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Sunday, February 19, 2017

When is "O" a "0"? - A Lesson Learned!

So here I am.  I've finished my course in aircraft electrical theory, now I have a week off before I start off into hydraulic and pneumatic systems.

My mentor and my nemesis.  The electrical trainer.
The instructor didn't let us use lights so we couldn't cheat! 
That gives me a little time to work  in Fusion 360 again, and I took the opportunity to build 3D model of a spar for a PT-17 Steerman biplane.

A PT-17 Steerman
By USN - scan from Robert L. Lawson (ed.): The History of US Naval Air Power. The Military Press, New York (USA), 1985. ISBN 0-517-414813, p. 72. US Navy cited as source., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8046360

The modeling itself isn't very difficult, but my goal was to focus on the process of designing in Fusion 360, instead of focusing on the design itself.

I've purchased a subscription to a set of plans via my membership to AirCorps Library (A great resource BTW),.  They have a digitized copies of the spar, so I have a template to work from

The spar, being made of wood, has metal bushings pressed into it, and there lays the seeds of my error.

The spar modeled in Fusion 360, with the bushings assembled in.

The bushings are listed in tables, your typical "A" "B" columns with numbers.

But written in one of the columns was a suspicious looking "O".   It had to mean the number "0".  You know.  Zed. Naught.

An example of the "O" that got me. 
Confident in my conclusion of the figure's value, I modeled the bushing without a hole in it.

But as I my design progressed, I came to realize something.  That's not the number "0"!  That's the le letter "O".  As in a "letter O drill"!.

A letter "O" drill has a diameter of .316.  You can find it on any Imperial system drill chart.  Like this one here.

Fortunately, Fusion 360 did let me remedy that issue pretty fast.  But it did provide me a few moments of humor of what I saw, versus what the drawing meant.

Some of you may be thrown a mocking laugh, chuckle, or perhaps a guffaw in my general direction.  And I can't say I blame you.  Looking at the plans, the quotes around the letter should have implied it wasn't the number "0".

It also seemed odd to me that there would be a metal pin pressed into the wooden structure, but I shrugged it off as being a reinforcing pin.  It was only when I studied the assembly plans a little closer did I see that the bushing did have a hole in it.

I choose to blame it on the early hour of the morning (it was 5AM), and the coffee having yet to fully clear the fog in my brain.

So what have I learned?  And perhaps, what can you learn from my mistake?

  1. It pays to know how something is built.  Even though I missed the mark initially, it did finally dawn on me that the drawing called out a letter "O" drill.  Had I not drilled my own holes, and known that drills can be called out by letters, I may have shaken my fist and accused the drawing of being wrong. 
  2. Try to use your common sense.  I should have double checked the bushing against the assembly when I had my initial doubt.  It did clearly show the bushing as having a hole.  That might have tipped me off. 
  3. Try to understand how the drawing is meant to be interpreted.  This drawing was originally made in the 1930s.  It's format is much different than the drawings I use at work today.  Things considered obsolete in 2017, like fractions and certain styles of notes, were the standard when this drawing was created. 
  4. If you think that bullet 3 is a bit of a stretch, there are places that maintain drawings for decades.  Even at work we have drawings from the 1970s that look more like the drawing from the 1930s than the 2000s. 
  5. You're going to learn something new everyday.  Embrace it! 
So there are my lessons!  Thankfully, it's a small error, easily corrected, and with a lot to teach!   

Learn from my mistakes, and keep an open mind to the lessons our profession has to teach! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Making up Miles by Measuring Inches - My 3DConnexion CADMouse Anecdote

***Disclaimer!***
The pictures I'm using for this blog post are of my home laptop running Autodesk Fusion 360 with a CADMouse and SpaceMouse, both made by 3DConnexion.  Security at work limits what I images I can share from my work station.

Better safe that jobless!

*** End Disclaimer!***


It's likely we've all heard the quote "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".  And I'm just as sure that millions of "bar-stool philosophers" like myself have used it in some sort of discussion or debate.

Earlier this week, the microcosm of my CAD station gave me a moment to reflect on that quote again.

Since I started at my new position as a mechanical designer about a year ago, I've had a 3DConnexion SpaceMouse Pro and 3DConnexion CADMouse.  What can I say, work takes good care of me!

My laptop running Fusion 360.  I need to program buttons for this too. 
At one point, I had all the buttons mapped, and I was happily using radial menus and hotkeys.

But then, our CAD stations were upgraded, and all my settings were lost.

For most of that time, I keep telling myself.  "I need to rethink what commands I use most frequently, and start programming them into my devices."

And for most of that time, I've told myself.  "I really need to finalize what commands are really important to me.", or "I'll do it tomorrow.", or the infamous, "Once things slow down a bit."

That's how nearly a year passed with all my buttons set to their default settings.

My CADMouse menu in Fusion 360


Finally, I told myself, "Jon, just pick a command and program it!"

So I did.  I picked a few commands, and put them into my SpaceMouse Pro and CADMouse.

Programming the menus for my 3DConnexion CADMouse
And nearly instantly, I started wondering why I hadn't done it sooner!

What were the lessons I learned? 

  • Don't fall victim to "Analysis Paralysis".  I postponed making a decision until I had all the information.  The problem is, I had no hard stop to when I was done evaluating.  I could always "test a little longer". 
  • Just start already!  It's not like the path can't be changed while keeping the destination the same.  
  • We get so focused on the big goals, we forget the little steps.  Nobody knows that I customized my SpaceMouse Pro and CADMouse.  And there's really no need for them to.  But navigating my CAD system is much easier because I took a few minutes to do so.   


Conclusion?

Now, it's not like my 40 hour week suddenly turned into a 30 hour week, or that project that's going to take 18 months suddenly took twelve months because of my pre-programmed 3DConnexion devices.

But what did happen?

Things were just smoother, and dare I say a little more pleasant.  I wasn't reaching for my keyboard for commonly used hot keys, moving across a large monitor to get to an icon.

Now it didn't take my 40 hour week and make it into a 30 hour week, but it did make navigating my tools a little easier.

It's like having your favorite stations preprogrammed into your car radio.  It doesn't make a dramatic change in the lenght of your commute, but it does make the time you spend more pleasant.

Sometimes, it really is about the journey! 






Monday, January 23, 2017

Fusion 360 - 5 Updates on January 19th, 2017

Just a quick post on Fusion 360.  

Late last week, Fusion 360 received an update!

I won't spell it out here. Autodesk has already done that in their post explaining the update here.

Take a look at the new features and give them a try. 

Myself, I'm interested in the new branching preview they've added! 

Branching has been added! You can see it in the upper left corner of the screen.
I know I'm looking forward to some more features in the future!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Back in the Learning Saddle Again - In Classroom and Life!

A little update on the going on with me, and Inventor Tales as a blog.  

I'm back in class four days a week along with my day job as a Mechanical Designer, so things have gotten rather busy again.  

Which I'm afraid does rob time from my working with Fusion 360.

This time I'm studying DC electrical theory.  That means a lot of time in lecture and lab, right now I'm learning how to simplify series-parallel circuits. 



Then it means a couple of hours in the lab wiring circuits to make sure the concepts have really set in. 

The first, and simplest circuit I wired.  

That does mean slowing down my posts on my CAD products, yet again.  As my time is limited.  But I do plan on doing my best to share what I learn when I do have the time.

But one thing I can share, is a quick lesson I learned earlier this week.  One where my aircraft maintenance classes helped me in my "day job' as a mechanical designer.

It was during a discussion about how flared fittings are attached to a semi-rigid line.  

An example of a flared semi-rigid line I made in class.
The discussion related to the process of how it would be accomplish, as well as a few pros and cons as they applied to an aerospace valve.

And because of my aircraft maintenance classes, I've actually flared a 37 degree line myself. 

The tube in the flaring block.
Because I had taken these classes, I was better equipped to be an asset for my job.  

What's the lesson here?  Not all of you work with aviation applications, so a 37 degree flare may not apply to you.  

But the lesson I think you can take away is to keep your desire to learn alive.  And find something, whatever it is, that both interests you, and keeps you learning!

And I'll see about picking back up on those Fusion 360 posts soon!

And one last thing!

Here's a little video on the process of flaring a tube for an aircraft application!