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Gonna sum up the last few weeks and get a few things.  Holiday kind of broke getting a regular post, plus I’ve been working Fridays, which is good for the most part.  I also have a cat on the desk stealing attention.

A big project over the break was getting my workbench up.

The door bench is complete!  The front support is set back a few inches so I’m not kicking it while working.  It’s technically foldable, though I figure it will spend most of its time down until I can get the Baja fixed so I can get it into the garage.  I placed it so there is still space for the machine tools between it and the back wall.

I used self drilling screws to attach the trampoline frame parts together.  The slip fits are pretty tight, but it’s good to be thorough.  I need to get the hardware for more of these bought so I can set up some of the other doors for this setup.

I also got part of the 3D printing area set up:

I also was able to use some Christmas money and purchase a part I needed.  A while back I bought new fans for it.  These weren’t the ones the manufacturer sold, and were a bit too powerful.  There is a thin connection between the hot end and the carriage, called a heat break.  The bottom of the carriage serves as a heat sink keeping the top cool so the filament doesn’t melt until it’s well into the hot end.  The fans were strong enough they were cooling the hot end past the heat break and it couldn’t get hot enough to melt plastic.  So, I put in a potentiometer to control their speed:

I’ll be able to tweak the speed without having to open up the machine.  This is rather large, but I needed one capable of taking several watts, and it was the cheapest I could find with the range and heat rating I wanted.

Once I pick a netbook and get a Gcode feeder set up, I’ll be printing again, though just PLA until I get a vent set up.  See this about ABS fumes:

The NIOSH on 3D Printer Fumes and Health. Your Guide to 3D Printers and Health, Best Practices.

Plenty of chemicals and particles put out.  On the other hand, other stuff will be coming out too, so yay for making.

I’ll probably be spotty until the printer is up, that’ll be when I can start getting things I need for the next few projects made.

Oh yes!  The other good news.  I found my connector kits, which is very very good.  These were pricey, and I had feared they had been left in Wyoming, but they were in a box I hadn’t thought to look in yet.

CAD and designing and arranging

This post is late, but it might actually be more useful.  I want to go over CAD.

I have two CAD programs.  Sketchup and Alibre.  There could be some debate about how “real” Sketchup is as a CAD program, but it works well for what I use it for.  You basically have two kinds of design: quick and dirty, and good and useful.  Sketchup doesn’t work well (at least for me) for fancy stuff, but it is simple and will allow you to get something done quickly.

Here’s the garage:

Sketchup was used, and I downloaded a car model supposedly based on one of ours (doesn’t really look anything like it) so that after measuring out the garage itself, I could see where the cars would be and position things to stay in my area.  We don’t have two of those cars, the other is a bit longer, but it worked well enough.  I blocked out the Bolton 3-in-1 I’m planning on getting, and the PCNC 770.  Toolboxes, workbenches, welder, etc. are also blocked out.  This needs updating but it’s a good example for now.  I’ve also used this to lay out the floorplans of our house, useful for helping figure out the quirks of a 150 year old house.

For this rough bit of work, Sketchup worked well.  I have an older version on my computer, sometime in the last few years they quit offering a free version, but you can find older versions on download and torrent sites.  The web app is also free, and compatible with newer models (though you do have to register), but is, well, web based and subject to all the limits of that.  While you can find hacked versions of the pro and newest versions, I don’t think it’s worth wrestling with for what I use it for, and what I’m suggesting it for.

The other program I have is Alibre.  The interface is similar to Solidworks, which is why I chose it.  A lot of programs are producing GUI models that work similarly though, so that is less of an issue.  There are several consumer level CAD programs out there, but I’ve not used any of them.  The big advantage over Sketchup and other lower level programs is the ability to make good use of parametric modeling.  It was half the price of Solidworks and has most of the features I’m really using.

A good example is a post cap I need to do one of my upcycling projects.  I need to get my printer working before I can print this, but I can design it now.

The part is simple, but I haven’t measured the diameter of the post, something I need to do.  In Sketchup, I would have to completely start over on modeling this, but with Alibre and other CAD programs, it remembers features like the circle that formed the original base, and when I go back and measure that, I can simply go back and change it.

This shows another advantage of how that helps–the wall thickness is controlled with this dimension.  No matter what I make the diameter, the program will change the second circle to match so the wall is right.  I will be putting other features on this model, and they will be based on this circle, so they will change as well as needed.  Assemblies are also easier to work with in better programs, and since almost everything you might design will be part of an assembly, that’s important.

Alibre is my garage level program for this.  If I get to the factory level, I’ll be going with Solidworks, but it is rather expensive to get and keep maintained.  I got the full version of Alibre, but they have cheaper simpler versions that exclude some features.

Not a productive weekend

Yesterday was shopping and family night.  Today was going to the rummage sale to get free stuff as they were clearing it out, so a bunch of stuff we needed, a bunch of stuff we wanted but had been putting off since we’ve been on a tight budget, and a few things we probably didn’t really need, but will be nice to have.

It was also working on making mama happy, we got some outdoor Christmas decorations up, and I worked on getting one of the bookshelves for the library up.

So, some pics to make it worth your while.

Active part of honey do project, strip paint off shelf rails so we can get the bookselves set up.  Ran out of stripper though, so getting shelves on will take longer.

The rest of the honey do project, the shelf, painted and ready.  I was hoping to have this in the library today, I got distracted by helping set up holiday decorations.  I’ll work on that tomorrow hopefully.

This was the other thing I wanted to get done this weekend, this is the door I’m making my workbench.  I have two others I’m planning to sell as benches, I’m thinking to try to do at least one like I’m doing mine, as a folding wall bench.  The hinges will attach to the wall, the bit of trampoline frame there is the support for the edge.

Speaking of frames, the slightly curved parts are the only ones I’m looking at having a lot of trouble finding a use for.

This is my tank chassis right now, since I”m not actually posting about doing anything, might as well show that too.

Good night everybody.

And now for pictures.

Two parts here, a couple of pictures, since a lot of stuff on this blog will be useless without them.  I’ll be doing videos too eventually.  I have also settled on an initial fundraising option, Ko-fi.  It needs paypal, but doesn’t need a log-in on the site, unlike other options so it’s accessible:  It’s not much, but it gets things started.  Alternatives and Bitcoin and all that other stuff will come later, right now I’m more worried about content.

Behold the garage corner.  There’s a couple of feet to the right that got cut off, but this is my corner, to get two machine tools, a CNC router, vacuum/pressure forming machine, assembly press, and other odds and ends into.  It’s currently in the middle of being organized, I’m spread out into the car parking area right now to work on a couple of projects.

One reason to limit to this corner is to make sure there is space for garden and lawn tools, camping stuff, and other things a family stores in a garage, as well as having both vehicles inside especially during the winter.  Not having to clear Michigan snow off is nice.  As mentioned though, there are lots of things that the garage must support aside from my shop, so eventually just about everything will be pulled into this area.

This has applications however–if you have a one car garage, this can fit in if you leave the car outside.  If you have a two car garage, you can claim your side for shop, and leave your spouse space to park inside if they desire.  For prepper type scenarios this also shows you can fit quite a bit into a small area, possibly in secret.

That’s the super garage setup, there’s still a lot to get done with the building to be ready, as well as getting a few upcycle projects done.  We recently got a trampoline frame, a few bits of counter tops, and solid commercial wooden doors for free from various places, and I’m turning them into tables and workbenches, to be sold.  Sadly this will mostly be going to getting some important work on the house and cars done before I can really start digging into getting advanced stuff set up in the garage.

This is mostly the trampoline frame, a sheet of OSB and a few other odds and ends.  You can’t really see the bed frame, it’s a nice bit of angle to play with, I’ve been wanting more, I’d like to get the upcycle projects to be full reuse, not buying angle or much of other materials from the hardware store.

Counter tops, probably from a lab in the university we got them from.  One will be making a giant chess board I’ll need to 3D print pieces for (that’ll be fun), another will be a bench for my 3d printer, and the others will be build to sell.

As an aside, my “super garage” isn’t just a garage, there will be a good bit in the spare bedroom in the house.  The printer, an electronics assembly bench, and a few other bits will be up there too.  We have my mom’s old sewing machine out, there will be a few arts and crafts type projects on here too.  The printer is temperature sensitive, and cloth is bug sensitive, so the garage is not a good place for those.

Past the bookshelf project you can see the doors.  One or two will be workbenches here in the garage, including a nifty fold up one attached to the well, the others will be sold as projects.

I have two basic projects I’m planning to get to eventually:

I have a business plan for making large scale RC tanks, which I need to finish a prototype for.  I also want to make air cannons.  Not just simple spud guns, but belt fed potato cannon, imitation artillery air cannon, and other fun stuff.  The specific projects I’ll be doing in the garage are:

RC tank prototype

Shoulder cannon

Pneumatic field gun

Next week I will hopefully be doing one of the workbenches.  I’ll also discuss being open to reader projects.

From the depths of the temple of (blog) necromancy…

It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!

Bringing back this blog, I’m going to use it as a build log for various projects, discussion on various resilience and maker topics, and build a following to get some monetization.  I’m on a “4/10” schedule at work, and so I have long weekends available when not working overtime, which can vary in availability depending on what I’m doing at work.  Being able to replace that overtime would be awesome.  This is somewhat inspired by The Hacksmith, a Canadian who has made a good following and living making movie inspired builds.  I have enough crazy ideas I think I can do the same, if only on a smaller scale, though my focus will be different.

There will basically be two different kinds of posts: build logs on various projects, ranging from simply organizing the garage to belt fed potato cannons and beyond.  Second is discussions, tools, materials, projects to do, resilience, a bit of politics on occasion, lots of other stuff that’s not coming off the top of my head.

The big theme is making things, and making things to make things, all on a budget.  I’ll be starting as mentioned with some garage organization and upcycling projects that will show how to make things happen, and hopefully go from there.  I’m still not sure how monetization will work, but there’s work to be done on making the blog work better anyway.

Things will also be set in phases, more or less.  First is what I have in the garage now, which isn’t much.  This is “normal garage stuff” though the welder I have is decent for a garage.  Some household DIY projects will be in here too, and I feel that makes sense with the theme, which is encouraging home and small scale production.  Second phase will be the “super garage” stuff, which will be getting into making a more advanced setup.  For me, this is machining, and so machine tools and accessories to them.  I also plan to make other things, like a vacuum forming machine, a “programmable project center,” and get into some home brew CNC and motion control stuff.  This is also a point where I can get some products, like potato guns and parts, small machines, dunno what all exactly right now–on the market and selling.

Third phase is having enough to buy a small building and set up a micro factory like what I’ve been looking at for RC tanks.  Those and other projects would provide more, direct revenue for things.  For now though I’m just gonna worry about getting a decent post once a week and get viewership up.

P.S. Anyone know of a libertarian friendly version of Kofi?  I could try something like that or Gofundme or Patreon for direct stuff, but they’re not friendly to gun or libertarian projects, and so blogging machining a revolver or even a potato gun will range from frowned-upon to banned.

Mobile Makerspace

I would like to invite  bit of discussion on the concept of a mobile makerspace, as a portable educational portal for various skills of interest to the patriot community.  There are two areas for discussion, the missions, and therefore needs and equipment of the space, and the fundraising and programs to set it up and keep it running and providing service to the communities it supports.

There are three basic missions I see:

Middle to advanced manufacturing–basic techniques like welding and machining, and more adadvanced ones like showing what a 3D printer or cnc machine is like and how it works.

Electronics–from radios to drones to cracking cell phones, it’s a good idea when playing with very expensive gear to have someone around who knows what they’re doing, and help keep you from letting the magic smoke out.  Aside from basic soldering, this is a place I’d be looking at providing some facilities and equipment, and having someone else provide expertise.

Firearms-again, something where it’s nice to have an experienced hand looking over your shoulder to keep you from making expensive mistakes.  Most of gunsmithing just needs a bench and some jigs, but advanced work, like manufacturing, can be taught since the other equipment is available.  Reloading would also potentially be on the list of skills to be taught.  Again, something where most teaching would be done by others.

Some comment on the above would be appreciated.  Trailers would provide more space, but due to weight issues would be more space than machine.

The other side of this coin is funding.  I’d want at least a 20 foot truck, preferably 24 or more, I’d need a welder, a generator, probably a compressor, computers, machine tools, etc.  The truck would need some modifications to support the machine tools, and probably other work since it’d be a used truck.  A fifth wheel trailer and truck could work too, but would probably be just as expensive, though probably easier to get and set up.

All that will top a hundred grand.  With some work togeneralize the missions, groups other than patriots could hire it out, but it will also cost a few hundred to park it (still need to keep it registered and insured etc.) When not on tour, and a few thousand a month to drive it around.

Western RiflesRifleshooter’s Association promotes a lot of training events this could be good for, but moving something like this around would be rather pricey and harder to justify.  Getting some ideas on that though would be good.  80% receivers and printed doodads are nice, but I’m not thinking of much past that.

Blogspot doesn’t like to let me comment for some reason, but I felt a need to talk about this. You can still get some decent stuff from Radio Shack, so by all means. Most locations have been more of a cell phone store than a general electronics store for the longest time, but they’ve kept a decent collection of components.

As for the replacement? They’ve been all around for a while, and I actually doubt that many makers have been using them as a source of supply for a while. Most decent sized places have a store like Gateway, and most of these stores actually are better for the electronics enthusiast that Radio Shack. Some even still carry vacuum tubes.  You might have to do some digging to find your local store, but it’s worth it.

The other alternative is online, of course.  sites like Sparkfun or Solarbotics.  These sites focus on smaller stuff(though still useful, like Arduino), so a site like The Robot Marketplace  for the heavy duty stuff.  AndyMark will be familiar with those who participate in FIRST Robotics, as they’re a sponsor and a main source for the competition legal parts.

As I said, likely if you do a lot of this stuff, you already know of the local sources, and there are even more websites out there.  I’ll be happy to make a list in a post if I get a lot of links in the comments.

Printing, printing…

Tomorrow I’m gonna pick up the keys for the shop, and get my stuff moved over.  I’ll also hopefully have pics of the waldo I’m printing here and at school, and a discussion of 3d printing, my Leapfrog versus the Dimension at school.  I’ll also be able to go crazy on a post about the shop and it’s goals, since this print is a bit of a big deal, it’s the second useful thing I’ve printed, and a demonstration of how I want to make industry work and all that dream and vision stuff.

In the meantime, I’d post a few pics of the printer running if the 3G was working right.  Since it isn’t, good night.


Weaponsman lays down on making/adapting rifling machines.  It appears easier than I was seeing the last time I looked at it, but still complicated, especially if you want to make lots of barrels.  You still need to gun drill though, and that’s not fun.

Drills and the difficulty of drilling a hole is generally determined by the ratio of the diameter to the depth.  Per a manufacturer, gun drilling is typically used when the ratio exceeds 20:1, and can work up to 400:1.  For a .223″ hole, that would be 4.46″ to 89.2″  I doubt many people will be putting an 89″ barrel on an AR, so you can see the advantage.  It uses a special straight flute bit, not all lathes can feed slow enough to run one, and you need a high pressure coolant feed.

Be wonderful to get a post by someone who’s done it, to get a proper laydown of what’s needed.


Hi, my name is fabbersmith, and it’s been a month since my last post.  Now that the holidays are done, I can try to post more, and I have 3d CAD software and got some of the 3d printer fixed, so I can start posting about some of that now.  Basically, unless you spend close to ten grand at least, you can expect a lot of work to get a printer up and running, though a lot of the ones over a thousand don’t take too much physical work.  I need to figure out why the filament is screwing up, though I think I need to get the heaters recalibrated.

So, happy New Year, and hopefully you’ll see more of me this month.