Posts Tagged ‘Cool!’

ShopTalk: Burl Audio at Jackpot! Recording Studios

I recently had the pleasure of spending an evening at Jackpot! Studios. NARAS was kind enough to host an event with Larry Crane of TapeOp.

Next door, Scott of Hamptone was showing off his amazing collection. Ribbon mics, custom consoles, various products in various stages of development…

In addition, the Burl Audio Mothership was demoed to a receptive audience. Not that it was a scientific listening test, but we A/B against an Apogee box, and the Burl was somewhat preferred for it’s punchier sound.

I met some absolutely great people, including a half dozen (including the aforementioned Scott), who design and make their own gear.

Wherein I Wax Poetic:

This brings me to something that constantly surprises me (and really shouldn’t): Portland, stereotypically home of the hipster, their ex-hippy parents, microbrewerys, and innumerable ‘scenes’, is a manufacturing city.

Creativity drives industry, and vice versa. Hamptone and Jackpot share a building. What better way to develop prototype audio equipment than to throw it in the studio next door?

I see that all over Portland, from makers of fine artistic goods like Bullseye Glass and Gamblin inks to stalwarts like Oregon Iron Works and Precision Castparts. The industry and art drive each-other. More on this later.

Around the World in Two Weeks

In an odd twist of events, I had a personal trip right before a work trip, and ended up combining the two. It resulted in the following (check-that-off-the-bucket-list) itinerary:

I had, by (mostly) accident, ended up having to fly around the world. The unfortunate thing is that I didn’t get to spend a huge amount of time outside airports I traveled through or the facilities I was working at. I will note that Turkish Airlines and EVA Airlines are quite nice, and reasonably priced. It turns out the flag carriers of small countries are a huge source of pride, and provide excellent service.

Resingrave: Speeds and Feeds

Machining Resingrave


When engraving printing blocks for relief printing, it is often laborious to cut out large, unused areas of blocks. Some artists have turned to Dremels (or equivalent) for expedience. This carries some risk, as a single slip can send the cutting tool skidding across a whole block, ruining it.

I wanted to help my better half out and clear some large areas of a block she was carving. She carves using a material called Resingrave. This material was developed by Richard Woodman as wood engraving medium intended to replace expensive and increasingly depleted end-grain hardwoods, traditionally used for woodblock printing. After corresponding with the helpful folks at McClain’s Printmaking Supplies, I had enough information to try machining the material.

Our goal was to mill away large unused areas of the block to save significant hand-carving time. The picture to the right shows the block in the vise, before we set the cut depth and started machining. There are parallels supporting the block in the vise. Note that the design outline  has already been hand-carved, and the rest will be hand-carved once the larger, unused areas are milled down.



I used a 1/4″ two flute HHS endmill a geometry typically used to cut aluminum. HSS is probably preferable to carbide, as it will hold a better edge.

Note the compressed air

I used a Sharp LMV mill at my employer’s extensive machine shop (with permission, of course).

I machined the resingrave at a .055 inch depth, 1000 RPMs, feeding about 12 inches per minute (.006 inches per tooth). We took a .1″ cut with each pass, except for initial full-width cuts into sections of the block, as seen at right. This was a conservative and slower method, but there was no reason to rush. Those familiar with Bridgeports, clones, and many manual domestic mills will recognize that distance as a half turn of the crank, making the math easy on me.


The block turned out well, and made quite the mess of small, louse-like, clingy chips. The uniformity of these chips was important, as it indicated that my milling was fairly consistent. I took advantage of the X-axis power feed for the long cuts along the bottom of the block. One of the critical things was keeping the cutter and block free of chips. I used light compressed air, and occasionally brushed the cutter off.

Best of all, the artist was happy. The block suffered no damage, and hours of removing unused material was saved. Her take on the process is here. For those who want more machining details, read on.

More Numbers:

Taking my speeds and feeds, I could reverse the usual calculations and find the surface feet per minute.
You can try it here, or use the widget below:
Milling Speed and Feed Calculator

Calculating this out, my SFM is about 65…I assume the theoretical maximum SFM of the material is significantly higher, but I didn’t want to recklessly hog out something that was on it’s way to becoming a really cool piece of art.

There was no difference between climb milling and conventional milling. I took passes in both directions without worry. Given the softness of the material, the slow feed, the shallow cuts, and the relatively tiny end mill, I felt climb milling was safe.

The Final Result

Coming soon: An actual print pulled from the block. See it at Folio CIII.

Not a bad wrench position.

On a more personal nature today:

For the past week, I’d been neglecting my car. The driver’s side lock cylinder was loose, and I wasn’t looking forward to disassembling all the interior body paneling and removing the window mechanism and glass to fix it. Unfortunately, it all came to a head last night, as the bolt holding the lock cylinder in place made a resonant clanging as it fell into the depths of the door.

Fortunately, I drive a moderately antediluvian Subaru Impreza. Upon removing three retaining screws, the interior paneling came off easily. Then, when I recovered the bolt and rolled down the window in anticipation of removing it, I realized something neat: The window comes down it’s tracks and moves slightly towards the front of the door, uncovering the interior side of the door handle/lock cylinder. 10 minutes later, I had the lock mechanism tight, the interior paneling back on, and an operating lock.

Some mechanics say that there isn’t a bad wrench position on a Subaru. I would tend to agree.

30 feet, 50 feet…100 feet? Does it stop?

So, the first prototype pictures of the Supertechno 100 are in the wild…Dollygrippery has them.

A 100 foot telescoping camera crane…This in and of itself is an amazing feat, given the relatively recent development of even 20 foot telescoping cranes.

The whip, vibration and movement on a non cable-stayed arm of that length with 3 (or more?) sections will be tricky to handle though. I bet the engineering is absolutely top-notch though. It’s an inspirational sight! The technology has come so far in a relatively short time…Louma, Techno, the Hydrascope…There are a ton of good options out there. Anyway…

I will be curious to see the thing in use, or at least at a trade show. The Strada trick of just lifting the operator, steadicam rig and all probably is impossible, though would be a wild ride for the operator. My money is on a stabilized head like the Scorpio or Chapman G-3 over the Techno Z head or other standard heads for most uses, given the inherent flexing.

And how many operators to effect a movement? Or are they going to motorize the base in addition to the crane and head? That’s a lot of weight to get around. Sounds like a 3-4 person job now…

Anyway, Dollygrippery has the goods. It’s worth a look, because really neat things come from Plzeň…