LED Light Hack from Amazon

LED Floodlight picture

Via Amazon.com, an engineer hacked what was an inferior light, turning it into one twice as good!

XtraLED 50 Watt LED Waterproof Outdoor Security LED Floodlight 90-260 Volt AC, Super Bright White
1Cheap, But Easy to Repair

One customer bought several of these – some from Amazon, others from eBay. “All but one died within a month.” he states, “Luckily I am an electrical engineer. After taking the lights apart I found that there was not a sufficient amount of thermal grease between the LED cluster and the base. Also, there should be 4 screws holding the LED in place. Some of my light fixtures only had 2. Another problem is that the holes that were drilled and tap’d for these 4 screws are not deep enough. The screws bottom out before they apply proper pressure on the LED. The major cause for these lights to keep failing is improper heat transfer. Excessive heat kills LED’s every time.
“If you go to Ebay, and do a search for “100W White High Power LED Panel 9000LM 100 Watt Lamp Light” you will find the actual LED clusters. Buy these. Only $8, what a deal!
“Then go get yourself some high quality thermal heat-sink grease. Remove the old LED cluster, and unsolder the wires. Clean off the old thermal grease. Without the LED in place, screw in the 4 screws to make sure they go all the way in without bottoming out. If they don’t, either get shorter screws, or drill and tap deeper holes, and get new screws to match your new thread. Make sure both surfaces, (LED & Light base), are clean and smooth. Spread a thick layer of new thermal grease onto the LED and install with the 4 screws, nice and tight! Clean off excess thermal grease. Solder on the wires, (there is a + & – on the LED cluster), and you are finished. Really not that difficult.”

This is a great hack.  Wish I could do this with the incandescent replacement bulbs I’ve burned out, but it’s usually the rectifier that goes on those, not the LED clusters.  I’ve kept a number of the LED arrays an may end up creating my own “Frankenbulb” or array. at least that’s the plan…


Mice in the Walls

Field mouse held in handsI woke up yesterday morning with the sound of mice in the walls. This morning, they were rolling my daughter’s acorn collection across the floor. Actually it sounded like they were playing football without the cheers (thank God I got rid of that little theater organ!). With sleep a mere memory, I sat down to find out how to rid my house of the little sport-minded varmints.

Pests like these are found everywhere from rural homes to city apartments. Being able to squeeze into 1/4″ holes allows them access to most dwellings despite the best efforts of the caulk-squad. They like what we like: food, water, a warm place to stay over the winter, and (it seems) late night entertainment.

Natural predators that you’d allow in your house include cats and dogs, and the occasional boa constrictor or small bird of prey, but the latter two have their drawbacks – those being potty training both, and finding the former desicated (or worse – not desiccated) in the wall after some rude comments from family or friends regarding the smell and the stain behind the picture of Aunt Edna.  Sadly, we have a cat-hating dog who can sleep through the rodent’s half-time charades as easily as I sleep through the Superbowl, and being a bird dog, a small falcon wouldn’t fair much better.

Other than stealing your food and leaving their tell-tale signs and smells in your home, mice will also bring in unwanted guests as well: ticks and fleas readily come to mind, but they also carry Hantavirus,
Salmonellosis, an infection with the bacteria Solmonella and bubonic plague.

Ridding (okay, minimizing) your house of mice will more than likely take a multi-step approach:

  1. Eliminate Entry Points: Foundation cracks, spaces between outer walls as small as 1/4″ as stated, anywhere there are vents, pipes that go through walls, flashing, and the sill (where the house meets the foundation) can be caulked, though they can pull or chew this material out or burrow beside it. A better solution is to use a combination of caulk and a barrier they can’t chew through like “Stuf-fit” (amazon) can be used.
  2. Keep Food in Containers: Not just in the box, but in a sealed plastic bin or container. This will also minimize contamination.  Plastic bags or shipping boxes can be chewed through in short order.  Like to sit in bed with a late night snack?  Mice won’t mind a warm place for a midnight nosh either: no crackers in bed, and put everything away before you nod off!
  3. Garbage – even if it’s not full, it’s available for creatures: tight fitting lids, and put it out every night.
  4. Deterrents: Pictures of cats, even cheap digital portraits with Youtube videos of “I has cheesburger” won’t frighten them  – and the ultrasonic deterrents have mixed reviews.  Mice don’t like mint, so if you don’t mind clearing this invasive herb every two months in the summer you can plant this around your house’s foundation. There are also non-toxic sprays such as “DeTour” (amazon) – a bio-repellent irritates them but does not harm them, makes them want to find the first available exit or “Rodent Defense” (amazon), another non-toxic deterrent in spray form.
  5. Trap and release (preferrably far away from the house where the neighbors cat often prowls). Havahart has all sizes of traps for the humane removal of all sizes of pests.
  6. Traps: you can find these in most hardware stores.  Inhumane, but hopefully quick, This will get rid of the current mice, but they keep making more, so minimizing entry points and adding deterrents is the best long-term solution.

Some other novel “de-pestication” techniques include “RodoTrack” – allowing you to see where the mice are going using a fluorescent powder, and I’d run across another food that makes their feces glow in the dark, but I also was on my first cup of coffee, so I may have been hallucinating…

Sealing, deterring, and trapping (either catch and release or fast elimination) is a seasonal chore for the home owner, and with the cold weather setting in, I’ll be stopping for the commercials between the plays, busying myself setting copper mesh, caulk, live traps (I have a squeamish family and don’t like the smell of dead mice any more than live), and – taking the garbage out, even if it’s not full.


See also: “Wild Neighbors: The Humane Approach to Living with Wildlife”

Shapeoko Beginnings – Conversion Chart: Fractions and Inches to mm

Fractional Inches to Decimal Inches and Metric Millimeters

This table can be used to convert between fractional and/or decimal inches and metric millimeters.

Inches Metric
Fractional Decimal mm
. 0.0039 0.1000
. 0.0079 0.2000
. 0.0118 0.3000
1/64 0.0156 0.3969
. 0.0157 0.4000
. 0.0197 0.5000
. 0.0236 0.6000
. 0.0276 0.7000
1/32 0.0313 0.7938
. 0.0315 0.8000
. 0.0354 0.9000
. 0.0394 1.0000
. 0.0433 1.1000
3/64 0.0469 1.1906
. 0.0472 1.2000
. 0.0512 1.3000
. 0.0551 1.4000
. 0.0591 1.5000
1/16 0.0625 1.5875
. 0.0630 1.6000
. 0.0669 1.7000
. 0.0709 1.8000
. 0.0748 1.9000
5/64 0.0781 1.9844
. 0.0787 2.0000
. 0.0827 2.1000
. 0.0866 2.2000
. 0.0906 2.3000
3/32 0.0938 2.3813
. 0.0945 2.4000
. 0.0984 2.5000
7/64 0.1094 2.7781
. 0.1181 3.0000
1/8 0.1250 3.1750
. 0.1378 3.5000
9/64 0.1406 3.5719
5/32 0.1563 3.9688
. 0.1575 4.0000
11/64 0.1719 4.3656
. 0.1772 4.5000
3/16 0.1875 4.7625
. 0.1969 5.0000
13/64 0.2031 5.1594
. 0.2165 5.5000
7/32 0.2188 5.5563
15/64 0.2344 5.9531
. 0.2362 6.0000
1/4 0.2500 6.3500
. 0.2559 6.5000
17/64 0.2656 6.7469
. 0.2756 7.0000
9/32 0.2813 7.1438
. 0.2953 7.5000
19/64 0.2969 7.5406
5/16 0.3125 7.9375
. 0.3150 8.0000
21/64 0.3281 8.3344
. 0.3346 8.5000
11/32 0.3438 8.7313
. 0.3543 9.0000
23/64 0.3594 9.1281
. 0.3740 9.5000
3/8 0.3750 9.5250
25/64 0.3906 9.9219
. 0.3937 10.0000
13/32 0.4063 10.3188
. 0.4134 10.5000
27/64 0.4219 10.7156
. 0.4331 11.0000
7/16 0.4375 11.1125
. 0.4528 11.5000
29/64 0.4531 11.5094
15/32 0.4688 11.9063
. 0.4724 12.0000
31/64 0.4844 12.3031
. 0.4921 12.5000
1/2 0.5000 12.7000
. 0.5118 13.0000
33/64 0.5156 13.0969
17/32 0.5313 13.4938
. 0.5315 13.5000
35/64 0.5469 13.8906
. 0.5512 14.0000
9/16 0.5625 14.2875
. 0.5709 14.5000
37/64 0.5781 14.6844
. 0.5906 15.0000
19/32 0.5938 15.0813
39/64 0.6094 15.4781
. 0.6102 15.5000
5/8 0.6250 15.8750
. 0.6299 16.0000
41/64 0.6406 16.2719
. 0.6496 16.5000
21/32 0.6563 16.6688
. 0.6693 17.0000
43/64 0.6719 17.0656
11/16 0.6875 17.4625
. 0.6890 17.5000
45/64 0.7031 17.8594
. 0.7087 18.0000
23/32 0.7188 18.2563
. 0.7283 18.5000
47/64 0.7344 18.6531
. 0.7480 19.0000
3/4 0.7500 19.0500
49/64 0.7656 19.4469
. 0.7677 19.5000
25/32 0.7813 19.8438
. 0.7874 20.0000
51/64 0.7969 20.2406
. 0.8071 20.5000
13/16 0.8125 20.6375
. 0.8268 21.0000
53/64 0.8281 21.0344
27/32 0.8438 21.4313
. 0.8465 21.5000
55/64 0.8594 21.8281
. 0.8661 22.0000
7/8 0.8750 22.2250
. 0.8858 22.5000
57/64 0.89063 22.6219
. 0.9055 23.0000
29/32 0.90625 23.0188
59/64 0.92188 23.4156
. 0.9252 23.5000
15/16 0.93750 23.8125
. 0.9449 24.0000
61/64 0.95313 24.2094
. 0.9646 24.5000
31/32 0.96875 24.6063
. 0.9843 25.0000
63/64 0.98438 25.0031
1 1.000 25.40
. 1.0039 25.5000
. 1.0236 26.0000
. 1.0433 26.5000
. 1.0630 27.0000
. 1.0827 27.5000
. 1.1024 28.0000
. 1.1220 28.5000
. 1.1417 29.0000
. 1.1614 29.5000
. 1.1811 30.0000
. 1.2205 31.0000
1 1/4 1.2500 31.7500
. 1.2598 32.0000
. 1.2992 33.0000
. 1.3386 34.0000
. 1.3780 35.0000
. 1.4173 36.0000
. 1.4567 37.0000
. 1.4961 38.0000
1 1/2 1.5000 38.1000
. 1.5354 39.0000
. 1.5748 40.0000
. 1.6142 41.0000
. 1.6535 42.0000
. 1.6929 43.0000
. 1.7323 44.0000
1 3/4 1.7500 44.4500
. 1.7717 45.0000
. 1.8110 46.0000
. 1.8504 47.0000
. 1.8898 48.0000
. 1.9291 49.0000
. 1.9685 50.0000
2 2.0000 50.8000
. 2.0079 51.0000
. 2.0472 52.0000
. 2.0866 53.0000
. 2.1260 54.0000
. 2.1654 55.0000
. 2.2047 56.0000
. 2.2441 57.0000
2 1/4 2.2500 57.1500
. 2.2835 58.0000
. 2.3228 59.0000
. 2.3622 60.0000
. 2.4016 61.0000
. 2.4409 62.0000
. 2.4803 63.0000
2 1/2 2.5000 63.5000
. 2.5197 64.0000
. 2.5591 65.0000
. 2.5984 66.0000
. 2.6378 67.0000
. 2.6772 68.0000
. 2.7165 69.0000
2 3/4 2.7500 69.8500
. 2.7559 70.0000
. 2.7953 71.0000
. 2.8346 72.0000
. 2.8740 73.0000
. 2.9134 74.0000
. 2.9528 75.0000
. 2.9921 76.0000
3 3.0000 76.2000
. 3.0315 77.0000
. 3.0709 78.0000
. 3.1102 79.0000
. 3.1496 80.0000
. 3.1890 81.0000
. 3.2283 82.0000
. 3.2677 83.0000
. 3.3071 84.0000
. 3.3465 85.0000
. 3.3858 86.0000
. 3.4252 87.0000
. 3.4646 88.0000
3 1/2 3.5000 88.9000
. 3.5039 89.0000
. 3.5433 90.0000
. 3.5827 91.0000
. 3.6220 92.0000
. 3.6614 93.0000
. 3.7008 94.0000
. 3.7402 95.0000
. 3.7795 96.0000
. 3.8189 97.0000
. 3.8583 98.0000
. 3.8976 99.0000
. 3.9370 100.0000
4 4.0000 101.6000
. 4.3307 110.0000
4 1/2 4.5000 114.3000
. 4.7244 120.0000
5 5.0000 127.0000
. 5.1181 130.0000
. 5.5118 140.0000
. 5.9055 150.0000
6 6.0000 152.4000
. 6.2992 160.0000
. 6.6929 170.0000
. 7.0866 180.0000
. 7.4803 190.0000
. 7.8740 200.0000
8 8.0000 203.2000
. 9.8425 250.0000
10 10.0000 254.0000
20 20.0000 508.0000
30 30.0000 762.0000
40 40.0000 1016.000
60 60.0000 1524.000
80 80.0000 2032.000
100 100.0000 2540.000

The Golden Circle

“Rough Draft” is on Rainmaker.fm, and is often a difficult listen. The content is stellar, the presentation takes some getting used to – and it’s worth it. Demian Farnworth always has useful podcasts that are short and thought provoking, and dense. They’re worth two listens each – once in the morning and once in the afternoon for me – that way I can glean more information from it. In episode 21 he delves into the question: Do you have the right strategy? His examples were strong, and if you put them to the test, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable position. His example of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle using Apple Computer summed it up the best – the graphic is below:

The Why How and What of the Golden Circle with Apple's vision statement as an example

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle using Apple’s vision statement as an example

Shapeoko Beginnings: Not All Solutions Are “The” Solution

I’ve been working on the Shapeoko for awhile now and have slowly progressed, creating some “things and stuff” both needed and fanciful.  Double-sided sticky tape has been my friend up to this point, but the time is fast approaching for me to say that sticky tape is a secondary solution, or a hold-down for otherwise fly-away parts instead of the only thing that’s holding a part in place.  Using a rather expensive material to create things you don’t want to leave things to chance, and walking away – even for a minute can spell disaster.

This is your part:


This is your part unstuck:



The part lifted off of it’s sticky pads, out of it’s little cradle and into the spinning single-minded tool just above it! And – it ruined my piece.The waste-board cradled the parts quite nicely, but the prototype which was  eventually going to clamp it down and hold it snugly like a custom vise now had a surface which was so smooth the tape only held until I turned my back.

I’ll need to upgrade my waste-board to one with hold-downs.  There are currently several ways to do this that I’ve found: via Inventables – “waste board upgrade“, the DIY method spoken about on the forums and by Winston, and a friction fit with pins version that’s looking like the interim solution. Flanged threaded inserts sounds like a better idea and less expensive than the board from Inventables, though it will mean some extra time. Another way is putting tracks on either side, another way of many is the friction fit method which may be the one I initially use as I wait for the flanged threads, which is described on buildyourcnc.com. It’s simple, straight forward, and with a slight modification (did you see that coming? I didn’t), a quick-change  clamp could also be added by making a lever with an off-center hole drilled into a circular shaped head – similar to a comma: “,”      Shapeoko clamp Hack




I’ll probably make the comma-clamps out of bamboo laminate I have, making the hole in the center the same diameter as the shelf support pins, The comma is an exaggerated example – the tail will be much thicker. This way I can create “jigs” that are above the bed of the shapeoko, and if i ZGAFF (Acronym for Zz. … Grrrrind!! Ahhhh! F@#*! F@#*!), it will only ZGAFF into the fixture, not my waste board. Some friction tape around the edge will help too (aka sandpaper, rosin, etc.)  If the comma-clamp was securely fastened to the table, a slight bevel would also help to hold it down securely to the table.  Hmmm…


Upate: FAIL – clamps to the side, but slides up some, and some tools pull the material up as well.  Going to go for standard clamps very soon.

Acceleration Settings = Scary Machine

I’ve been cutting things rather slowly here for the last couple of months. I set it up to make some small basic shapes, set it to go and monitor it as I’m doing other things. It’s been going okay and I’ve set up and saved several files I have gotten back to and reused, tweaking them to move them along incrementally faster – it’s a consumer machine after all, right?
After experimenting with a rather complex engraving and nursing my decaf while I watched the machine methodically go through it’s motions, making a mental note to lower the z-axis travel point to 1mm instead of 2.5, I poked around further on the internet, knowing I’d seen Shapeoko’s move faster than mine. Sure enough, people were stating they were breaking bits, having to lessen the depth of their cuts, etc.
Over a cup of tea in the morning (I’d run out of caffeinated coffee and was not going to placebo myself on a Saturday morning) I searched for Shapeoko 2 seek speed, finding posts over speed tests, youtube videos of machined going crazy fast and more. Figuring they’d used upgraded motors I pined for the day I’d be able to step up to the machines I’d seen. Looking further, there were “Hello World” races going on. Finally I ran across one post:http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=386 which stated “I’ve been running my ShapeOko with default GRBL values. Well, last night I decided to try speeding things up. I found that a single change ($8=50 instead of $8=9.8) made my ShapeOko run better than twice as fast.”
Looking into my settings, I found that my acceleration was at a way beyond conservative 0.000…
Setting it to 50 and having it seek on the x and the y axis using Grbl Controller my eyes damn near fell out next to my dog who was crossing his legs and whimpering for me to take him out for his morning editorializing (he likes to read and reply to the post, and the tree, and the stop sign…).
Rerunning the engraving I went from 4 hours and 25 minutes to 12 minutes and 26 seconds! a 20 fold increase or there about if it were to accurately do what I intended it to. It didn’t take long for the memories of people’s stories of broken bits to invade my creative cranium’s one-seat cinema: this machine has gone from an interesting little oddity to a dangerous machine sitting in my living room next to the haunted coat closet (don’t run the machine if the clock strikes 12!).
Weekends were made for this! Experimenting, updating, scheming and dreaming – and garbage… and doing the paperwork I’d put off, and the other paperwork… At least my breaks will be more interesting!

Shapeoko Beginnings: MacGyver ‘d Dust Shoe

Left: Black and Decker Rotary Tool, Right: Washing machine drain hose, Center: bottom of oblong shampoo bottle upside-down, bottom: "dust skirt" made from an old transparency

Suave shampoo bottle gets a second life as part of a dust shoe for a Shapeoko

It’s snowing outside, but there’s an accumulation of white powdery stuff inside as well that I can see on the keyboard and other surfaces – it’s the dust from the Shapeoko that has “escaped” the from the aging dustbuster, sending a cloud of powder into my face as I was clearing the cutting area. 

I’d seen a lot of creative individuals that had used their Shapeoko to create their own dust shoes and was impressed, but I needed one immediately. I also had the challenge of having a different Dremel-like tool – a Black and Decker RTX B3

I’d gone back to the rotary tool that came with the Shapeoko but quicky returned to the Black & Decker being so much quieter since it’s in the living room what with the sub-zero temperatures and the need of a computer keeps it out of our “damp” cellar.

I like a lot of the designs that are out there, especially the ones that have a hose and shoe removal system,  The RTX 3 has an odd shape to the handle that’s great to grip but difficult to shape and connect a shoe onto.  Fortunately the bottom collar unscrews and there is enough room to attach something thin – about 1-2mm into it and have it hold. 

One of the many benefits of living with people with more hair than me is they prefer special shampoos and conditioners which means there are a wide variety of plastic containers in the recycle bin to choose from.  An oblong shampoo bottle worked out well for the rotary tool, but then there was the vacuum hose…


As many home-moaners will attest to, when you’ve lived in a place for any length of time you will accumulate “spare parts” over time: things you didn’t need, other things you meant to return for a refund, and yet other things that disappear in the moment of need, only to reappear days and sometimes minutes after you’ve replaced the missing piece.  In this case it was a flexible washer drain hose we had bought from our neighborhood hardware store.  It just fit the other side of the shampoo bottle  turned dust shoe.

Using the rotary tool and a tile cutting bit I cut through and fit the pieces easily, the collet ring securing the boot nicely and the hose snugly fit into the hole right beside.


With LCD displays sending old overhead projectors to the recycling center (and to ebay in various forms such as some really great fresnel lenses for cheap pyrotechnic fun), “transparencies” – the clear sheets of acetate used for the overheads and some double-sided foam tape made a nice skirt for the shoe to contain the flying bits of plastic and foam, also creating a confined area for the vacuum to draw the dust from.

With everything in place all that’s needed is a vacuum device.  The dust buster is a loud little beasty with a bad seal, so that was out, but thanks to other surplus items we were able to create a small liquid based dust collection system that is not very loud, and surprisingly efficient…

Shapeoko Beginnings – harder material was NOT the issue…

The material I was cutting next was a harder plastic so I slowed the feed rate down some from the previous settings but the machine seemed to be moving in a jerky fashion, especially the Y (toward and away from you).  Looking at the material afterward It was definitely not as smooth a cut as the initial material. I had moved the machine but everything looked fine, then I checked the Black & Decker tool – it’s a great and quiet little hand tool, but it had some spindle issues, so I moved it to the tool bin of often used hand-tools and pulled out the whiny arbitrarily variable speed spindle that came with the Shapeoko (not a slight on Inventables – the price:machine ratio was just right, and their description: “ recommended for hobbyists who see building and upgrading the machine as part of the fun.” is what I committed to) and set that up.  The machine cut through the material, but it was jerky and certainly not the circles I had been cutting before, so I knew something else was wrong. It was back to looking over the wikis and trying to figure out what was going on which is where I found the “Diamond Circle Square” test…

Shapeoko Beginnings: Easel.com – Make a Cookie, not a Batch of Cookies

As mentioned in the last post I’d created a batch of shapes on a piece of acrylic, only to pooch the lot by opening another Easel window in Chrome which reset the connection to my Shapeoko.

Easel appears to be the “Easy-Bake Oven” of the CAM world: You can make simple designs and indeed you can create more complex designs as well, but like creating four cups worth of cake batter for the easy-bake, you’re going to be sitting there a long time before you get through it all, and it’s faster to make things in small batches.

Here’s an arbitrary (though close to real) set of timed procedures to compare operations on the Shapeoko and two programs.

If you make a circle in Easel and tell it the material is 4mm thick (Z axis) and to plunge in 1mm per pass, your Shapeoko will cut the circle four times, 1mm at a time. That’s great – it cuts it, it does a fine job as long as your machine is set up correctly and you cut out a circle of material. [pic]

If you make four circles in Easel and tell it the material is 4mm thick (Z axis) and to plunge 1mm per pass, your Shapeoko will cut the first circle to a 1mm depth, raise the cutter, move to the next, cut the second circle to a 1mm depth, raise the cutter again, move on to the third, then the fourth.  Fascinating as it is to see the machine move, the Z axis is about as fast as a slug on chamomile. So for each batch of four circles you’re raising  your Z axis 16 times, lowering your Z axis 16 times, plus making your cutter move from one area to the next 16 times.

  • Lower the Z Axis = 2 minutes x 16
  • Raise the Z Axis = 2 minutes x 16
  • Move the X/Y Axis = 4 minutes x 16
  • Cut the circle = 3 minutes per pass x 16
  • = 2.93 hours (176 minutes)


Let’s see what creating one circle at a time would consist of:

  • Move the X/Y Axis = 4 minutes
  • Lower the Z Axis = 2 minutes x 4
  • Raise the Z Axis = 2 minutes x 4
  • Cut the circle = 3 minutes x 4
  • = 32 minutes
    • times 4=128 minutes
  • Re-Zero the machine by hand = 3 minutes
    • Times 3 = 9 minutes
  • = 2.28  hours or 137 minutes

Save  39 minutes with “Human Intervention”? I thought machines were “labor saving devices”! Well, they are, when they’re used properly and the process is thought through.

Thinking through the four circles, a more expedient way to cut the four circles would be to

  • Move X/Y Axis to circle 1 = 4 minutes
  • Lower the Z Axis = 2 minutes x 4 = 8 minutes
  • Cut the circle = 3 minutes x 4 = 12 minutes
  • Raise the Z Axis = 2 minutes x 4 = 8 minutes
  • Move to the next circle = 4 minutes
  • Each circle = 28 minutes
  • times 4 circles = 1.86 hours or 112 minutes

While Easel doesn’t allow this, other programs such as MakerCAM does, by way of MakerCAM.com, creating your files, then exporting the g-code (you can also save and import svg files).  Bringing the g-code into your favorite computer based program (the next step for me is grbl-controller 3.61) and following the basic rules you hopefully learned in Easel:

  1. Machine is set to zero (0,0,0 on the x, y & z axis),
  2. spindle is on,
  3. safety glasses and hearing protection is on (okay, those aren’t in Easel but they should be)
  4. Begin!


An even more expedient fashion would be to cluster the circles as close as possible (in a four-leaf clover fashion) and cut through the whole pattern without lifting the Z Axis to go to the next.

  • Move X/Y Axis to circle 1 = 4 minutes
  • Lower the Z Axis = 2 minutes x 4 x 4 = 32 minutes
  • Cut the circle = 3 minutes x 4 x 4 = 48 minutes
  • Raise the Z Axis = 2 minutes
  • = 1.4 hours or 86 minutes

These are my musings away from the machine, now for what I WAS able to accomplish:

http://www.makercam.com/tutorial.html – info to become familiar with MakerCAM

015-01-21 – In MakerCAM created 2 25mm circles and 3 14mm circles. Selected all 5 and selected “Follow Path” operation.
Started job 7:59pm
Ended job 10:23pm – 143 minutes

With this, the Z axis was found to raise to 0 every time before lowering back down to the next level. Step Down rate is at 1.5

2015-01-22 – Want to try again with separated toolpaths – created file called “MakerCAM 2-25 3 14mm 3 – SEPARATE PROFILES”

Started 5:18pm
Ended  6:50pm 92 minutes


2015-01-22 Trying a third time with a 1mm safety height and a 1200mm/min plunge depth. The feed rate stays at 1500, same tool (diamond router bit that is slightly tapered)

74 minues – shaved 17 minutes off the time.

Things were going along as I thought they might, within an acceptable range, then I decided to cut some harder material…

Shapeoko CNC 2015-01-19: Start Small

After a couple of hours of running one project and getting 95% through the first of four passes, I reset the program by opening another window in easel. This could be my computer (if you think my dog is a mongrel, I’m running windows 8.1 in 32 bit mode on a dell laptop).

running a couple:of smaller projects now, going to test easel against easel’s g-code export into grbl controller 3.81.

So far, 2:25pm on the easel 4 25mm circles to 4:30pm – several more lessons learned:

  • Don’t pack too much into a small area – trying to be too frugal will waste more than if you leave reasonable tolerances between them.
  • either shut off the tabs completely on all of the parts (using adhesive to hold the parts instead of the tabs), or overcompensate by a couple  mm in the setting on the thickness of the material (it is a waste board after all).