xiphmont: (Default)

Most makers I know keep a bunch of paint colors around.

Me, I have a few primaries and maybe 40 different whites. Nothing messes with me like THE WRONG WHITE. And yes, I *do* own a handheld spectrophotometer! Why do you ask?

I need to paint my new control panel with a good match to the other panels, so I got out my paint test strips. It's hard to tell, but there are five different white stripes on the particular pictured strip.

Anyway, we have a winner! Spectrophotometer agrees! The laser cutter's white matches Duplicolor 'Toyota White'.

xiphmont: (Default)

Because dragonflies aren't bugs. But they are glinty in the sunlight!

There are millions of dragonflies of every size and color around right now, bouncing off the windows all day. This guy just held still while I had my camera.

xiphmont: (Default)

Switch and indicator cutouts, final welds, and a nice layer of light-grey primer: DONE.

The cutouts were done on Fox's nice DeWalt scroll saw. Strong enough for a metal, even if it's made for a wood.

I didn't bother with super-precise cuts, nor was I particularly careful with the grinder. There's a number of imperfections that aren't obvious in the picture (though the wiggly cuts kinda are). But that's OK: it all gets covered by the printed control overlay, so none of that will show.

Next step is real painting. Humidity is near 100% right now though, so I probably won't be able to do that until tomorrow.

xiphmont: (Default)

The tack welds for the bend, hinge, and closure are in. It's time for a test fit.

Hmmm.

Not too bad, not perfect. I started the half-inch-radius bend in the front just a smidge too far up the hatch so there's a 1/16" or so mismatch backward and up.

Also, I had a little trouble with one of the tack welds for the right hinge fitting. It's angled up slightly to put the pin at the right height, so it's not actually sitting flat against the 22ga steel the hatch is made of. The not-quite-a-lap-weld Just Would Not Bridge.

Cranking the amps up to somewhere between Righteous Fury and Raining Hellfire did the trick, but thank goodness for the aluminum chill strip or I'd have punched a dime size hole right through. As it is, it's nothing a grinder can't fix.

I think I'm going with this. It's not like the OEM enclosure is exactly precision manufacture either.

xiphmont: (Default)

Guess who I found all spiffy and alert and about three inches across as I opened the door toward the shop room!

What a gorgeous fishing spider. Either she just got in, or there's more for her to eat in here than I expected.

[Fishing spiders are huge but ~ harmless. And yes, they really do catch fish.]

xiphmont: (Default)

The bending brake has added a third dimension!

Not a perfect job, but not atrocious either.

I didn't notice till after I'd finished that the bend depth adjustment had slipped, so the bends are a little rounder than I'd have liked, but meh. Let's tack weld it and see how well it fits before complaining too hard.

xiphmont: (Default)

A nice, 22ga steel blank to make the new control panel for the laser cutter. No lasers involved, just a band saw and a scroll saw. Scotch tape protects the cut lines from rubbing and acts as a blade lubricant.

xiphmont: (Default)

Got out of the shower, reached for a towel and... oh hi there.

Hey Fox, which one is this?

That also reminds me, I need to figure out how all those fireflies got into the house. They're awesome, sure, but they keep freaking me out in the middle of the night.

xiphmont: (Default)

[me, pulling into parking lot, looking around for an open house at a makerspace I've not been to]

Yeah, I think this might be the place.

(Thanks Mike for letting me sit in your DeLorean :-)

xiphmont: (Default)

Given the two laser control panels and the design comparison, what's the actual goal here?

The first goal is functional: I need to add a number of new control and status functions.

Second: I am a vain man, and I want this tool to look a little less hokey. Not entirely, just a little. I mean, I gotta be me.

The biggest addition will be a software control for the laser. I somewhat arbitrarily decided to go with a rebranded Anywells controller from LightObject-- I'll find out later if that was a good idea or not.

The huge, spread-out, not-calibrated-to-anything digital PWM laser current control gets replaced by a thumbwheel implementing a Kelvin ladder. And instead of a 7-segment LED display that simply goes from 0-100, I'll use a good-old analog meter that measures actual milliampres.

While we're at it, a matching analog meter reads cooling water temperature.

Like on the American control panel, the key switch is the only power on-off, and the emergency stop will be a real immediate-stop interlock.

I have an onboard air assist, so that needs a switch too, along with a lighting switch and two switched laser pointers, one a centering beam and another for focus.

And, why not steal the tube runtime meter from the nifty panel as well? :-)

Last of all, arrange it in a more 'American' style: functions grouped together, consistent labeling, and no angry color salad. And just one or two inside jokes, because the tool is still a bit hokey.

xiphmont: (Default)

Another catch-up post.

A few weeks ago, I accepted my first order for a T43 backlight kit. It turned out to be a c-c-c-c-c-combo-breaker!

In the early days of software-controlled brightness, ThinkPads used an analog brightness signal like just about every notebook. It was generated by one of the D-to-A pins on the embedded Renesas H8S microntroller all ThinkPads used.

As of the X40, ThinkPads went to using a digital PWM brightness control generated by the Intel Centrino ICH Southbridge. This made them kind of weird by laptop standards. It's one of the reasons I had to cons up custom LED drivers for my ThinkPad brightness kits.

In general, the T and X series of the same generation shared a basic architecture. The planars were quite different, but the chipset and basic design were the same. Not so with the T4X and X4X.

The X40-series is a completely different design from the T40-series. It uses a PWM brightness control. The T40, however, is analog like the older machines, which threw me for a loop at first. The good news is that I'd made working drivers for the X2x, X3x, T2x and T3x beforehand, so once I realized the T4x was an 'old' style, getting it to work wasn't hard. I can use the same positive-analog TLD2 hack that worked on the earlier models.

The bad news is all my fabrication, based on the TLD3, is geared toward the PWM-based ThinkPads. The TLD3 boards aren't able to use a positive-analog brightness signal no matter the hack. For a TLD3, it's PWM input or nothing.

I have on hand ~ 1500 TLD3 PCBs, waiting to be populated, for the usual PWM kits. I have only ~ 20 TLD2 PCBs left that can be pressed into analog use.

Get 'em while you can.

xiphmont: (Default)

For contrast with the Chinese control panel posted earlier, here's a mid-80's control panel for an American-made laser supply.

It's about the same size, and roughly comparable, though there's more diagnostic functionality here than on the laser cutter.

Although I do think it's better overall, the big difference is really the aesthetic design. This is an unabashedly '80s American instrument panel. It fills an American geek with warm fuzzies.

BTW, thanks for the panel Taylor! :-) And thanks to me partner Fox for bringing it home for me.

xiphmont: (Default)

The control panel for my Chinese K40 laser cutter is very very Chinese. That's not a truism, condemnation, or praise. It is what it is.

To be fair, it works, and that's no backhanded compliment. But it has a number of functional and design sins my Western eye simply can't leave be.

First and foremost, it spreads precious little functionality over the entire available space. I need to add additional controls and an entire DSP panel, and there's simply no room to do so.

And that's not for the jam-packed functionality. Pretty much the entire 7x5 square in the middle is doing the job of a single knob or thumbwheel. But a single knob would not be 'cool', and so we have this monstrosity of an ampre control that's not even calibrated in amperes/milliampres (despite the legend).

It has three (three!) 'ON' switches wired in series. A rocker, a key switch, and a stop paddle. They all do the same thing.

The temperature gauge, at the top, is simply a little LCD-readout battery powered number. It works, and it's reasonably accurate. But it is hard to read. And it's smack in the middle of space that could be used more efficiently.

I will give this particular kudo: It uses sans-serif fonts, which gets a 'well done!' And there's no Comic Sans.

I won't even complain about the pastel lavender gradient, except I just did.

xiphmont: (Default)

I'm about to get an official press release together, but in the meantime, I'm pleased to announce we've released Opus 1.2!

Quoting Jean-Marc Valin, the Opus lead developer:

Opus gets another major upgrade with the release of version 1.2. This release brings quality improvements to both speech and music, while remaining fully compatible with RFC 6716. There are also optimizations, new options, as well as many bug fixes. This Opus 1.2 demo describes a few of the upgrades that users and implementers will care about the most. You can download the code from the Opus website.

xiphmont: (Default)

I'll guess I'm not the first person to make that joke.

I'll be back to working on the laser cutter soon. I really don't want this project to hit second anniversary before it's functional...

xiphmont: (Default)

It tries so hard to look like an Olympus SZ series, but no.... not quite.

It's not actually terrible, it's fairly decent. But it's not the real thing either.

xiphmont: (Default)

Packaging of the Chinese backlight kits I used to order tended to be... disappointing. Parts arrived broken on a regular basis, and there was never any moisture or static protection.

As a result, I put a little effort into my packaging.

With a paper cutter and an impulse sealer, it's easy to make moisture and ESD-proof bags of any size. The little table around the sealer was a quick afternoon toss-together made of MDF and a quick layer of paint. It locks into the lip along the bottom.

And of course, I make my own boxes! ThinkPad modders have taken to calling them Toblerones, which is kind of obvious, really.

xiphmont: (Default)

The ThinkPad LED backlight kits consist of two major pieces; an LED strip and an LED driver. The driver boards are designed to fit onto existing CCFL inverter boards after removing the CCFL step-up coil.

For good measure, I pull off the CCFL driver chip as well. Simply disabling it doesn't keep it from drawing a [very small] amount of current.

Removing the driver chip also opens up additional possibilities for reusing traces on the existing PCB. I don't like running long wires across the width of the inverter when hooking up the LED driver board. They'd need to be glued down to avoid accidental snagging, and that's a complication I don't need.

Instead, I re-route power, ground and the ENA and DIM signals through the original board, using solder bridges and 0-ohm bridge resistors where possible. On most boards, one or two jumpers are still needed, though a few boards I can get away without using any.

This work is most definitely all done under the microscope.

That also reminds me-- I need to get my library of reference modification pictures up somewhere.

xiphmont: (Default)

The first step is admitting you have a problem...

The problem being, specifically, that this stuff does not come in gallon cans.

xiphmont: (Default)

The LED strips are the big reason I still pick-and-place everything by hand. My tolerances here are just a few mils, and I've machined myself steel-and-aluminum templates to make the placement easier.

The idea is actually to place with looser tolerances, dropping the LEDs into the trough where the strip is clamped the check spacing and orientation with the microscope before reflow.

During reflow I tighten the guides on the jig and level the LEDs using a little precision squeegee I made out of aluminum and high-temp silicone.

Once the strip cools, I can pull it out of the jig, remove excess solder beads under the microscope, check for obvious defects, test on a power supply, and wash down with flux remover. Then it's on to applying the teflon layer, soldering pigtails, an up-to-temperature burn-in and flex test, and finally packaging.

Profile

xiphmont: (Default)
xiphmont

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags