Build Quality In

I am in the midst of reading "The Scrum Feildbook" by JJ Southerland recommended to me by and this quote really stood out to me.

"Build quality in, rather than try to fix it later"

Though simple I think it really captures what often happens when we start cutting corners. It's one major battle I find myself in more frequently than I would like. There are always things in our life that we will put off until a later date to fix when there is time, not realizing that if we just take the time to do it right the first time there is no need to fix it.

It's small, constant improvements, building the quality of character, building a healthy diet, building a stable work environment. These things aren't easy, but taking a few extra minutes to make sure it's right will pay multiples of what it costs now.

Turn From Evil and Do Good | What I Know Now 103

It's winding down now this Sunday evening, and one passage from the bible that really comes to mind right now is "Turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:14 

I first heard a commentary on this verse from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, where he broke it down a bit more and looked at the way the words were placed. It not only says do good and stop doing evil, but rather turn away from evil first, and then do good, emphasizing that you need to stop doing evil before you start doing good. Likewise, 'seek peace and pursue it' you have first to find out what peace looks like before you can start pursuing it. 

I was specifically thinking about this because it's the end of a long day with several hours of driving and meeting new people, and my willpower is very depleted. When this happens, I start doing things that are not in line with who I want to be. I've struggled with being overweight my entire life and only just last year did I lose nearly 100lbs in 7 months; though it was quite an achievement, keeping it off and avoiding the wrong foods is much harder. I needed to turn from evil, or in this case, stop eating what I shouldn't. That was my first and only goal, and until I reach that, I cannot move on to doing good, which would be working out and getting into better shape athletically. 

I think this can be applied to most things that we are doing that don't align with who you need to be. The first step is right now, at the moment, this very second, what are you doing, and does it align with who you're meant to be? It doesn't wait until tomorrow, next week, or the next new year.

I've discovered that the 'big battle' we are all preparing for in life is right now. It is how we treat those around us. It is those seemingly small interactions or decisions. It is that choice of taking a moment before responding. It is doing the right thing even when we don't feel up to it. It is telling the truth even though it damages our pride. This moment is the big battle, and sometimes it is easy, and we are confident, but many times it is not; at the end of a long stressful day, it is how you choose to respond in those moments that reveal who you really are. 

Machinist Apprentice | Completed Rocket Kit | Day 134

The final piece to this rocket kit project came in today, and I put the first box together!

This whole project is to be used for marketing and bringing in new clients. The rocket kit's genius is that the person assembling it gets emotional value on top of it being a pretty unique business card. It's an eye-catching piece that would look good on anyone's desk and clearly shows what the shop is capable of just being there. 

The potential client will get a box, the rocket, a few tools, assembly instructions, and the company business card. 

Since there are snipping pliers in the box, it wouldn't let the metal plate sit flat and rocked side to side. After a bit of testing, my boss figured that adding foam or cardboard lifts around the tools would allow everything to fit together nicely! Uline actually had foam used for making custom slots, depending on the purpose. It's basically a sheet of light foam cut into little cubes with only a small point connecting them. This allows you to trace out your tools and remove as many squares as necessary for a clean fit. You see this kind of foam used in hardcover camera cases. 

It did find it a little tedious to cut the foam out in the shape of pliers' shape sure it will speed up as I get the process down.

Communication is One of the Greatest Skills | What I Know Now 102

People are generally not very good at communicating, and I know because I am one of them.

I just got off the phone with someone giving me the outline of a possible project management position, and through this process, he highlighted the importance of communication in the role. That got me thinking about how often relationships are damaged by not communicating well and having misunderstandings.

I've found that I think something is seemingly obvious most of the time, I won't bring it up. But the other person rarely thinks the same way you do and so may not pick up on it. This creates a disconnect and causes confusion and misunderstandings. Learning how to communicate well is a massive skill to learn and will move you forward much faster than most other credentials will for any position. 

Even in contacting big-name people, communicating what you already know and asking a specific question will net you a specific answer. If you go broad and ask something like 'how do you be successful in life,' they will typically give a variant of the answer 'work hard and don't stop,' which isn't very helpful for your situation. But if you communicate where you are now and a specific scenario, then ask them what they would do were they in your position; at that point, they can give you a good response. 

Even sending thank-you's and considering what they would want and telling them is huge and something we often overlook! On its face, my mind immediately thinks of it as manipulation, but in reality, we are serving them. They want to see younger people genuinely interested and willing to put in the work to find more wisdom, and so you communicate to them that you are that person.

Machinist Apprentice | Odd Height Issues Resolved | Day 133

I'm back on the rocket project today, cutting the final operation on one of the batches of anodized plates!

Throughout my time working on this project, I've run into a series of odd height issues that I could not for the life of me figure out what was causing it. I would get certain parts of the plate with low points, which would leave a faded look to the cut causing me to lower the endmill until it completely cut the top face. This really isn't ideal as each time I have to lower the cut, the smaller the rocket stand gets, which makes a looser fit when putting everything together. 

My boss happened to be walking by a few days ago when he noticed I was clamping down quite hard on the mitee-bite fixture screws (off-center screws that revolve a hex-shaped bolt to apply pressure to the side when tightened). What I didn't realize was that you don't need all that much torque on those screws, and I was actually bowing the aluminum plate upward, giving it an arc in the center. Though slight, it was enough to get warped further when it got flipped over and cause issues. 

There isn't anything I can do to fix these anodized plates except creeping up on the desired height, but there shouldn't be an issue for the next batch of plates. 

I realize that there really doesn't need to be that amount of force needed to clamp down on material, and tooling and over-doing things cause a lot of stress, which could get released later in a catastrophic way. 

A few weeks back, my father mentioned adding the rocket formula to get into space and add that to the underside of the rocket baseplate. I got to try out a quick engraving and found an online vector image, which worked out beautifully!

Machinist Apprentice | Hard Lesson in Tool Tightening | Day 132b

A few weeks back, I had a fairly small crash on the Haas VF2 where the nut on the tool holder collided with my aluminum stock.

After inspecting the tool holder, it appeared to be functional. However, when putting a dial indicator on a gauge pin, there was nearly 2 thou (0.002") of run-out (when the tool doesn't spin concentric with the holder), which is not acceptable for machining. Thankfully after removing the nut and collet and checking the tool holder's inside taper, I found it to be within half a tenth (0.00005"). 

Unfortunately, after taking a closer look at the nut, my boss noticed two small cracks, which caused the crazy run-out. I mention this because after discussing my process for putting the tools together, he didn't realize how tight I was clamping down on the endmills. I had thought you really had to screw the nut on there when putting the tools together; however, after he showed the actual amount of force needed, I was amazed. He suspects that's why the nut cracked, and the crash was just the breaking point for the nut. 

He had me check through all the other tooling run out, and to my dismay, I found several tools with up to a thou of wobble. I removed many of the tooling setups for the Rocket project, reset each one with the proper amount of force, and got them all within a tenth or two. 

Thinking on it now, this may be apart of the reason I'm getting some odd finishes on my parts, and now that I know it doesn't require all that much force to put the tools together, I'm eager to test out some new finishing toolpaths. 

Machinist Apprentice | Haas Reinshaw Probing Calibration Process | Day 132

In the process of re-calibrating the Haas VF2 5-axis trunnion, I also took the time to recalibrate the rest of the probing systems on the machine.

Unfortunately, since this is the older control, there is a slightly longer process in calibrating the Reinshaw probes, and I actually missed a huge step that could have caused a massive crash on the machine. This is actually the same problem I ran into when I first calibrated it several months ago, and I'm kicking myself for making the same mistake twice. 

The Haas online tutorial has you go through several cycles to calibrate each of the probes. One of these cycles includes setting a calibration bar (a tool holder with a gauge pin), and you probe the tool setter. However, I forgot to consider that the machine has no idea how long the tool holder is from the tip of the gauge pin to the spindle, and I kept getting some weird consistent offsets. I thought you would only have to measure the approximate distance, and the machine would figure out the rest, though if I thought about it, I would have realized there was no way for it to tell. 

Finding the actual length of a tool without a tool probe is by taking a dial indicator and touching off the bottom of the gauge pin and setting the indicator to zero, and recording the z-axis number. Then move up to the top of the spindle until the indicator goes to zero as well. You then subtract the two z-length distances to get your tool height. I almost missed one big thing because when I touched off the bottom of the spindle, I noticed there was a lot of residue build-up, and I had to clear that away to get an accurate reading.

Once I found this number, I was able to run through the calibration cycles and finally got everything working together nicely!

Machinist Apprentice | Rocket Project Kit Assemblies | Day 131b

Working on the model rocket project again and putting together everything that goes into each of the kits! 

I'm super excited to get these shipped out and getting to see what kind of a response they get! It seems on the face of it to be a simple project, but the amount of small stupid things drives it up there of the most complex projects :)

Overall I'm quite pleased with how they turned out, and the experience of working with all the different features will definitely help me in the long run! Plus, I get to learn a different side of marketing and outside-the-box thinking. 

Machinist Apprentice | Changing A-Axis Machine Zero on Haas VF2ss | Day 131

In my previous post, I mentioned I had some issues with the Haas 5-axis trunnion not going to the correct home zero in the a-axis at the machine origin. It's not a big issue as I can find zero and set it with my G54 work offset, but it gets tricky when you start playing around with additional offsets.

I'm working on a 2014 Haas VF2ss, and this process may be different depending on the year of the controller software.

After talking to several Haas service and applications technicians, I finally found one that specialized in 5-axis work, and he was able to walk me through the process!

It turns out that changing machine or global zero for any of the axis is more of what a Haas technician would do in person, but there was a back-pannel way to do it and re-calibrate the angle as well.

The behind-the-scenes part of this is called 'debug' for the Haas controllers, and you can access it through the following sequence:

Unlock both ports on the side of the controller with the keys to allow changes to be made.


I initially had some problems where I couldn't get the debug change to happen until I unlocked the parameter lock. At which point, I had to go through the exact order of buttons to get it unlocked. The screen didn't change at all, which really threw me off, but there was a green border to everything showing that it was unlocked after going back to the parameters. 

Once you're in the background of the machine, I found my way to making the machine zero change, which I got to by the following steps:


The number should be 0, but if not, write it down. To find the correct number to input, I used a dial indicator and swept the top surface until I found zero, then went to find the actual position it was at by doing the following:


There were several data inputs under the A-axis tab, and I wrote down the number tied to the actual machine position. The decimal point isn't important and can be written as a whole to input back into the 212 parameters. Then home the A-axis and check to see that it worked. Finally, power off the machine and e-stop and double-check all the settings took place. This also gets you out of the debug configuration.

The final thing I wanted to check and re-calibrate was the 90deg tilt at which the trunnion would rotate to. This was actually easier than I initially thought. I put a quick command into the MDI to move the head to a vertical position (don't jog it), and after checking with a dial indicator, the 90deg position was about 0.0015" off from end to end, so it needed to be fixed.

I went back into the debug configuration and found the parameter that defines the a-axis rotation ratio, which is different for each machine. From what I understand, this works by defining how far and how much power the motors get when turning the a-axis. 


I initially tried to find the actual position and input the difference when sweeping and moving to the correct position using a dial indicator. However, this number had to be used in an internal equation that I didn't have the answer to, so I resorted to trial and error.

The number in the a-axis ratio was something like 458852. After playing around with adding and subtracting from that number (I started by adding 100 and subtracting 100), I would re-home the a-axis, and with the MDI command the machine to come back to that position to recheck it. You mustn't jog the machine by hand as it's got different variables than your real-life scenario of machine-controlled operations. 

It turns out that I only needed to add 34 to the initial number, and I got within 0.0003" (3 tenths) from end to end. After making all these changes, I shut down everything, let it sit for a couple of minutes, then booted it all back up again to ensure it all stayed consistent. 

Machinist Apprentice | Haas Calibration Trunnion & Tool Probe | Day 130

Man, it feels good to get back to the shop!

The Renishaw OTS tool setter/probe was twisted and was loose on its rod, so today, I was tasked with figuring out why that was the case and fixing it. I initially thought the problem was related to a twisted piece of aluminum that attaches to an external nut and the tool probe, but I later found it was just a symptom of the problem. 

After taking it all apart and thoroughly cleaning all the components, I realized the whole issue was because of a loose nut, not on the inside, but on the outside, that attached the probe to the base! It was not a waste of time, though, as I learned more about how it worked and removed all the internal debris.

There's also been an issue with the trunnion machine zero wasn't correct in both A & B axis. This hasn't really been a problem as we can find the a-axis zero and add it to the work offset. It's mostly a pain when powering up the machine, and it's visibly off and takes a few seconds longer to start up a new operation. 

I initially thought this would be a super easy fix to input a new global or machine zero. Still, after doing some quick searching online and on the Haas controller, I couldn't find any information on this. I'm honestly a bit shocked this isn't something that you can easily fix, and I feel it would be something that needs to be done every so often with a & b axis add-ons. I called up the Haas service line, and after getting bounced around to several technicians, they too didn't have a solution for me. They're doing some research on the matter, so I will have to wait until I get a call back before finding a conclusion on this matter. 

I assume that since the machine zero is seldom changed, it's a behind-the-controller option, and you can't access it without permissions.