4 x 6 Bandsaw Upgrades

I got an older version of the ubiquitous 4×6 cheapo bandsaw when I bought my milling machine. It was an Enco brand, but is still more or less the same as all the others out there. There are tons of improvements that can be made to these saws.


Continue reading


Renishaw MP11 Probe on a Tormach Mill

There are many touch probes of varying quality available for the Tormach. I opted to buy a used high quality Renishaw probe on eBay and see if it could be connected to the Tormach. I will fill out this post as I collect more information

The cost of used probes on eBay vary all over the map, but I got what I thought was a good deal – an MP11 for about $150. It turns out that the “deal” wasn’t as great as I thought because of the “outer diaphragm” issue. The outer diaphragm is a thin rubber boot around the base of the probe, sort of like a floor shift boot on an old sport car. This piece is frequently damaged from getting poked, or dried out and crumbly from chemical exposure or simply time. Some users simply run the probe without the boot, but this is said to reduce contact life because the boot holds in an oil that protects the contacts. The bad news is that a new “outer diaphragm” kit costs $100! So I can either run without it, spend $100, or possibly try to re-purpose a baby bottle nipple (as suggested on a forum).

The MP11 is a nice fit for the Tormach because it contains sensing electronics in the probe and does not require an external box, but may be harder find. A more common (and often cheaper) Renishaw probe that many have re-purposed is the MP3. The interface for that will be different than for the MP11.


Adding a VFD to an Odd-Duck Milling Machine (Enco 100-1525) Motor

Fig 1.VFD box wiring

A while back, I got a nice deal on an early 90’s Enco 100-1525 milling machine. It’s a Chinese 2/3 size Bridgeport copy with an 8″x32″ table. This machine has a 3-phase motor, which I consider a plus because it means I can have knob-controlled speed by adding a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive).

Adding a VFD is usually not too complicated with typical two-speed three-phase motors, but this machine turned out to have a 4.3-to-1 speed ratio between the two ranges (unlike the typical 2-to-1 ratio). With a 2-to-1 ratio, it’s usually fine to run the motor only on the high speed range and then use the VFD for speed reduction. There is a small torque reduction at low speeds when doing this, but for home shop use, it’s fine.

But with the Enco mill motor’s 4.3-to-1 ratio, if I only drive the high speed motor coils and then try to dial down the speed to cover the slow range, the torque loss is too much. This meant I had to keep BOTH motor speed ranges and devise as way to switch between them.
Continue reading

Quick and Dirty Combo PC board & Box

PCB/box combo ready to go after a bit of deburring.

Maybe when you get a new hammer, everything is *not* a nail, but when you have CNC, everything turns into a CNC project ;-). I used to hand-cut a lot lot of copper-clad circuit board material for a variety of projects. It was a quick and dirty way to get stuff built, but cutting PC traces and peeling copper with a hobby knife is slow and hard on your hands.

After needing more than one of this little test box, I turned the board AND box into a quick CNC-cut “kit”, much like model airplane parts.  Continue reading

Smartphone Microscope Mount

I needed to get decent images off a microscope in fairly short order. Though I was in a “rush”, it still took a full day to get to a working solution. It is still incredible to me how much time it takes to make something that doesn’t obviously suck.

Phone mount clamped to eyepiece. Unfortunately I couldn’t show a phone in place because I need my phone to take the shot. The phone mounts between to two cork pads.

Continue reading

Emco Maximat V10P lathe QC gearbox bearing replacement

Years back I managed to find one of those “dream” home shop machinery deals. An Emco Maximat V10P lathe was sitting in a dusty pile at the back of a bike shop in Alameda, CA. This is a very much sought-after home shop machine. The shop owner said the machine was taking up space, so we made a deal and it followed me home for a more-than-fair price. It’s been a great lathe, but was in far from tip-top shape and has needed some TLC and upgrades. One thing that I’d been meaning to address for long time, is that oil constantly dribbled out of the quick-change gearbox onto my bench. What follows details that fix.

Emco Maximat V10P after most of the fixes/upgrades

Continue reading

Bose L1 Tower PA Repair

This is a repair of Bose L1 tower PA system. These skinny tower speakers are somewhat of a marvel because they are designed to stand behind the musician (aimed RIGHT AT the microphone) and don’t generate feedback (in most situations). Ah, the miracles of DSP.

It turns out these PA’s have a frequent failure in their power supply. Read on for details.

1st generation Bose L1 tower PA system

Continue reading