"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Drawing

Dimensional Decision

I am presently using two very good 3-dimensional CAD programs. They are Autodesk Fusion 360 and Robert McNeil & Associates Rhino3D. I am at a decision point on which one will be my standard go-to drawing program.

I have had the longest association with Rhino. I started with version 3 and version 6 has just been released. Major version number upgrades must be purchased. That’s why I am at a decision point.

Fusion 360 is free for users like myself. That is a major advantage. The Rhino3D upgrade is $375.00.

It seems like a no-brainer to stay with the free one. But for me price is not always the sole determining criteria.

My problem is that both programs are very good. The largest difference is the cost-to-own. If I had to pay for Fusion 360, I must admit that cost would be a very large determining factor. I certainly don’t want to be paying for two programs that are almost equal in results for how I use them.

My decision is to continue using both. I will pay for the upgrade in Rhino. It’s about $1.05 per day for a year. I can live with that. Major upgrades do not occur yearly, so the cost spreads out thinner.

I have no idea if Fusion will remain free. It does seem to be a very friendly marketing strategy.

One hesitation I have with Fusion 360 is it is cloud-based and dependent on a connection to the Internet. It seems to me it access could be shut down very quickly. But every computer activity today depends heavily on an Internet connection.  I feel any change in the free use policy won’t be immediate.

I have just changed my business accounting to a web-based service. It’s how we work today.

What keeps… Continue reading

Measuring Up

image-aspxI was in grade school in the 1950’s. It was way back then at least as I can remember that there was a big deal made about using the metric system. It was as if the U.S. (English, S.A.,E, etc.) measuring system of feet and inches (and all the rest) was under attack by the Metric system used in Europe and/or the “rest” of the world. It was the world of science and some engineering that was promoting this new “cause”.

As a “kid” what did I know. But I did get the impression that the USA was not going to change without a fight. It was like a foreign invasion, The emphasis was how to CONVERT from one measurement to the other. Awful conversions factors are required and it really was a math test.

I always thought it was stupid and awkward to do the conversions. I think it just made teachers feel good to have something in a math application they could grade (measure) for accuracy. Hmmm… Are grades in metric or English? How do you convert? Ha!

So we grew up dealing with both systems in grade school and awkwardly converting. It was like we had to preserve our “native” language. In reality, the total metric system actually has a lot going for it, but don’t say that too loudly.

Later in my life many published papers and drawings, where measurement are used, would group both measurements together. Let’s see that’s about 2 inches (51mm). That’s still done today. Most everything in commerce has both systems used in marketing as we are in a world wide economy. A rather clumsy accommodation, not likely to change soon.

Measurements and math are a form of language. In the real world, a person fluent in several languages actually thinks in… Continue reading

Rhino Crazy

I have spent the last couple of weeks deciding what I was going to do to upgrade my CAD/CAM software. Not the software I use for Over Head Routing. I have one of the best for my purposes and cost restraints in the form of Vectric  Aspire.  I use it a lot and always find new things I can make or design using it. Aspire is not going to go away for something better in its class for a long time.

As the title suggests my struggle has been what do I do with my aging (over six years old) McNeel’s Rhinoceros and its CAM plugin, MecSoft’s RhinoCAM. I use this combination to do the things that Aspire was never designed to do in CAD/CAM, A few example projects are the stepper motor heat sinks on HB2, a complicated replacement gun part in aluminum, and the detailed A3 locomotive driver wheels I machined from stainless steel.

Rhino really rocks in the drawing department. Well, that is what it is, a 3D drawing program. I started with Version 3 and somewhere along the line I upgraded to version 4. It’s been in Version 4 for quite some time, but there have been updates on a regular basis. Version 3 was fun but when V4 arrived, I knew it was a real pro users program. I am now running the Beta for version 5 and it is another major leap.

Rhino sells for around $1000 new and about half that for upgrades. So I have probably $1500 invested in Rhino over 6 – 8 years. I don’t know where V5 upgrade will be priced, but I will be there.

MecSoft RhinoCAM is a special edition of Visual Mill that runs inside Rhino as a plug in. It is… Continue reading

Dauntless Received

I received the Dauntless kit a few days ago. Back on 9/22/11 to be more accurate. The kit is basically a box full of die cut wood parts. Just what I expected. The hull size is 49.5 x 14 inches.

I am currently looking for a flat working surface upon which to construct the hull. It needs to be fairly large but somewhat portable. I want to be able to move the large construction out of the way when necessary to work on other projects.

What I will use is a hollow core narrow width door and probably cut down the OAL a bit. They are generally 80 inches tall and I only need about 60 inches. I know how to splice the end back into the cutoff. I have done it before. I only need 15 inches in width but may have to go to a narrow standard door of 24 inch width. Half (one panel) of a 30 inch bifold is the perfect working surface, but hard to find.

For the boat I already have a (probably CNC) project to make several inline motor mounts from aluminum. Sketches are already on my desk. I need to refine it in CAD. More info to come. This is going to be a long project, I think.

This will probably be the last I publish about the general boat construction here. Check out the RoboBoatBlog.net for more about non machine shop construction.

What I will include here are any machining or metal projects that relate to the boat construction. I am thinking of things like making my own brass propellers and other interesting bits and metal pieces.

“Proofs” of Concept

I was doing some product research today. This is something I made in about five to six hours. I had been thinking of how I was going to make these all week. I just needed a good Saturday to give it a shot.

As the title indicates this is a proof of concept not a real project. I didn’t want to slow myself down doing all the pictures of the process. The process is still experimental so  full disclosure can wait until a better time. I have my camera at the ready.

Long time readers know I have experimented with pewter casting before. Here is the LINK.

The “thumbs up” graphic is a 3-D rendering received free with the Vectric Aspire software. I used it to create the medallion. The finished result is seen in the first picture above. The picture was created within the software. I combined the thumbs up with some freelance drawing to form the disk. Actually in my opinion the disk is much thicker than it should be.

The edges of the disk did not come out well in the tool pathing. I need to find a better way to create the disk in the software. As this was a trial, I didn’t want to spend all day on the drawing so I accepted some imperfection in the edge rendering and moved on.

Next I had Aspire produce a roughing toolpath for a 1/8 inch ball nose mill bit. Then I had Aspire produce a spiral finish pass with a 5/32 inch ball nose. The disk is 1-1/2 inches in diameter. The aluminum (both pieces) is 1/4 x 3 x3 inches. The back plate is not machined in this test trial.

The machining was done on the CNC Taig mill. A… Continue reading

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