Local history in Workshop 88’s…parking lot?

Photo of new sign at the parking lot outside of Workshop 88. Photo credit: Gail Jo Kelly

Earlier this week, one of our members noticed that the name of the parking lot outside of Workshop 88 had been changed – it used to be called Schock’s Square, and now it is called Pennsylvania East. Some of us thought that was a rather dull name compared to Schock’s Square (the street name is Pennsylvania Avenue) and got us to wonder about who was the Schock of Schock’s Square, anyway?

Another member took the initiative to call the Glen Ellyn Public Library to see if they had any information about the history of Schock’s Square, and a few days later we received the following email from Amy Franco, one of the librarians:

Thanks for your super interesting question about the origins of the name of Schock’s Square in downtown Glen Ellyn! No one at the library knew anything about it, and we couldn’t find anything about it in any of our traditional resources. So I called Harold Prichard, one of our longtime Glen Ellyn residents and he told me a fascinating story:
 
George Schock owned a gas station where the square now is in the 40s and possibly the 30s, during a time when there was a gas station on nearly every corner of Glen Ellyn. At George’s station, when you pulled in, they’d check the tires and all the gauges, clean the car, and everyone who worked for him was really nice. George’s station was a few cents more than his competitors’, but his regulars were willing to go there because of the great service and nice people he had working for him.
 
George would invite some of his regular clientele to join him in the back of the shop for a glass of whiskey while the car was being checked and filled. On Christmas, he would have a huge buffet at the gas station and many locals would stop by. Overall, he was extremely successful and in Mr. Prichard’s opinion George Schock was held in the same esteem in town as the McChesney, Miller, and Young families.
 
George had two young boys working for him, Ken and Will Major. George taught them about entrepreneurship and how to maintain a clientele, and eventually encouraged the Majors boys to open their own gas station around the corner from him at Crescent and Park where there is now a condo building. Willard Major’s obituary (attached) makes note of running Ken and Will’s Union 76 Service Station from 1955-1985.


I’ve also included a (somewhat grainy) copy of George Schock’s obituary from 1966 in the Glen Ellyn News. The text reads:

George J. Schock, Veteran Business Operator, Dies

George J. Schock, a Glen Ellyn business operator for nearly 40 years and owner of Schock’s Service Station, died early yesterday morning at Central DuPage Hospital after a short illness. 

Born in Chicago March 27, 1903, he had lived in or near GLen Ellyn all his life. At the time of his passing he resided on Naperville rd. south of Wheaton. 

His marriage to the former Kathryn Pegg took place in Glen Ellyn. 

The deceased was the oldest service station operator in the area in point of continuous service. He and his brother, Paul, now of Morris, founded the station at its present location. Paul left the business many years ago. George was one of few service station operators owning his own premises. 

Survivors in addition to his wife and brother include a son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Mary Ellen Schock of Glen Ellyn, and a daughter and son-in-law, Joan and Donald McLeese, also of Glen Ellyn. Also surviving are eight grandchildren, George, Kathy and Brian Schock, and Don, Dick, Doug, David, and Katie McLeese. 

Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time. Arrangements are being handled by the Leonard Memorial Home of Glen Ellyn. 

From private correspondence with Amy Franco, librarian at Glen Ellyn Public Library. Reprinted with permission.


This is a fantastic example of what you can learn from your local library! Workshop 88 has always had a great relationship with the Glen Ellyn Library and other nearby libraries. Our members tend to be curious people, and when we get stuck on a question and are unable to find the information we want it is really great to be able to ask for help from the staff at the library.

George Schock obituary (Image credit: Glen Ellyn Public Library)

Custom Workshop 88 Projector

Tonight at CNC Build Club we discussed the enclosure for the MPCNC electronics and while Tom continued to work on the design and GailJo was busy 3D printing pieces for Workshop 88 signs, I (Scott) experimented with new projector inserts for GailJo’s holiday projector.


I found some transparencies and using the Workshop 88 logo I grabbed off this website I printed a few sizes.

I found the one closest in size to the images included with the projector, cut it out, and installed it.

Voilà! It worked perfectly!

We grabbed a long extension cord, took it outside, and projected it on everything. Fun!

Taste of Glen Ellyn this week!

This week is the annual Taste of Glen Ellyn street festival. If you are coming to this festival on Thursday evening, please consider swinging over to Workshop 88 for our open house hours from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

If you were planning to come to Workshop 88 this week, please be aware that the parking lot closest to our door will be unavailable for parking. You’ll have to find street or public lot parking before walking over.

See you at Workshop 88!

New lights on the sign at W88!

Image from iOS

Solar lights on the Workshop 88 sign!

We’re always looking for ways to make getting to Workshop 88 a bit easier to discover. Recently, one of our members donated and installed light string on the sign post outside of Workshop 88.  These lights are battery-powered, and the batteries are recharged daily by solar cells.  If you arrive to Workshop 88 after the sun has set these lights will help you know you’re in the right place!

Learn more about becoming a member of Workshop 88!

Adventures in vacuum repair

When using the Shop-Vac the other day I noticed all the dust I was sucking up was being blown out the back of the vacuum… all over me.  Intrigued and filthy, I decided to investigate…

I emptied the vacuum and took the filter outside to knock as much dust and crud off of it as I could.  I employed the standard method of smacking it on the building and quickly twisting it back and forth in the breeze being careful to stay upwind so as not to breathe the fine and disgusting particles liberated.

When replacing the filter I immediately found the problem, or more accurately I didn’t find a key part of the vacuum cleaner.  The filter retainer was missing.  Without it, whatever the vacuum sucks up can shoot through the open bottom of the filter through the impeller and get blown all over me.  Fabricating a quick replacement from parts on hand took no time at all.  Sure, I could have bought the replacement part for $9 and had it next day from Amazon, but where is the fun in that?

I found a suitable scrap of 1/4″ acrylic onto which I traced the inner and outer diameters of the filter.

Using a jigsaw with a coarse blade I cut just outside the outer diameter.  Cutting acrylic or polycarbonate with a jigsaw (or CNC) can be tricky, friction heats the blade and the chips can weld the opening closed behind the cut as pictured here.  This piece was easily broken away with my hand, but I’ve had polycarbonate heal itself apparently stronger than the uncut material when cutting too fast without any coolant or compressed air to clear the chips.

Using a ruler and pen I measured and marked the center of the diameter along several angles.  Using the hammer and punch, I punched the mark for drilling (the dimple allows the drill to center more accurately).  This level of precision was not necessary but I find striking things with a hammer fun and habits like punching before drilling are good to reinforce.

I clamped the burgeoning new cover in the vise and drilled the center hole.  The bolt hardware is the ubiquitous 1/4″-20 (1/4 inch diameter, 20 threads per inch, super common stuff), so I’m going to drill the hole a little larger, 3/8″ to make it easy to slide on and off.  I don’t want to drill a hole that large to start with in the acrylic because it will catch a lot and cause chipping or cracking, so I started with a smaller 1/8″ drill and worked up through a couple sizes.

Now I need to install a mounting rod in the bottom of the vacuum cleaner.  Marking the center of the bottom of the vacuum cleaner filter holder was even easier.  I just connected the lines between the edges of retaining tabs on the outer edge.  This plastic is thin and soft enough to drill directly with the 1/4″ bit.

Then I installed the filter holder pin by putting a 4″ 1/4″-20 bolt through a lock washer, then a fender washer then fed it through the hole from behind (from the vacuum cleaner side) to stick out the bottom.  I followed that with another fender washer, a lock washer and a nut.  The fender washers sandwich the plastic to spread out any load and prevent cracking around the hole.  The lock washers keep the nuts tight even under the vibration of the running Shop-Vac.

The filter slides over the outside, and the cover slides over the bolt to seal it in place.  Another fender washer, lock washer, and convenient wingnut secure the assembly with a good tight seal.

At this point the filter replacement was functional but by no means done.  Workshop88 is a makerspace, and that means nothing is done unless you’ve used the laser or a 3D printer, so Christine engraved the lid.

IMG_5309

Voila!

I could have easily ordered the appropriate replacement and had the fresh new part the next morning, but by creating one myself I get the satisfaction of a job well done, and I was able to vacuum up the acrylic chips from the jigsaw and drill right away.

D. Scott Williamson
Compulsively Creative

 

 

25 Minute CNC digitizing probe

On a whim I decided to whip together a collet mounted Z depth probe for my CNC machine.

It took 25 minutes and works GREAT!

Construction


Select 1/4″ aluminum rod to fit my 1/4″ collet


Measure length that I think will fit into the collet with clearance for the switch and wiring, marked with a pencil.


Clamp into a vise and cut with hacksaw. Be sure to wear eye protection. I used hardboard to protect the soft aluminum from being gauged and pressed out of shape in the vise.


Use a hacksaw to cut a square notch into one end. I cut just off center down the middle by eye about half an inch then cut sideways from the thinner side to remove D shaped slug leaving a D shaped semicircular shaft.


The rod was slightly oversized and would not fit properly into my collet.

 
I clamped it into the chuck of my drill press and used a file on the spinning rod to reduce its diameter until it fit. Files are designed to be pushed away from the operator so be sure to pay attention to the direction of rotation and file, this results in pushing the file away from you pressed against the right side of the cylinder in a standard drill press.  Of course, only test the fit when the drill press is off and stopped.


You could also use sandpaper if a file is not available, but it will take longer.


I used the file to take sharp corners off business end.


Align the switch with the cutaway in the end of the rod and mark the height of the mounting holes in your switch on the round part of the D.
Notice the pencil marking near and on my finger.


Use the hacksaw or file to cut a notch in the back round D part at the height you marked.  This will be needed to hold the switch securely in place later.


I selected a long length of stranded wire with an RCA connector on one end from the junk wire drawer. Just about any flexible wire will suffice, just remember that the wire will repeatedly flex with the motion of the machine so should not be too stiff and ideally should be stranded, not solid conductor type.


I grabbed a microswitch and soldered the wires to the “C” common and “NC” normally closed connections. You want the switch normally closed so that if there is ever a fault or broken wire the CNC digitizer will detect the open circuit right away and interpret that as contact with the workpiece while probing.. If you wire it normally open and a connection is broken then the CNC machine will try to probe right into your workpiece. (unless, you make a mistake I did, but more on that later…)

To attach the switch to the D shaped end of the aluminum rod. I lashed the switch to it using a twist tie, for a more permanent connection add a drop of epoxy between the switch and metal.


Strip the insulation off a twist tie.  It is easiest to remove 1/2″ – 3/4″ sections until you have a fully stripped steel wire rather than try to strip very long sections in a single go.


Thread the twist tie through the mounting hole in the switch twice.


Slide the D shaped portion of the aluminum rod into the wire loop and start twisting the wire ends by hand.  Be sure the wire seats in the slot you sawed or filed in the back of the round part of the “D”.


Tighten the wire using pliers being careful not to break the wire or delicate plastic part of the switch. You may need to wiggle the switch in order to seat it properly on the rod aligning the hole with the groove for a tight fit.

At this point I also bent the end of the metal switch plate slightly a few mm from the end to provide more springy direct contact right under the tip of the center of the probe to ensure the metal arm is what makes contact and closes the switch rather than pressing the microswitch under the arm directly down on the workpiece.


Tie the electrical wire to the shank for a strain relief and attach the wire to your machine so that it does not get pinched or caught in moving parts.


Completed probe elevated and engaged.

Wiring and configuration

Wire your probe. I threaded mine conveniently through the spiral compressed air hose.
Connect your new probe to your controller’s digitizer input.

Note: Wiring and configuring your motion controller is not included in the 25 minutes.
I had already wired and configured a digitizer for Mach 3 using a Xylotex motion controller on the parallel port.

You will need to configure your CNC controller to accept a probe and wire it accordingly. On my parallel port connection on the Xylotex motion controller I wired a 10k resistor from the probe pin to +5 and wired the switch between the probe pin and ground so when the switch is normally closed, the pin reads “0”, and when the switch is depressed the circuit to ground opens and the pin is pulled up to +5 and reads a logic “1”. I offer this as an example for my configuration but you should check your controller and software manuals to determine correct wiring for your equipment.


In Mach 3 I can test my digitizer probe by looking at the diagnostics screen. When I press the button I can see the digitizer input light up telling me that the switch is working and the software is configured correctly.

Test function and repeatability


To test the digitizer function I issue a G31 Z-1 F10 command. This tells Mach 3 to move Z to -1 at a feedrate of 10 inches per minute (ipm) and to stop when the digitizer is engaged.


To test reliability and repeatability I issued this command 12 times and recorded the Z height where the probe engaged each time.  I entered these measurements into a spreadsheet to calculate the minimum, maximum, average and standard deviation of the samples… this probe was reproducible with a standard deviation of 0.000824″, under a thousandth of an inch. This is great for woodworking or PCB engraving.

Test engraving on a non flat surface

To really test it I mounted a piece of melamine on a set of 1/4 inch shims to create a severe slope and performed a standard engraving cut.

As you can see, any slope or irregularity is a nightmare for engraving with a “V” bit. High portions of the work surface are engraved too deeply and lower portions may not be engraved at all resulting in an uneven line width.

I used ScorchWorks G-Code Ripper to generate a new gcode file from the first one that included probing and compensated for the measured work surface elevation in the g-code.


When I engraved the new g-code (on the right) it started by probing the surface, then asks the user to switch to a cutter bit and completes the engraving operation. This sample was engraved to a uniform depth which is an improvement but I still didn’t know how to set an accurate zero depth so it is too deep.

The final missing piece was to figure out a way to register the probe zero height to the cutter z height.


My collets do not allow reproducible tool height location so I had to find a workflow to zero each bit during the machining process. Here is what I found:

Make sure your gcode contains an M6 manual tool change operation and that your controller pauses and allows you to change bits, jog, and reset zero z (or alternative similar functionality)

  1. Install the probe in the router
  2. Move to the X Y origin over the workpiece
  3. Probe to the surface G31 Z-1 F10
  4. Zero X, Y, Z
  5. Start the g-code with probe operations, it will probe the surface, and then pause (be sure your router does not get turned on or it will rip your probe wiring to shreds)
  6. When you resume the gcode it will pause again for the tool change.
  7. Replace the probe with the cutter
  8. Manually jog to X=0 and Y=0
    (In my Mach 3 controller I cannot execute gcode like G0 X0 Y0 during a tool change, I have to jog manually)
  9. Manually jog z to the work surface and manually zero Z.
    I use a 0.001″ thick JOB rolling paper as my machinist mentor taught me. Place the paper under the bit and move it down one thousandth at a time until it just pinches the paper then either type .001 into the Z DRO or just zero Z if a thousandth of an inch is not critical.
  10. Jog Z up a little to clear the workpiece
  11. Turn on the router
  12. Resume g-code program to complete the machine operations

These steps are meant for you to understand the operations I had to go through with my machine to get great results. You may have to adjust these steps for your software/controller.

It works perfectly!

The source artwork is really not intended for engraving, it’s just something I grabbed to run some tests, please don’t judge the it too harshly.  You can see that the depth of cut is uniform across the finished piece.  This would engrave just as well on a curved or irregular workpiece as well.


This is particularly impressive considering how deliberately un-level the workpiece was fixtured.

Not just for engraving…

This isn’t just helpful for engraving, I recently used probing to correct for the irregularities in 4′ x 8′ sheets of 1/4″ plywood.  These sheets can be warpy and wavy by over 1/2″ on a large part.  Normally I would have to cut many passes with the 1/4″ bit potentially deep into my spoilboard to ensure good cuts.  My machine is slow and those extra passes cost a painful amount of time.  With probing I was able to cut each part out of the irregular 1/4″ thick material using a .3″ cutting depth and a 1/4″ endmill in a single pass with excellent results, several times faster than it would have taken me in the past.


Here is a custom organizational shelving unit I made for a friend, it turned out great.

Links:

ScorchWorks G-Code Ripper
Mach 3 CNC Controller
Xylotex CNC Controller and stepper motors

It took less than 25 minutes to make the probe while taking all these pictures along the way!  It took under 20 minutes the second time (see below), and it took waaaay longer to write this blog post.

I hope this was helpful, or at least entertaining.

D. Scott Williamson
Compulsively Creative

P.S. Test your probe and wire it carefully!


At the beginning of the first large scale plywood cut my CNC machine made several successful probes of the surface then plowed into the table with slow deliberate force destroying the probe switch. 
Upon close inspection, the alligator clips I hastily used to mount the probe for initial tests were still in use and shorted together bypassing the fail safe and switch operation resulting in the crash.  It’s a good thing that it did not create a dangerous situation.
I was able to re-cut the end of the rod and install a new switch in under 20 minutes which after careful rewiring has operated reliably ever since.

Performance boost for an aging laptop

I have an aging Sony VAIO VGN-N110g laptop that cannot take more than 1GB of RAM but still has a ton of life left in it for multimedia, projects, and general use. The previous teenage owner ran it on blankets, on the bed, under clothes, etc. Eventually the CPU fan stopped working and something went wrong with SODMIM slot 2, probably heat related. Until recently it was dog slow.  Here is what I found and how I regained significant performance breathing new life into the machine.

Hardware improvements:

First I replaced the CPU fan ($15 on eBay) which allows the CPU to run at 1.2GHz again rather than be permanently thermally throttled to 800MHz or less. With 1GB of RAM the 32 bit Ubuntu 14.04 LTS was still running sluggishly. I have a friend who owns a similar VAIO inherited from a similar family member, he had been down this road before.  He recommended I get an SSD because it’s probably swapping memory to disk. I checked the performance monitor and he was right, it was swapping a lot. I caught a 250GB WD SSD on sale on Amazon for $69.99, which I thought isn’t too bad (bought through the Workshop 88 affiliate link here to benefit the club at no extra cost). I mounted the SSD into an external USB drive case, booted from a Clonezilla live CD, and copied the 80GB boot disk directly to the 250GB SSD (I could have used Clonezilla from UBCD or Parted Magic but I had the Clonezilla the disk handy). Then I swapped the hard disks (removed keyboard, battery, RAM cover, CD Drive, and 26 screws… <dramatic eye roll>). Before reassembling the laptop I plugged in and tested it to make sure it booted and ran properly from the new drive and was thrilled to see how fast it booted and that it worked perfectly so I buttoned it up.

Expand the boot/OS partition

Now there was only one thing left to do: Expand the 80GB boot partition to fill the unused 150GB+ on the new SSD drive.  Directly copying the drive is nice because it copies all bootloaders, file systems, and your data regardless of OS, but it does not resize the existing partitions.  Moving and resizing partitions is always risky.  All the partitions need to be unmounted, which for the boot partition usually means you need to be running the OS from RAM. The best way I know to do this is to boot from either a Linux distribution’s live disk (Ubuntu, Puppy, pick from any on DistroWatch.com…), or a purpose built tools CD/DVD like the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) which is what I did. From UBCD I selected Parted Magic and it launched the included image. Parted Magic is intended for just this type of thing and runs entirely in RAM. I used GParted to edit the partitions but immediately ran into an interesting problem (which is really why I’m writing here): The boot partition was at the start of the disk, followed by an extended partition that contained the linux-swap partition, and all the free space was at the end of the disk. I could neither increase the size of the boot partition because it was not adjacent to free space nor could I move the extended partition because it contained the linux-swap swap partition. I was stuck until I found this:

Expanding a Linux disk with gparted (and getting swap out of the way)
https://blog.mwpreston.net/2012/06/22/expanding-a-linux-disk-with-gparted-and-getting-swap-out-of-the-way/

To summarize I had to:

  1. Expand end of the extended partition to consume all the free space after it
  2. Move the linux-swap partition to the end of the extended partition
  3. Reduce the size of the extended partition by moving it’s start location to the beginning of the linux-swap partition
  4. Finally, expand the boot partition to consume the free space I had created.

I created these operations one at a time in GParted, executed them with one click (fast on an SSD!), rebooted, and voila!

Here is what Parted Magic looks like and my partitions in GParted after extending the modifications.

And here is what my VAIO laptop looks like running after the updates were complete.

It works and now I have a faster laptop with 3x the disk space for under a hundred bucks.  This may seem like mundane or even common knowledge to many of you but I thought it was interesting enough to share and maybe some of the information will be helpful to someone.

Here are links to the free tools mentioned above:

I strongly suggest you look at and get the Ultimate Boot CD
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/ 
Check out all the powerful free tools you get on one FREE disk image.

Drive/partition image/clone/backup tool (also available on UBCD)
https://clonezilla.org/

Disk editing tools that run entirely in RAM so you can work on all disks
(also available on UBCD)
https://partedmagic.com/

Partition editor available in most Linux distributions
https://gparted.org/

D. Scott Williamson
Compulsively Creative

P.S. There is (was) an Ultimate Boot CD for Windows, it hasn’t been maintained in a while but it is still worth trying out.  You can find it on majorgeeks.com here:
https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/ubcd4win.html
Beware: The original site, [URL deliberately not mentioned], looks sketchy now; I do not advise anyone go there and if you do, be careful.

Member projects: Thingiverse remix

One of our new members, Josh, has been making great use of the 3D printers at Workshop 88. He had a headlight for his bike that he wanted centered on the handlebars. So he took the Blackburn Flea Bike Light Handlebar Mount file on Thingiverse and remixed it to fit on his bike. Here is his remix – the photo at the top shows the finished print.


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