Things have been very busy with both work and hobbies and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get all the planned projects finished and keep the blog up to date.
At the start of May my sole trader business Apexweb was closed after being self-employed for over 16 years and myself and my brother Andrew launched a new limited company called Apexweb LTD which combines both of our previous businesses offering web design, graphic design and other photographic services and also the design and manufacturer of our Raspberry Pi expansion boards which we sell on our ecommerce shop at AB Electronics UK.
The change from a basic sole trader business to a new limited company in the UK has resulted in a lot of paperwork, forms, visits to the accountants and lots of problems trying to get a new bank account setup (still ongoing after over a month of failed call-backs, hours spend on hold and forms which don’t arrive) with the bank which I have been using for over 30 years. It now appears that Lloyds Bank won’t give us a debit card for the new business account until the new business has been trading for over six months so we won’t be able to buy any stock or pay for our server hosting using the new business account until the bank decides that we can be trusted to spend our own money.
We have been making a lot of updates and changes to improve our Virtual Swanage website which we have now been running for over 18 years with a big update to the navigation system and also changing nearly all the pages to use url rewrite to help with the search engine rankings and make it easier to find information on the website. We hit a new milestone earlier this month with over 2000 local events being listed in the diary pages.
We started mountain biking again earlier this year after a long break and have been recording our routes on a GoPro Hero camera and also using a Garmin GPSmap 62s GPS unit which we are using to record the track and also junctions, gates, turnings etc which are used on our Virtual Swanage website in an updated cycling and walking sections with printable routes and maps. Some of the cycle routes have videos embedded from my YouTube channel.
The DIY Pick and Place machine has been running without too many teething problems since it was completed and upgraded with the new control board earlier this year. We have now built several thousand boards with the machine.
A new issue which has recently appeared was broken cables in the main 18 way cable which drives the head stepper motors. The cable we used was from a computer printer cable so it wasn’t designed to be repeatedly moved and this has resulted in 2 of the cores breaking so far. We have ordered a cable from IGUS (supplier of e-chain) which is designed to be run in the e-chain systems so it will hopefully resolve the problem from reappearing in the future.
The placement speed of the machine is being held back with the Mach3 software and the Smoothstepper Ethernet boards due to the way that the Mach3 API allows access to the software. It will only allow one movement command to be sent at a time and won’t allow another command until it has stopped moving. When running the Mach3 software with a full g-code script with several commands listed it will run much faster but the API is limiting the speed so we are stuck with this very annoying limitation until we change to a new control system and software.
After looking at a lot of forums for CNC and stepper controllers we decided to place an order for a DynoMotion KFLOP 8-axis Motion Control Board and when this arrives we will work on new control software which will be able to send the commands direct to the motion controller. We hope this will greatly improve the performance of the pick and place machine.