MHA's Machines

===3D Printers===

===Automated Blank Driller/Cutter===

I'm going to dump all of my semi-educational information about the auto-cutter-driller here:

Update June 5, 2014

I still need to add LOTS of pictures.

X-axis is doing everything I want it to.  I've produced at least 1000 blanks since I installed the x-max endstop, and I'm confident I've seen the end of X-carriage related drama (holes not being centered, cuts not being perfect).  Foam feed drama remains, but I think I know how to fix it and I can work around it for now, by only feeding in the foam that fits the carriage loosely.  So for now, despite it's flaws, I've got a stable source and large stash of damn near perfect blanks, and I'm switching over to selling those rather than foam.

Update June 4, 2014

X-max endstop is installed, and the g-code has been updated to take advantage.  Machine ran a full strip of foam (~60 blanks) without incident.  The blanks I already have were not claimed by Bro Juice, so they're available to the first person to ask for them.

Update June 1, 2014

The X-carriage started missing steps again, and I went apeshit trying to find a way to home to the other side so I wouldn't have to deal with it.  I looked at some crazy ideas, including 4 relays that would interpret a "fan on" signal as simulating turning a motor cable 180 degrees, manually changing the driver direction pin with M42, etc.

Turns out there was an option in configuration_adv.h, something like

#define ruineverything //Comment this out if you don't want to ruin everything

which I changed to 

//#define ruineverything //Comment this out if you don't want to ruin everything

A lot of firmware fixes are like this.  Anyways, it had a name like endstops_for_homing_only or something, and it needs to be commented out if you want the endstops to be endstops.  Now that my printer has endstops I can just tell it to go well past the X position I need, and just have the endstop in the right spot.  The software will assume that the move completed as intended, so I'll need some G92 action to tell the X-axis where it really is, but still I think this can end my X-axis stepper drama once and for all.

Update May 30, 2014

Ball detent mechanism has performed correctly for good cuts on the last 1000 blanks.  However, the foam feed mechanism performed correctly for ~600 of them.  When the foam feed fails, the dart is shorter than it's supposed to be by some length, and the hole is shallower by that same difference in length. So picking out the good blanks was pretty easy. I suspect that the feed system alignment is fine and the carriage is just extra-picky about foam fit.  I have an ever growing stash of flawed blanks that I'm not sure what to do with.  My next carriage will probably have a square or otherwise odd hole for deeper interference with similar resistance.

Update May 27, 2014

The ball detent mechanism is now installed, and appears to get the job done.  I'm having some foam-feed issues (specifically, not as much foam length feeding as is supposed to), which are probably caused by misalignment between the feeder and the carriage--Everything had to be taken apart for this change, including many adjustable sliding mounts, so nothing is quite in the same place as it was.  The other possibility is that the printing artifacts on the new carriage are a problem--this one was printed on Ryan's printer without any special tweaking, and it's set up for part strength, not part precision.  

Update May 19, 2014

I now have at least a dozen HDPE dome mold sheets.  

The blanker is in disrepair, and needs a blank-carriage-brake mechanism added to get the best cuts.  Previous carriages have relied on torque-stiction.  The circle holes work for a while but then bind up as they get clogged with dust, the square holes work for a while but then slide too easily after sustained use.  With a carriage brake mech I plan to use a square holed carriage that always slides freely, and hold the carriage in place with a ball plunger and detent.  It's possible but unlikely that I can't hold it in place tightly enough for the cuts without stalling the steppers when the blade carriage collides with the blank carriage.  If this is the case, I'll need to add another axis that holds the blank carriage in place during the cut, but lets it go before the carriage collision.  I expect it will be working within a week, but I'm prone to thinking that things will be done within a week.  This would still mean at least 2 weeks before I would ship more blanks.

So for now I'll be doing mostly business as usual selling dart kits that include raw foam, at the usual price, until the blanker is completely resolved.  The blanks I have made with the machine during its bouts of functionality are mostly in the hands of OJparkour, with some also sent to snickers today.  I don't currently have AMIORS ingredients, and am not super eager to get them since they have inferior durability, range, and hopper-reliability compared with cornstarch dusted rubber dome darts.  AMIORS are dramatically easier to make, especially with predrilled blanks, but I don't think it's worth it.  


Update May 6, 2014

Orangeparkour has his super-blank package, Snickers will be next, and there are a few people who have e-mailed me based on the old post that have been waiting patiently for a few weeks, and I need to take care of them before any new orders.

The plastic sheet for new dome molds finally came in, and they are in the hands of the machine shop.  I don't have a firm delivery date on their completion.  I'm going to be able to continue to sell them for $15 each.

I intend to offer completed darts (rubber dome darts) for sale as well as dartmaking kits.  My price will be $0.25 per dart for standalone dart sales, and $0.20 for limited quantities purchased with a blaster.  High shipping costs ( ~$12 / box ) are a problem for small orders.  I should note that orangeparkour and snickers will probably offer a better price for exactly the same darts, but I'm trying to hoard them until I have enough to be confident I won't sell out and let them become unavailable. 

Update April 27, 2014

The shiny new blank-cutter-driller is operational.  As a consequence, drilled blanks are ALMOST available for sale.  The first few thousand blanks will go to a couple dedicated dartsmiths that are so kind as to sell rubber dome darts to me.  This is partly to boost my supply, and partly because I need more dome mold sheets to get any new dartsmiths going.

Since this process removes an enormous amount of labor for almost all of the soft-tipped ammo designs, I'm discontinuing the raw foam AMIORS and rubber dome kits.  Kits for putty-wrap darts, which were informally available but never advertised, will stay basically the same, as the process doesnt involve drilling a hole in the tip, and it's easier to do on a long length of foam, and cut the darts out afterwards.

The exact pricing scheme and kit contents have not been established, but expect something like $0.10 per blank for small quantities, and $0.06 per blank for very large quantities.  For comparison, the cost of the raw foam works out to about $0.03 per blank.  

I'd like to take advantage of the fact that blanks don't need to be packed in a 2 foot long box, and offer smaller packages, but shipping remains a problem.  UPS basically charges $12 minimum for ANY sized box, and USPS would rather throw my packages in the garbage than ship them.  USPS does offer "insurance", but instead of paying for damages / losses, they just blame the customer for packing it wrong.

Expect the aforementioned ambiguities to be ironed out over the next week.

I have no objections to providing foam blanks for use with Pak-D darts.  

I could also produce a kit for putty wrap darts upon request.  They are super underrated.

People who already have a mold may just buy the foam blanks.