Tuesday, 17 September 2013

I'm still here and chipping away at it!

Updates have been conspicuous by their absence for most of this year, mainly because of the lack of progress on the car. Work and other commitments have meant I have not been able to devote much time to the build, but I have not been totally idle on the Cobra front.

A big part of the build is the intake system I have been designing and in order to manufacture it, I will need a number of custom aluminium parts along with plugs and moulds for the carbon fibre work. I took a long look at the economics of this and decided the most cost effective way forward was to develop the capability of machining these parts myself. To this end, I have spent most of the intervening months (and budget) designing and building a bench-top 3 axis computer controlled milling machine. This doesn’t have the precision or power of commercially available machines, but my aim is for it to match or beat the tolerances of sand cast parts when machining aluminium and produce the highly contoured plugs for the composite work with far more precision than I would otherwise be able to achieve.

The machine is substantially built and I am currently in the process of commissioning it. I have had all three axis motors spinning under the control of the computer and the next stage is to connect them up to the slides on the machine and get the various parts moving. There are a couple more components to manufacture in order to complete the spindle, and then it should be ready for the first test cuts.

I have had to refresh myself in the programming language used by these machines (G-codes) as I have not used it since University and I am getting up to speed on the software used to convert a 3D CAD model into a tool path. The initial parts will therefore be less than startling, but hopefully I will get the hang of it quickly and the important (i.e. more noticeable) parts will be fully ‘Cobra Spec’!

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