Cheap Spindles & Power Fluctuations

While building my CNC mini-mill, I purchased a 500W air-cooled spindle from eBay.  It came with a power supply, which looked great and I (falsely) assumed it would work perfectly on my home-built mill.

Boy was I wrong!  The mill worked great as long as the spindle was turned off.  Whenever the spindle was on, there was a chance that the mill’s microcontroller would reset (bad), lock up (worse), or would suddenly enter an infinite loop (really really bad!) and an axis motor would begin moving in some direction until I noticed and stopped it.

After much work identifying and rectifying the causes, the power supply has finally been tamed.  Here’s a guide for anyone having the same issues.

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Guided Telescope Mount & Accessories (Tracker V3) #DIY

Astrophotography is a bit of a money pit.  I recently delved into it with my 80-200 f/2.8L and a home-built tracking mount.  It was so much fun that I decided to buy a telescope!  So my entire budget went into an 80mm APO.

The problem was that a telescope alone is useless for star pics – some quality infrastructure is needed.  This post is about my attempt to affordably build the following components:

  • High-precision Tracking Mount with an ASCOM-compliant driver
  • Guide camera and scope to help the tracking
  • Portable Power supply
  • Telescope Focusing motor with an ASCOM-compliant driver

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Camera Timelapse Rig (IREnE) #DIY

PREAMBLE:

Note: As of August 26, 2019, the most incredible home-built camera rig award goes tomingul’s 8-Degree-Of-Freedom robot! It takes up an entire room and can be given gcode to perform some amazing camera effects.  My rig isn’t as cool, but much more mobile and simpler to build.

Camera sliders are fun tools to use for making dynamic timelapse videos, and they come with some cool features.  This is a clever little gadget that moves like a camera slider but folds much smaller.  Eggtimers are also commonly used to make a similar effect.  Some high-end gear can slide and rotate the camera at the same time for a particularly cool effect.  But how do you guild one that one that could go up to 11?

IREnE (Inverted Radial, Extension, Eggtimer) is not only named for the clever woman (nee Adler) who outsmarted Sherlock Holmes , but also the clever functions it can perform.  The ‘Inverted Radial’ is the slider’s defining feature which doesn’t seem to be possible on any consumer camera sliders.  It moves the camera in a circle around the foreground subject in a way that keeps the subject in view while the background view is constantly changing.  Here are some examples:

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TRACKER V2.2

Orion Nebula by td0g

PREAMBLE:

The V2.1 update produced a working mount, but it unfortunately was not very user friendly.  I made a few modifications to improve the setup and aiming time, as well as its ability to disassemble and stow in a modest-sized wood box for storage and transport.

V2.2 (codename: HoLi) is the mount’s final design, as I’m very happy with it and have moved on to building the V3.0.  See the photo of Orion’s Nebula below taken using this mount, I’ve been happy with its performance using lenses as long as 300mm.

DIY Camera Astrotracking Mount
V2.2 – Codename: HoLi

Orion Nebula by td0g

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3D Printed Solar Film Holder

3D Printed Solar Filter for Telescope

Preamble:

At the last minute, I purchased a sheet of Baader Planetarium solar film for the eclipse on Monday.  With little time to spare, the film was taped to a cardboard box and slid over my telescope.  Prayers were made that the wind wouldn’t blow the film off of the scope, and the next day I decided to build a proper holder for the expensive film – $100 CAD for an 8″ x 11″ sheet!

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Pyrography Power Supply #DIY

Woodburning, Not Money-Burning

Wood burning is a popular hobby which can become quite expensive.  A quality wood burning system consists of: 1. A pen or selection of pens and 2. A power supply (station).  I decided to invest in a series of Razertip wood burning pens simply because they were available at a local Lee Valley Tools store. They also have a 1-year unconditional warranty!  If I end up destroying a pen with a home-built supply then we will find out just how unconditional the warranty is.  The pens are available for ~$30 each, which can become a significant investment if you want more than one or two.  The stations run for $165 and up, which is the same price as six pens!  So lets ditch the station.

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Ballistic Chronograph #DIY

DIY Ballistic Chronograph

2019-09-03: I’m considering manufacturing some sensor circuits and selling them for a reasonable price (probably ~$25 plus shipping for a pair).  Eventually I will put a listing on tindie.com, but until then if you’re interested in building a ballistic chronograph and would like to buy a set of sensors, please contact me at vtgerritsen@gmail.com.

Preamble:

A ballistic chronograph is an instrument which measures the speed of very fast things (like bullets).  I decided to build one which could be used for high-speed photography, such as glassware getting shot with an air-powered rifle (see my other post on this topic or my Flickr album).  In order to take such a photo, you need to be able to trigger a flash at just the right moment, which will freeze all the juicy action.

DIY Ballistic Chronograph

There are numerous resources available which give very limited information on how to build such an instrument.  Unfortunately all of the resources are incomplete or describe an instrument which only works for slower objects, such as paintballs or airsoft pellets.  I designed and built this using the information available on the internet, my modest understanding of electronics, and many hours of trial-and-error.  To somebody who has some knowledge of electronic components, this post can be used to build an instrument useful for measuring the speed of objects travelling up to 1,000 m/s (such as high-powered rifle bullets), and even photographing a projectile ‘interacting’ with other objects!

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