Subterranean Sunday

Later today, we expect life to take a troglodytic turn. No, we’re not returning to our universal or bears Neanderthal forbears (damnable dictation software! and double-damned careless editing -Ed.). We’re simply going to be busy in the workshop, which is in the basement.

Tasks for today:

  • Test the Ghost Gunner (now that it’s talking to our computer — a Windows 10 installation, in Parallels virtualization software, running on a current Retina iMac). We don’t have the right 80% lowers for the default setups, unfortunately.
  • Finish assembling another Craftsman toolbox and bring order to the tool chaos that now reigns unchecked in the shop. Well, bring some order; we don’t think absolute order is in the offing.
  • Start assembling the rear spars for the RV-12’s wings. All the rib work and bracketry is done, and everything’s primed, most of it with Stewart Systems Eko-Clean -Etch and -Prime, but some parts (including the rear and stub spars) with self-etching rattle can. It was too cold to do the Stewart stuff in our garage. (ETA: in our five-minute spray booth we set up and break down in the garage. And naturally, no sooner had we stunk up the shop with the rattle cans, probably killing as many brain cells as a week-long bender, than the weather broke unseasonably warm here. Feh).
  • There’s definitely something else we’re forgetting. Don’t you hate that feeling?

Assembling the Craftsman tool box, for us, isn’t simply a matter of following the instructions. We’ll also have to go around and debur all the corners and edges that the manufacturer didn’t take care of. And we’re going to have to cut and install our own drawer liners. We could avoid all that, and get a higher quality box of thicker gauge steel, just by going with a pro box like Snap-on or Mac. But those are so much more expensive that we can get a decent box by giving the Craftsman a little bit of extra attention, and putting some sweat equity into it (well, until the edges are deburred, blood equity), and be left with more money for higher priorities. Remember the post on satisficing, not maximizing? It works for this too.

Doing the rattle-can priming in the basement workshop was a profoundly bad idea, one that became clear when a half hour of monkeying with the GhostGunner produced a piercing headache. With the new windows, Hog Manor kind of sucks at air circulation, unless they’re open.

And naturally, the rattle-can session was followed by days of forty-ish weather — we could have done the spraying outside or built the Five Minute Spray Booth in one of the garage stalls.

Yes, the movie review and TW3 are not done yet from yesterday (and there was never a Friday Tour d’Horizon, either. Your refunds are in the mail). Should be up today. The movie? John Wick, 2014.

One interesting note: today is the last day of January, and we think we may have set an all-time readership record this month. Not by a huge amount, but we think we see slow and steady progress. We value every one of our readers, and especially one of the best and best-informed sets of commenters in the gunosphere.

17 thoughts on “Subterranean Sunday

  1. DaveP

    My first thought on reading this AM was: “Hope the basement’s ventilated. Or he’s got a canary.”

    Didn’t you just run a cautionary generator tale….
    DaveP

  2. Mr. 308

    Bearing replacement on front loading GE washer for me. Half dissembled by now.

    20$ of Ebay parts, if it doesn’t work it means new washer, which costs as much as an AR. Thus, gun related post. Yes I could have gone for better bearings but like as not the ones that were originally installed probably weren’t that great and they lasted 5 years (assuming this is the problem).

    1. Hognose Post author

      Before Hog Manor, I never even owned a house, so I kind of dived it at the deep end. I am a power user of Amazon, eBay, and youtube repair videos. I have a whole other set of low-time washer-dryer in the basement for when the ones that came with the house are finally irreparable. Then, when those are finally gone, frontloaders might have improved enough to actually get clothes clean.

      1. Mr. 308

        Mines a GE and I hate this thing with the heat of a thousand suns in an infinite number of galaxies + 1.

        Bearings were shot and it spins better now, will have to see if I can get it all back in place and get the go button to work again. The problem we were having is when it went into spin it would start jumping all over the room, it’s supposed to sense this and do a little stop/start dance to get things back in balance. A potential cause for this is bad bearings and I could tell the drum was not spinning properly so I decided to go ahead and make the fix, Sure hope I am right. Could also be bad sensors or bad board but the self diag screens all showed good function.

        Yea, I hate these things. They say ‘uses less water, you can load more stuff and use less detergent’, Yea, sure. Some loads we put in this thing take as much as three hours to complete. Also have to watch for the little drain trap at the bottom, this is constantly getting backed up and you have to clean it out, which means about three gallons of water come flying out of it when you remove the little bundle of kiddie socks and pennies and other junk that gets stuck in it.

        Arrgh. End rant. Back to work! :-)

  3. Red

    Hognose, how’s running Windows on the Mac working for you? I’ve been looking into it somewhat for various applications.

    1. Hognose Post author

      At first I thought it wasn’t driving the mill, but then tried one of the bro’s Win 10 laptops with similar result. On the suggestion of Ben at Defense Distributed, I installed the Arduino development environment which includes a very complete set of drivers, inside the Windows environment, and behold! it worked. So it was some win10 driver issue that the Arduino IDE overcame.

      It gives the general impression of a slower than normal machine, but so does the Mac environment on that unit. I’m spoiled by the solid-state drives in my other Macs.

      I have not run anything yet except that stuff that comes with windows, like the Microsoft Edge browser, the various auto-update gadgets and settings, and the Ghost Gunner software, ddcut.exe. I expect I’ll be moving some things over to that environment, most CAD-CAM stuff that runs only on Windows, and I’ll probably do my next clearance update on there. (The websites required were developed in Microsoft .NET, and therefore are not Mac friendly).

      They’ve run into problems trying to port DDcut to Linux or Mac, very frustrating for them as they seem to be mostly *n*x guys. (I’m an old BSD/AT&T/AIX guy so I sympathize, but I was a net designer and admin, not a hardcore coder).

  4. S

    As far as I understand, the 80% rule is one of those aerial/posterior picks…..what is the legality of software to transform a lump of alloy from 0 to 80 on the GG machine?

    1. Hognose Post author

      “80%” exists in the common discourse, but the ATF does not recognize percentages, only a binary: X item is a firearm, Y item is not a firearm, Z item is a National Firearms Act firearm (machine gun, etc., which are in a different regulatory class). To get a determination, you send your X item in to the ATF, and wait for a letter and the item back.

      If they decide it’s prohibited, you just get the letter and a polite offer to scrap it for you. Or you can generate the registration paperwork, and if they approve THAT your NFA item comes back to you.

      The problem with going from 0% (presumably a billet of alloy, or perhaps a raw forging) to so-called “80%” is more technical than regulatory, in the USA. (I’m not aware whether any other countries allow amateur firearms construction, the EU’s definitely against it, but then, Brussels is the new Reichskanzlei).

      See, a factory M16 or Colt AR-15 receiver is made like this:

      1. a billet of raw alloy is struck on a forging hammer to near net shape.
      2. That billet undergoes a series of operations to allow it to be located with precision in workholding fixtures. This usually involves milling and drilling for the takedown and pivot pins, or machining the flat surface that will mate with the upper receiver and making some work-holding blind, threaded holes in the magwell and/or trigger pocket area.
      3. The magazine well is produced by broaching or wire electronic discharge machining (EDM). Because of its corners, it is difficult to produce by milling.
      4. The buffer tower is drilled with a large drill (1 3/4″ IIRC… I have the bit in the shop) and threaded for the receiver extension/buffer tube.
      5. The trigger pocket is milled out.
      6. The action pin locations are drilled.
      7. numerous small drilling and milling operations handle things like detent holes and the magazine well, the bolt hold open, the grip screw (which requires a unique setup), the trigger-guard-pin holes, etc.

      It’s more work to do one in the home shop because you’re not going to have a broaching machine or EDM. (Maybe if your home shop is Chuck’s GunLab). But it can be done and there are tutorials online.

      An approved non-firearm (aka misnamed as 80%, which we too use for convenience) receiver for the AR has the mag well cut already, the buffer tower finished, and usually some of the small holes drilled. It’s set up for the mag release and the bolt catch already. The end user must mill out the trigger pocket and drill the pin holes.

      This can be done with a drill press, but it’s hard to do it to high quality. (One secret is high-quality end mills, not crap from China. There are good tools from China but you need a lot of experience to distinguish them; buying European or American is a proxy for buying higher quality — to a point).

      To complete an 80% in the Ghost Gunner, it must be the right kind of 80%. Some lowers have a small milled area inside the rear takedown pin, and some don’t. The GG needs that area milled out or you can head-crash the mill into the work.

      There are two setups with two .DD files. The first produces the trigger pocket. The second uses the same clever fixtures in another alignment, rotated 90º to a vertical position to allow the device to drill holes. You have to change tools a couple of times in the hole phase.

      You could write software to handle some of the other things; you need to generate the tool paths, devise suitable fixtures, and wrap them all in a .dd file wrapper. I’ve discussed this (by email, not in person) with Ben. For example, you could fixture the new Glock non-firearm lower precursors and do them in here, possibly, you could open up that closed pocket on the “wrong” 80%er, you could reprofile an A4 or A2 receiver to an early A1 or an AR-15 prototype.

      The machine can also be used for engraving, Ben and I agree, given the right tool path generation and fixturing.

      1. Chris W.

        I’ve ordered mine and am awaiting notification to pay the remaining balance and get the unit. Any info regarding your experiences is most welcome!

      2. S

        Thanks for the detailed reply. I wish upon a star these things could be useful here. As it is we wait, we hide, we pray, in the hope that once the initial storm passes over some useful debris can be salvaged in between waves.

        All the best on remembering that elusive thingamajig….are you red-teaming this in the visualisation sandbox? Chalkboards with The Plan charted out? A friend’s minor project went from profit to loss in less than a second last week because the bleeding obvious was missed by all; I’m still kicking myself and I was just holding the flashlight.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Parody site? The real ABC News is not in the .co (Colombia, South America!) top-level domain.’

      ETA: the phone number in the article is not an ATF number, but a cell phone of a person not related to that agency. The executive order number is “close but no cigar” to a certain actual Obama XO. Article’s satirical, but the “Obama” statement is eerily like something he’d actually say.

      1. Chris W.

        Guess it was a parody site – whew! They also had an article about El Chapo escaping again LOL!

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