Toad's z80 assembly and more

January 24, 2010

Adjustable Shelf Picture #1

Filed under: Adjustable Shelf — Toad @ 7:55 am

I took a quick picture from my cell phone. This thing is still not complete, because far more important things took priority. But hey, its me… what did you expect, on time and under budget? hahaha :p Even though it isn’t complete, one should get a feel for what the finished product will be like.

This picture is of the back side of the shelf. (Or what I call the backside anyway) The shelf is adjusted about halfway to its full height. The object sticking out of the top of the table is only used to adjust the shelf. As you can see, it is currently clamped together with a bar clamp.

The backside of the adjustable shelf

The backside of the adjustable shelf.

Not sure what else to say at the moment … I will upload higher quality pictures later, and also give a more detailed explanation of what you are looking at.

January 22, 2010

Adjustable Shelf Project

Filed under: Adjustable Shelf — Toad @ 9:14 am

Just when you thought this blog really had died….

As of late, I have been working on this shelf for a friend that is adjustable in height from ~22 – 36″. It looks like a letter ‘C’ due to the space that it was originally intended to fit in. It is adjusted by a screw mechanism, so it can always be at the perfect height.

I hope to have this project finished hopefully very soon, like this weekend would be great. I have been working on this project for entirely way too many months (off and on of course). I’ve really been itching to work on other projects, so the sooner I get this one completed, the happier I will be. I will try to post some pictures of this thing after I complete it, since everyone would just rather look at it than hear me talk about it :p So check back soon for further updates.

When I get this project done, I hope to resume work on my LCD tester, or perhaps some other small electronics projects.

May 30, 2007

Another general update

Filed under: LCD Tester,Uncategorized — Toad @ 4:44 am

I have added a disclaimer page, see the pages section on the right to view.

Don’t worry folks, I haven’t left the z80 camp and joined the CNC/Fabber camp. I know there haven’t been any z80 updates in … uh a long time but I promise they will come. The building of the CNC machine is a long way off (few months to years) anyhow. I think as soon as I can get a mostly working design in my head, I’ll put the CNC Machine down and get to work on other things. Hopefully I can take some pictures of the LCD Tester and get back to work on it. I’ll try to keep the updates more regular.

Follow-up on the CNC machine

Filed under: Post Project z80 — Toad @ 3:58 am

I changed the name of my idea from the X-Y plotter to the CNC machine. I believe it is a description of what I’m trying to accomplish; a computer-controlled 3-axis multipurpose machine. This reflects a shift in thinking from having a machine optimized for each task by changing out components to a machine that is a good comprise of all roles. The later idea would only require a change in tooling.

As the result of much research, I have settled on a design similar to the Fab @ Home project. Here are the main differences:

  • In my design, the tool itself will move in the z-axis, instead of the table. My reasoning for this decision is weight; if I put anything heavy on the table, the stepper motor may not be able to move it.
  • The second main difference is in the ‘walls’ of the machine; they choose to use Plexiglas, I plan to use four 1/2″ rods for vertical support. In the FAQ for the Fab @ Home project, they cite the Plexiglas as a weakness for turning it into a CNC machine. However, the seemly over-building of the rest of the machine impressed me since the machine exerts little lateral force. This largely inspired my design.

After viewing a page on assembling the RepRap Darwin, my CNC machine will look similar to this picture. (scroll down to the first picture) Again the biggest difference is the table will be stationary.

I’m glad that I spent some more time on the RepRap site, they use some components that could really make my life much easier. If I can buy plastic pieces that allow me to make the X and Y axes square, that would be a wonderful advantage. I hope they are available cheaply; from the quoted price of the whole machine, I think they will be. Upon closer inspection, that may not be the case, anyhow its past bedtime.

Update from the next day – Unfortunately it seems the corner pieces I wanted to use aren’t commercially available. I will either ask the RepRap people If I can get something similar or go back to drawing board.

More applications:

Fabber/Rapid Prototype/3D PrinterThese three are similar concepts but yet each is different in it’s own way. The basic idea here is to squirt material out of a nozzle, and use this stream to build-up objects.

Wood Engraver/Router – Use rotatory tool to mill designs into wood, or just about any material. I don’t have too much to add here, so I’ll leave the reader with some Wikipedia links.

Computer Controlled Welder – This idea, in my uneducated opinion, is the most challenging application idea I have come up with yet. I think it’s little more than a pipe dream, although it’s one of the most intriguing. Please don’t even remotely consider doing this unless you know -and can take- the necessary safety precautions.

What makes this hard is the X, Y, and Z axes must move with precision and the correct speed for a good weld. Not to mention numerous other factors involved in getting good welds such as metal thickness, metal type, welding rod type, amount of current, and welding wire/rod feed speed. Speaking from personal experience, it’s hard enough to get consistent welds by hand.

Developing a computer program to do evaluate all of the variables would a “challenge” at the easiest. I imagine, however, the quality of desired the welds would determine the complexity. To me, the ability to produce relatively quality welds in all different sizes and thicknesses of metal would make all the efforts worth while.

April 19, 2007

Applications for X-Y plotter

Filed under: Post Project z80 — Toad @ 6:24 am

In regards to my last post, I didn’t discuss any applications of the X-Y plotter. I’m sure that people can come up with additional ones, these are the ones that I came up with however:

Printer – graphs, charts, documents, etc

PCB creation – using a special pen, have the plotter trace out the circuit layout on to a copper-clad board. This can then be etched normally.

Plasma cutting – combine a plasma cutter and the X-Y plotter to create a crude CNC machine. The plasma torch would be connected where the pen would go. Special design precautions would have to be taken due to the plasma cutter and the relatively heavy weight of the torch head.

Oxy-MAPP torch cutting – similar to the plasma cutter, but instead a small cutting torch. The main disadvantage is the crude cut produced by an oxy-torch, this may be offset by being roughly 20 times cheaper than a plasma cutter. The torch that I am referring to is available at Home Depot for less than 50 dollars. The torch head is very light as well.

PCB hole drilling – By replacing the pen with a drill/Dremel tool, the user can precisely drill holes in circuit boards. In my opinion, this would greatly simplify board creation.

With significant modifications in the z-axis:
Some kind of an arm as well as a third stepper motor would have to be added for this to work.

Milling machine – Computer controlled milling machine capable of cutting metal. The milling machine I link differs from the typical X-Y plotter, this will take analysis to figure out a good compromise.

Drilling through thicker material – Similar to the above idea, something along the lines of a computer controlled drill press.

My goal in this post has been to provide ideas for the reader to be hopefully interested in and possibly build. I have been rather vague in details since I don’t have a working plan designed, and I think it best for the reader to design the plotter that best meets their needs.

My tips on designing a plotter are: make it both modular and robust. By modular I mean able to accept different attachments, pens, torches, small drills, etc. I would also make the components easily changeable. Let’s say the milling attachment will have beefed up X and Y axes to handle the weight. Let’s also say the regular printer needs to have as little mass as possible in-order to move quickly. The user could then switch out components for ones that are more suitable to the task. By robust I mean the design is able to handle a variety of tasks, it’s not optimized to just print paper.

Post project z80 idea: z80 X-Y plotter

Filed under: Post Project z80 — Toad @ 2:10 am

The basic idea here is to take a normal pen and have a computer control it. This is done by attaching the pen to a set of movable arms, the X and Y axes. The arms are controlled by stepper motors, allowing precise control of the pen. The computer will drive the stepper motors, and will also control a mechanism that raises and lowers the pen. Since this is nothing new, I found some links that go more in depth on the subject.


April 8, 2007

Updated: LCD Tester Schematic

Filed under: LCD Tester,Project z80 — Toad @ 6:12 pm

I cleaned up the schematic a little; it didn’t turn out as good as I had hoped it would, but it’s better than before. I have also included some labels to ease understanding. SInce it can be improved, I will almost certainly create a better schematic before releasing my page on the LCD Tester.

Disclamer: This is still only a rough schematic, so proceed at your own risk. I am in no way responsible if something bad happens as a result of building this circuit. Infact, there is a great probablility that some of the values are wrong.


  • R12 should be 5k ohms.
  • SW10 is all jacked up. Basically SW10 should ground either pin 1 or 3 of the 7404. (I think)

Schematic - Version 2

April 7, 2007

LCD Tester Schematic

Filed under: LCD Tester,Project z80 — Toad @ 6:17 am

I have just completed a rough schematic for this tester. I hope to create a cleaner version at a latter time.

J1 is the group of header pins where the LCD module will connect with the tester. J2 isn’t really a header, it is just for proper interfacing with any LCD module. I plan on using two DIP14 IC sockets to implement J2. The photodiodes are supposed to be LED’s.

Enough blabbing, here’s the pic:

Schematic - Version 1

March 13, 2007

Lack of updates

Filed under: LCD Tester,Uncategorized — Toad @ 9:30 pm

Don’t worry folks, I haven’t given up on this project. I have put it on hold until I can get access to the camera again. Since I can’t document my progress, I saw no reason to continue work on it. I will have access to the camera after this Saturday.

In the mean time I have been working on Linux From Scratch and python programs.

March 3, 2007

LCD Update part 2

Filed under: LCD Tester,Project z80 — Toad @ 3:31 am

To Do:

  • Design the case layout.
  • Drill holes.
  • Cut-out openings for LCD connector and personality chip.
  • Install components(50% done).
  • Wire components.
  • Test )
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