This blog is for entertainment purposes only, and is not meant to teach you how to build anything. The author is not responsible for any accident, injury, or loss that occurs as a result of reading this blog. Read this blog at your own risk.

Monday, December 10, 2018

"Tooling up" - CNC plasma cutter update #1

Can’t believe it’s been that long since my last post. 

In the past few months there have been many developments behind the scenes with JT (the flying EZ), but that story will require many posts to unravel, hopefully very soon. 

Today, I’d like to give you an update on the CNC plasma cutter.

Because I purchased the table from a startup company (after a successful kickstarter campaign), I wasn’t really expecting the table to arrive on time. So, when it arrived a couple of months late, I was not upset over the small delay.

Shortly after receiving it, I decided to put the table together to make sure there were no mechanical issue, and run a few tests to tease out any possible electrical gremlins.

I have to say that I have been very impressed with the quality of the components, the attention to detail in the packaging, and completely blown away from the video instructions on how to put it together.

Don't you just love it when you return from a trip and find boxes waiting for you in the garage? 

Taking stock of what was in the box

This massive gantry piece was already "tuned-up" at the factory

Powder coated frame members

Stepper motors and other stuff

Water table, controller box, and hardware.

All the pieces

This is the third CNC machine I build/assemble, but never before has the task been as easy as this time. Langmuir deserves an A+ for their effort in making the assembly of this complicated piece of machinery a piece of cake. All one has to do is watch the videos and replicate the steps. 


The table building part at least. 

Interfacing the electronics with the actual plasma cutter, depends on which cutter one purchased. I splurged a bit on a Hypermax Powermax 45 XP with a CPC port, which in theory should make connecting it to the controller box simpler and cutting better, though that still remains to be seen at this point.

Hyperthem Powermax 45 XP with CPC port (#088113)

But enough with talking! 

Let's look at some photos of the build, and a short video of the first “cutting” test…

Main frame

Gantry installed

Water table added

Motors and lead-screws

Controller box

Controller box attached to table

Plasma cutter hose holder attached to right leg

Controller and motors all hooked up

Computer stand installed, CNC table completed.

Pretend-cut a metal plate

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Shop preparation - Part 2

200a circuit braker panel & new tool preview

All the work I put forth in getting my garage updated has paid off many times over. I have been able to work during the most inclement of weather, from snow to high heat, in relative comfort. 

After so many years of good service, I am starting to run against the limitations of my electrical system. I find myself in need of at least one new 220v 50a circuit, and my 150a panel has limited capacity left, and only room for one more 110v breaker.

I would have loved to being able to do the upgrade myself, but I didn’t feel comfortable removing the meter, and I had no ability to replace the tamperproof seal. Because there is no electrical shutoff switch outside (besides removing the meter), I would have had to replace the circuit breaker panel with live main wires.

Even I can see that that is not such a great idea!

So, I got the professionals to do it instead, and as you might have already guessed it wasn't cheap, but I didn't electrocute myself (a definite plus), and it was done right the first time. 

I resolved to add the needed circuits myself at a later date.

Here are a few pictures of the install…

Original circuit breaker panel

Only a single CB space is left (bottom left)

This counter has to be pulled to shut off the electricity to the house. Wires on the right are always on.  
New code requires two 8' (2.4m) grounding rods

New 200a panel

New vs old

New panel is taller

This insulation has served me well

Two grounding rods going in

Old panel is out!

New panel was a very tight fit

Panel is in, rewiring next.

Meter is out in this picture, grounding wire being installed on the rods.

Copper wire is the new ground

All circuit connected to the new panel. I now have more room for new circuits. 

Cover over the new panel

The finished project

What do I need more panel space for? One might wonder. 

First item to receive its dose of 220v 50a will be my dual voltage TIG welder. Yes of course, it's dual voltage, and I've been running it on 110v all this time. However, it won't reach full power on 110v, not that this has been a big issue so far.

The main reason for the upgrade is for items that won't work on 110v like... I suppose I might as well make it official now... I have put money down on a low cost 2x2 CNC plasma table.

There you go, "the cat is out of the bag" now!

The Crossfire by Langmuir Systems

Yes, I could have built my own. No, I didn't need another project at this time. 

Much like with my 3D printer, I need something that would work right away, without spending months hunting down components, building it, then more time troubleshooting it. One still has to put it all together, but it doesn't look too complicated. 

Why 2x2 (61x61cm)? 

Lack of space.

Even that size will be hard to fit in my shop, with all the airplane stuff laying around. Langmuir has plans to be able to go 2x4 in the future, by just adding on to it, but I don't envision needing to anytime soon anyway.

I am betting my money on being able to cut newer versions of my instrument panel (and other stuff) in minutes, versus days. 

It should be here in September/October 2018. 

Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cleveland wheel's main bearing race replacement

Fabricating a bearing race removal/installation tool 

A few days ago, while replacing the inner tube on N977JT, my friend Nick (Velocity) noticed galling on one of the bearing races of my right wheel (outer half).

Jacking 7JT up the fast and EZ way

Right wheel outer half

Damaged wheel bearing race

When galling occurs the very thin hardened outer surface starts flaking off, and the softer underlying steel is exposed.  Once this process begins it progresses quickly, and destruction of the sliding parts is only a short time away. It’s imperative then that something be done about it quickly, and with this in mind I ordered a new bearing race from Aircraft Spruce (#214-00300).

New race

That was the easy part, the hard part would be figuring out what to use to press the old one out, and the new one in.

In the past, I have used various size sockets as tools to press on the flat surface of various projects' races, but this one is quite large at over 2” (5 cm) inner diameter, and I don’t have any socket that size.

An extensive search uncovered the largest round stock in the shop. At slightly less than 2” it didn’t have quite enough purchase on the bearing race to press it out without damaging itself, or the race, but that’s all I had to work with.

Well, sort of…

You see, that tube was already tied up in another project, having been used during my TIG practice days, and was temporarily unavailable. 

However, I thought I could still borrow some of it, and “press it into service” (pun intended).


When biggest is still not big enough

To make the removal side of this tool better fit the race, I decided to increase its outer diameter slightly by welding an oversized rim to it, then put it the lathe and turn it down to proper dimensions and squareness.

TIG welded rim to increase the outer diameter

Machining the rim to the proper size

Not a looker, but good enough for our purposes.

The newly machined tube end worked great, and pressing the race out was easier than I had anticipated.

Awesome fit

Pressing action

"Just like buttah!"

Aluminum wheel and hardened steel bearing race

With half my problem solved, I realized that my tool’s newly enlarged outer diameter was still too small to press the replacement race in without pushing on the tapered inner surfaces. 

This was an obvious NO-NO as it would have damaged the surface of the race all over again.

What I needed was an even bigger outer diameter on what would become the installation end of this tool, and this could be achieved in a couple of different ways... I could build up an even bigger rim with my welder (time consuming and material intensive) then machine it back down... or perhaps I could weld the busted race to the end of my tube, and use that as an installation device. After welding it might have softened enough to be machined on the lathe, squared and slightly undersized.

Checking my options

"I bet this would work!"

Tacked in place

Turning the damaged race turned into a new installation tool

Machined the front flat and the shoulder square on the mini-lathe

Removal/installation tool ready to go

A quick fit check... slightly undersized... Perfect!

With the installation end of the tool completed, it was time to retrieve the new race from the freezer, where it had been for a few days shrinking ever so slightly, and press it in.

Frozen race to aid in installation

New race will be pressed in here

Pressing the race. Clock is ticking.. race is defrosting.

Race bottomed out. Easy peasy.

First look at the race in position

Perhaps a better shot

Looking at the race from inside the wheel

Pressing the race in with my new tool was a breeze.

As time and humidity work their worst to degrade more bearing surfaces, I am confident this tool will come in handy again. 

Clear coated (poorly) and labeled 

For today though, all there’s left to do is putting the wheel back together, mount it on the plane, and go test fly it.

Sounds like an excellent plan to me! 😉