2012 Pacific Northwest Camp Shopbot

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David Chase and family hosted this Camp again in Vancouver, WA. And as usual  we had a good turnout.

There was a pretty wide range of  “Campers” this year as we had more people attending one  for the first time than usual , combined with some people who have been “Botting” for many years.

Cabinet builders, hobbyists, sign makers, prototypers, etc. All ranges of machines from desktops to a tool changer.

We started off with a little review of what’s been going on in terms of newer products at Shopbot , and tools for using on or with the machine, including a number of “after market” items, such as the drag knife and laser positioning gadgets.

Our host Dave was running what I would call a “hot rodded PR” model Shopbot that was 12 years old, and he showed off some of his beautifully built folding cribbage boards which he makes on it . Dave also gave a talk on the vacuum setup he has built for this machine. He’s using two “Light house” vacuum motors (in series) to generate  a pretty powerful 18 inches of mercury, and then he’s found a “gasket like material” which is no more than shelf paper with a relatively flat embossed pattern ( as compared to the “waffle style” most stores sell). Combining that rig with dedicated vacuum “jigs” he is able to do beveled perimeter cuts that line up perfectly when his boxes are assembled. He also showed us a clever “shop crane” he’s built out of a Harbor Freight hoist that he uses for moving larger items around. And he also explained how he uses an Xbox controller as a remote pendant to operate the Shopbot. He’s even got his family in the game as well and his Daughter showed off an acrylic penguin she designed and cut so she could help to create a full sized “tree house” for a nursery school where she teaches…

Gene Buckle pulled a video he posted on You Tube literally out of the air as he used his phone as a “hot spot” so we could run the video in Dave’s shop which is not connected to the internet. Gene’s video showed the process of double sided machining a “3D” part, and the importance of proper layout and tool pathing.

We had a good discussion on the “real” process of building and installing signs, and numerous “war stories” sprang from that.

And then we got into the use of different materials for cutting, and learned some local sources for obtaining them.

3D was a topic of major interest and we traced the process of going from an idea, to making a file, then cutting, and coating it. We also discussed the process of making a “master” for creating molds to do multiples of an item.

And the concept of prototyping in foam or similar materials came up so we spoke a bit about the various software options are out there for designing, and cutting ,various types of files.

There was a lot of interest in the “rotary turning” process, and a number of people were looking to find more information that would help them get started on this type of cutting. Daryl Boulton spoke about some of the issues he’s dealt with in fine tuning his indexing rig.

Mike Miller explained some facts about cutting some of the various “flavors” of plastics, and gave good info about which ones would be better options for specific applications. He brought along some of the pieces he builds on his machine, and are cut out of “Starboard” HDPE. He also addressed the differences between cutting aluminum on a Shopbot as compared to a dedicated milling machine.

Plenty of interest in router bits, with major endorsements for Centurion products, and Gary Beckwith’s  ‘3D ball nosed package set’.

As usual one of the major “benefits”of the Camp was the fact that a few people found out that they had “Shopbot neighbors” closer than previously thought, so they were able to start the process of getting together after the camp. And There was a LOT of interest in having interim “user groups” started throughout the year, and throughout the state ( good sized Seattle contingent here again…), so I think there will be some options down the line for those who may have missed this event.



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