Archive for the ‘The Lab’ Category

Mill for sale! (update: SOLD!)

Posted by 3ricj on 16 April 2011

A few weeks back we had an amazing garage sale here at HBL. I wanted to offer a huge thanks to everyone who showed up to help out! Thanks!

However, we still have one lingering toy - - An amazing mill. This device needs a good home. We purchased this mill several years ago - - it was our first mill, and we used it quite a bit for all sorts of projects. It's a large beast - - very stiff - - it can really remove some massive amounts of material. Along with the size, comes very clean cuts. One of the core reasons we purchased this mill and not a small desktop mill was our desire for high quality cuts. Benchtop mills are not very rigid - - they flex a bunch while cutting, and this can cause 'chatter' which impacts the accuracy and quality of the cut. This mill does not suffer from this problem, due to it's size and mass.

Anyway, back to my point. We still have this mill, but we also just purchased a fancy pants cnc mill. Thus, we don't need our trusty standby any more. We've treated it with care and love.. and even added our own glass scale DRO to the system. If you are considering taking our lovely mill home with you, here's some of the highlights:

- ~24x 14x19" of travel.
- about 6 tons
- Will fit through a 8x8 doorway.
- We have a relationship with a rigger who can move it. Cost of moving it is dependant on distance, but something on the order of a several hundred dollars (we paid ~500 to have it brought here from Everett, but rigging costs have gone up a bit)
- 240volt, 3 phase (but could be used on single phase with a phase converter, not included)
- NMBT 50 taper, with LOTS of toolholders included. The tool holders alone are worth a grand or two; no tooling is included.
- Something on the order of 5ph motor, max of 1000RPM.
- Manual transmission - so at low speeds this machine has super torque.
- power feeds on all axis.
- Meister 3-axis BC10M DRO, with glass scales. It does advanced mathematics for you, so says the manual. We paid ~1500 bucks for the DRO system.
- Has some minor oil leaks which we've tried to repair, but it's never seemed worth it to rebuild the seals on the spindle (which is working fine otherwise).
- There is an issue with the gibs which reduces the effective longitudinal travel to about 2/3 of the factory specification of 33 inches, but we've never found this issue preventing us from machining anything. This is likely repairable if the table is removed, but it weighs about a thousand pounds, thus... we've not bothered.
- about 5 gallons of way oil to feed the machine as needed (will likely last a year or two depending on usage of the mill)
- Asking price: $2,000
- Photos can be found here:
- When we purchased the mill in April 2006, we took some photos:
- Interested? email: info ATTY hackerbotlabs DOTTY com

Posted in: The Lab  

CNC mill!

Posted by DanHeidel on 4 March 2011

Ah, new toys!  Back at the beginning of the year, the lab acquired a Fadal VMC-20 CNC mill to replace our old Hitachi mill.  The Fadal is an 80s vintage 3-axis machine.  It's in excellent shape and we've spent the last couple months learning how to use it and to interface a modern UI to the front end.  We'll post more details over time but for now, check it out!

Running the mill

Running the mill

Safety sign!

Safety sign!

Posted in: The Lab  

Ar.Drone: First Impressions

Posted by 3ricj on 10 September 2010

It's not often that I get really excited about a new toy these days. It takes something really cool and bad-ass to get me really impressed. I saw a toy at GoogleIO this year, and boy was I impressed.

It was this really nifty quadcopter being controlled by an android phone. Speaking to the people running the booth, the client was open source. They even had a cute android body on the quadcopter. Fast forward a bit - - I find they are available for preorder finally.. and I place my order and wait. Today, my new toy has arrived.

Only to find out that no android client exists. I have to use an iphone? I refuse to own an iphone. And that "open source" client? Well, it's an SDK, with a highly restrictive (and really poorly grammered) license. It says if I don't want to use it to make a free game, I'm not licensed to use the SDK. WTF people. You can't show a product with specific features off at a conference (Android client) and then ship me a product with missing KEY features. LAME ASS SHIT.

There are a bunch of posts from the developers asking people to use their SDK to make an android client. And that the one shown off at googleIO won't get released. Really? Lame, LAME, *LAME*. Future Ar.Drone customers: Be warned. I think they hang you for Bait and switch sales tactics in France, no wonder french this company only sells them in North America.


Posted in: The Lab  

Ada's Technical - Grand Opening

Posted by Gnewt on 10 June 2010

A new technical book store is opening in Seattle! It's called Ada's Technical and is named after Ada Lovelace.

To quote their blog, "Ada’s Technical Books is Seattle’s only technical book store located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. Ada’s specifically carries new, used, & rare books on Computers, Electronics, Physics, Math, and Science as well as hand-picked inspirational and leisure reading, puzzles, brain teasers, and gadgets geared toward the technically minded customer. Ada’s Grand Opening is scheduled for Friday, June 11th and monthly events, featured author presentations, and book signings will be scheduled throughout the year."

The Grand Opening will be an exciting event. "The grand opening is going to be great… it will include free food and drinks, giveaways, and discounts on everything in the store. So, put June 11th, from 5-8pm on your calendars. And, in the meantime, stop by and say hello. We can’t wait to meet you."

IR photography

Posted by 3ricj on 31 May 2010

CCD sensors are very sensitive to IR light. Most cameras filter this out so that color balance is easier and photos look better. However, if all you want is to photograph IR, you can hack your camera such that you can see it.

I modified a Canon SD1200 point n' shot such that it can only be used for photographing non-visible light. Here's how you do that: Disassemble your camera such that you can extract the window right in front of the camera sensor. Make sure you use gloves and keep track of your screws and tiny bits. Don't get dust/fingerprints on your optics. Remove the existing IR blocking filter carefully with a tweezers on the edge. Having things like lens tissue is good to have around to place your optics on. Once you extract this IR blocking sensor, you'll need to replace it with a suitable 'window' of the same size and thickness. With my camera, the window was 7.9mm x 8.88mm by 0.22mm thick. I found that I had glass coverslips which where pretty close in thickness (0.18mm). Using AR coated glass from edmonds optics or thorlabs will give you much better results. Sizing down this window was tricky - - Markr finally got one the right size. If your window is thick you might need a glass cutter; in my case 0.18mm glass can be cut with snips and broken to size easily.

Once you have it cut down to size, you must clean it completely. Lab grade acetone or methanol is the ideal cleaning solvent. Grasp your new window by the edges using tweezers, eyedrop a bit of acetone onto the surface, then quickly blow it off using a can of air. Don't use 'shop air' as it frequently contains quite a bit of water and oil. Repeat as needed until it is clean.

Once your camera is reassembled, you can take 'full color' photos. Most photos will look far more 'red' than before. Check that your focus is still ok - - if you get your window thickness wrong your camera will be near sighted or far-sighted.

For the really fun stuff, you need to filter out visible light. You can do this using a visible light filter (such as a 87 filter from a camera shop, $150) or you can make your own filter using non-exposed developed film. If you find a place which develops medium format film, give them some non-exposed film and ask them to develop it. Make sure you tell them that the resulting pictures will be pure 'black'.. that's what you want. Film which has been prepared like this has one very tricky attribute: It will block nearly all visible light, but pass

most IR light. Now you cut down this film in order to make a filter on your hacked camera. This can be done after the optics on the front of the camera, or could in theory be installed in front of the sensor.

What does this look like?

Here is the back of a 5 dollar bill which has been photographed using a full spectrum camera:

.. and here it is in 'pure' IR:

Note the interesting lack of print over sections of the bill.

For extra credit, you can also filter out the light on your flash, such that it only emits IR. "non-LED" Camera flashes produce quite a bit of IR, so you can use the same film filter to block the visible light on your camera flash and only produce IR. The resulting camera can take shots at night without a visible flash - - all sorts of fun purposes for this.

Here's an example of a tree photographed in pure IR:

More examples can be found here, or by googling IR photography.


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