule? If I used a flexible rule it would lay down along that contour and give you a bogus measurement.

Now we have enough info to find the angle we are after and the length of side 'b'. This post is to show you how I did it, not to teach you trig, besides Im a crappy teacher and havent used it regularly in 4-5 years now. The angle works out to be 17.15, this is really all I need but I work out 'b' just because I miss doing this stuff . After I cut out the triangle and bend it so those sides meet again it should sit perfectly perpendicular when bolted on to the grill body, then mount the knob on that face. I'll gob JB-Weld in the seam then after it's dry I'll hit it with some black spray paint.

The basket  is flimsy as hell, support is absolutely necessary, so I clamped it to a 2x4 and then clamped that to the bench. It's not ideal, but it'll work.

Some masking tape on the outside to keep JB-Weld from running out, then generously slather JB-Weld on the seam on the inside.


And that's how we end up with a perpendicular face to accept  a knob. I held it up just to see how it looked, and sure enough, perfect.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

OSGP pt.3

I dug around a bit today looking for what kind of solenoid I need to use on a project like this, I'm still not sure. I did notice that several people have attempted and succeeded with this project, gas grill-->smoker. It would appear that gas grills really really want to become smokers.

This poor drill has yet to even drill a hole, and already it's been permanently disfigured.
After skimming though a few of the project pages, attempting to get some solenoid suggestions, I abandoned the idea of going in through the vent. I realized I could get closer to the center and all of my mounting problems would disappear; problems like, where the hell to put knobs, valves and other hardware that will melt . The condiment rack will make a damn fine box for mounting knobs,  arduino(s), lcd screen(preferably this one), and anything else that happens to need mounting. Its the obvious best choice.

This god damned drill bit was $20, and I could only find half inch shank, so I had to turn down bout half of it, lol fml. The chuck I use on my tailstock is 1/2". That's what makes having to modify it suck so bad. I would have used that drill bit in the lathe, as is, no doubt about it, I still will, as is, which is not as was.  I'll be damned if putting a 5/8" hole in something aint got the potential to get expensive.

First Things First
In the beginning there is no need to worry about a solenoid, arduino, code, or network capability etc. Until the burner is mounted where it will stay, and lights and burns with 100% reliability, I will not be moving on to anything, period. I also want to mount 4 thermistors or the K-type thermocouple I have. I don't have an amplifier IC, so I cant really mess with my thermocouple. Though I do think that's where it's at, considering it can cover a pretty big swath of grill and give you a nice average. The thermocouple can do a wider range of temperatures, from -450F to 2500F, in fact. The bad news is, the supporting hardware, ie the amplifier, needs to be tuned to your expected range. In other words, the thermocouple can take extremes of temperature, but that doesnt mean it'll just plug and play and give you an accurate reading on anything from -450F to 2500. The amplifier circuit you use to read the thermocouple must be built with your expected range of operation in mind. If that doesnt make any sense, look up how thermocouples work. The thermistors also only have a band of a couple hundred degrees where they give good data, but the ones I have, wont work above 300F, which sucks. The difference between the thermocouple and the thermistor is the thermocouple wont break for heating beyond it's limit, it just wont do your math right and will give you a bunk reading. I cant say that for a thermistor. I get the feel you can break a thermistor based on what it looks like.

To make it way easier on myself, I'm going to take the grill off the frame and have it set up down here, so I can work on it like I would a motorcycle on a lift. That way I can get under it, behind it, beside it, flip it, roll it etc. Its really a necessity since otherwise I would be working in full sun, and I do mean full. Not a single photon is spared out there.

Traveling Forward In Time......                                                  

Im set up indoors now, much better. I can comfortably get to any area of the grill I need to get to and I can work sitting down, which is not only nice, but pretty necessary for me. Here's my ghetto grill lift--
The grill sits in the crate I got my lathe in rather nicely. This worked out good--I can sit, I can easily slide the grill around, or flip it, or whatever.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Im not sure if Ill be able to mount the burner that low yet or not, but if I can, that's center. I read that at least one person uses a separate burner for the wood chips. It would be nice to have it like that, but I only have the one burner.

You can see this doesn't need much to be complete, Really just seal that top and its done, besides actually mounting things. Its easily big enough to hold that knob/valve assembly, the primary concern. There also should be no problem mounting one or more pcb's in there, lcd screen and anything else I may dream up. One idea I have that may seem a bit far fetched, but I believe its possible. That is to use part of the basket to hold wood chips that are somehow fed in to the grill to maintain smoke. More on this later.           


This is where I think I want the knob to be. At this point there are so many possibilities for the condiment basket, I cant decide. For now Ill just focus on getting a working burner installed.

Another view of where I think I want the knob. There is no telling what could happen with that condiment basket by the time its over with. I have so many different ideas at this point that picking one amid the noise and going with it is an impossible task. One the burner is set my best next move will be obvious, that's usually how it works.

I need ideas on how to check for fire. One person I saw used an gas sensor to sniff for gas. I guess that works, but I have some problems with it. I want to actually check for fire. Now, how?

I will update this post rather than make a new one, once I decide on some things and I commit to those ideas. I don't want to sound like a dick, but you guys are no help, at all.

Aww Yis
Just flipping the tray upside down changes everything.

That's almost perfect as is. I had a feeling looking at it put on upside down might give me some ideas, but  I didn't expect what I got. All the holes are great because they will let me dry fit switches or whatever pretty easy. I'm envisioning an aluminum plate that goes over the holy black face, once everything is fit where it will go.

I just laid the knob on there to see what it would look like. It's not attached. If I do it here, one thing that I will have to do is make like a universal joint between the knob and the valve assembly since they are designed to be connected with no angle. Not a big deal, if that's all I have to do to make everything fit right there, then Im in good shape.

I'm going to wrap this post up here. New post will be mounting stuff, drilling holes, sinking screws, drawing blood.

Stay tuned!