New Tools Update #1

EMS received a generous donation at the end of 2014. The board decided we should spend that money on some new tools for our members. After a discussion in the EMS Discuss mailing list, we opted to spend some money on two things.

  1. CNC milling machine
  2. Laser cutter

Those things seemed pretty high up on the list for many members, and as it happens some members were already working on these things. This decision will allow us to fund the projects and hopefully expedite them.

CNC Milling Machine

Several members have been working hard to repair a recently-donated CNC milling machine. You may have seen it on the large desk inside EMS. The most recent problem has been with the motor driver circuit boards. The driver chips keep burning out. They’ve already been replaced once, but the problem has repeated itself. The team has decided to purchase new controller boards instead of trying to continue debugging the old ones. We are going to use EMS funds to help the team purchase the parts they need to get the machine up and running. We’ll also spend a few hundred dollars on proper tooling for the machine when it’s ready to go. This way we’ll have everything we need to make use of the machine.

Laser Cutter

Bob has been building his 40 Watt laser cutter for over two years now. The current status is that it’s almost ready for use by other members. He’s still working on some of the software but he’s got a plan formulated for that. Also, you may have noticed a hole cut in the rear wall of the EMS shop over the last week or so. This hole was approved by the landlord and installed to provide adequate ventilation for the laser cutter once it’s up and running. An exhaust fan was already installed as well. Bob also needs to build a custom table to hold the laser cutter up at an appropriate height, while also leaving storage space for cutting materials. He’s going to be a bit busy working on his Eugene Maker Faire project in the coming months though, so if anyone would like to lend a hand with this project please reach out on the Discuss list.


I needed to quickly fabricate a device for letting me use my ladder sideways on the stairs. I wrote it up on one of my sites here if anyone is interested:

For anyone in a hurry, here’s a pair of pics showing this simple method for solving this problem:

2014-02-23 13.01.54 stairwiderer

It’s not complicated, it’s not going to change the world, but it sure helped to have a nice little shop to go from concept to execution to not-dead-of-a-broken-neck in just a few hours!

Building an Olympic Lifting Platform

On February 1, 2014, I (Rick) got together with another EMS member (Ellery) to build a modular Olympic Lifting Platform.  The goal was to build a platform that could fit in our garage.  The standard 8′ x 8′ size would be much too large, so we cut ours in half.  The other problem is that moving a full sized 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood is very difficult without access to a truck.  It also would be very difficult to move, reposition, or stow away at that size.  We therefore designed our platform to be modular.  The center platform is 4′ x 4′ and each side piece is only 2′ x 4′.  This allows us to transport the whole thing in one SUV with one person if needed.  We can also easily move it off of the floor if we ever need to reclaim that space.  The resources and space available to us at EMS were very helpful in completing this project.