Monday, July 14, 2008

Starting off

Last Saturday a subset of the robotics team got together at my house and made a determined effort to get the school milling machine back into working order, after years of neglect by the tech department. We decided to take it apart and see what makes it tick inside (Kayla and Mike).

Luckily, the rails and screws were well enough lubricated to survive without any visible damage. However, they were grimy/dirty, so we wiped them down and reapplied 10W motor oil to the guide rails, and lithium grease to the drive screws. Jim Troy, the attendant expert, lead us through this process. Kayla is the one actually applying the grease.

Meanwhile, the programmers downstairs were busy configuring a spare computer to run EMC2, as well as trying to determine/guess at the pinouts for the parallel port on the proprietary electronics that came with the machine. If we can't get the standard board to work we'll order 3rd-party ones, possibly from probotix, but it would be much nicer on the team finances if we could avoid this. Peter B. took the board home to look at, and has applied to Altium for an educational license for their circuit-design software to facilitate reverse-engineering the board, and we'll see how that turns out (Sean and Peter B).

Finally, we got the machine back in one piece. Mechanically, it seems to be in excellent condition, except for the unfortunate (but superficial) rust damage to the bed.

Sean spent some time looking through the old RepRap extruder parts I ordered about a year ago. Hopefully, we'll be able to follow nophead's lead and form a mill/RepStrap combo. However, we've opted to get the milling functionality down first, as this will probably be easier to accomplish.

The reassembled machine's first "milled" test piece. Spindle works! :D

My workshop - it's more cluttered than usual just now, really! (Tiffany, Elyse and Rachel)