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Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Amazon Web Service Outage of 2017

Earlier this week, Amazon Web Services suffered a service disruption.  For me personally, that meant disruption in Autodesk Fusion 360 (which I thankfully wasn't using at the time), and Fusion Lifecycle, which I was.  Fortunately, while Fusion Lifecycle was disrupted, it wasn't offline.

So, what happened?!?!

Several sites were affected.  My girlfriend sent me an instant message to let me know their CRM (Contact Resource Management) was down.  According to NPR, Gizmodo and Apple iCloud were affected.

The amazing, and perhaps disconcerting part of this is how easily the service was disrupted.  It seems that a technician was troubleshooting, and took off more servers than intended with a typographical error.

That's right, a typo, fat fingers as us techies call them, were the cause of the disruption.

Added to that, there didn't seem to enough redundancy, or possibly any, to absorb the lost servers while they were brought back online.

Now I'm no expert on Internet architecture. I imagine I know more than some, less than others.  I'm not going to prognosticate on what Amazon could have, and should have done, or should be doing.

There are plenty of people smarter than I who can do that better than I can.

But what I will say, is what I learned, relearned, and what I can do in the future.

What I learned and (relearned)

  • The cloud is a great tool, it's saved my class grades when I didn't print it out by mistake.  But the technology is new, and new technology is often developing systems, and developing systems can be prone to failure.  
  • As a whole, the cloud is pretty robust, but when it fails, it can fail spectacularly.  Many can be affected, and word can get out quick!
What can I do in the future


  • I can't make Autodesk, Amazon, or anyone else change their system, at least not directly.  But I've heard rumors that improved offline capabilities are on their way.  I hope they're true, and that after this outage, the efforts have been increased.  I'll be keeping my eyes out for that development! 
  • To this end, I'll be doing a better job of backing things up locally.  That's right, in a 180 degree turn, I'll be working in the cloud and backing up locally.  Just in case. 
I won't be abandoning the cloud, what I will be doing is approaching it more cautiously, and more diligently.  

In many ways, the cloud is a new frontier filled with pioneers, and pioneers must face the hazards of a new frontier to pave the way for others.  

For my part, I'll choose to stay on that frontier, but I will make sure I'm planning ahead! 

On into the brave new world!

photo credit: NPS Park Cultural Landscapes Program Chilkoot Trail via photopin (license)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Fusion 360 Event with Autodesk and Haas Automation

Today I had a great opportunity to see Fusion 360 at the Autodesk Fusion 360 FastTrack Event in Anaheim, Ca.

The best part?  It was held at the Haas Automation Outlet!  What better way to see the Future of Making Things then to go somewhere the future is being made! 

The Haas Factory Outlet - There's magic inside!

The first thing I saw inside was a little bit of manufacturing heaven!  Cue the theme music from 2001: A Space Odyssey!



That was amazing enough, but next came the opportunity to see a little Fusion 360 in action!  The attendees had an opportunity to see, and try, taking a part in Fusion 360 and build tool paths and G-Code.

Let's do this! 

We also had the opportunity to talk among each other, get ideas, and ask questions.

Even better, we had the chance to talk to CNC machinists, and learn from there experience, which is invaluable.
I'm a far cry from being a machinist, but I have cut a few parts on a mill, and generally can create the shape I'm after if it's not too complicated.  But I learned a lot from listening to them, and will be bending the ear of our own machinists when I'm back in the office.

I remember the days of "Thou shalt not take heavy cuts with your tools!" and "Thou shalt cut radii that are divisible by 1/16th of an inch!"

So shall it be written!  So shall it be done! 




But now, tools like adaptive clearing to remove more material more efficiently.  We were also taught that there's technology exists to keep the tool moving efficiently.  In effect, even though the machine is cutting a curve, the computer can compensate in such a way that the load on the machine is no different than cutting a straight line.

New technology, and a new way of doing things for the future of making things!

I answered a few questions, and came away with a few more.  But most of all, I came away exited with what I'd learned, and excited with what more I could learn going forward!



Here's a few videos I grabbed!  Enjoy!  And get excited about what's out there!


A tool change, and back at the part! 


Finish him!

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!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A360 to Share a Fusion 360 Model - I Got the Feedback I Needed In Minutes!

There are many examples of people who have used computer aided design programs like Fusion 360 to create models for replacement parts that can no longer be located.

It's a fantastic technology, one that in my personal opinion is still in it's early stages.

This is my experience with a knob on the stove in our home. Now, this isn't a story of how I created a model, had it 3D printed, and how incredible the end product is.

There are many of those stories.  And their success is well deserved. 

I'm just sharing a step in the journey as I learn about the process first hand.  I may follow through and find success!  Or I may find, for some reason, it's not worth pursuing any further. 

But carrying that dose of reality. Here is the first step in that journey, building and sharing the model. 

Building the Model - The Easy Part! 

Building the model was a process of measuring the knob.  That meant pulling out my trusty set of calipers and carefully measuring the knob.  I had to make sure that the dimensions, particularly where it mounted to the stove were correct.  



The process of modeling took only about two relaxed hours on Friday morning, which for me is a day off. That part was pretty easy. 

The stove knob modeled in Fusion 360.
But now I've finished my model and it's only about 9AM.  I'd like to share the model with her, but she's just started her day at work.  

So how do I share the model? 

How do I share the model quickly, easily, and effectively so I can get feedback as soon as possible?

My Answer - A360

In a previous post, I mentioned that Autodesk 360, or A360, mirrors your Fusion 360 projects.  Now was time to take advantage of that for collaboration to a fuller, if not completely full form. 

I opened the model in A360 and opened the file in the A360 viewer.  I clicked the share icon to start the sharing process. 

The knob in A360.  Notice the "Share" icon in the upper right.
After selecting "Share" the sharing options will show up.  


In my case, I made sure the file was shared.  Then I copied the link to my instant messaging program, and sent it to my girlfriend.

After a about 30 minutes, she had taken a look at the model in her internet browser, and had given me a few thoughts on what I had done.

First circle completed!

Thoughts on Collaboration

While very tech savvy, my girlfriend isn't a CAD operator.  But with just a link, she was able to view the model in all it's 3D glory.  I didn't have to take half a dozen screen grabs, and wait for an email.  Points to A360 for that.  The online view did all it needed to do, and it did it quickly, and efficiently. 

My total turnaround time was less than 3 hours from starting to build the model, to having my girlfriend's feedback. 

On another note...  If your aware of Autodesk's Live Review you might be wondering why I didn't use it. The answer for that is a simple matter of logistics.  With my girlfriend at work, I had to accommodate her schedule, which meant sending her a link that she could use at her convenience.  Sending a link was the best tool for this task. 

Next Steps?

The next thing to do is look into getting the part 3D printed.  The main question is will it be cost efficient.  There's no sense if the cost to make a new knob is 20% of the cost of a new stove.  

But that's what I'm trying to learn by going through this process.  

I'll keep you posted on this part of my journey!  You're learning along with me!   Or at least that's my hope! 

And if' you'd like to look at the Fusion 360 model yourself.  Here's a link!  Feel free to have a look.




Friday, January 06, 2017

Autodesk A360 and Your Own Private Wiki

One thing I've learned from my aircraft maintenance classes, as well as from my various aviation mentors, is that the information surrounding a design can be every bit as critical as the design itself.

For example, aircraft have extensive logbooks recording all maintenance and inspections that have been performed on the aircraft.  At any time, your friends from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), can drop in and say.

"We're from the FAA, we're here to help.  May we see your aircraft maintenance logbook?"

A typical aircraft maintenance logbook.  This is not to be lost! 

Needless to say, if you don't have an accurate and updated logbook, you may feel a few beads of sweat on your forehead.

The point of my little anecdote is that when working with an aircraft, product, or design, the information that drove your design in a given direction can be every bit as important as the design itself.

That information may come in the form of spec sheets, vendor quotes, or meeting notes.

What would you do if you were asked, "What information drove you to make the decision you did?

In my experience, these documents are often misplaced or even worse, lost forever.  Meeting notes get thrown out, spec sheets get dropped in "a network drive somewhere", and vendor quotes are left in "an email from a few months ago".  

As I've taken a deeper dive into Fusion 360 and Autodesk A360, I've found that A360 provides a nice tool that can help with that very thing.

A360 has a "Wiki" folder that let's you create documents letting you keep the information you need with your project.

The "Wiki" folder hidden in A360.

It's a special folder where you can add information and add links to whatever information you deem important to your project.

Here you can create multiple documents, share them with other members of your team, and allow them to comment, and update the documents.

A sample of my A3t60 Wiki.  I only have one page started


In my initial test, I created a Wiki page with links to important documents that I might need.  These references are documents from the FAA, links to important technical documents, and helpful instructional videos.

The Wiki page I created for my Fusion 360 project.

Now is that all you can do?  Hardly!  Personally, I've only just waded into the shallow end of the pool.

But it's something I intend to make further use of, and if you're using Fusion 360, I think that it's worth taking a look at what this Wiki folder in A360 can do for you.

After all, if you don't record it, it's like it never happened in the first place.

So what do you think you could use this Wiki page for?

Share your thoughts!  In the spirit of collaboration, let's all learn together!


Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Fusion 360 and A360 - Using Them Together

There's a lot of talk about Fusion 360 and all the things it can do, and there should be! It's a great tool that does a lot of great things, and it's doing more all the time.

But just as important, is sharing the right information, and sharing it with the right people. 

If you've used Fusion 360 before, you've almost certainly used the data panel.  It's where your projects and project data is stored and organized

The data panel, ever present, on the left of your screen


But did you also know that it's folders are mirrored to Autodesk cloud storage service A360

The folders mirrored in A360
If you're a big Fusion 360 user, you may be shrugging and saying, "so what?"

But what if you need to share that data?  What if you need to access that data from multiple computers or mobile devices?  

A360 can come in handy for that, sharing with consumers who may not be Fusion 360 users.

Maybe they just need images for marketing, or maybe it's something that you or your team want to review on site?

Maybe you just want to embed some code to create a view-able file for a blog post... (spoiler alert!)


That's a job for A360!  

So before you throw it in the "Wastebasket of Meh", give it a thought or two, and think about how you can use it. 

I know it's possibilities are inspiring me, and I'm looking forward to exploring further! 

Since I can access my data on my tablet, exploring should be easy! 

Can you hear the music to "Travelin' Man"? 
I'm looking forward to sharing what I learn! 

I'm already getting some great ideas! 



Monday, January 02, 2017

The First Post of 2017 - Fusion 360... And Now What?

Here I am, sitting on my couch on New Years weekend.  I have one more day off of work, and another week before aircraft maintenance classes start again.

I've had a little bit of time with Fusion 360.  I've been playing around, just making a few parts and renderings.  And most of all, continuing to explore it's possibilities.

An elevator bearing bracket.  Modeled and rendered in Fusion 360. 
There's still much more for me to look into, and as Fusion 360 is updated, more features appear all the time (and that's a good thing!).

But now that 2017 is here, what is the biggest thing to I'm looking forward to?

Flat out accessing data anywhere I want.  I don't have to worry about where I saved data, was it put in a PDM system like Autodesk Vault, and can I access it where I currently am.

As long as it's saved in Fusion 360, and I have a connection to the internet, I can see the data.

I've already been able to access data on my tablet on a site. Far more portable than having to open up a laptop and boot up!

Tablet and Laptop.  Syncing data with no extra effort on my part! 


And I'm looking forward to taking a bigger advantage of that!  I'm also looking forward to sharing more!

So here we go, 2017.  Time to pave a new trail and see what the future brings us!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Aircraft Maintenance Class - Done for Now!

InventorTales has been a little quiet for the last few weeks, and that's because I've been head down in Aircraft Maintenance classes again.

It's fascinating, and, at times, frustrating.  It meant an additional 25 hours per week in class on top of the 40 hours a week I put into my day job.



The lab at Mount San Antonio College where I learn how airplanes tick.

It's fascinating, and, at times, frustrating.

It was 12 long weeks of studying sheet metal, metal alloys, wood and fabric construction, and composites.  

Those classes gave me lessons that will go far beyond the classroom.



There is more to laying out rivets than meets the eye...

But I don't want to turn this into bragging about what I did in class.  What now for InventorTales?

I'll have the next few weeks off of class, and in that time, I'm planning on getting reacquainted with Fusion 360, and sharing a bit of what I learn.

So stay posted, and enjoy this holiday season!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Three Things Safety Wire Taught Me About "How Hard Can it Be?"

My aircraft maintenance classes at Mt. San Antonio College, and yes, that does reduce my blogging time still!  

But it keeps me learning, and in this short post, I'm sharing a bit of my experience with a cocky phrase I think all of us have encountered at one point. 

How hard can that really be? 

For me, safety wire was one of those cases.  Deceivingly simple, there's a lot more that goes into it that what first meets the eye. 

An example of safety wire on a fuel totalizer.
It looks like twists of wire, but there's much more to that. 

So what is safety wire?

Also referred to as "lock wire", safety wire is what is called a positive locking device.  It serves the purpose of preventing a fastener from loosening or falling out, and also serves as a witness that the fastener has been properly torqued. 

That covers the "whys", but what about the "hows"?   It's the "hows" where the hidden challenges in the process begin to reveal themselves. 

From the Federal Aviation Administration's book AC43.13, here are the requirements for proper safety wire installation on an aircraft. 

  • Safety wire must be installed in such a way that the fastener cannot loosen. 
  • Safety wire must have 6-8 twists per inch.
  • Never overstress safety wire. It will break under vibration. 
  • Wire must not be nicked or kinked, that includes backing off twisted wire if you've twisted it too many times.
On top of that, there are diagrams upon diagrams of examples displaying the proper procedure for various types of applications.  

An example of some safe wire combinations
From AC43.13
For me, that meant making a lot of mistakes.  I've gotten the wire too loose, I've kinked the wire, I've even gotten the direction backward, loosing the fastener instead of tightening it. 

And all of that means grumbling in frustration, cutting it off, and doing it again. 

So what does that mean for those of you out there?  Many of you will never touch safety wire, and that's alright.  It may not be your thing.  

But one lesson from a few twists of wire can be summed in a few simple phrases.  

Just because it looks easy, doesn't mean it is.  And if someone makes it look simple, it may be that they've been honing that skill for years. 

And that can be true of an task, be it safety wire, welding, running a CAD program, or installing a data management system.  

So see the world with an eye for learning from those experts! 


Acknowledgements:


 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

How the Cloud Saved my Butt - And my Homework Grade

I'm still taking my aircraft maintenance classes at Mt. San Antonio College.  And while it's rewarding, it's enormously time consuming.

Between work and class, it means days starting at 5:30 AM and ending at 11PM.  It makes me grateful for a supportive family, but something does have to give, and in this case, it's the blog that suffers.   

One of the instructional airframes, the Cessna 337 Skymaster.
But life is still teaching me lessons, and this is one where data in the cloud helped save my grade.

I store my homework in Google Drive.  Why?  I can access it anywhere, and it's always backed up.  It's always nice to be able to open the latest version on my phone, laptop, or work computer, without having to worry about uploading or emailing documents. 

And as a final bonus, I have semesters of homework available for my reference.


The infamous textbook.  My dinner companion many nights.

Perfect cloud application, right?  Of course!

But last week, I had an interesting experience that thankfully, the Cloud saved me from. 

In a rush at work, I hurriedly printed and stapled my homework to turn into class.  Once turned in, I went merrily on  my way, satisfied with a job I thought well done. 

But the next day, I got a surprise that made my stomach sink. 

The instructor returns my homework with a 43% on it.  I'm shocked!  How?

He tells me, "You're missing half your homework."  

Gobsmacked, I flip through the pages.  Sure enough, two of the four pages are blank.  

I kick myself for not checking.  It's a stupid mistake. 

The teacher breaks me out of my trance.  "I don't know how to rectify this with you.  The quality of work implies you did the homework, but if you can't get it to me tonight.... "  

My brain races, and suddenly a solution.  "Can I email it to you?"  

"I'll take that."  The instructor tells me, giving me a ray of hope.

I fumble with my mobile phone for a few minutes, and manage to send a *.docx file to the instructor.  Mercifully, my grade goes from a 43% to an 83%. (I made some bonehead mistakes technology can't solve). 

So that's my story, but what are the lessons?  

1) Technology is awesome!  But don't rely on it too much. - I didn't spend 10 seconds flipping through the pages of my homework to make sure it was all there.  I assumed it was, and that nearly cost me. 

2) When used properly, technology is  invaluable. - As contradictory as it seams, technology also saved me from... technology.  If I hadn't been using a cloud account, and instead had my homework stored on a document on a machine, I may have been stuck eating a failing grade.  By having the ability to send the instructor a word document, I salvaged a bad situation. 

3) Make Technology Work for You! - I think this is the biggest lesson of all.  We all have different needs, and technology has many ways of helping us out, not just one.  Just because I use it one way doesn't mean you have to use it in exactly that way.  Take my ideas, combine them with so many others, and come up with something that makes you're life easier! 

So take my lessons, make them your own.  From now on, I'll be double checking that homework with my good ol' "Mark 1 Eyeball.". 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

I'm Back in Class - Why You Haven't Heard from Me

I know it's been quiet the last couple of weeks.

But it's that time again, I'm back in Aircraft Maintenance Class trying to gain some new skills.

A "Special Fasteners" plate. I learned that safety wire
is both an exercise in patience, and p

The back of the plate shows just *some* of the fasteners
found it a typical aircraft. 

That means working a full week, plus running to class to put in an extra 25 hours per week.

Needless to say, I don't have much time to sit down and blog!

But I'm learning new skills and finding new ways to apply the skills I have.  It's a great experience!


Learning to hold a part with Clecos (the copper pegs), before setting solid rivets.
And I'm already dreaming of a few new posts! 

You haven't gotten rid of me that easily.


Friday, September 23, 2016

A Little Glitch in the (A360) Matrix

Sometimes, the internet hiccups. And I found that happened with my Autodesk A360 account earlier this week.


This is *not* a glitch in the matrix.
I have three black cats.
Friday, I was going to log into my A360 account, and all I saw was the login screen.

Seeing how this is a normal thing to see, I logged in, and waited for A360 to do some technical things.

This before login is normal.


I wait excitedly to be greeted by the wealth of my accumulated information, and what do I see instead?

Seeing this after login is NOT normal!


That's right!  I loop back to the login screen!  It's about 10:30PM.  So I give up and go to bed.  Maybe the next day will fix it.

I try it again on the following day, and I still get the same thing.  It's time to ask Google!

And Google yielded some results from the Autodesk Community itself.  

You can read the thread at the link here, and I encourage you to do so!  

But here is the summary from that page.

The solution!
I tried it, and that solved it!

I was running Google Chrome, to clear your browser history in that program, hit CNTL+H, and choose the Clear Browsing Data button.




Then shut down your browser, and restart it.  Try logging in again, and the problem should be solved.

So if you're running into this issue, give this solution a try!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Fusion 360 - Quick Tip on Showing Modeled Threads

It's sizing up to be a hectic week, but here's a really quick tip I discovered while creating some aircraft fluid fittings in Fusion 360.

A typical 37 degree flared fitting.

Did you know that while creating, or editing threads, you can change whether the thread representation is shown as a graphical representation, or as a modeled thread?

And you can toggle it off at will!

Showing the modeled thread location.  Right click (1), and check (2)!

Check it out, and give it a try!  When rendering models, this can make the difference between an average rendering, or a great one!

When you rendering without the threads displayed....

Not a bad rendering, but something is wrong.....
But now if you check that one simple box....

Now that's a big difference! 

Keep it in mind for a time that you need it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Two New Members, and Maintenance on "Websites Jon Likes"

A few years ago, I added a tab to InventorTales I named "Websites Jon Likes".

It contained resources I found helpful, or just a little interesting, and I just wanted to share them.

That page was long overdue for some maintenance, and so I finally cleaned it up.

I removed a few links that have gone dead.  The sites have now become the ghost of webpages past.

But two more sites were added, and for all the value I think they bring, I wish them a long and prosperous existence.

Here they are!

AIRCORPS Library   



An example of what you can find on AIRCORPS Library

The owners of this site have diligently collected and scanned prints and technical documents for aircraft form the 1930s, 1940s, and a few in the 1950s.  I grant you, they're a pay site, but in my opinion, they have earned every cent they earned, plus more.

Most of us live life in the cloud, and this has got to be one of the greatest uses for it I have seen.

If you like old airplanes or vintage technical documents, then this page is for you!

Lazze Metal Shaping

This is a great YouTube channel with a video after video of detailed sheet metal work.   Most of the work uses manual tools like English Wheels, shrinkers, stretchers, and brakes.

Definitely old school, and definitely worth your time!

Here's a video I liked, but this is just a small sample!  Check out the site on Youtube!



So take look a these sites!  I think you can find something worth while!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Constraining Content Center Components in Autodesk Inventor - An Alternate Way

Recently, I've been doing a lot of work with content center lately.  I've been building content, publishing content, and fixing content.

It can be tedious, but it can also be a lot of fun.

But there's one trick I've picked up in my travels.  It's how to constrain content, in particular custom content, a little more quickly than by using the standard method.

Now before I get started, one disclaimer.  I'm using standard content to demo my blog, I didn't have customer content center fasteners I could share with you, so I had to borrow the standard.

Since I'm using standard content, I also I know I could use Autodrop, but the point was to show an alternative.  All I ask is you bear with me on the standard content part.

So with that said, it's time to get started.

Of course you'll need to place your content from the browser.

Selecting content to place

2) When the fastener previews, right click and choose the size you want to place.

Choosing the size of your content center fastener

3) Next left click to place your fastener, but here's the trick.  Without you even knowing it, the insert constrain is active.  Before you left click to place the next fastener, left click under the head of the fastener you wan to place.

Selecting under the head of the fastener
4) Now select the mating hole, the insert constraint will be created!

Completing the constraint with a second click on the mating hole
5) All that's left is to repeat the steps if you have multiple fasteners!  You don't have to exit the command!

Repeating the step for multiple fasteners. 
So give it a try if you have content you're using, particularly custom content.  I've found it helps me out, I hope it does the same for you!





Monday, September 05, 2016

Thin Walled Inserts - Threads Screwed into Threads

This post is a bit more "manufacturing focused" than CAD focused.  It was brought on by my most recent experience in design.

I wasn't exposed them as much as I would have liked in college, so I like to share that newly acquired knowledge of mine with the world out there.

So what have I learned about most recently?

Threaded inserts.  I've been spending a lot of time working with them in the last year or so.

A Fusion 360 rendering of a thin wall insert. 
Most of us have probably used helical coil inserts, which most of us know by their trade name, Helicoil.

Helicoil plus.jpg
By The original uploader was Boellhoff at German Wikipedia - Transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons by MichaelFrey using CommonsHelper., Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7363606


But recently, I had to use "thin wall" inserts, designed to meet the MIL-I-45932/1 standard.  If you like, you can download that standard here.



A real image of thin wall inserts. Image from Acme Industrial.
They're a new experience for me.  I hadn't worked with them before.  I had only installed the  aforementioned helical coil insert.

We use them to reinforce holes in aluminum castings.  Stainless steel inserts provide a more durable interface for the hardware to fit into, and makes it easier to assemble and disassemble without wearing the threads as quickly.

The thin wall inserts have the extra advantages of using standard threads, so they don't require any thread making tools.

They also work when there isn't a lot of edge distance to play with, such as a flange.  Where using too big of an insert risks weakening the interior all.

The downside is that, at least from what I'm told, these are tougher to put in.  You can't twist them in like a Helicoil.  They have to be threaded in, then the collar has to be expanded with a special tool, and a bit of skill is required to keep from damaging the surface, or the insert itself.

For the steps to install a thin wall insert, he's a nice "shop video" from Acme Industrial.



There are so many things to learn, and such little time.  I hope this little blurb is something you find helpful!

As always, here's the embeded Fusion 360 model that I always have so much fun including!