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Member postings for IanT

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

Thread: Making hexagon nuts on a rotary table & mill.
15/03/2021 18:04:03

Depends on the size of 'hex' bar you need Phil.

I haven't been able to find very small hex-section brass bar, so if I want to make 14BA nuts (which are expensive) or 16BA nuts (which are unobtainable), then I have to make my own. It's a problem for me, as a scale G3 wagon can use a lot of these small parts. A 5/8th (pre-war) Whitworth nut is 0.7mm AF in Gauge 3 for instance.

One problem with thin materials is that they will simply move/flex if they are extended too far without support. One solution is obviously to only extend the material out a little but then this greatly extends the time required to make a usable length of hex bar.

My solution (whilst far from perfect) uses a hand shaper and works, although it's still not as fast as I'd like. As I need to get a uniform part thickness, I first machine the aluminium support to ensure it's perfectly level - which is much easier than trying to set a small part in a vice. The small Hex block is simple to turn after each cut and sometimes I just hold it in place - with a fore finger pressing on the part. No problem with a manual shaper but certainly not advisable with any form of rotary or powered cutter - although with a toolmakers clamp (as shown) a mill could be used.

My next experiment in this area will probably be to try a Hex draw-plate, using a small Allan key to make the hex-hole punch.





Thread: Groups io browser operation
03/03/2021 17:39:31

I was not (and still am not) a software or security expert myself but I certainly worked with some of the best people working in this area at one time. Their advice was always very simple - keep your systems up to date (or stay away from the Internet).

Their logic was also fairly simple, in that it was much easier for those (with malintent) to exploit known problems - as documented in software updates - than look for them in new releases. So if you continue to use old (especially unsupported) software online - then you will be much more likely to suffer problems.

Their second bit of advice is hopefully much easier to observe - and it was to stay well away from anything online connected to porn or sex. They were of the view (at that time) that the porn "industry" had some of the best programmers/hackers around (who were apparently extremely well funded) and going anyway near many of these sites was not only morally dubious but potentially very dangerous to the pocket too. Of course this was a few years ago now and some other kind of villain may have risen up the threat list...

So - Mind how you go!



Thread: Is an internet connection essential to run Ardunio programs
23/02/2021 21:43:59
Posted by Greensands on 23/02/2021 20:32:05:

Ian - I am basically playing around with my new toy, the Arduino NANO and a bunch of LEDs.

On a more practical note I do have a 3-axis stepper motor controlled milling machine which runs with a COMPUCUT controller and a suite of TurboBasic programs which of course are easy to write and can be written and compiled off-line without the need for internet access. Thids is a very reliable sytem and Ihave no intention to change it any time soon.

The object of buying the Arduino is to a) have fun and perhaps b) at a later date to consider a more practical application such as adapting my rotary table for CNC. My current issue (problem) is to find a way of running some simple Arduino sketches off-line as I do not have wi-fi connectivity in the workshop.

Perhaps as you suggest the Micromite system which is a new to me might be a more suitable alternate to the Arduino if programs can be written and uploaded without the need foe internet access.

Well you don't need internet connectivity to use the Arduino (once you have the Arduino IDE loaded onto your PC) - although the advice seemed to be getting a bit complicated with possibly different A-IDE versions required for different versions of Windows.

You do need the IDE to compile your code - and whilst you could re-programme your Arduino (as SoD suggested) using the Win10 system and then take the Arduino down to your Workshop - that certainly wouldn't suit the way I normally develop embedded 'solutions' (which may be a bit too grand a description for what I actually get up to).

I don't know exactly how 'Professionals' do these things but I will write a little bit (and test it) often needing a few (sometimes many) iterations to get things really working the way I want - then I'll do another bit and then think about stringing it all together. Test, Amend and Test again - over and over till it works basically.

So the ability to do this quickly (interactively) is crucial to getting things up and running. I suggested Micromite because I know it will allow you to do this for most things (not everything) because it did for me. It won't matter which PC you use, because at it's most basic, MMB just needs a serial connection to make changes.

If your application is down in your Workshop - then that's where you will probably need to do most of your de-bugging too. But if you want to take the Mite back 'inside' (in the warm perhaps) - then you can do that too.

You may of course be able to do this with your Arduino Nano as well - but I imagine there may be subtle issues with trying to potentially use two different Arduino (compiler) versions, so I'd probably stick with just one PC.



23/02/2021 18:15:06

I don't know what you need the Arduino for Greensands? You may have something in mind like GRBL or some other heavy duty code only available via the Arduino libraries. But if not, there are simpler embedded solutions available...

My Mites don't have (or need) an 'IDE' - because they can be programmed directly with the on-board Editor. You just connect your PC to them via a terminal emulator (such as TeraTerm) and a USB/Serial board. So programming & running them from XP really shouldn't be an issue.

You can also plug-in and (re)programme Mites in-situ, which can be very useful for de-bugging projects real time and again your Workshop PC will be fine for this.

Micromite Basic (MMB) will handle most things "out of the box" - features such as RS232, Servos, PWM, A2D, Analog, I2C, SPI, 1-Wire etc are all included within the base MMB language.

Original Micromite Features

Depends on what you want (or need) to do of course. There's been much discussion on the pros & cons of various languages, processors et-al recently - but very often 'simple' is also the easiest thing to do.

Of course, if you need more speed or features there are other hardware choices available to run MMB on, which will provide (for instance) USB connectivity, advanced graphic, LCD/Touch screen capability and on-board SD file storage - support for which is all built-in. Again you can interactively de-bug these systems just by plugging in your PC (remotely via any serial connection if required).

STM32 M4 Cortex system for Micromite Plus

Just a thought.



Edited By IanT on 23/02/2021 18:21:43

20/02/2021 18:56:48
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 20/02/2021 17:59:45:

Sometimes I'm the statue, sometimes I'm the pigeon...


Well that image certainly worked for me Dave!

BR - stick with us, we are a mixed bunch and the world would be far less interesting if we were all the same.

I stick things on here that I hope folk will find useful and interesting. I also know that there are others with much better/more specialist/more interesting/more knowledgeable/more experience etc (you name it) things to share.

All you can do is talk about what you know and do and hope you don't seem too silly to some of the superior intelligences that also frequent here. (Not being facetious - there are some seriously clever folk here).

I like the topic diversity. Some things are way over my head or (frankly) ones I'm not that interested in but I'll still often look at them. I might not have ventured into 3D printing without seeing some of the 3DP posts here for instance.

As Dave suggests, you just have to talk from your own perspective and hope you don't look too silly (too often). You have to post tales of your small steps forward (or back) and hope that (if no one comments) it's because they are awestruck by your ingenuity rather than dumbstruck with your stupidity.

Fortunately though, most people here are very kind.



Thread: Advice on benchtop milling machine
20/02/2021 12:43:30
Posted by Martin Lowe on 19/02/2021 16:12:28:

I take it you don't think much of my idea to use and X/Y table bolted to the Richmond table?


I don't think it's a completely silly idea Martin - well at least, it's something I considered at one time before I acquired smaller mill(s) to go with the big one.

Same problem I think (in that I wanted to mill some smaller parts) and the idea of being able to set up a secondary X/Y table (with Dial Gauges) was quite appealing simply for the reasons you mention - ease of operation. In the end, a Taig milling head (mounted on the end of my small lathe) solved that particular problem and avoided issues with the heavy knee, longish table and of course cutting speeds.

My mills are horizontals although both have vertical heads. The only drawback really is that neither have drilling quills - otherwise I'm fairly content with them. Long running debate (Horizontal vs Vertical) but most folk have verticals these days so no need to resurrect it here . Like most things, it's mostly about what you are used to.

I have since acquired a small but quite solidly built (Chinese) X/Y table although the dials provided are almost useless. This doesn't worry too much as I rig up dial gauges to measure absolute movement. It's only been used on my large drill press thus far though.



20/02/2021 11:57:05
Posted by Peter Seymour-Howell on 20/02/2021 11:50:52:


Actually, you may find my blog easier to navigate, it has much more detail including my research and probably of more interest.


It's the one I prefer too Bill!



19/02/2021 20:43:25

Hello Bill,

Yes, of course. Sorry - two glasses of good Shiraz on a Friday night and I start to ramble (even more than usual)

The Gauge '3' Society

The Gauge '3' Forum

Gauge '3' at Western Thunder

Gauge '3' (Members only site)

Gauge '3' - Facebook



19/02/2021 19:48:17

Well, being primarily interested in model locomotives (Gauge '3' ones of course) - I do visit MECH but I don't find it particularly 'user friendly' (as a site - nothing to do with its users) - as most of the interesting posts all seem to occur in the "General" area. I must admit to finding it a bit of a pain to go looking in other areas for new posts too. Of course this might just be me being - well - me.

I mention this because there are some here who seem to think that the format of this Forum is lacking - but I have to observe that there are worse ones around... just a thought...



Thread: Looking to learn CAD
19/02/2021 19:33:47

I'm sure you will find something that suits you Bob - there is no lack of choice.



Thread: Not the only president causing problems.
19/02/2021 11:53:19

That's going to be a very solidly made locomotive Dave!

Keep it coming please.



Thread: Looking to learn CAD
19/02/2021 11:29:31
Posted by Brian H on 19/02/2021 08:55:39:

Rather than 'just' learning CAD, I found it useful to start using it on an actual project. Many years ago I designed and built a 3" inch traction engine and have all the paper drawings for it.


I don't disagree with Brian with regards the need to actually work with 3D to gain proficiency but I do think it is essential to focus on getting the basics right first.

I was a TurboCAD user for well over 20 years, starting with Version 4 (free CD on a magazine cover) and three upgrades later ended up using TC 2016. I self-taught myself TC4 using a very poor "User Manual" that was little more than a list of screen commands - with no structure at all. It took me ages to understand 'snaps' and 'layers' and for many years I just used the pull-down menus. Then a few years back, I found Paul (the CADs) videos and my use of TC was completely transformed - mostly by ignoring the pull-down menus in favour of key board commands. So I'd spent 15+ years "using" TC but not doing so very well. I probably wasted a great many hours of my spare time because of this.

I did try to migrate to TC 3D but it really wasn't viable in the De Lux versions I had. I also downloaded Fusion but could not get the 'momentum' necessary to make progress with it and I had already deleted it before I came across Solid Edge.

My earlier TC experience made me determined to try and be systematic in getting the basics right. The Siemens eLearning tutorials provided are very good and made this much easier to do. I think I spent about a week doing one lesson an evening (or so) about six or seven hours all told. Not that hard to do!

This was key to my being able to move on, as I then had the basics. As mentioned earlier, I also worked through a number of Dr Seif's Labs and was pleasantly surprised to find that I could actually complete them. This new found 'confidence' has really helped to motivate further use.

Where I very much agree with Brian, is that to become proficient, you do need practice. He's drawing a 3.5" loco - and I'm currently drawing a Midland Compound in Gauge '3' (trying to do a little every week as my skills and product knowledge improve).

So my experience is that it is very worthwhile to "Just" learn the basics (of whatever system you choose) before jumping in - at least it has been for me.



18/02/2021 23:47:34

Nigel/Bob - these days it's a bit easier to find out about this kind of thing than it was just from the printed word a few years ago. The problem is that there is so much stuff out there in the 'Interweb' and not all of it is very good. I found this when first trying to learn Solid Edge - there were some fairly good videos but also some really terrible ones. Some of them were very hard to follow, had no obvious structure and were far too fast paced. Absolutely useless for learning.

My "go-to" guy these days is Dr Mohammed Seif - who is a Professor of Mechanical & Civil Engineering at Alabama A&M University. He is Egyptian (so has an accent) but I find the pace of his delivery very conducive to self-paced learning - and the fact that he makes the odd mistake is also kind of reassuring too. He starts with the simple and gradually works up to the more complex - all in a very structured way. I also find his videos very useful for memory jogging/revision when I've not used SE for a few months (as happened around Christmas/New Year).

Here is his first 'beginners' lesson and I think it will give you some idea about working with Solid Edge without the need to download it.

Learning Solid edge - Lab 1 - Dr M Seif

Hope this helps.



18/02/2021 22:17:25


When I started in 3D Print, a friend suggested that to "get going" with my own 3DP designs I first used Open SCAD for simple objects. It is script based and very easy to learn in small steps (which is not really the case in other 3D CAD systems). You can be designing and 'printing' things the same evening you start up with it (I did so). There are also a lot of SCAD designs on Thingiverse that can be modified without too much effort - indeed some come with a "customiser" that will let you very simply change key parameters. Here is one of my designs for a motor 'mount' - it's just a few line of script and I've printed several different versions of this for my various projects.


However, for my more complex modelling/engineering needs (and to replace TurboCAD 2D) I had to choose one of the modern commercial 3D systems. All the main ones have their advocates here and since they all require a high level of commitment in time and effort to learn, it's not really surprising that once you've made that investment - you might be reluctant to change.

In some ways (to my mind) I was fortunate that I finally made the 'switch' last year (a little later than many here) and was therefore able to download (the then new for Hobbyists) Solid Edge 2020 (Community Edition). It is a lifetime license and free to download (no cloud involved). It will only run on Windows and has no CAM functionality. Apart from that, it is a really wonderful tool - and importantly (at least for me) - there were also some excellent e-Tutorials provided to get me going.

These step you through various exercises but the actual work is done in SE2020 itself - so after each learning exercise you will have a finished model/drawing in SE. I am far from proficient yet but I am already producing useful work, such as the control box below. I'm sure others will have more impressive work but from nothing to this in about 8 months occasional use is really good for me - much better than I ever managed in Fusion.

DC Motor Control Box

So, I would very highly recommend Solid Edge to you or anyone else needing a modern (commercial power & quality) 3D CAD system.



Thread: Multi-part assembly drawing
18/02/2021 12:43:16
Posted by Peter Howell 1 on 17/02/2021 15:50:36:

Now I thought it about time to stretch the grey matter and try to get to grips with 3D. FreeCAD is free so nothing to loose if I give up. I have been told I should have signed up as a hobbyist for Fusion360. But I'd already started producing some stuff with FreeCAD.

You may have already set sail in this area Peter - but I started to move from TurboCAD 2D last year and discovered Solid Edge 2020 - which is free to download (with a lifetime license) and is not cloud based.

The only thing I'm aware of that Fusion offers (that SE2020 does not) is a CAM facility. This is not an issue for me currently (no CNC, only 3D Print) and I am really delighted with Solid Edge. If you eventually find FreeCAD is not for you - I would very much recommend trying Solid Edge 2020 next.




Edited By IanT on 18/02/2021 12:44:30

17/02/2021 10:09:46

Yes, methods have to adapt and change to the tool being used Peter.

With TurboCAD 2D, I used to draw everything in a single 'model' world but used many layers to do so. I'd often have a main 'GA' area and then copy parts to other areas (but on the same layer) to add smaller parts if things were getting cluttered. Views of these parts could then be made in the 'paper' world for printing PDFs etc. Of course, not being parametric - this could cause problems if I needed to modify the larger components for some reason, with much re-tracing of steps. Some of this could be mitigated by staged back-ups though.

With Solid Edge, life really is much easier in this respect. I create separate parts for each sub-assembly, then assemble them. I'm still working on my 'methodologies' in this area - by which I mean not just learning how the drawing 'tools' themselves work but the strategies (best word I can think of) to get to the desired end result easily.

Happily, SE2020 has very effective assembly methods and frankly, I'm surprised to hear that FreeCAD doesn't. The fact that SE2020 it is fully parametric also makes life simpler too.

Lot's to learn though...



Thread: Self Centering Vice
16/02/2021 17:41:04

No problem Vic, I was curious too and I was happy to help



Thread: Advice and guidance for arthritic folk
15/02/2021 21:27:52

Hello Jim

I can't offer too much comfort I'm afraid.

Ibuprofen helps (a lot), remembering not to grip things like spanners, screwdrivers and pliers too tightly, not getting cold (e.g. staying in the warm) and lot's of stretching and moving about (e.g. not spending hours hunched over things).

Gloves have been mentioned recently and whilst they are certainly not a good idea when using machinery, they certainly do help at other times when filing and hacksawing for instance - quite apart from helping to keep your hands warm.



Thread: Starting out a young enthusiast
14/02/2021 23:30:45

P.S. Robs suggestion of a Mamod loco could be a potential in-between step/project. Mamods have started lot's of people off in Garden Railways and although very basic, there are kits around that let you improve them - more small steps towards something more challenging for him eventually but still fun.



14/02/2021 23:20:48

Hello Vivienne,

Without some guidance, I think it would be very hard for your son to start making a live steam engine just by himself - quite apart from the cost of any equipment. Whilst not impossible, frankly he'd be unlikely to succeed - and that might kill the spark of interest, which would be a great pity.

So I would suggest something very simple to begin with - and perhaps it doesn't need to be a 'live' steam locomotive right away. There are some relatively inexpensive 16mm locomotive kits that your son could build together with some wagons perhaps and of course all locomotives need some track to run on too - perhaps out in the garden? That would get him going and if the railway 'bug' really bites (and you get yourself a small lathe) then he could move onto something more like the 'Ellie' steam tram as already suggested by Nick.

IP Engineering - Locos

Ellie - Steam Tram Book

There are a few companies other than IP Engineering making simple 16mm kits of course - but I've suggested them just as an example of what is available. My advice would be to take things slowly - let him make something that can he can complete in a reasonable timeframe (and actually run and enjoy) before moving onto something a bit more ambitious.



Edited By IanT on 14/02/2021 23:23:11

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