Inside Stuff | Home, DIY & Stuff

Inside Stuff

Pulling things apart for the sakes of figuring out how they work, to find out what went wrong, for pure inquisitiveness, or just to get parts.

DIY Oven Build Using a Filing Cabinet

April 26, 2016
Cheap and extremely effective! A DIY Oven for DIY powder coating, wood drying, acrylics and plastic; you name it!

Cheap and extremely effective! A DIY Oven for DIY powder coating, wood drying, acrylics and plastic and any other idea that needs heating or baking in future.

You did what?  Hacked a filing cabinet to make a home DIY workshop oven?!

Yes, perhaps we are crazy, but this DIY oven really IS made from a standard office filing cabinet and it works like a dream!

It is great for curing electrostatic powder coating on CNC milled metal parts; melting plastics; bending acrylics; scorching wood, sealing natural bamboo wood wax and any number of other DIY projects where oven heating is required.

See more about how we made this DIY oven from a filing cabinet here.

Industrial, or even DIY hobby ovens are extremely useful in a home DIY workshop. Unfortunately, they are also usually unjustifiably costly for most small projects.

Cheap toaster ovens can be used for small scale applications as a ‘make-do’ alternative, but are often not physically large enough to fit many DIY projects.  They also usually offer very poor thermal efficiency.  A big downside when working over longer periods as the units tend to get hot inside as well as out.

We recently cut some large aluminium parts and components using our home built CNC machine. We wanted to coat the metal parts using an electrostatic powder coating system to give them a lasting professional finish. Powder coat curing however, requires parts to be heated to high temperatures for extended periods. (And strangely, the cooking department said the kitchen oven was considered off limits well before we mentioned curing powder coat paint or the carcinogenic gases they produce….)

We needed a large, cheap DIY solution. A robust, purpose built DIY oven capable of maintaining high, evenly dispersed temperatures for lengthy periods.

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Fixing a Dremel® Hand Held Rotary Drill – A Step-by-Step Guide

May 26, 2015


Dremel® Multipro (Model 395) Rotary Drill.

There comes a sad time when all great and trusty tools in the workshop begin to die from overuse.

Murphy’s Law states that this must occur at the most inopportune time. In the case of our ever faithful hand held Dremel® MultiPro rotary drill, this breakdown just happened to be in the middle of an important PCB shaping, drilling and cutting project.  Our rotary drilling tool was mounted as a router on top of a mini CNC machine at the time.

Dremel® Hand Rotary Drilling Tool - Exploded Parts Anterior View

Dremel® Hand Rotary Drilling Tool – Exploded Parts
(Click to see our step-by-step hand held rotary drill strip down guide.)

When the problem started, the tool motor suddenly became erratic and there were problems with the variable speed control (VSC) switch. Then, the sliding switch no longer provided any motor speed control what-so-ever.  It only provided power ON at full speed – a heat blasting 35,000rpm …. and a silent OFF.  This wasn’t at all ideal for our CNC cutting project where cutter heat control was important.

So what was our obvious DIY reaction to this? Find the cause and fix the tool ourselves of course!

You can find photos showing how the internals of our Dremel® MultiPro tool looked here.  We have also provided a step-by-step dialogue on how the tool was taken apart; how the faulty part was found and replaced AND importantly, how the hand held drill was successfully put back together again!
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Looking Inside a Lead Acid Battery

November 21, 2014

lead acid car battery cut awayHere’s something just for interest’s sakes.  Photos of a modern, but humble lead acid car battery and its internal electrode plate arrangements for those who may not have seen similar before.

Common lead acid batteries in cars and trucks work by developing and storing electric potential between sets of positive and negative electrode plates.  The electrodes are commonly made of Lead (Pb) and Lead Dioxide (PbO2) mesh and paste, separated by a non-conductive porous material to stop them touching and short circuiting.  The battery cells are submerged in approximately 35% Sulphuric Acid (H2SO4(aq)) which acts as an electrolyte and allows electrons to flow between the plates and to deliver current when the battery terminals are connected to a circuit.

The basic energy storage and delivery concept of lead acid batteries was invented over a century and a half ago by French physicist Gaston Planté.  Since that time, this kind of battery chemistry has been developed to become a standard and efficient workhorse in everyday life for us all.

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Fixing a Chinese Made TB6560 Stepper Motor Control Board

March 3, 2014

Fixing a Chinese Made TB6560 Stepper Motor Controller Board A few relatively simple modifications made a huge difference to how my stepper motors run and how the overall CNC machine performs.  (All details and illustrations for the total fix of the Chinese made TB6560 Stepper Motor Controller Board are here.)

I am happy to share my approach with anyone else who may benefit from my project information and the photos I took.

I initially experienced missing steps, poor calibrations and intermittent axis travel problems.  The changes to the CNC driver board resulted in:

  • No more missed CNC motor steps (due to the Chinese TB6560 controller board itself)
  • Quieter axis travel and CNC motor operation
  • Calibrations that were accurate and stayed set
  • Noticeably more torque on each axis.
  • Stepper motors were no longer screaming when holding.

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Lithium Battery Destroys iPhone

February 17, 2014

“I didn’t open the case.  It was found like this!  DIY dead I tell ya!”


Notice the curve on the circuit board as it was “stretched” by the puffing lithium battery.

Hardly a DIY project of my desire or making, but my iPhone definitely DIY destroy itself!

The battery of this iPhone 3 puffed up so much that it cracked open the phone case all by itself and bent, broke and destroyed the circuit board and connecting contacts inside.  The total movement caused by the puffing Lithium battery was approximately 3cm (ie: a bit over an inch).   Should I think myself lucky that there wasn’t a Lithium fire too?

This iPhone 3 was used in the workshop for listening to music.  It was used regularly and the battery was kept well charged most of the time.  It was approximately 2 years old.

This damage occurred over about a week when the phone was left in the cold.  Some mornings dropped to around minus -5C and it appears the Lithium battery discharged beyond it’s limits.  The Lithium battery was puffing like a blowfish!

Unfortunately, the battery had destroyed many internal connections.  The hold down screws in the corners of the PCB circuit board had snapped off.  Repair was simply not a feasible option.

The culprit. Knowing I had a payload of lost data on my hands unless involving exorbitant costs, I did pull the phone apart completely to see if there were any parts to salvage.  I also wanted to remove and dispose of the ailing battery properly.

The lesson in this is, be warned!  Check any phones or appliances that use Lithium batteries often.  Even more often in Winter.  Your ever trusty devices do have the potential to destroy themselves when left alone.

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Making a DIY Serial Interface Cable for a Meade DS115 Telescope

January 26, 2013


Meade DS-115 telescope with Autostar handset controller.

Meade DS-115 telescope with Autostar handset controller.

Some time ago, I picked up an older styled Meade DS-115 telescope. It was a 115mm diameter reflector telescope, with a focal length of 910mm.  While the model is becoming a little dated, it is a great telescope and the lenses are still crystal clear and the tracking motors work just fine.

The Meade DS-115 telescope also came with a Meade Autostar handset loaded with a starguide reference database to control object finding and object tracking.   This is a handy device, but on its own is a little limited when compared to the experience offered by fully computer interfaced, graphical night sky mapping from modern computer software.

Unfortunately, the scope did not come with the optional computer interface cable that allows connection of the telescope to either USB ports or the older standard 9-pin (DB9 RS-232) serial communications port. This was despite the included Autostar handset having the required pinout socket on it’s base, ready to use.

Why make my own cable?  Because buying a specialized cable for this telescope from Meade is relatively expensive…for just a cable.  I therefore set out to find a cheap DIY option.

With relatively little effort, I managed to work out the wiring connections needed and make a suitable  9 pin RS-232 serial communications cable from spare cables and connector heads that were laying around.  The interface cable changes the entire astronomy experience with this scope.  It works fantastically.  The cable allows full telescope support from a PC or laptop serial communications port.  All tracking, object location and coordinate pinpointing can now be done with just the click of the mouse on any desired sky map object.

Full and detail specifics of the project, required wiring and how I made the DIY 9-pin RS-232 interface cable in general, are shown here.

There were absolutely no details on the internet about DIY wiring requirements for this particular interface cable, so I truly hope the information I provide can help others harness the power of modern computer software in their astonomy.

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Making CNC Bits Out of old CNC Bits

January 25, 2013

diy-cnc-bit-1When experimenting with new materials on DIY CNC machines, it is often easy to break perfectly good and even brand new CNC router bits. This occurs even more so when working with small diameter CNC cutting or engraving bits.

We all know the feeling.  You know you’re pushing the feed rate just that little too hard, but you think you will get away with it this time…. and then…. SNAP!

Recently while cutting various projects from foams and plastics, I had a brain wave.  Shortly after breaking a second 1mm diameter End-bit while testing the feed rate on a plastic cutout, I wondered if the quality and sharpness of the bit actually really mattered for the lightweight materials I was working with.  Super sharp CNC cut edges are not always necessarily for many of my projects anyway.  Any rough edges left over can easily be cleaned up with light sanding afterwards.

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Sewing Machine Service of the Brother PS-100

January 17, 2013
Brother PS-100 Sewing Machine

Brother PS-100 Sewing Machine (Japanese Model)

If you or yours are into sewing and you notice the machine is starting to play up more than it used to, give it a little love and attention.  Just a bit of oil on the internals is a start, but an full, overall maintenance service does wonders for operation.

I got roped into servicing a relatively old Brother PS-100 sewing machine recently.  Since there seems to be little or no information (in English) on the internet about the internals of this particular model, I made sure I took lots of photos of the internals for others to use, should there be the need.

If you are opening the Brother PS-100 machine up for the first time, there are some tricky plastic clips that you need to be aware of before you start forcing any covers.

The internal photos and more specific details of the Brother PS-100 sewing machine service can be found here.

Amazing Internal Engineering!

Internals of a Brother PS-100 Sewing MachineThe internal engineering of sewing machines has always fascinated me.  They are complicated and “beefy” little machines with so many interesting and ingenious methods for moving their parts.  Levers, springs, crankshafts, dials, swivels, you name it … it is in there!  The displacement of force vectors into differing movement directions and plains, as well as the high speed switching of  needle patterns, etc, are nothing short of amazing.

To think that these machines were invented so long ago.  There is more about the history and invention of the sewing machine here if you are interested.  It is interesting reading.  The invention and mass production of the sewing machine in the early 1800′s caused people to burn down factories and to riot in the streets, because they thought the machine would cause mass unemployment.

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