"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Cold Weather Choices

I spent the weekend deciding weather (sic) to spend time in my 35 degree workshop or my 72 degree home office. (Pun intended). You can probably correctly guess the office won the fair share of the coin tosses.

I can warm up the garage with electric heaters and make it a somewhat enjoyable work space at approximately 62 degrees air temperature. However, I am working on installing a very precise digital readout (DRO) on my big mill and I would like the temperatures to be a bit more stable. I can get the air to 62 but it takes awhile for the big chunk of cast iron and steel (of which the machine is made) to get up to temperature.

I have the non critical work done but the fine tuning needs a few days at a bit warmer temperature. It is all in the joy of trying to maintain precision in a changing environment like an unconditioned garage shop. Open the garage door in winter conditions and “whoosh”, instantly floods in 27 degree air.

I am jealous of the climate controlled workshops of some home machinists. Actually the temperature is not a problem when it stays constant. It is the warming and cooling that is the problem. Starting a series of milling operations at 40 degrees and finish at 75, the dimension reference (datum) will change. It changes anyway because the part being milled gets hot while cutting, but it is nice to reduce some of the variables. Home shop projects usually don’t demand super tight control.

The DRO PROS project will have a full product report in The Hobbyist Machine Shop is a few weeks. Watch for it. (Tell ’em Dan’l sent ya!)

The office work consisted of upgrading two of my computers. I won’t spend much time on computer jargon here in THMS Blog. I installed Windows 7 on both machines. One was a clean install of 64bit Windows 7 Ultimate and the second, on my main office computer was an upgrade from 64 bit Vista Ultimate to 64 bit Windows 7 Ultimate. Both installs went flawlessly but the update from Vista took the longest time.

The coolest thing that is worth mentioning here in a shop blog is Windows 7 with the right processor in the computer can run (for free) a virtual 32 bit Windows XP Pro machine. In computer geek talk that’s called a virtual machine or VM for short. So while running Windows 7, I can open a window and be running a program in XP like it was in its own machine. This is great for running an old 32 bit program that needs the XP environment.

I won’t use it for MACH3, but I do have MACH3 installed in the VM for testing. I think there is a timing problem for the pulses, but MACH3 installed without a complaint, even the required re-boot went fine. I’ll test it some more. However, for mission critical CNC machine timing control, I’ll stick with XP running separate and alone in a partition (requiring a reboot) rather than a virtual machine. So running MACH3 in a VM is NOT RECOMMENDED for actual machine control.

What I did install was the complete Adobe Video Suite 1.5 on the XP/VM on the office computer. I now have all the components of that old XP based product functional again. Video Suite 1.5 is what I use for my video productions. Most all 32 bit programs run on 64 bit machines just fine, but some older software does need the more DOS like environment of Windows XP. Adobe “After Effects” and the Adobe “DVD Creator 1.5” would not run in Vista. In the XP/VM installation, everything is performing just fine.

You may have a favorite program like AutoCAD LT2006 (I do) that won’t run in Vista or WIN7. That’s next for my XP/VM and I am sure I will be thrilled!

Thanks’ Bill.

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