Tough Realizations

Posted in News on September 27th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

I’ve realized a couple things about myself over the last month or so.  One was hard to face, but the other has given me a useful tool.

The first thing is this: I am not good at motivating myself.  Left to my own devices I take too long to get out the door in the morning, I don’t stay focused at work, I take too many breaks, and I give in to the temptation to go home at a reasonable hour.  However, as I’ve learned by doing some consulting work, when I’m part of a team it is the exact opposite.  Without any overt pressure I can stay focused and productive for much longer.  I’m being mentored by a wonderful man named Dan Trajman who comes by the Artisan’s Asylum to help people like me, and he tells me that this is fairly common, which does take some of the sting out of it.

Another thing Dan told me about the connection between the number of decisions one has to make in a day, and the quality of those decisions.  I’ve been thinking about this one for a while, and it does help explain why I’ve been doing less well then I thought I’d be doing.  Put simply, I’ve over-extended myself.  For example, here’s what’s on my plate at the moment: finishing up these rewards, last year’s taxes, getting health insurance, getting my truck repaired, running the Maker programming track for a local convention (come to Arisia!), and starting another CNC-related venture (this time with partners!).  I’m actively trying to shorten this list, but a lot of it I simply can’t abandon (this project, for example).  Still, I’m looking to get help where I can, and as I chip away at it that list will get smaller.  I just have to be careful not to add to it.

Ups and downs

Posted in News on August 14th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

Found it!Fall down seven times, get up eight.

-Japanese proverb

This morning, my alarm either failed to go off, or I slept through it.  Then I had a small argument with my girlfriend which depressed me far more than it should have (probably due to low blood sugar; I hadn’t yet had breakfast).  Next, I discovered that the door to the basement of our house somehow got locked, so I spent a fruitless 40 minutes trying to pick the lock.  At this point, I was late to run some errands in my un-air-conditioned truck, so I had missed the coolest part of the day.

I make myself some iced coffee, and head out.

On my way to grab some quick breakfast, I discover that it does not feel as bad outside as I had feared.  After eating, my mood is much improved.  Next, I discover that my errands will take much less time than I had originally thought.  Finally, when I get into the shop I find my dial calipers which I had lost a week ago (in a drawer in my desk, no less).  Not only are they very useful on a daily basis, but they had been a gift from a good friend, and I had been very sad to loose them.

Life always has it’s ups and downs, but they’ve felt more exaggerated for me this past year.  The Kikori would break, causing me to make a big improvement.  I’d have an unexpected expense just before getting a big job.  Through it all though, I’ve kept in mind the above proverb.  No matter what happens, just keep going.  Persist.

Idea to Product in ONE HOUR!

Posted in News on August 7th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

482c9fb7-1d7c-4b71-b5f5-0392d9a108dbThis is what Jimmy wanted.

A couple weeks ago, Jimmy Rodgers (designer of the LOL shield, among other things) was teaching a soldering workshop with Mitch Altman at the Artisan’s Asylum, and he realized that the Asylum didn’t have a Hackerspace Passport stamp.

An hour before the class, he came to me and asked if I could make one.  I was skeptical, having never milled rubber before, but I told him I’d give it a shot.  He sent me the vector graphics files for the Asylum logo, and an hour later, I handed him a milled stamp!  With just a little cleaning up, it was stamping the Asylum logo beautifully.

This is one of the many things I love about CNC technology: you can go from an idea to a physical product at blinding speed.  Idea to product in an hour.  Amazing.

We made the cover of Distro!

Posted in News on July 20th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

No, Sindrian Arts isn’t on the cover of Distro.

We MADE the cover!  On the Kikori!

Apparently they saw the sign I made to attract Engadget to my space at the Artisan’s Asylum, and decided something like that would be awesome for their cover.

I couldn’t agree more.  I’m very pleased with how this turned out.

The funny thing is, the version that they used wasn’t even supposed to have been made!  Here’s what happened: the guys at Distro wanted me to make the sign out of two hardwood plywoods: white birch and clear pine.  However, my local supplier was out of clear pine, so he substituted the fir instead.  I did manage to find a knot-free piece of pine plywood that was big enough around the shop, so I sent them versions in all three woods: birch, fir, and pine.  As it turns out, they used the fir, and it looks great.  You should go download it right now!  There’s a great article about the Artisan’s Asylum.

I love doing custom jobs like this.  If you would like something similar for your publication (or wall!), drop me a line!

When something breaks, it gets improved.

Posted in News on July 18th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

UntitledThat sucked.

I was in the middle of a job when I hear a pop and see the chain on the far side of the table suddenly go slack.

Turns out the shaft of the motor on that side of the gantry had just sheared off (the pic shows it with the drive sprocket still attached).

This, boys and girls, is why you never leave a CNC machine unsupervised.  I was able to stop the machine immediately before it messed up the job in progress.  I could still jog the gantry around the table, since that motor is one of two that drive the x axis, but I would not be able to maintain any accuracy farther than a foot or so from the side that still had a motor.

Thankfully, that was enough to make new motor mounts.  As you can see, they are a huge improvement over the old mounts, which were cobbled together back when I was figuring out how best to drive the x axis (I should really write a back-dated post about that).  Other than being much cleaner and more solid, they also incorporate a feature that should prevent this from happening again: support for the motor shaft.

As you can see from  the pic above, the drive sprocket was on the very end of the motor shaft, so when I applied tension to the chain it was actively pulling down on the shaft.  No wonder it eventually broke.  With the new mount, the end of the motor shaft is supported by a bearing, so the force from the chain is distributed.

I also finally got some cable track for all the cords!  I haven’t quite finished setting it up, but I’ll post some pics when I do!

We have an Etsy store!

Posted in News on July 13th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

UntitledI should have done this sooner.

I designed all these neat products for Kickstarter rewards, why not make offer them for sale as well?  Naturally, I’ll be shipping the rewards before I start shipping them as product, but the rest of the screwdrivers and tablet stands will be out the door by the end of next week, so I’m not worried about that.

I would be working on them right now, but one of the stepper motor shafts broke the other day, so until the replacement motor comes on Tuesday I can’t make anything.  Thankfully, it won’t take me long to finish up the drivers and stands once it is.

In the mean time, check out my Etsy store!  I’ll be adding more stuff as I finish off shipping more rewards, so check back often for new stuff!

Welcome Engadget Readers!

Posted in News on June 14th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

I cannot tell you how excited I am to have been featured on Engadget!

I had a great time yesterday talking with Brad Heater and Terrence Obrien about the Kikori.  As an open source hardware project, the success of the Kikori really depends on building a strong community behind it, so getting such great exposure is really invaluable.

If this is your first time visiting Sindrian Arts, welcome!  If you’d like to learn more about the machine in the video, the Kikori, head on over to our store for a full description.  There you’ll also be able to purchase full kits!

If you want to build a Kikori of your own using the open source designs, you can grab the files from the design file page.


We’re on Engadget!

Posted in News on June 14th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

UntitledMan I wish I had done more posting in the last month.

Yesterday a crew from Engadget was at the Artisan’s Asylum interviewing people. I’ve followed Engadget for years, so the prospect of making it on their site was really exciting.

Question was, how to get their attention?  After all, the Asylum is filled with people doing amazing things.  Then it hit me: make a sign!

Sure enough, they stopped by, and once they saw a self-replicating CNC machine being controlled by a wiimote, they were hooked.

Check out the article they wrote here!

I Thought I Was Getting Better….

Posted in News on May 9th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

Well, shoot.

As I mentioned in my latest Kickstarter update I was sick all weekend with a fever. Tuesday I felt tired but mostly fine, but then I started to go downhill again, and woke up this morning feeling worse than before.


I really don’t have time for this.  I’m doing my best to take it easy, but I really hate loosing days.  My hope is that I’ll feel well enough to finish up the $20 Kickstarter rewards tonight and get them in the mail tomorrow, but we’ll see.

The Easy Way to Square a Gantry!

Posted in Building Machines on May 7th, 2012 by Judah – Be the first to comment

UntitledI figured it out!

As is often the case, after stepping away from the problem for a bit I came up with a simple solution:

First, secure one side of the gantry to the table (or have a friend hold it).  Next, apply power to the machine, but engage an e-stop.  Now take a long square (I used a drywall T-square) and place the short side flush against the side of the gantry that is secured so the long side is pointing across the table to the unsecured side.  Make sure that one edge of the long side is lined up with some landmark that appears on both sides of the gantry (I used the vertical edge shown in the above pic).  Finally, go over to the unsecured side of the gantry, manually deflect it until the same landmark is lined up with the appropriate edge of the square, and then release the e-stop switch to apply power, thus locking it in.

Granted, this is not a super-precise method, but given that you’ll probably get your deflection down to less than an eighth of an inch over the entire width of your table, it should be close enough for most work.

Ok, back to making Kickstarter rewards!