Posts with «tool hacks» label

Negative Reinforcement: Drill Bits Edition

In theory, it’s fun to have a lot of toys tools around, but the sad reality is that it’s only as fun as the organization level applied. Take it from someone who finds organization itself thrilling: it really doesn’t matter how many bits and bobs you have, as long as there’s a place for everything and you put away your toys at the end of the day.

[Cranktown City] is always leaving drill bits lying around instead of putting them back in their bit set boxes. Since he responds well to yelling, he decided to build an intelligent drill bit storage system that berates him if he takes one out and doesn’t put it back within ten minutes.

But [Cranktown City] did much more than that. The system is housed in a really nice DIY stand that supports his new milling and drilling machine and has space to hold a certain type of ubiquitous red tool box beneath the drill bits drawer.

All the bits now sit in a 3D-printed index that fits the width of the drawer. [Cranktown City] tried to use daisy-chained pairs of screws as contacts behind each bit that could tell whether the bit was home or not, but too much resistance interfered with the signal. He ended up using a tiny limit switch behind each bit instead. If any bit is removed, the input signal from the index goes low, and this triggers the Arduino Nano to do two things: it lights up a strip of red LEDs behind the beautiful cut out letters on the drawer’s lip, and it starts counting upward. Every ten minutes that one or more bits are missing, the drawer complains and issues ad hominem attacks. Check out the demo and build video after the break, but not until you put your tools away. (Have you learned nothing?)

Okay, so how do you deal with thousands of jumbled drill bits? Calipers and a Python script oughta do it.

Upgrading An Old Mig Welder Wire Feeder With Arduino

Older industrial equipment is often a great option if you’re on a budget, and you might even be able to add some premium features yourself. [Brett] from [Theoretically Practical] has done with his old MIG welder, adding premium control features with the help of an Arduino.

The main features [Brett] were after is pre-flow, post-flow, and a spot welding timer. Pre-flow starts the flow of shielding gas a moment before energizing the filler wire, while post-flow keeps the gas after the weld is complete. This reduces the chances of oxygen contaminating the welds. A spot welding timer automatically limits welding time, enabling consistent and repeatable spot welds.

The Miller S-22A wire feeder can have these features, but it requires an expensive and difficult to find control unit. All it does is time the activation of the relays that control the gas flow, power, and wire feeder, so [Brett] decided to use an Arduino instead. The welders control circuit runs and 24V, so an optoisolator receives the trigger signal, and relays are used for outputs. Potentiometers were added to the original control panel, and all the wiring was neatly fitted behind it. The upgrade worked perfectly and allowed [Brett] to increase the quality of his welds. See the video after the break for the full details.

Inverter welders can be picked up for ridiculously cheap prices, if you’re willing to live with the trade-offs. We’ve also seen some other DIY welder upgrades, on small and large machines.

Easy Frequency Counter Looks Good, Reads To 6.5 MHz

We were struck by how attractive [mircemk’s] Arduino-based frequency counter looks. It also is a reasonably simple build. It can count up to 6.5 MHz which isn’t that much, but there’s a lot you can do even with that limitation.

The LED display is decidedly retro. Inside a very modern Arduino Nano does most of the work. There is a simple shaping circuit to improve the response to irregular-shaped input waveforms. We’d have probably used a single op-amp as a zero-crossing detector. Admittedly, that’s a bit more complex, but not much more and it should give better results.

There was a time when a display like this would have meant some time wiring, but with cheap Max 7219 board available, it is easy to add a display like this to nearly anything. An SPI interface takes a few wires and all the hard work and wiring is done on the module.

The code is short and sweet. There are fewer than 30 lines of code thanks to LED drivers and a frequency counter component borrowed from GitHub.

If you add a bit more hardware, 100 MHz is an easy target. There are at least three methods commonly used to measure frequency. Each has its pros and cons.

This Automated Wire Prep Machine Cuts and Strips the Wire

We’ve seen a fair number of automated wire cutting builds before, and with good reason: cutting lots of wires by hand is repetitive and carries the risk of injury. What’s common to all these automated wire cutters is a comment asking, “Yeah, but can you make it strip too?” As it turns out, yes you can.

The key to making this automated wire cutter and stripper is [Mr Innovative]’s choice of tooling, and accepting a simple compromise. (Video, embedded below.) Using just about the simplest wire strippers around — the kind with a diamond-shaped opening that adjusts to different wire gauges by how far the jaws are closed — makes it so that the tool can both cut and strip, and adapt to different wire sizes. The wire is fed from a spool to a custom attachment sitting atop a stepper motor, which looks very much like an extruder from a 3D-printer. The wire is fed through a stiff plastic tube into the jaws of the cutter. Choosing between cutting and stripping is a matter of aiming the wire for different areas on the cutter’s jaws, which is done with a hobby servo that bends the guide tube. The throw of the cutter is controlled by a stepper motor — partial closure nicks the insulation, while a full stroke cuts the wire off. The video below shows the build and the finished product in action.

Yes, the insulation bits at the end still need to be pinched off, but it’s a lot better than doing the whole job yourself. [Mr Innovative] has a knack for automating tedious manual tasks like this. Check out his label dispenser, a motor rotor maker, and thread bobbin winder.

Hack a Day 09 Dec 09:00
arduino  cut  stepper  strip  stripper  tool hacks  wire  

Teaching an Old Lathe New Tricks With a Programmable Power Feed

Ask anybody whose spent time standing in front of a mill or lathe and they’ll tell you that some operations can get tedious. When you need to turn down a stainless rod by 1/4″ in 0.030″ increments, you get a lot of time to reflect on why you didn’t just buy the right size stock as you crank the wheel back and forth. That’s where the lead screw comes in — most lathes have a gear-driven lead screw that can be used to actuate the z-axis ( the one which travels parallel to the axis of rotation). It’s no CNC, but this type of gearing makes life easier and it’s been around for a long time.

[Tony Goacher] took this idea a few steps further when he created the Leadscrew Buddy. He coupled a beautiful 1949 Myford lathe with an Arduino, a stepper motor, and a handful of buttons to add some really useful capabilities to the antique machine. By decoupling the lead screw from the lathe’s gearbox and actuating it via a stepper motor, he achieved a much more granular variable feed speed.

If that’s not enough, [Tony] used a rotary encoder to display the cutting tool’s position on a home-built Digital Readout (DRO). The pièce de résistance is a “goto” command. Once [Tony] sets a home position, he can command the z-axis to travel to a set point at a given speed. Not only does this make turning easier, but it makes the process more repeatable and yields a smoother finish on the part.

These features may not seem so alien to those used to working with modern CNC lathes, but to the vast majority of us garage machinists, [Tony]’s implementation is an exciting look at how we can step up our turning game. It also fits nicely within the spectrum of lathe projects we’ve seen here at Hackaday- from the ultra low-tech to the ludicrously-precise.

Play A Game Of Multimeter

There are many different single board computers that are general purpose, but there’s another breed targeted at specific applications. One such is the Clockworkpi, a handheld Game Boy-style games console, which may be aimed at gamers but has just as much ability to do all the usual SBC stuff. It’s something [UncannyFlanigan] has demonstrated, by turning the Clockworkpi into a multimeter. And it’s not just a simple digital multimeter either, it’s one that sports graphing as well as instantaneous readings.

At its heart is an Arduino board that supplies the analogue to digital conversion, with opto-couplers for isolation between the two boards. A simple three-way switch selects voltage, current, and resistance ranges, and the ClockworkPi interface is written in Python. We can see that this could easily be extended using the power of the Arduino to deliver more functionality, for which all the code is handily available in a GitHub repository. It’s not a perfect multimeter yet because it lacks adequate input protection, but it shows a lot of promise.

If you’re intrigued by this project then maybe you’ll be pleased to know that it’s not the first home made multimeter we’ve featured.

Hack a Day 05 Sep 09:01

Simultaneous Soldering Station

Soldering irons are a personal tool. Some folks need them on the cool side, and some like it hot. Getting it right takes some practice and experience, but when you find a tip and temp that works, you stick with it. [Riccardo Pittini] landed somewhere in the middle with his open-source soldering station, Soldering RT1. When you start it up, it asks what temperature you want, and it heats up. Easy-peasy. When you are ready to get fancy, you can plug in a second iron, run off a car battery, record preset temperatures, limit your duty-cycle, and open a serial connection.

The controller has an Arduino bootloader on a 32u4 processor, so it looks like a ProMicro to your computer. The system works with the RT series of Weller tips, which have a comprehensive lineup. [Riccardo] also recreated SMD tweezers, and you can find everything at his Tindie store.

Soldering has a way of bringing out opinions from novices to masters. If we could interview our younger selves, we’d have a few nuggets of wisdom for those know-it-alls. If ergonomics are your priority, check out TS100 3D-printed cases, which is an excellent iron, in our opinion.

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RC Lawn Mower Keeps The Grass Greener On Your Side Of The Fence

For some people, mowing the lawn is a dreaded chore that leads to thoughts of pouring a concrete slab over the yard and painting it green. Others see it as the perfect occasion to spend a sunny afternoon outside. And then there are those without the luxury of having a preference on the subject in the first place. [elliotmade] for example has a friend who’s sitting in a wheelchair, and would normally have to rely on others to maintain his lawn and form an opinion on the enjoyability of the task. So to retain his friend’s independence, he decided to build him a remote-controlled lawn mower.

After putting together an initial proof of concept that’s been successfully in use for a few years now, [elliotmade] saw some room for improvement and thought it was time for an upgrade. Liberating the drive section of an electric wheelchair, he welded a frame around it to house the battery and the mower itself, and added an alternator to charge the battery directly from the mower’s engine. An RC receiver that connects to the motor driver is controlled by an Arduino, as well as a pair of relays to switch both the ignition and an electric starter that eliminates the need for cord pulling. Topping it off with a camera, the garden chores are now comfortably tackled from a distance, without any issues of depth perception.

Remote-controlling a sharp-bladed machine most certainly requires a few additional safety considerations, and it seems that [elliotmade] thought this out pretty well, so failure on any of the involved parts won’t have fatal consequences. However, judging from the demo video embedded after break, the garden in question might not be the best environment to turn this into a GPS-assisted, autonomous mower in the future. But then again, RC vehicles are fun as they are, regardless of their shape or size.

Resistors Sorter Measures Values

We’ve all been there. A big bag of resistors all mixed up. Maybe you bought them cheap. Maybe your neatly organized drawers spilled. Of course, you can excruciatingly read the color codes one by one. Or use a meter. But either way, it is a tedious job. [Ishann’s] solution was to build an automatic sorter that directly measures the value using a voltage divider, rather than rely on machine vision as is often the case in these projects. That means it could be modified to do matching for precise circuits (e.g., sort out resistors all marked 1K that are more than a half-percent away from one nominal value).

There is a funnel that admits one resistor at a time into a test area where it is measured. A plate at the bottom rotates depending on the measured value. In the current implementation, the resistor either falls to the left or the right. It wouldn’t be hard to make a rotating tray with compartments for different values of resistance. It looks like you have to feed the machine one resistor at a time, and automating that sounds like a trick considering how jumbled loose axial components can be. Still, its a fun project that you probably have all the parts to make.

An Arduino powers the thing. An LCD screen and display control the action. If you want some practice handling material robotically, this is a great use of servos and gravity and it does serve a practical purpose.

We have seen many variations on this, including ones that read the color code. If you ever wanted to know where the color code for resistors came from, we took a trip to the past to find out earlier this year.

2D-Scanner Records Surfboard Profiles for Posterity

[Ryan Schenk] had a problem: he built the perfect surfboard. Normally that wouldn’t present a problem, but in this case, it did because [Ryan] had no idea how he carved the gentle curves on the bottom of the board. So he built this homebrew 2D-scanner to make the job of replicating his hand-carved board a bit easier.

Dubbed the Scanbot 69420 – interpretation of the number is left as an exercise for the reader, my dude – the scanner is pretty simple. It’s just an old mouse carrying a digital dial indicator from Harbor Freight. The mouse was gutted, with even the original ball replaced by an RC plane wheel. The optical encoder and buttons were hooked to an Arduino, as was the serial output of the dial indicator. The Arduino consolidates the data from both sensors and sends a stream of X- and Z-axis coordinates up the USB cable as the rig slides across the board on a straightedge. On the PC side, a Node.js program turns the raw data into a vector drawing that represents the profile of the board at that point. Curves are captured at various points along the length of the board, resulting in a series of curves that can be used to replicate the board.

Yes, this could have been done with a straightedge, a ruler, and a pencil and paper – or perhaps with a hacked set of calipers – but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. And we can certainly see applications for this far beyond the surfboard shop.