Saturday, 28 January 2012

Woodworking for the Software Engineer...

So.. I've been a bit busy recently, and the fun technical progress with arduinos, maples, serial FRAMs, and floppy autoloaders has been somewhat on hold.. plus there was that whole christmas thing ;p

What have I been up to ?

Well firstly.. there's the Rig to mount the autoloader.. after getting it all running, it quickly became clear I would need to build a way to stack more disks as input, and to collect the output.. then after a little more experimentation, I found that disks with anything more than a properly placed glossy label, would often not clear the exit when ejected.. seems that tiny extra bit of thickness is enough to slow the disk enough to prevent the eject spring being sufficient to get the disk clear of the unit.

A bit of testing quickly showed tilting the unit (actually propping the back up on a couple of books) helped a load, but not enough.. standing it on its end helped, but meant I'd need to come up with something to push the disks horizontally into the unit.

So, eventually, I settled on a 45' angle.. and some ill-prepared woodwork later, I ended up with this..

Copypro CP-2000 with homemade disk chute

There are some more pictures of it if you click it & follow back to Flickr, but basically, the idea is the disks are fed in from top right, and there's lots of space under the exit spot to finish up something to snap a photo of the disk.. I'm not done with this one yet!

The other little project was a bit bigger ;p

 The server cupboard was becoming more than a little messy, the cables had become a rather untidy mess, and I had to get it all sorted for the Cable guy..

So I built this thing.. 23m of lumber, a bunch of metal corner braces, a rather large pack of long screws, some careful use of a chopsaw, and bingo.. one DIY media rack..

Now this one is properly sanded, slides in and out of the cupboard, and has all the cabling neat & tidy.. each red fan is hiding a 4 bay hotswap sata cage, which are connected in sets of 5 into sata port multipliers, terminating in 4 esata cables running to the storage pc.. below that is the media pc, with twin dvb-s, twin dvb-t, and 1080i component capture from the satellite box..

So.. what have I learnt from this brief journey into wooden engineering.. ?

  • There's no undo button, drill the wrong place, and you might have to ditch the entire bit you worked on.. 
  • Guessing angles, or lengths by eye, rarely works.. when it does.. it's "luck".. you are NOT improving.
  • Holding wood while dragging a saw across it, requires concentration, alternatively, you can discover how quickly you heal.
  • You cannot have screws occupying the same space inside wood, from different directions, even if that would make it all look nicer.
  • Sanding stuff makes LOTS of sawdust, and probably should only be done OUTSIDE
  • Long clampy things are awesome.. and can correct for all sorts of minor inaccuracies in both the wood, and the length you cut it to.
  • Do not kick drills you leave on the floor.. actually, make that, don't leave drills on the floor, it's a silly idea, even if it is the only empty space you have left after cutting all that wood up.
  • When drilling through sheet steel.. if the drill bit snaps, use the end stubby bit as a new improved less likely to flex and snap again drill!
  • If you have to sand more than 2mm off of something.. find a smaller bit of wood instead.. or carefully attempt to cut the desired amount off the piece, and then subsequently find a smaller bit of wood you haven't just ruined..
  • Drill bits, although designed to chew through wood, and glue spirals of wood into themselves, are not supposed to be cleaned of said spirals immediately after use. Oh, and drill bits get hot!
  • When cutting a circle out of 4mm mdf using a dremel, the grinding bit, ball point grinding bit, vertical drill bit, and grinding stone all are not good choices, the ceramic cutting discs will also either explode, or set fire to the MDF. The metal cutting disc works ok, but will also set fire to the MDF, solution, use the WoodVac to suck the smoke away, and use the metal disc.
  • Getting something right, takes lots of time, building a prototype does not mean you get to 'improve' it into the final thing.

Hopefully some of those might help if you decide foolishly to follow in my footsteps !!

1 comment :

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