Saturday, December 11, 2010

If you can't find it, you don't own it (part 3)

In part three, I'll show off my mechatronics tools and parts kit.  Part four will be my workbench and parts storage; that'll probably follow pretty closely on the heels of this since I'm so totally snowbound I really can't do anything else.

It's bigger than it looks.  I had a hard time with this box- it was one of those tool boxes that new homeowners who fancy themselves "handy" buy, which are inexpensive, totally lacking in adequate internal division, and end up full of things like rusty hacksaws, dull chisels, ruined putty knives and inexplicable sheet metal items with flanges and numbered mounting holes.

As always, mouse over for labels.

Mostly self explanatory; I'm going to mention a couple of things by name.  First, the Pocket Ref on the left side.  My copy predates Make but you can get it from the Maker Shed.  If you don't own this, you should  It has ALMOST everything you'll ever need to know- from the density and chemical composition of a huge range of substances to the masses, orbital periods, and average solar distance to each planet.  In practical terms, it has density, hardness, and coefficient of thermal expansion on dozens of woods, metals, plastics, and glasses.  It would, in fact, be pointless for me to continue to expound, so I'll say this: I have yet to be disappointed by this book when I tried to look something up.

JB Weld, if you don't know it, is a binary compound that works kind of like an epoxy- mix two pastes and they harden over time.  Once it cures, it's really strong, drillable, machinable, etc.- and quite heat resistant, to boot.  It's great stuff.

In the "main chamber" of the box is actual raw material.  Salvaged gearboxes, motors, pulleys, and parts from optical drives take up most of the space, along with a hot glue gun and a bunch of sticks (I go through hot glue like potato chips).  The small divided cases that attach to the lid are full of gears, sprockets, and fasteners, mostly compatible or nearly so with the Tamiya gearboxes that I've got in there.

Finally, on the left side, you can see an assortment of Sculpey III polymer clay.  This stuff is BRILLIANT.  When baked at 275°F (135°C) for about 20 minutes (depending on thickness) it sets up into, essentially, PVC.  Furthermore, the curing temp is lower than the deformation temperature of most OTHER plastics, so you can use it to build out other parts (I've had great success using it to neck down the hub hole in a wheel or gear; pack it in, harden it, then re-drill a smaller hole).  It's also low enough temperature that you can embed electronics inside your creations.  It's not too expensive ($2 or so for a 2 oz. block, which is about the 2/3 the size of a deck of cards), and comes in a whole rainbow of colors.

So, that's effectively the end of my mobile workshop, except for one summary picture:

The little cart is from IKEA- I got it a couple of weeks ago for $9.50 in the As-is section because it didn't have the bag.  The strap is an REI luggage strap meant to hold a smaller piece of luggage to a larger one, but it's tops for this.  The wheels are a completely lost cause in a Minnesota winter, but it beats making three or four trips to get all my crap into the workshop.

I have a wheeled laptop bag, as well, which I keep my netbook and some assorted other stuff in, but it's too dull to warrant a post.  Later tonight or tomorrow I will put up some pictures of my at-home workspace and storage system.

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