Ed Nauman found that using a hydraulic press to straighten a piece of material involved guesswork. You apply the force and then gradually increase it with each successive try. You usually track the appropriate force by counting the number of pulls on the pump handle. That's not very scientific.
Nauman created a gadget that indicates the actual force being applied. The goal was to make the process of using the hydraulic press quicker and more accurate.
Boy, some people can take the fun out of anything... The caveman's wheel will still be around when your car is rusting in a junk pile or has been melted down for scrap. But I'll bet you don't drive the cave wheel.
I didn't realize the article was about having fun. Sorry, but try as I might, I don't see the fun in your solution. Is there something I'm missing?
I look at these sorts of articles as examples of an efficient engineering approach to a stated need. In my over 40 year engineering career, cost effectiveness has always been at the top of the list, both in cost and time. Elegant solutions is the name of the game, at least when it comes to public presentations. And believe me, working on a solution that's elegant is a great deal of fun, at least for me and our crew. It's the joy of engineering. The quicker and more efficiently you can finish a job, the quicker you can get on to the next challenging project. I especially like the projects that other people had given up on.
A caveman's wheel will not do the job of a car in most people's minds, while a mechanical gauge will do the job in measuring your hydraulic force.
If on the other hand the need is for automation, then an electronics approach is the way to go.
I do have a suggestion for an addition to your project that would make it a lot more fun. If you hook up a $20 digital caliper to your press to measure displacement, you would begin the makings of a "universal testing machine." Most digital calipers have a digital interface which can be readily interfaced with a PC (just Google it). If you then interface your pressure sensor with your PC, you can then have your PC display a stress versus strain graph displaying the elastic and plastic properties of your sample. It would also be very useful for getting your workpieces perfectly straight as you could read the displacement to the nearest thou.
Actually, I made a modification similar to your proposal except I used a string pot instead of a caliper for more travel. I have found a number of uses for the press, since making these additions to it, that couldn't be done with a steam gage. I appreciate what you said about elegant solutions and all. I was a senior instrumentation engineer for Lockheed's Skunk Works Flight Test Division for 30 years. In Flight Test instrumentation, the job consists of an endless stream of unique measurement problems that require unique solutions. I like to think that most of mine were elegant.
I think the spirit of the Gadget Freak contest is in the interest of having fun rather than solving the world's toughest engineering chllenges. After all, most people would consider my Computer Controlled, Pneumatic actuated, Vacuum Assisted, Beer Can Crusher a hopelessley impractical, but fun creation. It sure makes people drink a lot of beer at my parties... :)
Very professional looking. You used your mill to engrave the panel and added color. I never thought of using a mill to engrave a PCB. I have used the photo transfer stuff for prototypes, but programming your mill is so elegant. I personally think the orange wire is a nice touch ;-)
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