Our teenage gadget master John Duffy has created a manual mill you can make in your home shop.
Electronics have sidelined the manual mill in recent decades, but Duffy has created a manual mill that incorporates modern parts, such as an Arduino. He considers it a cheap replacement for a much more expensive machine. He goes through great detail in the instructions to create this mill. The mill has up to 1/1000th accuracy on X and Y and about 1/100th on Z.
Click the image below to see more photos of the manual mill.
I like your approach to developing PoCs (Proof of Concepts) by researching what already exists and doing a remix to solve a specific problem. Re-purposing what's available in one's junk box or lab is definitely a good method of reducing development cost and expediting the PoC build. I enjoy your Gadget Freak videos and look forward to seeing more of them in near future. Keep the vision alive and clear as well as the Product Development projects.
Thanks, and I usually get ideas either from seeing something someone else did. For my first gadget freak, the wireless lanterns, I got the idea from MAKE magazine, when I saw the project, I thought that the lanterns were glued shut, so I thought of how they might be recharged without opening them. The other two were for the object that I actually made, not just as a proof of concept. The really big lantern was made because I go to a summer camp for Boy Scouts, and we have to use tiny flashlights or propane lanterns for light. This one was because I use mills at robotics, and thought it would be really useful to have one at home for personal projects. If you mean the method by which I make them, it is all just looking online and through the few issues of popular science and MAKE that I have, for designs and components for similar functions (the joule theif from a MAKE video for the lanterns, a CPU cooler for the other light). For this, I looked up many methods of determining distance for the DRO before settling on encoders, and many displays before settling on the TV, and even several different microcontrollers before going with the arduino (my first thought was a teensy, as they are cheaper and smaller, but I had an extra arduino already).
Great video and project. I'll be showing this video to my electronic students to inspire and motivate them to build their projects for submission to the Design News Gadget Freak column. Just curious, where do you get inspiration for your projects?
I am aware of, and I do keep backlash compensation in mind. I am not really concerned about wear, as I don't plan on using this specific one for a long time, I do plan to upgrade to a "real" mill soon. The old vs new mills is something that some of the mentors in my robotics team definately agree with, as they're trying to fix some tools from the early 1900s because of that.
As for diminishing returns, that's actually how I generally gauge how interrested I *really* am in a project, if I finish a revision, then don't spontaneously start redesigning and rebuilding bits of it, I'm generally not very interrested. Many projects, however, which I do improve are generally just as rewarding to improve as to make in the first place.
Thanks much! I went on a bit of a rant, but I was supposed to be writing an english paper then, which is not exactly something I enjoy. I haven't met many people who think of engineering as for people who can't do anyhting else, though I did hear someone in an art class talking about how people "waste their lives" on science and stuff, seemingly without a hint of irony...immediately after complaining about her cell phone reception. I agree that there is value in art and expression, but not intrinsically more than any other subject.
Your mill looks pretty good to me. A project like this offers many lessons. As you use it I am sure you will find new and interesting issues.
Don't jump to fault it too quickly. All mills have accuracy issues if not used with care and within their capabilities.
The lead error of your drill rod is more than likely pretty good. The greater issue may be wear. This is the main reason to use an Acme thread rather than a higher angle machine thread. A ball screw is even better but still has many similar limits.
As for backlash, you don't actually need to worry about this too much as long as you approach your tool position from the same direction all of the time. It's quite common to simply add moves to take up the backlash when necessary. Even with a good ball screw it can be a good practice.
Rigidity mainly effects how heavy of a cut you can take. For accuracy you can always take a number of lighter cuts as you reach your final position. This is true even with a very rigid machine. Remember that the part and tool holder deflect too. Much of the time this is the real limit.
Modern machine tools are actually much less rigid than their predecessors of many years ago. It was found better to simply take a greater number of lighter cuts rather than build the ultimate in rigidity. Sort of a speed vs. brawn thing. Well $$ had a lot to do with it too.
Sure your mill can be improved a lot but always remember the reality of diminishing returns.
For more stiffness, check out the "SuperStrut" at Home Depot. They carry a limited range of stuff to bolt it together. McMaster-Carr has a wide range of accessories. Search there for Strut Channel. Take a look and then go to your local Electrical Supply Wholesaler.
To see it in action, look up at any big box store. It will be supporting conduit, refrigeration lines, and almost anything else they hang from the rafters. The sturt isn't cheap, but it may be the least expensive way to get the stiffness you need. Because of the accessories, it may be easier to put together than chunks of aluminum. You could save on accessories by welding joints.
For the other old guys out there, using the strut is like a big-boy Erector Set.
John--let me first congratulate you on your creativity then indicate I agree completely with your comments about the level of understanding relative to STEM subjects. I run across individuals who seem to delight in telling everyone that engineering, manufacturing and particularly R&D work is for those who can't do anything else. I have one lawyer "friend" who can't do much more than turn on a light switch yet he wants to save the world. Your mill is an excellent example of creative engineering at its best. Please keep up the passion for "invention"--it got us to the moon, and back.
I really think that this sort of thing is a big problem today. Not machining in particular, but engineering, science, and technology as a whole. Most people are amazed or at least impressed by the simplest of things that are handmade today. I just saw Carl Sagans quote from another post here on Design News, "We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.", and I couldn't agree more. Just yesterday, someone in my school was astounded and incredulous that I could understand a basic circuit design (connecting an atmega to a few 7 segment displays for a school project), but was entirely repulsed by the idea of learning anything about it himself. This was during an engineering class, the same engineering class where someone else said (in reference to an early project in which we were challenged to build the tallest paper tower possible with two sheets of paper, with the stated purpose of getting us to think about how to address problems for ourselves) "you don't have to figure it out for yourself, just google it". He and four other groups ended up with identical, tubular 23" towers. Mine, and every other group with an original design beat them (I beat the previous record of 72" with an 81.5" tower, but that's beside the point). Despite losing points for NOT using their own designs (everyone who did not use designs from the internet recieved full points, no matter how short the tower was), they, and several other people in the class continued to use designs that were not their own for every project in the class.
Sorry if I'm rambling a bit, but the point is, that as a member of the society in which "hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology"(Carl Sagan), I see a lot of people who are not only uninformed, but wish to remain that way, hence few people knowing about milling, or hardly any other staples of engineering and science. I'm definately not the only teenager I know who does care to learn how the world operates and can be improved, several others in my class do try to learn what they can as I do, and the robotics team I'm lucky enough to be a part of is probably the greatest repository of skilled and motivated teenagers and mentors I know of.
If any of this seemed pretentious or insulting, it was not intended as such, just as an assessment of some things I see in my daily life.
The final showdown is under way in our first-ever Gadget Freak of the Year contest. Who will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show? It's up to you, dear readers, to tell us.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.