More toys for the workshop

Posted by Erica on May 17, 2010 in Making |

During my robot build, I was constantly wishing for a drill press. I put off purchasing one because I couldn’t decide if I really needed a full-sized press, where to put it, etc. I eventually stumbled on a drill press that is small enough to fit on (or be stored under) my worktable, but has enough features to do everything short of very large pieces or thick metal. I am now the proud owner of a Proxxon 38128 TBM Bench Drill Machine. It weights only 8.4 lbs and has a work table of 8 21/32″ x 4 23/32″. The press has three spindle speeds of 1800, 4700, and 8500 rpm.

The drill press ships with steel collets to hold the bits, but as many people do I want the convenience of a keyed chuck. Amazon recommends — and offers as a bundled deal — the keyed chuck made by Proxxon. But, Proxxon is a German company, and their chuck is metric. It will hold bit shafts up to 6 mm, or 15/64″. In the U.S. it is very useful to have 1/4″ (16/64″) shaft sizes available. So with some trepidation, I ordered the Milwaukee 48-66-0817 3/8-Inch Keyed Chuck instead. I am happy to say that it fits well.

Here is a pic of the drill press, ready to go. A vise is sitting on the worktable, useful for smaller pieces, and the keyed chuck is on. A greater work distance can be obtained by removing the vise and/or switching back to a collet.

Proxxon TBM 115 drill press

Proxxon TBM 115 drill press

In my optimism I thought I might be able to do some light milling with this as well, and ordered the KT 70 compound table to go with it. A little research has convinced me this would be a bad idea; drill presses are good at withstanding vertical pressure, but mills apply horizontal pressure as well, and milling can ruin a drill press. So, the compound table will be returned. Mills are considerably more expensive, so it will probably be a little while before I get one.

On the electronics side, I picked up a DSO Nano from SparkFun. This is an oscillosope, with lots of technical specs, but the picture will show the best part of it:

DSO Nano oscillosope

DSO Nano oscillosope

This scope looks cool! When I saw the pictures — and read the good reviews — I had to get it. I haven’t used an oscilloscope in decades and I don’t know the subtleties here, but the interface is fairly intuitive and I was able to do some basic operations immediately.

Now the question is, what to do with this stuff. The Speed Vest and Robie the Robot were both major projects. I don’t have anything that complex to do now. That is partly due to the fact that Bike Virginia is coming up at the end of June, and my training schedule has gotten more intense. I’ve been doing some smaller projects with the kids, and I do have some upgrades planned for Robie. For the upgrades and just to play around with some ideas, I recently ordered various components that caught my eye — including a couple of Arduino Pro Minis and a Miga Nanomuscle. The Nanomuscle is the size of a thumb tack and can lift a bowling ball. A rope-climbing robot might be neat…

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