Archive for category Administrivia

Pre-Holiday Break / Post-Holiday Awesome!

Hey all – we’ve reached the “zomg, I need to finish my holiday season projects” stage.


We’re going to suspend our regular weekly Open Haus in order to make sure that our members have the time and flexibility they need to make their own awesomeness happen.

We love you all, but we’re busy.


Stay tuned for really cool news about 2016-01-01!

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First circuit board

I know I made a recent post, but this ties into it. First circuit board cut out on the engraver.

It is not the prettiest board, but it is okay. It is an audio amplifier TDA7293. I found an amplifier thrown out with 6 of these 180W chips in them. Really powerful little beasts and the power supply worked too. I couldn’t get the old board fired up, so I did the next best thing, remake it.





DSCN8583I could show you the EagleCad drawing, the Cad drawings and the G-code, but there isn’t much to show there. I made the code, it works. Here I got the cutter alinged and told the program that this spot is the touch off point for XYZ so that it can start cutting there.







DSCN8584Here it is after engraving. I also cut out little holes, but they are not through holes. I do not have a drill for this collet and the 1/32″ end mill is four flute. Do not use a four flute end mill for drilling and plunging or it will break.








I drilled out the holes. The smallest drill (shy of the nozzle cleaning drills) are 1/16″ and are rather large for circuit boards, but they worked. The channels are 0.39 mm wide. The engraver end mill is ‘supposed to’ and is advertised to cut a 0.1 mm wide channel.







DSCN8588Here is the bottom of the board. The wide channels actually made the soldering of the board easy, but I would suggest a narrower cutter and a drill for the machine in the future.







And here is the circuit board again DSCN8589from above. I made a mistake thinking that a 460uF cap would be small and was on the original board, and hence the stack of capacitors. Next board is the power supply.

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How to use the engraver

Engraver is ready!DSCN8557

(Ready enough for people to use it. There are a few small things I want to do, but it is ready enough!)

So how to use it:

First you need a file and make the G-Code file. I will show Easel from Inventables. It is free and in browser. Just make an account. (


Select Sheet









Now select the material and dimensions. It will change the settings as needed (it has programmed speeds and feeds already which makes it nice)

Now we can add text or shapes as needed. You can also specify how the tool will cut: outline, perimeter, or fill. Select as needed. If the tool is too big, it will tell you what to do. Outline works all the time.

SVG import

If you use Inkscape, you can import SVG files. This is really Save G-Codeuseful for importing drawings you have made already.

Now, export the G-Code. The export is located in the Machine tab. Click the Advanced tab (shown) then click Generate G-Code and Download G-Code. It will download as a .nc















It is now time to use the machine. You can launch the Fireball program from the laser computer.

To make the machine connect to the Fireball, turn the dial to Engravor from Lazzor.

Turn on the power by pulling the big red button. The big red button will also turn it off if needed.



Like the lazzor, find the home position. Press the red X, the orange IO, then press Home All. The machine will home and find the origin points. (This is what I will get to. It isn’t fully ready yet, but you can still use it.)

We need to touch up the G-Code. It needs to be renamed to a *.ngc and add M30 to the end in order for LinuxCNC to find the file.

Next, move the engraver to the origin point. Use Up/Down/Left/Right and Page Up/Page Down to position the tool. Then press Touch Off to zero the tool and next you can start.



To turn on the tool, turn on this switch. Super simple. Press the Go button and run the Linux CNC.

What was made is a an aluminum plate. Do not damage it if possible. The plate is made of 1″ spaced 8-32 bolts. The engraver is a .1 mm engraver bit, but it cuts a .4 mm channel. New engravers are optional.

The machine has a maximum travel of 12″ x 18″ and has ~4″ vertical travel, but this can be increased if needed. The machine can cut aluminum if needed. Acrylic will commonly melt if you cut it, so use lots of coolant if you want to cut it.

There are also other CAD/CAM programs that can also make the G-Code, but Easel is free and rather good. Use what you want.

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Plasma Cutter Motor Motion


The plasma cutter three motor controllers are working and spinning some test stepper motors on this board. It is using GRBL on the arduino uno linked to stepper motor controllers as a test setup. We will be moving away from GRBL to a DAQ card to incorporate the torch height controller and other aspects.

Anyone got a 48V 13.5+ amp power supply? Want to boost this from 24V to 48 to give the system higher speed.

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Updates on the Laser


The laser is not as happy as it once was. The laser is cutting a V grove now, not a sharp line and calibration is being done. A new lenses is ordered, but to add something new, a passive cooler was installed. The cooling fluid now goes through an old chiller radiator. However a better solution would be to add a rainbow stripe to it as that would make the laser at least 20% cooler in 10 seconds flat.


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State Of Ze Projects

There are many projects at Think|Haus. These are just some of the most prominent ones and what is happening with them. If someone wants to help out or move a project along faster, there is always room for help!

1. Dinosaurs


We have dinosaurs at ThinkHaus. There are plans (someone needs to execute this plan) to make more dinosaurs and sell them. Likely looking at $8/dino or so (speculative price). Need someone to take on this project. More dinosaur designs are available too. When the plasma cutter is finished, these would be cut out of aluminum and steel too!

2. Laser Cutter

The laser cutter works, but has some heat issues. It generates 1kW of heat and this heats up the water to the point that two buckets of water were needed. The water system was not working a while ago, and is now fully functional, but a heat exchanger and a chiller are being added. New lenses are also en route, but on the slow boat from China.DSCN8483DSCN8472DSCN8484

3. Kiln

The kiln needs its elephants. No, it needs its elements, but elephants are made of elements. The elements are at The Pottery Supply House in Oakville. They are waiting to be picked up, will be inserted, and then tested at a member’s house. A power source (220V 16A) socket for the kiln is still needed.


4. Engraver

The engraver works but has backlash issues. Backlash means that when it moves, it does not move as desired. Instead of a circle, it leaves a small gap. Think of putting your finger in a shot glass and sliding the shot glass around on a table. If you move your finger in a circle, the glass will not follow exactly the way your finger moves due to the clearance between your finger and the glass. That is backlash. See the nut? There is no anti-backlash nut on it.

Anti-backlash nuts were ordered and are en route on the slow USPS from the US. Also noted, a mounting plate is now ready for the machine.









4. Plasma Cutter

The plasma cutter requires motor controllers (on a slow boat), a data collection board, and a few other devices. Also need 220V 30A power source. A potential solution is to make a water bath so that the plasma cutter does not emit fumes and sparks.



5. Mill

The mill works! It runs, and has collets and is ready to go! The only thing one may want is a vice to hold a work piece to the table. Also need some end mills. But it works and is ready!



6. Lathe Thread Gearbox

This project did not make much notice. A shear pin in the thread gerabox for the lathe was sheared. To get a new shear pin in, a whole whack of work was done. It is almost back together and needs a roll pin. Until said time, one cannot use the thread cutting features on the late. (I.E. I cannot use the thread cutting features)DSCN8495

7. Electronic Organization

Some large quantities of old circuitry was given to Think|Haus. For a while there has been an interest in an organization. I am of the suggestion of lots of pill bottles with each pill bottle with an indicated reistance/capacitance/rating and storing these bottles so they are easily accessible, but it needs lots of pill bottles (if anyone has access to some). The alternative are those divider things. People have been on the look out for one on sale.



8. Delta Printer

Saving the good one to the end. I have the full laser and CAD drawings of a delta printer. I also have the metal for the frame. What is needed is a sacrificial RepRap and the 9 V bearings. The rest is ready! Someone want to jump on this? I have enough for 2 printers.



9. Printer in a chamber

My project. I am waiting on the engraver to make the side plates. This is on the back burner. Hey, I have a Masters to complete. Don’t have the time or money to work on projects all the time.

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An example of a sign in the woods I made. First, get a CNC mill, get a design and cut it out. Here are some pictures I took while making it. If anyone needs the files, feel free to ask.


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The torch is mounted

DSCN8380 DSCN8381 DSCN8382

The plasma cutter is mounted and the end stops are set up. The stepper motor controllers were also ordered. Should be able to get this together in the next little while.



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The Sign Is Coming!

The CNC engraver is being revamped! The goal, make signs. Or engrave. Or cut out circuit boards. It really depends on what people use it for.

DSCN8303 DSCN8305 DSCN8307

In the near future an aluminum plate with 1/4-20 holes spaced 1″ apart will be put on top of the wooden sheet. The wooden sheet is a machined level surface. The aluminum plate will have 4 pins in the corner that a wooden sheet will fit onto. That way wooden sheets can be populated, plopped on, and machined.

Potential uses:

– Making signs

– Engraving circuit boards from copper coated sheets and cutting through holes

– Engraving brass, aluminum, or steel plates

– Printmaking (rolling press) multi-colour prints

– CNC milling of wood

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When it rains, build a geodesic dome

With rain on the way and a party imminent, did what anyone would do: build the geodesic dome and cover it with a Jeep parachute. Bonus of the parachute is it has Kevlar ropes that are very bounce-free.


The dome. Just going around and tightening it up.



Putting the parachute on top. Worked quite well as a rain cover. Played a bunch of games inside.


This is what the metal bars were. The shape is a general Level 2 isosphere that you may recognize from a soccer ball. 3 lengths of bars, clamp the ends, drill, and paint. Took about 3 hours to make with 3 people. If anyone is interested in the designs, just ask!


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