Making Chips

Now that the machine is here, I decided to do a small project to start my way up the learning curve.  For a while I’ve been planning to build a camera mount for our rallycross car so that we can capture some footage of our events.  I happened to spy a neat design on  someone’s car at a recent event – it clamped to the headrest posts and extended towards the center of the car to provide a spot for the camera.  It looked easy enough to copy and modify to suit my needs, and it occurred to me that it would be a fun project to get my feet wet on the new machine.

Digging through the “useful materials” scrap bin I’ve been building up over the years, I found a big chunk of nylon which would be well-suited to clamping blocks, and some aluminum C channel.  I designed on-the-fly and I think I’ve got a decent start.  Still need to work on a simple articulated camera mount and probably re-doing one of the clamp blocks which bore the brunt of my rookie machining mistakes.

I did a test fit-up in the two cars it was designed to fit (the clamps are adjustable) and it seems to be quite stable.  Should hold a camera quite steadily, subject to the stability of the seat itself.  Hopefully it’ll help to produce some watchable video!

[Editor’s Note: We quickly abandoned this as it was deemed far too unsafe to run in a vehicle. But it was still a fun machining project.]

Overall I’m finding that I really enjoy machining.  The precision of the machine is quite a revelation.  Until now I had done all of my half-ass mechanical work using pretty low end stuff like drill presses, hack saws, files, and a lot of eyeballing and rough measurements.  To have basically produced a small assembly actually using math and counting on the measurement capabilites of the machine and to have it work and turn out well is really quite a thrill.  That much of it turned out within good tolerances (+/- .001 in many cases) gives me hope for when I actually get good at it.

Using the machine manually is a bit of a chore, especially keeping track of turns of the dial.  However, it does give me a basis of appreciation for what it will be like when the machine is under CNC and I can run it in semi-manual mode with a pendant.  In essence, much of the tedious wheel-jockeying should be reduced.  Shuttling the bed to a particular coordinate where I want to perform a milling or drilling operation will be as easy as typing it in.  Executing simple stuff like milling channels, pockets, circles, etc., will all be fairly easy.  And that’s all before it gets really fancy with CAM software, taking CAD drawings and churning out parts with hopefully ever-decreasing tedious tasks.  The future looks bright!

Related Posts

Project Frankenmill – Part 33, Claustrophobia

Final positions for the DIN rails and wire management have been nailed down. It’s much more tight than one should really wire a panel like this, but…

Project Frankenmill – Part 32, You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

It seems to be a rule that no matter what size electronics enclosure you have, you will always have at least 10% more stuff that you need…

Project Frankenmill – Part 31, Full Pull

While I still haven’t gotten into the detail of squaring and tramming, I’ve been intensely curious to see if the new Z axis would be happier with…

Project Frankenmill – Alpha and Omega

Since 2009, I’ve been messing around with CNC machines. I started out with a small manual milling machine from Grizzly, and converted it to CNC using a…

Project Frankenmill – Part 30, Do You Even Lift Bro?

Hauled the column back down to the shop and mounted it back on the machine. Sure is a lot heavier than it used to be! Muscling things…

Project Frankenmill – Part 29, More Machining and Motion

Had some productive time in the shop during the holiday. First step was to make the counterbores for the M6 cap screws a bit deeper. Easy to…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *