James Stanley

Tagged: all | software | 3dprinting | electronics | cpu | cnc | science | bitcoin | puzzle | metalwork | smsprivacy | chess | futurology | keyboard | wigwag | cryptography | cybercrime | lawnmower | magic | philosophy | protohackers | banglejs | clocks | ipfs | pikon | rc2014 | steganography | tor | ricochet

I'm building a fixed-gantry CNC machine out of composite kitchen worktop material
Sun 21 April 2024
Composite kitchen worktop material is a good choice for a CNC machine because it is very heavy and very flat. It is a bad choice because it is quite soft. But mainly it is a very good choice because I already had the material and it is therefore free. Read more

The watch project
Thu 23 November 2023
My quest at the moment is to try to make a mechanical watch. Specifically I want to make the movement. I'm not interested in buying a bunch of parts and assembling a watch. I'm also not interested in cloning a standard movement, I have my own design in mind. Read more

The Douzieme gauge
Mon 2 October 2023
In this post I'm going to explain what a Douzieme gauge is, show you how I made one myself, and propose some alternative designs for higher precision. Read more

The Egyptian coin box
Sat 5 August 2023
I have invented a new magic trick. It involves a very thin wooden box with 5 locations for coins inside, each labelled with one of the 5 bodily senses. A spectator places a coin inside, without telling the magician where it is. The magician then makes a show of listening to the box, sniffing the box, etc., and successfully determines where the coin was placed. Read more

How small can you make text with a drag engraver?
Mon 5 September 2022
A drag engraver is a very sharp spring-loaded tool that you can hold in a CNC spindle and drag over a piece of metal to engrave fine lines. Read more

Toolmaker's Clamp
Tue 14 June 2022
I have managed to make the toolmaker's clamp that I mentioned last time. It is made out of mild steel, which is soft for a machinist's tool, but harder than wood, plastic, and aluminium, which are what I'm normally limited to. Since I made it, it belongs to me, and a clamp is a type of tool, I suppose this is both a toolmaker's clamp and a clampmaker's tool. Read more

Progress on the CNC mini mill
Thu 9 June 2022
I've made a bit of progress on the CNC mini mill project, and have made some cuts, although currently it's still not in full working order. Read more

CNC milling machine project
Sat 7 May 2022
I recently picked up an unfinished CNC milling machine project on eBay. All the mechanical work is done, and almost all of the electronics is supplied, it's mostly just wiring and software still to do, which for me are the easiest parts. Read more

Meshmill: open source 3D CAM
Tue 3 May 2022
For the last couple of weeks I've been working on Meshmill. It's a new 3D CAM program for Linux. Read more

Using the weird rotary axis
Thu 24 March 2022
I've been playing with my weird rotary axis for a couple of weeks now. It's a rotary axis mounted on the gantry, with the rotation of the chuck geared off a toothed rack on the table. I've had a few questions about the practicalities of using it, so this is some of what I've learnt. Read more

A weird rotary axis for my CNC machine
Thu 10 March 2022
I've built a weird rotary axis for my CNC machine. Rather than a "4th axis" driven by its own motor, this one is geared off the motion of the gantry. It's still only a 3-axis machine, and there are no electronics changes at all. As the gantry drives back and forth, a toothed rack on the table causes a matching gear to rotate. The gear holds a chuck, which holds the work piece, so that when the gantry moves the work piece rotates. Read more

The case for SCAMP
Thu 2 September 2021
All of the SCAMP hardware is now mounted properly inside the case, with no Arduino or breadboard required. I'm now well into the "long tail" of tasks on this project, where it takes increasingly large amounts of time to produce increasingly small improvements. Read more

Front panels for SCAMP
Sun 28 February 2021
I've put together the memory card for the SCAMP CPU, including the front panel with LEDs to show the bus contents and address register. Read more

My second attempt at milling a PCB
Mon 15 February 2021
The day after my first attempt at milling a PCB, my new tooling arrived (a 1 mm drill bit and a 10° engraving tool), so I had another go at making a PCB. Read more

My first attempt at milling a PCB
Fri 12 February 2021
I'm going to get most of the PCBs for SCAMP made by JLCPCB, but I'd like to try to mill the backplane on the CNC machine because it is both large (expensive at JLCPCB) and simple (single-sided, no vias, easy to make). Yesterday some small pieces of copper-clad board arrived and today I had a first attempt to see what would go wrong. Read more

All the gears, no ideas: an escape room puzzle
Fri 18 December 2020
I designed a puzzle for an escape room. The company ended up not wanting to pay for it, but I thought the puzzle was interesting enough to be worth making for myself anyway. Read more

I made some aluminium keycaps
Sat 28 November 2020
I've made some aluminium keycaps on the CNC machine. I couldn't work out how to do the CAM in FreeCAD (although I think I have now roughly figured it out), so I instead wrote a program to render depth maps of STL files so that I could generate toolpaths with my pngcam program (github). Read more

CNC toolpath generation from heightmaps
Sat 24 October 2020
I've been struggling with generating complex toolpaths in FreeCAD and thought that an easy approach would be to render a heightmap of the part, and then generating a toolpath from that should be easy. I understand that this is already a recognised technique, although I could not find an open source tool that would do it for me. Most of the heightmap-related stuff I found on DuckDuckGo was to do with auto-levelling the bed. And, anyway, it's a relatively simple idea and a fun challenge, so I did it myself. Read more

First steps into CNC machining
Mon 5 October 2020
I have bought a "6040" CNC router, and have been getting to grips with how to use it. This journey started with converting the machine to Grbl because I'm not interested in running proprietary software. Once Grbl was all working correctly, I clamped a small piece of plywood to the bed, fitted a 2mm end mill and made my first cuts, manually "jogging" the tool position using the buttons in the UGS interface. Read more

How to convert a 6040 CNC machine to Grbl
Wed 30 September 2020
The 6040 CNC machine comes in 2 flavours: parallel port and USB. I don't have a parallel port on the laptop I was intending to operate it with, so I chose the USB option. This is possibly a "mistake" as the USB option uses a proprietary USB interface board which is only compatible with Mach3 and therefore only compatible with Windows. But now that I've got it set up with Grbl, I think I prefer this system to what I would have with a parallel port controlled by LinuxCNC. Read more