Safety, PPE and Some Links

The recent article about an unfortunate machine shop accident is a good (if sobering) reminder: be safe! Wear your PPE, recently I've been stressing eye shades when working with arc welding equipment, but PPE includes other good stuff like

  • safety glasses when you are drilling / cutting
  • heavy leather gloves when you are welding / melting
  • nitrile or latex gloves when you are handling chemicals (there's a pack by the sink)
  • long sleeves are often needed for welding (UV protection), but short sleeves are often indicated for power tools (also, secure long hair and remove rings / dangling jewelry)
  • hearing protection is cheap, those little foam ones do wonders at knocking-off the high-frequencies that can "notch" your hearing (I always wear them whenever I'm using the angle grinder)
Other good shop practice that's come up in emails is ventilation. Soldering and welding fumes are not good for you! Use the box fan that's in the space to increase airflow when doing these activities. We have a hand-held fire-extinguisher in addition to our wonderful red sprinkler system. Familiarize yourself with the instructions and place it nearby when you are working with hot stuff.

All-Important PPE

If you think of some other good safety tips that I left off, please post them in the comments. Bottom line: we want you healthy, wealthy and wise so you can brag about your hacks at the next meeting, so be safe.

On a "funner" note, I thought this video about scientific glassblowing was really cool:
Handmade Portraits: Kiva Ford from Etsy on Vimeo.
Read the full Etsy post

Master craftsman Kiva Ford aka ( ) toes the line between scientific beakers and delicately curlicued vessels. At his furnace, the intangible takes shape.

I tried some rudimentary shaping with the carbon arc clamped down to the table so I could use both hands to continuously turn an old beer bottle in the flame. It's really hard to get things heated evenly and cooled slowly enough to prevent cracks from the thermal stresses. Anyway, Sam Adams and I need some more practice on our technique, so no pics I want to share yet.

This article on reciprocal frames did inspire some nail melting though:

I figure if I keep posting stuff about me melting paperclips, nails and tin cans the rest of you guys will post some stuff out of shear boredom ; - )

Ohio Mini Urban Challenge

There's a robotics competition coming up this weekend. It's for teams of high-school students, but it might be fun for us older folks to go and spectate and cheer. It's called the Mini Urban Challenge, and it is patterned after DARPA's Urban Challenge. The kids have to navigate a lego city with a mindstorms robotic vehicle.

Here's the event details:

  • April 16-17, 2011
  • Ervin J. Nutter Center
    McLin Gym 1&2
    3640 Colonel Glenn Highway
    Fairborn, OH 45324
  • Opening Ceremony, Sat April 16, 8:00 -- 8:30 a.m.
  • Closing / Awards, Sun April 17, 3:45 -- 4:15 p.m.

Here's the teams that are competing:

  • Aurora High School: Aurora Robotics Team A
  • Aurora High School: Aurora Robotics Team B
  • Greene County Career Center: Omega
  • Montpelier High School: Loco A
  • Montpelier High School: Loco B
  • Xenia High School: Robot Pirates
  • Miami Valley Career Technology Center: Team Turtle
  • Archbishop McNicholas High School: McNicholas
  • Cloverleaf High School: Cloverleaf Colts
  • Graham High School: Robo Posse
  • Stebbins High School: Stebbins 1
  • Stebbins High School: Stebbins 2
  • Trinity School at River Ridge: Artificial Intelectuals
  • Western Reserve Academy: Pioneers
  • Westfall High School: Triple ALP
  • Westfall High School: Secret Savvy Subatomic Squirrels
  • Arlington High School: Five Guys and a Robot
  • South Gallia High School: SG Robotic Rebels
  • Stebbins High School: Stebbins 3
  • Stebbins High School: Stebbins 4
  • Westerville North High School: Turbulent Typhoon

They are also looking for volunteers to help out. Contact Regional Coordinator, Casey Miller if you want to help.

Twin Carbon Arc Torch Electrode Holders

Bent-Nail Electrode Holders

I made some crude electrode holders for our carbon-arc torch. The idea behind the electrodes is to enable twin carbon arc welding.

The holders are just nails I put in a piece of scrap wood, and then heated with a plumbers torch so that I could bend them into little "pig tails." The copper tube then fits through the hole and is held in place by the electrode clips. The nails fit loosely enough in the wooden "handle" that you can use your thumb (safely inside a welding glove) to adjust the distance between the electrodes while you are using the torch. This is required when you light the torch (you have to touch the electrodes to "strike" it), and then when adjusting the size of the arc (bigger is hotter).

Electrode Angle Control

This arc gets very hot (several thousand degrees), and as I mentioned in the first post you MUST wear welding gloves and arc-welding mask when using this device. Going blind or becoming "part of the circuit" are not fun hacks! I left a glass bottle I melted with the torch on one of the workbenches. Maybe we could make some beer bottle vacuum tubes?

A neat thing we discovered at the last meeting was that you get four rods in a 6V lantern battery that are the same diameter as D-Cell batteries, but about 1/3 longer. This makes them even better for use with our torch than the D-Cell ones and slightly cheaper (a bit less than $1/rod).

Shorter Rods from D-Cell, Longer from Lantern Battery

Dayton Diode Meeting 5 April 2011

The minutes are up on the wiki. We had a fun time socializing and snacking prior to the "business" meeting. Jason played drums, I pulled carbon electrodes and Dean discussed DIPs. As always, click the pic to enbiggen.
Jason on Drums!
Practicing Lockpicking Skills
J. Modeling Voice Activated LED Badge

Hot Clips

I was inspired by these images of burning tungsten light bulb filaments, and I thought, "we can use the water resistor for our carbon arc torch and some paperclips to do the same thing!" Rather than burning tungsten, we're burning the zinc off of the galvanized steel paperclip.

Here's a couple pictures of my attempts.

Straight Clip
Pig-tail Clip
Still need to work on the lighting and setup, but it's a start.