Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Time Transparency Clock

Since the last post I have worked hard in the design and build of the Wood/Plastic clock. I have made a lot of changes in the original design, and I think that the final result is really a very nice clock!

It even has a name thanks to my sister! The time Transparency Clock:

Acrylic is difficult to work in the CNC with small diameter end mill bits. I used a 1/16” 2 Flute carbide end mill for the wheel teeth. After damaging several plastic stock and 2 end mill I learned:
  • Use new and sharp bit or a sharp bit that has been used only in plastic. If you used a bit to cut wood, forget to use it later in plastic.
  • You need to remove very little material each pass :.
  • 24,000 RPM spindle speed and 10 inches/minute feed rate.
  • Keep the bit cool with compressed air.
For the internal cuts I used a 1/8” 1 Flute end mill. You also need a new and sharp bit or a sharp bit that has been used only in plastic but feed and RPM are different: 15,125 RPM, 16.1 Inches/minute feed rate and .004” maximum step down per pass.

With the above settings, and with lots of patient it is possible to get a very nice and clean cut. Below a video showing the internal cut with 1/8” end mill:

The other complicated thing is to bond brass and acrylic. After several test I ended using 2 part transparent epoxy.

Here is a video showing several details of the clock.

I love the action of this clock!

Happy holidays to all!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Plastic and Wood clock on the way

After some time way from my garage and design activities I am back with a new idea.

This time will be a modernistic table clock design with several interesting features:

  • Combination of wood and plastic: The frame, the base and the dial will be made of wood. The wheels will be made of acrylic.
  • All wheels will have an outer diameter of 6”
  • This clock will have a seconds hand, but a very special one: retrograde seconds hand
  • There will be a lot of “action” in the clock as it will have 5 wheels
  • Will be driven by a stepper motor and an Arduino controller

Here is the computer design of the clock.


The clock does not have a name so in invite my readers to suggest one.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Making Mechanical Marvels in Wood with Fusion 360- Part 1

This is an old book! but a very good book for those who want to start building interesting things in wood.


To practice and learn how to use and simulate mechanism in Fusion 360 I modeled all the projects in the book except two.

What I found during this exercises is that Fusion is really friendly and essay to use for and also very powerful. It has some limitations with advance features like motion simulation and contact sets but for general design this things are not very important.

Here are all the models and pictures

Wooden Cam Follower:


The wooden Eccentric Mechanism


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Motor model in Fusion 360

The more I play with this software, the more I like it.

The nice thing is that the support and the information available is very good.

I modeled an AC motor to learn to use as much modeling tools as possible.

The program is very similar to Inventor but at the same time more user friendly. It runs slower in my machine compared with Inventor but not a mayor issue.

Below is a very nice tool that allows sharing the projects in a very interactive way.

I hope you like it



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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Autodesk Fusion 360 3D CAD reinvented


I am an experienced 3D drafter. In my day to day work I use AutoCAD, Invertor and SOLIDWORKS. I can switch from one to other without major effort. These programs are all very good and well recognized but at the same time very expensive for personal use. All these programs require to have a computer (powerful) loaded and with the licenses. For big projects you need a server to work on collaboration mode and the price of the license per user is several thousands of dollars a year if you need to keep the software up today.

I have tested many open source 3D drafting programs and also  Google SketchUp; some of them pc residents and some cloud based. I did not feel confortable or productive with any of them.

This weekend I downloaded the demo version of Autodesk Fusion 360 and after a couple of hours I registered it and I I fell in love with it. I transferred some of my clocks models to Fusion 360 and started to play around. Then I decided to make a first full drawing of a part, in this case a RC Servo that I will use in a clock. Knowing Inventor the learning process was a piece of cake.

The other good news is that Autodesk Fusion 360 has a very interesting offer:  A free 1-year startup license is also available for hobbyists, enthusiasts, makers, and emerging businesses that make less than US$100,000 in revenue per year. At the end of 1 year, you can reselect the startup entitlement or transition to a commercial entitlement.

After finishing the drawing it is necessary to use a program for generate the CAM to be able to mill or fabricate the parts. Mastercam is an excellent program but  too expensive for personal use. I don’t know any good machine shop that does not use Mastercam. This program is the standard.

I use BobCad-Cam V26 as CAM postprocessor  because I bought it during an offer they had last year at a reasonable price, but I need to convert my work to DWG or STEP in order to run BobCad.  The CAD part of BobCad V26 is not as good and flexible as other programs. I know they made a lot of changes in version 27 and probably is much better now but I am not willing to pay more for something I use for hobby and not for work.

Fusion 360 has CAM as part of the package and also has the postprocessor for MACH3 that is the software I use to drive my small CNC. Now the work will be straightforward: Model – CAM – Mill with the same platform.

The next step will be to create a model of a sprocket or wheel and run the cam to learn and test the results with my small CNC machine.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Conical Clock Overhauled

This clock will go to the hose of a very special person for me and I need it not only to be nice but also accurate. the Conical pendulum is very inaccurate and also has some noise problems. With the changes now the clock is quiet and very accurate.


I modified the clock to be driven by a 60 RPM synchronous motor.

I added a double sided contrate wheel and two crown wheels one driven by the motor and the other to drive the pendulum




The pendulum has also a inertial wheel. I embossed 12 weights  to the wheel. I also added a new guide for the pendulum rod.


I really like how it works!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Building the planetary clock

20150723_112153One of the things I love best from my profession and my hobby is when I can see in real life what I created in my mind. Technology is great for me because I don’t have the skills to draw by hand in paper so computers and CAD programs helped me to develop my creativity.

Combining technical knowledge with creativity has been the most important tool for my work and now my hobby.

The planetary clock was a challenge. The diameter ratio of the sun pinion to the planet wheels for 12:1 reduction and 8 teeth pinion is at the critical point. Too much play in the teeth can make the system to block as two planet gears can touch each other. Any eccentricity  of the ring will block the system and if the teeth spacing is too tight the system will eventually lock itself.

I had to mill more than three times all the parts making small design adjustments to adapt everything to the tolerances for wood. It is almost impossible to obtain tolerances in the range 0 .1 mm with wood so I worked with .5 mm tolerances to allow space for the natural expansion/contraction of the wood temperature and humidity. I also made tests with hot and cool room temperature.


The picture below shows the three planet wheels, the sun pinion, the ring gear, the two ring covers


Below is a detail of the ring covers and the mill down of the sprocket area of .5 mm to allow some play of the planets in the axial direction. This also reduces the friction caused by expansion.


Next picture is detail of the planet gears support, all made form a single piece of wood milled and carved with the CNC to obtain the shape and exact position of the arbor holes.


Here a video of the the testing of the planetary gear: It works nice

Next was to make in the lathe the two circular bases, one is like a cup to hold the motor. The wood I used was so hard that I burned the small motor of the lathe. This is when a full replacement warranty is valuable!


Next finish the wood assemble and glue together everything and pray that it will work as before wood finish. I have found that the best finish for wooden clocks is to use Danish Oil. it is not sticky dries relatively fast it is very easy to apply.

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The numbers and the seconds and minutes dashes are engraved in the dial ring:


Here us the clock finished (front view):

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Here the back view of the finished clock:


Everything moves very slow in the clock so here are a couple of fast motion videos compressing 3 minutes to few seconds  to show how it works:


I love this clock!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Automatic Spindle Speed Control for my CNC

One of the issues I always had with my small CNC 3040 was that I had to manually set the spindle speed in the frequency drive using a knob and chuting the  speed with a tachometer. Each tool change or job type (rough or fine) requires different spindl;e speeds.

I found in EBay a small electronic board that converts Pulse Width Modulation to an Analog voltage. It is possible to set the Match 3 software (this is the software that controls my CNC) to output a PWM signal in one of the port pins. The frequency drive can also be set to use a 0 to 10 volts signal to set the motor speed.

This is the link

It has some good information in how to calibrate the output.

Below is the small PC board as I installed in the control unit. The circuit needs 24 volts for power that are available in the control’s power supply.


The 0-10 volts output are should be connected to the analog input on the frequency drive:


The PWM input signal to the new circuit should be connected to one of the output pins. in my case I used the A axis on the CNC control board hat corresponds to the output pin 9.


On the mach 3 software it is necessary to adjust the following settings:




The last part is to set the frequency drive parameters to allow speed control via the analog input. The drive of my machine is a Chinese HUANYANG ELECTRIC


I spent a lot of time searching in the Internet for a manual until I found it in a Chinese site. Thanks to Google automatic page translate!

These  are the parameters to change:



PD0000 set to 1 to be able to make changes

Pd002 set to 1 to use the external terminal


PD070 set to 0 to use 0-10V control

Once it is running it is necessary to calibrate the output using the potentiometer in the new circuit

The system works OK although it is not very linear but for milling plastics, wood and soft metals it is OK. I am very happy and it is working really good and helping me to avoid mistakes.



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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Planetary Clock “Light”


Before engaging in building a multilayer planetary gear clock I decided to go step by step and create a “light” version with only the 12:1 gear and driven by a 1 RPM motor.

I have a couple of timer motors the run at 1 RPM but the only problem is that the run counter clockwise and for this reason cannot be installed directly in the minute hand arbor.

I also have one motor that turns clockwise, but is big and when I draw the model the clock looked like a fan with a motor in the back.

In technology design and in many aspects I follow the concept of “Simple is beautiful” but some times adding some complexity to an an artistic kinetic device (that is what I think a wooden clock is), the complexity provides  more visual action.

In this case I could use a couple of gears to invert the motion direction but it would be more or less the same as the motor will be exposed and the “magic” of the wooden clock will be diminished.

My solution is, using Clyton Boyer’s words” drive the clock wit a pawl and click gear. In other words: I cam lever with a ratchet or escarpment wheel.

In the back view you can see the motor hidden in one of the bases and the small cam wheel that will make the escapement to advance one tooth each motor turn.

image image

Today I will start creating the CNC programs to mill all the gears.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A new clock is on the way! The planetary Clock

I love gears. There are so many combinations and possibilities that allows millions of combinations.

This time I developed a clock wheel train based only on epicyclic  gears.


I will use three sets of planetary gears connected in series as a sandwich. the input must be oration of one turn per second.

The clock will have the three hands: Hours, Minutes and Seconds.

For diving this clock I will use a timer synchronous motor. I have to options one that makes one turn per minute and one that makes 60 turns per minutes. I have not yet made any decision.

I already finished the 3D CAD model of the clock without the driving device and I think that this clock looks great!


This will not be a small clock! the diameter of the rings is 7.5”

A new challenging project with a lot of work in my garage

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Pythagoras Clock Finished

PythagosasFront PythagorasLeft

Projects need to be finished and this one is!. At the end is a very nice clock but not as quiet as I would like for a night table. It is quiet but still have a small hum as the coil is actuated with Pulse Width Modulation. I Could make it better but it would need a lot of electronics.

I will work in an alternative using a hobby RC servo motor,  actually something like a robotic arm pushing the escapement! but this will be another history…

It looks beautiful in my dining room buffet!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pythagoras clock part VII (Almost Ready)

Sometimes I simply cannot sleep, this is not frequent but when it happens I need to be active. I can not stay in bed counting sheep ... When this happens I go to my garage and start working in something, I spent several nights of this week till late and the rewarding:

My Pythagoras clock is almost ready and working beautiful:



I still need some wood and electrical work:

  • Design and mill a new stop lever to hide an extra weight I added, now is a piece of rod glued to the lever
  • Finish retouch in some places
  • Make the final circuit and hide it inside the clock base

Now I am adjusting the Arduino program to obtain the precision.

Here is a short video of the clock and some function details:

This video was taken at night with no noise and the only sound was the tick tock of the clock.

New chuck for my lathe

Finally after a long wait trying to find an excuse to buy an accessory to for my small wood lathe that is more expensive than the lathe itself I got it!!

Got some reward cash back in a credit card and without thinking it twice I bought it.

Here is my new Barracuda Wood Lathe Chuck System that is a nice self centering chuck with a lot of accessories:


I just made a very small piece for my Pythagoras clock and now my I feel and understand the importance of a good chuck. I have several projects in mid with the lathe after I finish with my clock.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pythagoras Clock part VII (Tick Tock)

Yesterday night I worked with the electronics and a little bit of programing. The Pythagoras mechanism is making tic tock for the first time.

Here is a video of the first tick tock:

I learned a lot of things:
  • I used a simple fade up / fade down routine but the response of the solenoid is not linear with the voltage
  • I need to work on the mechanism:
    • Add weigh to the stopper lever
    • Polish the surface of the escapement wheel’s  teeth in contact with the pull lever as in some positions it get stock when returning
    • polish the arbor of the  escapement wheel and reduce the play as it is too loose in the arbor and some times it touches the third wheel. I placed some washers but I thin I will need to mill a new escapement.
    • Polish the rest of the arbors and teeth of all the wheels
This is a lot of work pending that will be done after I return from my business trip and find some time.

I made some provisional fixes and modified the program non linear analog output to smooth the solenoid action and added some weight to the stopper and the results were promising:

I am very exited with this project this will be a fantastic clock!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pythagoras clock part VI (Wheels ready)

Today after work I worked in my garage to finish all the rest of the wheels in the CNC router: The hours wheel, the intermediate wheel. the intermediate pinion.

I also worked a little in the lathe to make the small cannon. I could not wait to see all assembled in the frame and the result is  stunning

2015-06-18 22.08.24

This is a close up of the cannon spacer. Still need to make the hole for the fastener:

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And this is a close up of the Intermediate wheel, the spacer and the intermediate pinion:

2015-06-18 22.05.46

I am really happy that everything fitted perfectly and all the wheel turns with almost no blockage. Anyway I need to disassemble all the clock to make all the wood finishing work and polish all the arbors.

Now I will not be able to go back to my garage for the next 10 days due to business travel.

Next step will be the electrical assemble an testing testing Everything arrived today so the only thing I need is time…

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pythagoras clock part V (Center wheel and cannon pinion)

Today I was very busy at work and when I finished I could not disconnect my brain from work so against my plans I went to the garage and made a couple more of wheels.

Now my Pythagoras clock has al the gears to count minutes Smile 


2015-06-16 23.17.00


2015-06-16 23.17.13

Tomorrow I will be on the road for business trip but I want to finish all the wheels this week as next week I will be traveling again and wont be able to work in the clock

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pythagoras clock part IV (The third Wheel)

Yesterday I finished the third wheel and the pinion and made some tests of the escapement system using a manual push button.

I am very happy with my .0625” 2 flute bit. I really makes a a good work and at reasonable speed. It would be impossible make these tiny parts without it.

 2015-06-14 18.36.37
I also made the spacers and stoppers. I made a jig for my drill press and now I can make a perfect centered hole in wood rods

This is how Pythagoras looks with its 3rd wheel installed:
2015-06-14 22.55.23
I tested the escapement with a 5 VDC power supply and a push button but the solenoid engages really fast and the lever pushes so fast that wheel advances several teeth. I need to modulate the the motion.
I have a test program already written fir the Arduino but I need a power transistor to handle  +1 ampere of the solenoid.

Unfortunately with Radioshack out of business now I need to buy the parts online… I will save a lot as Radioshack was expensive but it was very handy and near home. Now I have to wait a couple of days (thanks to Amazon Prime) to get my parts!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pythagoras clock part III

Many things have happened since my last post!
I made the frame 2 times more as I was not very happy with the first one. First the mistake in the holes and second the feed rates and speeds.

Wood is not easy and with end mills bits that in general are not designed for wood there is a lot of trial an errors. Searching in the Internet did not help a lot until a found a very good software with the most important characteristics:
  • Full of data including wood feed and speed calculations
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive!
The software is G-Wizard Calculator and I should say that any hobbyist with a CNC should use this software. Since I started to use de G-Wizard No more broken bits and 200% quality and milling speed improvement. I really recommend the G-Wizard!

This is a print screen of the speed/feeds window of this great software:

This is the final frame with the quality and speed I like:
2015-06-11 20.20.50

Below the CNC milling the base:
2015-06-09 23.06.15

The base and the frame  looks really nice!!! In love
2015-06-11 20.20.27

And with the help of the G-Wizard I found the right speed and feed rate for a new .0625” 2 Flute end mill bit to make all these small parts and gears from the escapement  with precision and quality:

2015-06-12 10.59.422015-06-12 12.47.40

I used one of the bad frames to test the escapement system and it looks beautiful even with the unfinished wood!
2015-06-12 18.09.32

Instead of winding and making a homemade solenoid I bought this one in Amazon. It gives a very professional look to the clock..
This is the link:

Next step is to write the program for the Arduino Nano to activate the solenoid exactly each to seconds. One thing I will use is a pulse modulated output to control the speed for solenoid to make a controlled  engage and disengage. In this way this clock will be both very precise and quiet.

Pythagoras will be a very nice night table clock!