Grbl TB6560 Interface

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I’ve had a CNC mill for a few years now, and while many homemade CNC mills use EasyDriver or Pololu, mine came with a sturdy, generic TB6560 controller board. For those unfamiliar, boards like this are interfaced using an old fashioned LPT parallel port, which was initially an annoyance, but quickly became impractical and a hassle, having to use an old PC with VNC installed. The board has plenty of power to push the steppers around, far more than any of the smaller / cheaper solutions had to offer I think, so I wanted to try and teach this board a few new tricks, and let me interface with it using a more modern interface. Read more »

Hacking USB into an Alfa AP121 router

Flipped TTL serial lines.

While checking out all the awesome things you can do with a Fon Wifi Pineapple, I thought it would be fun to grab a newer router, capable of running Pineapple Mark-IV. I found what I thought was a great deal on eBay, and upon closer inspection, I had bought an Alfa AP121, which lacks the USB it’s sister model the AP121U / Hornet-UB has. I could have resold it, but my solution was to reverse engineer it, and try to add the USB myself. Read more »

Adding a free Aux in to a 2007 Prius

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Much to my dismay, the stock radio in my 2007 Prius did not include an AUX in port for hooking up an iPod. Searching around, it turns out that the 51824 in my car does have a CD changer port, and does have the AUX pins, however they don’t function. I even bought an adapter on eBay to use the CD changer port with an external source, and the stereo didn’t even take any notice of the adapter. I sent it back, and instead opted to replace the whole radio with a 51824, which does support these features. Read more »

Cracking the Sentry DS0100 Safe


I found a trashed combination safe on the sidewalk recently. Here’s a very quick, to the point method of opening it with minimal damage. I watched a few other videos and wanted to try and keep the safe undamaged, and still fully usable. After shooting the video, I filled the hole I drilled with epoxy and also used a little bit to stick the faceplate back on. In case anyone was curious, it wasn’t filled with $100 bills.

iPod Video failed capacitor

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My brother recently got an iPod Video off eBay which refuses to keep a charge for longer than 30 minutes. I suspected it was an old battery, and thought it could be fixed by swapping in another one. Once I got the case open, I discovered a burn mark on the back on the hard drive foam, pointing out that there was a blown out component on the main board. Lovely. Read more »

Mill mount improvements

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I found it a little annoying whenever I wanted to swap the motor mount off my Zen Toolworks CNC mill, the washers and nuts would be difficult to work with and regularly fall into the machine. I already super glued most of the washers to the mill, but to improve swapping accessories, I cut these little jigs out of 4mm acrylic to hold the bolts from turning. The photo below shows the jigs with the nuts not inserted yet. Once the mill is reassembled, I only need to deal with the accessory I am attaching, and the four bolts used to hold it down. Much easier! Read more »

Cracking the lock box

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A few days ago we were driving through Ukiah, and wanted to check out the local pawn shop. They had a digital lock box which was missing it’s keys and had an unknown code. I shook it and, it didn’t seem to have anything heavy inside, but it did sound like there were keys inside. I haggled with the salesman and bought it for $12 plus tax. Read more »

CNC cutting vinyl stickers

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I bought a Roland blade holder on eBay, which is mean to be placed in a pen plotter. People have had good results in using it in their CNC mills. I found a number of photos of other setups, but they were either attached with no spring pressure, or far too over engineered. Since I want to play with laser cutting later, I made the assembly hold both laser and blade cutter. The assembly created in Google SketchUp, exported into CamBam, then was cut out of ~4mm thick cast acrylic using the CNC mill. The assembly replaces the motor mount on the CNC.

To properly cut, the blade has to have some spring loaded pressure into the rear of the blade holder. This allows the blade to float across the work surface with a constant amount of pressure. There were a lot of ideas on how to do this on the internet, but I came up with a cheap quick solution by reusing parts from two ball point pens. So far, the results have been great! I zero the Z axis with the blade just touching the vinyl, then cut at -0.3mm.

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Quieting CNC stepper motors

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The Zen Toolworks 7×7 is my first CNC mill, and while jogging around the mill, I felt the stepper motors could run a bit quieter. If you were to operate one while it was unscrewed from the machine, you would notice it is significantly quieter. I read that you could purchase cork gadgets to sandwich between the motor and the frame. I found them on eBay, but I felt it wouldn’t differ much from cheap craft foam.
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CNC BlackCat USB case

Like the BusPirate case I recently made, I have a lot of these PCBs that are fragile and I worry will be damaged by every day use, and even storage in my drawers. I went with a slightly thinner cast acrylic and included a few new concepts in the design. First, I used a v-carve bit and engraved writing into the case front. While it is ledgible, I think it would have been better if I had carved into backside of the top piece. Second, on the bottom section, I made recessed cutouts as so the board can sit flat on the bottom of the case. Lastly, I used holding tabs on the two middle sections, as so they stay put while the cutting is happening. On the BusPirate mill, the middle “C” parts were moving around due to their flimsy shape. I’ve updated the files to reflect my adjustments and observations in the case I already milled which is pictured. If I decide to re-mill it, it should fit much better and look better.

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