Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wipebook..... A Great Product That Saves Money, Clutter And Paper!

This week I received an email from Frank Bouchard from a company named Wipebook.  I have one of their products sitting on my desk as I write this post and am happy to say that I will never be without it again.   The Wipebook is a notebook that works like a whiteboard.  You know the whiteboard that you probably used in your school or may have hanging in your house.  For us old guys like me I was stuck using a chalkboard. (Whiteboards weren't invented yet.)  Anyway the Wipebook is a great product and if you have not seen or heard anything about them this is why I am posting about it today.
Unlike an ordinary notebook where you write in it, fill it up, and then throw it away the Wipebook is a dry erase notebook that you write in it and can easily erase what you wrote down and never have to use it up.  I have used my Wipebook for many months now and would be lost without it while working on all the projects that I design and work on here at the workshop.  I have notes, drawings, calculations, phone numbers and sketches that I use during a project and when I am done I can easily erase what I don't need or want anymore and start all over again. 
The secret to the Wipebook is the special coating on the pages that allow you to write on them using dry erase pens as shown above.  Wipebook has these pen on their website that I have linked to at the bottom of this post. I have also just learned that they have a new improved coating for their books that is even easier to erase.
Wipebooks come in a variety of sizes.  This is their smallest product called the Workbook. It ranges in sizes from 3.5" x 5.5" up to 8.5" x 11" and has 10 pages in it. This is the least expensive of the Wipebooks at only $6.00!

Shown above is their largest Wipebook called the Journal which is a very stylish hardbound book (5.8" x 8.25" 48 pages) that would surely dress up anyone's desk in their home or office. In between these two products are a number of other products that you can choose from varying in size, color and price.  

I currently am using one of the early Wipebooks named Wipebook 2.0.  This book is 8.5" x 11" and has 25 sheets or 50 pages (however you want to call it) that I have yet to fill.  Mainly because it is so easy to erase what I no longer need. I have pages I have never even written on yet and I have had the book since Wipebook first came out on Kickstarter, the funding site.  This product is now called simply as "The Notebook". So here is the link to the Wipebook site.  Check it out and get one for your office or workshop.  You'll be saving money in the long run with a bunch of trees along the way by not constantly writing on paper that you end up throwing out. Just do it. You'll be glad you did. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

SUCCESS! My Captain America Ball Chair Test Part Worked!

For those of you who have just stumbled across my blog, today is a very good post to land on.  Over the past months I have been working on a large project that I call the Captain America Ball Chair Project. One big step in the process of building this chair I am happy to say has come to a conclusion this morning when I successfully created my first fiber glass molded test part.  All of my previous fiberglass projects have been ones that were of a fiberglass/composite structure and I have managed to create some great things with this type of process.  But with the Captain America ball chair project there are six pieces that need to be made that are fairly large and all of them have to be exactly the same shape and size for the project to work at all.  So with this post I want to show you all the steps together that I took to make my first test part from a fiberglass mold to get this process down correctly.

I started with this simple little form that you see in the photo above.  It is made from Styrofoam half spheres and Styrofoam pieces that make up the box around it that are all an inch thick.  I hot glued these parts together and then took a mixture of fiberglass resin and micro-balloons to make a putty to fillet all the inside edges of the box and around the base of both half spheres. 

I then fiberglassed the inside and outside  of the mold with several layers of three ounce fiberglass cloth.  I let this cure over night and then coved the cloth with a thin layer of putty mixture again just on the inside of the mold and let it cure for a couple of days so that it would be ready for sanding in the next step.
After the interior of the mold had been sanded smooth with 120 grit sand paper I then moved on to spray painting the interior with primer.  I let this dry and then started wet sanding with 600 grit wet/dry sand paper.  I repeated this process of primer/wet sanding four or five times until I ended up with the interior of the mold looking like the way I wanted.... nice a smooth.  Like a baby's bottom.  I next coated the interior of the mold with ten coats of mold release wax.  This stuff goes on just like past wax for your car but is made just for making molds.  By the way it smells nothing like car past wax.  Not bad but just different.  After each coat of wax was applied I left it to dry and then buffed it off just like you would with your car.  After ten coats of wax it looked like the photo above.  I was happy that it look this great at that point.

After all the waxing had been completed I laid down two coats of PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) solution  mold release.  This forms a thin barrier over top the mold to make the part release easier from the mold once it has cured.  Two coats of this solution was put on using a brush and after each coat had dried about 20 minutes or so the mold ended up looking like the photo above.  Very smooth and shiny.  I was pretty certain that my test part would work at this point in the process.

I next laid the fiberglass into my test mold.  I made sure that I had enough glass layers in the mold so that when I took it out of the mold it would be plenty strong.  The first layer was only three ounces in weight and then I put down two more layers that were eight ounces in weight.  I then left it to cure over night.

Here you can see that I managed to get the part out of the mold.  The fact that the mold was so smooth did the trick.  I took a small pocket knife and slipped it between the mold and the newly formed part to see if I could start to release the part from the mold.  The blade of the knife slide in as easily as if I was going to slid it under a piece of paper laying on a table.  I could immediately see the separation of the part from the mold.  Kind of like having a air bubble show up underneath the translucent part. I then widened the gap around the mold to allow several tongue depressors to be placed between the mold and the part.  Within a minute I had released the sides of the part from the mold.  I was able at that point to tug on the part and slowly have it release from the bottom of the mold all the way around.  The half spheres were another story.  I needed a little more persuasion to get them to release.  I used a rubber mallet and tapped on the spheres and within a couple of minutes I could see that the spheres were releasing as well. The part was nearing the point where I could pull it free from the mold.  With a few more tugs on the part it came out nice and clean.  Total time took me around seven or eight minutes.  Not bad considering so I am happy it was not a big struggle to get the part out of the mold.

 So here is what the part looks like from what I now call the underside. I trimmed and cleaned the part to remove the PVA mold release and now I have a finished part. 
This is how it looks from the top!  The part is nice and strong and the process that I just showed you worked perfectly.  So it is a great step to give me more confidence in making the six parts for the Captain America Ball Chair project. With the test part completed it looks kind of like a dog dish.  For a very small dog dish but something a bit more complex than just a fiberglass box.  As you can see the part is very smooth and glossy so I consider this test part to be an unqualified success!  Let the party begin!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Project Part Ten

The dust is still flying here at the workshop with all the work that I am still doing on the Captain America ball chair project. I am slowly starting to see the end of the tunnel with this project as parts are finally starting to be completed and test fitted to other parts.  A good sign to be sure.

In this post I wanted to show you this progress with the work that I just completed on the mounting of the rings of the chair to each other.  The first sections that I decided to tackle was the dome section (the blue section with the star shown above) and the first ring next to it (the red one) in the ball. 
This is an image of the inside of the dome just after I completed it's construction.
In this view you can see all of the modifications that needed to be made to the assembly to get it ready for the mounts that are used to hold this to the mating ring.  Lots of measuring and trimming needed to be done and I'll try to explain as I go here why and how this was done.
The cavities in the outer ring will be where the hard mounts are bonded into the ring to mount it to the mating ring.  The missing ribs and center sections in the assembly have been removed to allow the wedge shaped center sections of the chair to be mounted in the final assembly.  I covered these wedge shaped sections in an earlier post so you'll have to back track a bit to get the info about these parts for the project if your now lost and have not read about them.
To make the hard mounts for the dome section I first started with a strip of wood one inch square and roughly two foot long.  This piece shown above will be used to make nine of these mounts.  I originally thought that would be enough only to find out that it was simpler just to make it an even dozen so another strip needed to be prepared later on.
In the strip of wood I marked out cutting lines every two inches and then drilled a half inch hole at the center of each of these sections.  I then wrapped the bottom side of the strip of wood with painters tape.  This will hold the epoxy resin from leaking out when I want to install the threaded rod inserts as shown in the photo above. The tape on the threaded rod  was needed to also keep the epoxy resin from getting into the center of the insert and messing up the threads.
A drop of fiber glass resin was then poured into each of the holes and a thread rod insert was placed into the hole and left to cure overnight.

Once I had all of the threaded rod inserts bonded into the wooden strip I simply cut the strip up at the marked lines and finished adding additional epoxy where needed to securely lock the threaded rods into each block.  I let this again cure overnight and was then ready to  install then into the cavities that I had cut out of the dome section of the chair. 
  The foam from these cavities were removed using a hot knife tool the heats up either a steel rod or wire loop to melt the foam away from the dome to form the cavities.  I then used a sharp knife to scrape any excess foam off of the inner lip of the dome cavities.  Once this was done I slid a hard mount into each cavity in the dome, marked where the threaded rod would need a hole for the mounting bolt, drilled the hole and I was ready to go.  I then remounted the hard mount and bonded it in with a fiberglass resin and micro-balloon mixture to secure it in place.

Once the block had been puttied into place I took the  mating 1/4" plywood mounting plate that will be installed into the mating ring assembly and attached it to the mounting block using a one inch long 1/4-20 bolt and washer.  This I then tightened down to securely compress the mounting block to the dome cavity lip and align the part properly so that it will be a perfect fit with the it's mating part in the assembly.
This process was repeated twelve times in the assembly as shown in the photo above.  This will make a very strong and simple joint when it comes time for all of the rings to be put together for the chair.

After the mounting parts had been left overnight to cure in place I removed the bolts, washer and plywood mating plate and I was left with a perfect hard mount that will work every time that I need to put the assemblies together or take them apart.

The next step in the process I then set the dome on top of the base that will be used for the chair.  On top of the dome I aligned the first ring in the assembly so that I could mark it for similar modifications that will need to be made to it that I had done on the dome section of the chair.

You can see in the photo above the ribs that will need to be removed from the first ring so that it will match up with the dome section of the chair.

I marked out where the mating ring needs to be modified using a Sharpie pen on the foam.  Along with these marks I put centering marks around the inner rings of the two assemblies so that once I remove these pieces from each other I will be able to align them correctly again once the modifications have been made to the first ring assembly.  This I will cover in the next posting hopefully but I wanted to get this much info out to everyone following along so far.
  So as I said earlier the project is slowly starting to take shape and I can see a little light at the end of the tunnel.  Total time on the project now stands at 150.5 hours.  The encouraging thing about the project is that Spring is starting to show up here in the Midwest just a bit and with it warmer weather.  This means that by the time I am ready to start priming and painting I will be able to take this project outside and keep some of the dust, dirt and smell out of the shop (and my house).  So things are looking up for sure. 

Just one more quick note about this project.  The photo above is the little test mold that I just completed yesterday as well.  It has not been a difficult task to create but will be a great learning tool as I will make my first molded part from it.  The mold has been completely fiber-glassed, painted with primer, and waxed with ten coats of mold release wax.  Again not a hard task but a crucial one as I keep my fingers crossed that it will work the way I have planned so that when I make the inner wedge pieces for the ball chair interior using the larger mold for them I will not have any ugly surprises along the way.  It's a learning process and will be worth it if I can get it all to fall into place.  Keep your fingers crossed for me on this part of the project.  I know mine are. 



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Parts, Parts, and More Parts

Just a quick update today on the Captain America ball chair project. I just finished another marathon session of 3D printing last night for the project with the inner wedge mount assemblies that I spoke of in my last post. I needed eighteen of these small assemblies and it took 100 minutes to print just one of them.  Total time to print and assemble all eighteen assemblies took 31.5 hours.  Not a difficult task luckily but I am happy this portion of the project has turned out as well as it did.  Not that I am looking forward to doing more of the boring tasks in this project like sanding for hours on end but it is just a little bit more rewarding to know that another step in this project has been successfully completed.  In reality I simply had to load up my 3D printer with the part files and print one part (one hour), print another part (40 minutes) and repeat that process 18 times over three days. So I got a lot of movie watching in or other design tasks ironed out while the parts were being cranked out. Multi-tasking at it's easiest to be sure.
   I will not bore you with the details once again on where these little assemblies are used in the project as I covered all of that in my last post.  So go back one post if you really want to know what these spool like assemblies are and where they will be used in this project.  Total number of hours for the ball chair project has now risen to 139.5 hours and counting.
  Anyway I thought you' d like to get the latest update along with a look at all my hard work first hand. Have a good one and stay tuned for further progress.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Project Part Nine

This week I have been continuing my work on the construction of the Captain America ball chair project that I've posted about over the previous weeks.  I did not see any point in posting about all the sanding and prep work that I have managed to accomplish so far on various parts as this is pretty boring to post about week after week.  So with this post I wanted to show you the parts I have designed and have been 3D printing for the mounts that will be needed for the interior wedge pieces for the chair.

 This is a good image that I created showing the interior of the ball chair.  There are six wedge shaped pieces that will make up the interior of the chair and they will all be mounted in exactly the same way so it makes it a little simpler in some ways to get this part of the build accomplished.

Here is a good computer image of one of the wedge shaped inner pieces for the chair.  The wedges will be made from a mold that I am still constructing and will be made of fiberglass.  The spool shaped part just above the wedge in the image is one of the mounting assemblies that will be used in each corner of the interior wedge pieces.

Above is a breakdown of all the components that make up the corner mounts. The lower (red) piece is the base of the mount that will be bonded to the inner face of the ball chair.  The next part up from that is a threaded rod connector.  It is 1/4-20 in size and 7/8ths of an inch long which is a standard part that can be found at most hardware stores.  The (blue) top part of the assembly has an opening in the center cylindrical section of the part that the connector slides into.  When this is done the top and bottom parts are bonded together to encase the connector into the assembly.  The button head cap screw is then used to mount the wedge part to the mount to hold it in place within the chair at the corners.  The blue and red parts are designed so that I can 3D print them for each assembly.

 Here is a good image of the mounting assembly once it has been completely assembled.  The connector for the assembly is shown in the image above in light blue at the center of the assembly.

Once all of the connectors have been 3D printed three mounts will be assembled and mounted to the back sides of each of the six wedge sections.  This will make a strong simple mounting system that will be easy enough to 3D print.  The only downside to the design which cannot be improved upon is that it takes 100 minutes to print each mounting assembly.  For the chair I will need 18 mounting assemblies in total.  That adds up to 30 hours of 3D printing time. So I will be in my workroom for the next week or so just making these parts up so that they will be ready when the time comes to do the final assembly of the chair.  

Here's what the mounting assembly looks like taken apart and put together.  Assembled it is 2" tall and 1 1/2" in diameter.  Looks like a spool for a sewing machine but just larger.  It is very strong and should do the job nicely once I get all of the assemblies printed for the chair. 
  So that's about it for this week.  Just a bit more interesting than showing you pictures of me sanding parts for hours and hours and hours.  I'll keep you up to date on my progress and anything else new that I can show you that I've been working on here at the shop. Have a good one!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Project Part Eight

While waiting for supplies to continue this project I thought I might as well post this latest update while I have the free time.  With what looks to be a lot of work ahead of me I wanted to show you what I have managed to get done so for with a few of the parts for the chair along with the test mold that I have been assembling.

I had to take this photo simple because it is a good view of the first two sections of the chair that I have managed to get fiberglassed so far.  The dome section of the chair has been coated with a fiberglass resin and micro-balloon mixture to fill the weave of the fiberglass cloth.  This is the reason for the color of the dome now being white instead of blue like the lower part.  This photo also lets me see how the seam of the parts will look once the chair has been assembled.  I am very pleased at this point with how things are looking so far. It will look good once I am able to paint the sections.  Since each section of the chair will be painted different colors it will also be a simple task to do so before assembly. 

Here you can see the interior of the second section of the chair and the dome section.  The ribs in the second section of the chair will be removed so that further fiberglass can be added to give more strength to the assembly, allow space for the electrical wiring, as well as  the sound system that is planned.  The two other ring sections of the chair will also be set up the same way.  The rims of each sections will be beefed up with the needed fiberglass to make the sections strong enough to bolt each section together when the chair is assembled.  So I am getting there step by step with lots of glassing and prep work still needing to be done.

Here is the test mold that I put together and talked about in my last post.  It's a simple mold that will help me learn how best to set up the larger mold for the six inner wedge pieces that are needed for chair.

 Here the simple mold has been fiber glassed and coated with the fiberglass resin mixture just like I did with the dome section of the chair.  I had to lay down several coats of the resin mixture a section at a time to get it all coated the way I need for the test part. I will sand the mold down as smooth as possible and then spray on several coats of primer to start the wet sanding needed to get it even smoother.  This process is not difficult but takes a bunch of time to get right.

In this last photo of the test mold I finished fiberglassing the outer surface of the mold.  You can see the rounded edges of the mold that needed to be done to lay the fiberglass cloth into place easily.  I know that this looks like a lot of unnecessary work for the mold but if I spay primer on the mold and the Styrofoam is not glassed it will be melted away by either the primer or paint that I will spray into the mold.  I didn't want to take any chance that the mold would be destroyed by a simple thing like paint.
So this gives you a good idea of why this looks like not much is done at this point from the last post to this one.  The time on the project has risen to 100 hours so far with a long ways to go yet to finish. But with every little step you see here is hours and hours of boring labor.  Sanding, sanding and more sanding followed by primer coats and more sanding afterward.  It will all pay off when I want to get the paint to look as perfect as I can get it.  I'll keep you up to date when I get farther along and more progress will be easily seen.  Have a good day in your shop and with your projects.