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Member postings for Alan Wood 4

Here is a list of all the postings Alan Wood 4 has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Fusion 360 Licence Changes
11/10/2019 12:16:47

See the following support document on renewal as a hobbyist/non-commercial


Even if you have an existing account you still have to follow the 'See if I qualify' path.

Thread: Bushing for clock arbor
29/08/2019 10:23:40

No offence Michael, you just seem to be respected as being the go to reference source for all things web.


29/08/2019 09:28:29

David, you might want to get to know a Preacher.

This is a device with three sharp prongs. Regard it as being a three pronged punch. You place one prong exactly in the location of where the arbor should be sitting and then orient the device to allow the other two to sit somewhere on the clock plate and then give it a sharp tap. This will leave two reference dimples that you can refer back to in order to verify your new arbor hole is in the correct position. The three prongs are usually set to have a uneven spacing so you cannot get the orientation wrong. You can knock one of these up in no time.

If the hole you are working on is really adrift you can use the Preacher to set the two references and then drill the arbor hole out completely oversize and plug it with a piece of brass. You then replace the Preacher in position and tap it gently once again to get a new centre in the plug to re-drill the arbor hole in the correct position. If you put a slight taper on the drill out hole with a reamer/broach then the plug can be tapered to match. The taper needs to be from the inside of the plate so the plug is being 'pushed' deeper into the taper by the arbor (in practice it doesn't move). Use a graver to get the taper on the plug. Overall it is quite satisfying process to do.

You will find that finishing of the plugged hole can be done to completely remove any witness marks that this remedial work has been done. Clearly you don't want to mark the plate surface when removing the excess of the plug that with even the best skills will initially be sitting proud. It helps if you have a piece of 35mm camera negative, punch a similar size hole in it to the plug and then glue it to the plate surface to sit around the plug. This will protect the plate until you get the plug pretty much flush.

I am sure Michael will be able to find you lots of references to Preachers and the process I have outlined.


Thread: Trip to New Zealand
27/08/2019 13:52:55

Thanks to everyone who has posted and sent PMs all of which are very much appreciated and the sort of info that we were looking for (the royal 'we' there but perhaps slightly dissimilar aims and interests for the trip).


26/08/2019 11:52:40

We are booked to visit NZ (North and South) later in the year and would appreciate comments / recommendations from any readers in country. Particularly interested in locations with an engineering bias, model rail etc

Rather than clog the forum please contact via PM.



Thread: Deburring small items after parting off
22/07/2019 17:31:53

I got the impression that someone of Joe's depth of mechanical and electronic ability was not asking for a tutorial on how it could be done but instead having the vision to share a simple way of deburring small pieces for those needing a quick fix solution. It is elegant in its simplicity.

Thank you Joe, the idea is much appreciated. Please don't be another to follow the TTFN route.


Thread: Total cost + import for Tormach PCNC 440, and alternatives?
25/06/2019 09:17:26

Importing a Tormach to UK is straightforward using ACC Worldwide in Kent who are the preferred agent used by Tormach. They arrange everything and you can track your delivery all the way to your doorstep.

Tormach products are not CE approved but this is not an issue if you are going to use it for your own non commercial use.

The 440 is a 120V AC product and you will need a transformer which is not a problem with many potential suppliers. I use one from RS product.

Due to the US hike in import duties of products from China the prices have risen on the Tormach products. You can find my spreadsheet with the latest prices list costs of all the Tormach mills and accessories on my blog via this link.

The sheet gives you a full landed costing into UK and you can change the F/X to current market rate. There are quite a few other posts on the blog relating to the Tormach use. Note that as yet there is no 4th axis facility on the 440 but it is road mapped and there are other ways to address this should it be a requirement.

I bought and imported a 440 around 3 years ago and have not had any problems with it. The key aspects that swayed me were their PathPilot software which is excellent to use and the depth of support on my lack of CNC knowledge both direct from Tormach and from the many forums. PathPilot is addressed directly from Fusion 360 which in turn has integrated CAM and does not cost you anything as a private non commercial user.

I would be more than happy to demonstrate the machine to you or others on receipt of a PM request. I am in the Newbury area of UK.


Edited By Alan Wood 4 on 25/06/2019 09:19:34

Thread: Feeds and Speeds! 0.4mm milling cutters...
31/05/2019 20:36:52

Attached image are two examples of the Think & Tinker bits.

Left hand one is their 15 degree 2 flute tapered stub ZrN coated and right hand one is 60 degree mechanical etching bit.

Both have 5 thou tips.

Sorry about the image but was struggling at this magnification.

I prefer the left hand one as the taper is so slight that it eliminates width of track variations on my vacuum table.

Joe clearly has much more experience than me on the subject. I have seen his set up first hand.

My business life (W&D) also revolved round RF comms where we used a LPKF machine for PCB prototyping on Rogers substrates including brass backed.


30/05/2019 09:38:49

Having spent some time evolving my pcb milling process here are a few comments.

I use FlatCam to create the CNC code from Gerber and Excellon files out of GSpark. FlatCam was the first program I tried and it does everything I need without looking further. It allows default start up and shut down GCodes to be embedded in the export code to the mill (in my case a Tormach PCNC440).

I run at 10,000 rpm (maximum possible on the 440) and at 150mm per minute with a 5.1 thou cutter. While I ramp and spiral in when cutting metal I rarely have the real estate on my pcbs to allow this luxury. I dive straight in and cut and it has not been an issue.

I found that tapered engraving bits to be fine providing the pcb material could be clamped flat. If the material is not flat then variations in cut depth result which in turn leads to a wider cut through the copper (think about the geometry). I tried 10 degree cutters to minimise this and found them to be very fragile. If tracking is wide this may not be an issue.

I subsequently found proper fine milling bits from Think & Tinker that which are parallel for the first section and then taper up. They can be supplied with collars so collet mounting is repeatable. They are expensive but are good if you need to go to fine detail.

I tried various clamping methods for the pcb material to try to eliminate the bow. Single sided board is the worst as having the copper on one side causes a 'surface tension' style bowing from the laminating process. In the end I solved this by designing and making a simple vacuum table which runs off the 'hoover', This was an amazing success for a finger in the air idea. The Fusion 360 file is available if anyone who wants to try it.

The vacuum table while solving the clamping does mean it is not prudent to drill holes all the way through the pcb and potentially damage the vacuum table surface and or damage the carbide pcb drills. I therefore drill to almost break through and then go round the board afterwards with my high speed bench drill. With the centres already spotted it is a quick process.

One option that could be used but not tried as yet is to put 'gaffa' tape or similar on the pcb back side to provide a finite spacer and allow some additional depth for through drilling.

Finally I use mist coolant (via a Fog Buster) when milling the boards. This is the same as I use for metal machining (Qualichem Xtreme 250C). It helps the finish, protects the tool and also damps down the dust.

The finish straight off the mill is sometimes not too pretty but after a gentle rub over with fine wet and dry looks excellent. With a 5 thou tip I can cut very fine SMD tracking.

After the wet and dry, while the board has a bright clean untarnished finish, rub over with flux paste and then run a wide bit hot soldering iron quickly over the tracking while feeding fine solder to it. Once you have got the knack you can get a good tinned finish. Clean the flux residue off afterwards with thinners and then wash with Swarfega or similar hand cleaner to get a bright finish on the tin (yes I know it sounds weird but try it).

There is a lot more detailed waffle and pictures of my experiments at Woody's Workshop.

I hope that helps someone somewhere to get a working result.

Thread: Bill Smith Magnavert Morse Key
01/04/2019 17:04:10

Good afternoon David, nice to hear from you.

This was a post I made sometime ago and have since completed the keyer and it is now used by WX4WX in Melbourne Florida. The finished key worked really well (lots of dots) and I understand it is in regular use by Lance.

You can find details and the background story on my blog at


I have a collection of all Bill's books and videos and I did manage to visit Bill and Judy around a year before he died.

Great character and a brilliant engineer.



Thread: Boxford machinery auction
14/02/2019 11:47:09

Boxford was exhibiting at last week's Southern Manufacturing Show at Farnborough. They were showing laser cutters and engravers among other things. I asked if they were the Boxford of lathe fame and this was confirmed by the stand personnel. Show guide indicates Dewsbury Road, Elland as trading address.

Thread: Large Wheel Clock
19/01/2019 15:45:30

Good afternoon David

It might help you to watch Chris at Clickspring who made this clock and very professionally made videos of each step.

Cutting the gears can be found here



Thread: Workshop headphones
03/01/2019 11:45:12

I have Phonak in-ear speaker hearing aids for both ears which boost my top end spectrum. I was issued with a neck loop inductive coupler for these which is Bluetooth connected to a base transmitter. The base was connected to the TV line audio output set to my comfort level. This reduced domestic strife when the audio from the TV speakers was incompatible with our joint enjoyment levels.

I was impressed by the performance of the in ear devices as these are not isolated to the ambient sounds and I could hold a conversation while listening to the TV audio. There was also a large mute button on the neck loop receiver to completely kill the incoming audio feed (the 'Mcintyre Mute'. The range of the Bluetooth is sufficient to allow for bathroom runs mid program while still keeping up with the program audio.

I was sufficiently impressed that I bought a second base unit and neck loop for the workshop. In the workshop I have an audio source switching box that allows either TV, radio (FM and DAB) or IPOD audio to be routed to the base unit. I can go about normal workshop activity without losing audio from the base and without losing hearing of ambient sounds. If I have a very noisy activity, my normal industrial ear defenders slip over the top of the in ear devices. And yes I wear the neck loop inside my shirt and my overall against my skin with my safety boots, wearing safety glasses, hi viz jacket, wash my hands before eating biscuits and drinking tea etc etc.

That aside and prior to the above being necessary, I used the same audio source switching box feeding a Band II low power modulator to give local radio coverage in the workshop. The signal was received on a freebee low sensitivity single channel Band II receiver with foam ear buds obtained at a golf tournament for on course commentary. This allowed simultaneous ambient and program listening. And yes I wore this inside my shirt and my overall etc etc etc.

Unless you happen to be of the fairer sex you will no doubt have been forcefully, at some point or other, made aware that as a male we are incapable of multi-tasking. Given the source of this revelation it must be true so it is perhaps pointless to listen to something while doing something else that demands thoughtful attention (including the source of the revelation ...). If however you are trying to stave off dementia by undertaking learning something such as a foreign language it is surprising how much you absorb as background audio tuition while destroying metal (while wearing your overalls, safety boots, safety glasses etc etc).


Thread: CNC machines in the Uk
26/12/2018 18:40:34

Hello Kevin

Also available for a visit. Live near Newbury and running Tormach 440 with their Pathpilot controller and using Fusion 360 for CAD/CAM.


Thread: Workshop security - CCTV
29/11/2018 09:39:22

I would suggest there are three levels of choice - low cost imported systems the like of which you see in CPCs mailshots, conventional analogue systems with connectivity either by coax or by wifi and the more professional systems that are digital based and connect with CAT5 cabling.

The lower cost systems might just have one camera that can feed into your house TV.

The CAT5 systems carry the digital video data and the power over the CAT5 cable so it is an easy install with one connection. The base router accepts all the cables into it and provides a recording facility, local monitoring facility or a viewer via a smartphone wherever you are.

The analogue systems usually need a power source local to the camera and then bring the video back either on coax or wifi. They also have a base router, recorder and local monitor. Many of these also have remote monitoring on a smartphone.

Both analogue and digital systems will have some form of movement detection on areas that you define on each camera picture and with adjustable sensitivity. The digital cameras seem less prone to false alarms.

Have a look at COP-EU to get some ideas of what is professionally available but they do not show prices unless you are a registered dealer with them. Look at **LINK** which is a local supplier that I have used who does not seem to have an axe to grind and will give you a fair assessment of what you ought to go for.

No association with COP or QCCTV. Hopefully between the two you will get on the way to a solution.

I have an 8 camera digital system at home and it is very reassuring when we are on holiday to be able to see what is going on inside and outside the house and workshop via smartphone if only to see the sun shining at home and the rain pouring down where we are.


Thread: For discussing the merits of alternative 3D CAD programs.
27/10/2018 16:20:24

Should Fusion begin to charge for the full spec package (CAD,CAM etc), according to the same press release by Brian Repp, it would cost ~GBP438 inc VAT for a single cloud based seat at current F/X.

27/10/2018 15:15:12

I'm with Muzzer on this and can't understand the Alibre euphoria. It seems their offer is becoming more common as the CNCCookbook site are also offering Alibre for 6 months free and then 15% discount on the basic package. It looks like an aggressive marketing campaign on the part of the Alibre management to try to win back some market share ?

I am also concerned that there is perhaps some misunderstanding. Are people maybe thinking that by designing in a 3D CAD package they will then be able to press a button and magically get a finished product ? It is what it is, just a drawing package. To get product from it you need either a 3D printer or a CNC device. To get your design into these devices you will then need an intermediate package(s) to slice the 3D model or produce the GCode CAM. These both represent a further learning curve on yet another software package - a package or packages that may also cost you further subscription funding.

Fusion does the CAD, 3D CAM / CNC CAM in the one package and is free. What's not to like ?

There are some further thoughts here.

Edited By Neil Wyatt on 27/10/2018 15:53:19

Thread: Hay bales
20/10/2018 07:15:25

Having come from a farming family this post attracted my attention. Technically speaking a binder is for cutting corn fields and a reaper is used for cutting grass pastures so a binder would not replace a baler but a combine would replace a binder ... and a baler would be used for baling both grass (hay) and corn straw ... if that makes sense.

Self combustion of hay bales was common if the grass was baled too soon after cutting and had not dried out fully. This was often the case with first crop which tended to be cut earlier in the year and not see enough sun to dry it out when there was always a panic to get it baled quickly pending rainy weather. Second cut was later in the year and more likely to dry out quickly. At the very least a damp bale would burst the strings holding it together or go mouldy and not be suitable as animal fodder. In the extreme the local fire brigade would be needed and an insurance claim lodged. The more sun the cut grass got and the more it could be 'turned' before baling the better which reduce the possibility of heat being generated.

Straw bales did not suffer this effect as the straw was inherently dead on cutting. In a very rainy summer the corn before cutting could be beaten down by the rain and the ears start to produce secondary growth. The binder and the combine harvester cutter beds had dividers to separate each breed of cut and lifters fitted at intervals along the knife fingers to overcome the laid corn stalks. The knife blade edges could be plain or serrated depending on crop type and quality of growth.

The same heating effect could occur with corn which in the early days was 'bagged off' either as threshed or later combine harvested grain. If the grain was damp when bagged you would often not be able to thrust you arm into the sacks such was the heat generated. Combustion would not happen but the grain would, like the hay, go mouldy and not be marketable. A corn merchant would visit to sample from the bags for moisture content which usually ran in the 15% to 20% range. The lower the moisture content the harder the grain and a better price achieved. Really hard grain went for milling or brewing. Once bagging gave way to bulk transport from the field, the grain would be spread dumped into open sheds with a fan based air ducting system under the floor to dry the crop out.

That was all a bit longer than it should have been. There are some written notes on my blog if anyone wishes to have further boredom thrust upon them.

Thread: Fusion 360 Licence Changes
23/09/2018 16:40:06

I will be interested to see what Alibre has to offer as it was the first 3D package I ever used when it was a few hundred dollars download. No doubt it will be a completely different animal given how it has been bounced around by various corporates since then but it is nice to see it regain its independence.

23/09/2018 13:42:20

For users of Fusion 360 there are a number of subscription changes announced by AutoDesk as from 7th October 2018.

For hobbyists this suggests no changes 'at this time' i.e continues to be free.

What is interesting is that if you already subscribe now at USD310 per annum you will have this subscription frozen AND you get all the Ultimate package now thrown in which was USD1500 per annum. The existing Ultimate users see their sub dropped from USD1500 to USD495 and get a 2 years subs free void period.

This is a very attractive pricing change by AutoDesk. If you are thinking of starting on the learning curve on CAD with integrated CAM you have to give it serious consideration not just for what it offers but for the enormous amount of support through videos both by Autodesk and by third party users on YouTube.

For the cynics who currently use Fusion free and believe that sooner or later they will have to pay then an insurance policy of now paying for the Ultimate package at the USD310 price going forward will give peace of mind. This will be USD495 for all new paying subscribers after the October deadline.

I believe these prices have VAT added for GBP based purchases.

There is a good summary of the changes on the following YouTube by TFI


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