Walking On Ice

A quick recap of today. The weather was extremely cold yesterday, but was slightly warmer today. So, we decided to talk a walk around the city. There was no wind, so while it was cold outside, once we were bundled up it was not too bad. We took the T to Bowdoin and then walked through Beacon Hill. We came out on Beacon Street and walked past Cheers. We noticed the pond at the Boston Garden was iced over and lots of people were walking and skating on it, so we decided to head over and walk around on the ice. 

I don’t remember ever walking on an iced over pond before, so we took our time and walked all the way across the pond to the other side of the garden and exited on Boylston Street. We made our way down Boylston to Hynes Convention Center and then walked over to Comm Ave and back to the Massachusetts State House. We ended up having a snack and a pint of Guinness at Emmets Pub before heading home. 


Pi Radio Continued

Today I began setting up the Raspberry Pi for the internet radio project. I do not know too much about coding, and the instructions from the Instructables website did not always make sense to me. Additionally, the tutorial is from 2017, so some of the information is outdated. For one, the settings options on the pi are slightly different than in the tutorial, but I was able to figure out how to get what I needed.

Additionally, the tutorial asks to upload a specific media player to the pi, yet the when I attempted to do that via SSH, it said it could not find the media player. I was able to upload a different media player, but not sure if it will work. I was also able to upload the python file, which downloaded as html, and I needed to download a python editor in order to save the file. Perhaps there is another way to do this, I just could not figure it out.

I believe that is all that I need on the software side, now I will be adding all the hardware and test it out. Once the hardware is working I will go into the software again and change the radio stations to one I want. Here you can see me using Terminal to talk to my Raspberry Pi.

Arduino Holder Project

Today I’ll talk a little bit about setting up a part for use on our Tormach PCNC 1100 mill. As I said in a previous post, I’m working on a new project for students, creating a custom arduino holder out of aluminum. I’ve been documenting the process of preparing the stock for the mill.

The project as designed in CAD calls for a 0.8 x 2.6 x 3.2 in block of aluminum stock. I’ve cut a .9″ thick piece of stock from a 6 x 4 inch block and then roughed it to down on the bandsaw to get it close to the dimensions I want. Next, I took it over to our Trax mill and faced off all sides until it was milled to the dimensions mentioned above. I probably do not need to be this precise, but its a good exercise, and will give the students a good beginning in using our manual mills.

Once the block was ready I took it over to our Tormach machine and proceeded to zero out the X, Y, and Z coordinates. This is extremely easy using the Heimer – a measuring tool that provides the zero, or edge, coordinate without the user needing to to any math as might be done with a standard edge finder. See video below.

This project requires a part flip, and for the first attempt, I tried using the same X and Y coordinates – which did not work out. Mostly because the Y coordinates did not match on the flip. Another issue I had was tapping the holes. I did not properly set the RPM and feedrate correctly for the 4-40 tap, and it broke immediately. A silly mistake, but one that will be easily fixed next time I run the job.

There are some photos and videos below of the process, although I forgot to take a photo of the finished product. Will update on the project next week.

AFCON: Mali v Tunisia

I don’t normally write much about soccer, but safe to say I do watch a lot. Mostly it is the Premier League, but right now the AFCON tournament is underway, and so I am catching the highlights each day. Of note was the Mali v Tunisia game today, in which the referee inexplicably ended the game roughly 5 minutes early, in the 85th minute. He quickly realized his mistake and restarted the game, but then blew his whistle around 89:40 to end the game, 20 seconds before the 90, and well before and stoppage time. 

Obviously, the teams were very concerned about the apparent breach of rules. Both sides left the field as the game was over, only to be told much later in the dressing rooms that the game would continue. Tunisia refused to come out and play, citing the fact that many of its players were already taking ice baths. 

Not a good look for AFCON, but hopefully there will be some explanations for a real deviation from protocol. Here is a good article explaining what happened in detail. 


Today I started milling a part that will become a student project. The idea is to have each student learn how to mill their own Arduino holder. The holder allows for easy prototyping, and will give them hands on knowledge of how to use CAD and CAM to to setup a part.

The CAD aspect of the project utilizes a spec sheet in order to get mounting hole dimensions for the Arduino. Students will learn how to import a canvas into Fusion 360 and calibrate the canvas to the correct size. Next, students can build their holder directly on the canvas. Additionally, the CAD project requires importing components from McMaster Carr, and then using the CAM features of Fusion 360 to create the tool paths on two sides of the part. Lastly, the holder requires a laser cut top. Here is an image of the project below.


I was able to setup the CAM today and began cutting stock to size. This process started with making 3 cuts on our vertical bandsaw to a large piece of aluminum stock and then placing the stock on our Trax mill to get more precise with the stock dimensions. I am looking for a stock size of 3.2 x 2.6 x 0.8 inches.  Below are some images of cutting the stock.