Fixture Prep.

Since the key to making repeatable parts is a fixture plate, we decided to try our hand at cold rolled steel milling.

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We purchased a new “hogging” end mill from McMaster-Carr along with our steel and aluminum plates. There will be a video uploaded soon about the fixture making process and our massive friction saw. Sparks fly EVERYWHERE.

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The next step, after sawing, was to square the large plates. Since we’ve performed minimal steel work, this posed a bit of a challenge. But, we have learned to alter the speeds and feeds at which the spindle crosses the part. The outcome was fairly successful.

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The next few weeks, we will be preparing for the IAAPA International Attractions Trade Show in Orlando, Florida. We will be meeting with the “big boys” in the industry and making valuable connections. So look forward to our updates beforehand and during the thrilling experience!

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Fly Cutting and Fixture Plates

After speaking to many machinists and machine shop owners at the Atlanta Maker Faire®, the decision was made to work on creating fixture plates to hold multiple workpieces.

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This is an example of what we will be machining soon. We will be utilizing Mitee Bite® fixture clamps, and maybe using their Pitbull clamps in the future.

By creating a fixture plate, we can produce multiples of the same part to a high degree of precision. Repeatability is the key. These fixtures will be machined from cold roll 1018 carbon steel. Yes, we’ve never worked with steel before, but we’ve been reading up on speeds and feeds.

This leads us to our trusty spinning friend: the fly cutter. At first use, the fly cutter was truly a four letter word. For our younger enthusiasts, ask your parents what that means…

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Our last experience with the fly cutter knocked our Z-column out of alignment, but this time it was much different. We stumbled upon Tom’s Techniques. For anyone interested in machining, definitely checkout Tom’s site. He offers advice, common sense approaches, and reference material to produce tools for machining. Although we frequent NYC CNC often, Tom’s website offers the technical data needed for proper foundation. The image below came from his site, and it helped us make a proper fly cutting tool on our bench grinder.

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Once the tool matched the specs, we locked it into the tool holder and began taking a thousandth or two off at a time. The stock was left with a flat and beautiful surface finish, just as Tom said there would be.

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We decided to square the large stock at once, then cut it into smaller pieces and finalize the stock dimensions. This will ensure our fixture plates will work as desired.

NOTE: The mill must be trammed in properly and definitely wear shop glasses. Chips go everywhere, despite the enclosure.

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The Atlanta Maker Faire®: A Cinematic Experience

As you guys may have or have not read, the Maker Faire was a complete success!  Now sit back, lower that lap bar, and enjoy a cinematic highlight of the Faire’s events through the eyes of The Roller Coaster Project…

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Maker Faire® Atlanta Style: Part 2

The weekend at the Atlanta Maker Faire was an undoubted success! We walked the inquiring patrons through the various steps involved in roller coaster design and our progressive timeline.

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It was a tad chilly early in the morning; however, it warmed up quickly and the Makers were ready to entertain. The little Solidoodle made an appearance and so did the Taig Micro Lathe. Much of the crowd marveled at the presence of an affordable 3D-Printer and a tiny metal lathe.

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Since we were located near both Intel and Google, The Roller Coaster Project decided to pay them a visit and see what’s happen in the world of tech.

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We will be uploading a video of the weekend’s festivities later today. It will be able to be viewed on our “Construction Log” YouTube channel. We at The Roller Coaster Project would like to thank the folks at the Atlanta Maker Faire for reaching out to us for presentation and the city of Decatur for allowing so many Makers to inhabit one location.

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Maker Faire® Atlanta Style: Part 1

As discussed in a few previous posts, The Roller Coaster Project will be displaying its coasterness for the world to admire…or the greater Atlanta area, for now.

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We will conveniently located next to the two main sponsors: Google and Intel.  And why not?  They will truly be in awe when they see what we have made.  Honestly, what have either Intel or Google created, really?  Nothing important, we think.

The Faire is both Saturday and Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM, respectively.

Our booth number is C86 and we look forward to meeting you all and sharing a thrill together.  We will also be live Tweeting from the Faire and providing updates in the world of Maker.

Twitter: @rcoasterproject

Insta(coaster)gram: @therollercoasterproject

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See you guys there!

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Happenings Around The Coaster Shop

Although it’s been a while, we’ve been hard at work scheming and tinkering with many new things. Albeit some great distractions, we are here to let you guys know that we are getting back to our “roots,” or should I say foundation of The Roller Coaster Project.

So what’s been happening around the shop?

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After great headache and frustration tinkering with the various machinery, we are starting to hone our skills. By no means are we “machinists,” we just like to casually machine with a cold one in hand. Speaking of which, the car decided to brew its own batch of home brew…

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Fortunately for the car it just has to follow the track.

What have we been machining?

Lately we’ve been pushing all focus towards fabrication of the Kickstarter backer’s mini coasters. Yes, we have been working on these for a while, but they will not disappoint.

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The last picture is a nifty little concept of turning down an M3 bolt. Turn down for what, you ask? Yes, that joke was made… Since the side rolling wheels are metric bearings with a 3 millimeter inner diameter, these bolts were perfect. However, there was a slight problem: the bolt head diameter was larger than the bearing!

We thought to ourselves, “could you just turn the stainless steel bolts on the lathe to a smaller diameter?” Turns out you can! They are phenomenal and save vast amounts of time. We at The Roller Coaster Project try not to reinvent the wheel, just the axle for the wheel.

On a side note, this appears to be our first “employee.” But don’t tell him he’s not being paid…

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Fabrication and the New Lathe

Although it’s been a little while between posts, we will work on rolling out a new post once a week along with a YouTube video on our channel. Basically, the videos will cover our machining antics and discuss how we are building miniature roller coasters.

Fabrication has been up and down, in keeping with the theme of roller coasters. We are not shy of throwing a pun around once in a while, either.

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We began our solid non articulation car attempt as a first run.

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After cutting the car frame from a larger piece of metal with holding tabs, we noticed a need to clean the edges. Unfortunately, it was not cleaned to our liking.

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The decision was made to fabricate a specialty fixture plate from 6061 aluminum. This plate would have five threaded holes to align and secure the squared stock.

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After threading the holes and bolting the fixture plate to the mill, we were ready to machine a car in one operation.

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Now the machining of bearings and bushings had to be completed. We were using a Taig Micro Lathe. Albeit an accurate machine, it lacked the power and little extras needed for our purposes.

We invested in the Microlux Deluxe 7×16 mini lathe from Micro Mark and it arrived within a few days.

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We are still assembling the lathe, but are anxiously awaiting a trial run. There will be some calibrations and we hope to produce a video of our experiences.

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Queuing Up.

We haven’t updated in a while, but we haven’t been slacking on progress.  As of earlier this month, we are now a registered business: The Roller Coaster Project, LLC.  Though many of you already know of our Coaster knickknacks in our Store, we have big things in the works and creating our business entity is just the beginning.

This November we will be attending the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Florida.  We will work on bringing the Biggest Little Ride to more people worldwide, and we hope to meet some of our fans, Kickstarter backers, or just roller coaster enthusiasts like us!

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Moving on to what’s been happening around the shop…

We’ve been wrapping up our Kickstarter rewards and sending them to our wonderful backers, while simultaneously  working on something new.  There will be more mentioned about this “new” object soon, but hopefully it’ll grace your desktop in the near future.

Since our campaign ended, we have been working diligently to complete and ship the various rewards.  In making these rewards, we have had to learn new skills and research many fields of science and engineering and manufacturing.  To build some of the rewards we had to create custom tools to accomplish the job.  Below are pictures of mild steel being turned on a lathe prior to being heat treated.

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Using the MAPP gas torch, we were able to heat the metal to roughly 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once the metal was bright orange, we immediately quenched it in warm water to strengthen the crystal structure.  We then ground the metal with our grinding wheel to the desired angles.  Finally, we heated the metal to regain some durability and let it slowly cool.  The tool above is a boring bar used for our small axles.

Next, we focused on minor electrical engineering and circuits.  To power our ride we are using a 12V electric motor that is stepped down from a wall outlet.  The power supply below does all the heavy work, and a fuse after ensures safety.

 

 

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From the hi-torque electric motor, a system of pulleys will increase the overall torque and lower the speed to drive our cars up the lift hill via roller chain.

To machine parts of our cars, we surfaced the 6061 aluminum with our trusty fly cutter on the Taig Mill.  Thanks to Dan DeArmond for some suggestions to ensure accurate, smooth, cutting.  Feel free to stop by Dan’s site if you’re interested in learning to machine and want a benchtop mill yourself: DeArmond Tool.

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We had to make specialty lateral clamps to hold down our thin stock material after surfacing.  Once the material was held in place and aligned, we proceeded to mill the car dimensions.

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We removed more metal with this one car than we have through machining to this point.

Next, the bolt holes needed to be spotted and drilled.  However, this was more of a trial run and we noticed a few areas that need improvement.

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We will be refining some fabrication practices, but we should have a car completed within days.  Be on the lookout for a pretty large update, and we will work on uploading videos to our Construction Log soon.

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Do you carry keys with your keychain?

We have now produced our Kickstarter keychain rewards. There might be some slight modifications for future sale, but we are happy to provide our wonderful backers with full metal keychains.

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Of the many firsts for the shop and Project, perhaps the one were are most proud of is breaking our first end mill. Why are we happy? We just learned some limitations involved with CNC milling, and that’ll prove to be useful in the future.

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The unfortunate part of breaking the end mill mid cut was that we ended up with a slightly rough edge. But, invested in some new files and a grinding wheel to adjust the parts.

One the parts were finished, we drilled the keyring holes and chamfered the edges.

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All that remained was to apply some paint to the engraved areas and sand the metal to provide a brushed aluminum finish.

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We just ordered wood to build the mini coasters, and hopefully next week out test structure will be assembled. The Roller Coaster Project shirts are still being shipped and we hope to hear from our backers.

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Around the horn…or shop.

Lately we’ve been extremely busy making the Kickstarter rewards: namely the keychains. The shirts have arrived and all will be shipped this weekend. As for the mini roller coasters, they will be finished by July then sent out.

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The shirts look great, and we are excited to receive feedback from our wonderful backers.

Next, we are manufacturing keychains from metal, as opposed to 3D-printed ABS plastic.

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Before we could machine the stock, we had to do some repairs/change of cutting disk for out lil’ cut off saw.

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From pushing down too hard during aggressive cutting, we accidentally sheared the cutting disk. Oops!

After repairing the cut off saw, we tried our hand at cutting aluminum stock. We first attempted to make the keychains from stainless steel; however, we failed numerous times and the worst resulted in throwing the Taig’s Z-column out of alignment. So, we went with some 6061 aluminum stock.

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The largest obstacle we faced was trying to engrave our wonderful little logo on the aluminum stock. We have performed a few test cuts, and hopefully it’ll work out really well.

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Keychains will be added to The Roller Coaster Store very soon, so you have experience thrills on the go.

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