A lot of pinball fanatics are modifying their Stern Godzilla pinball machines with clear pop bumper bodies, bases, and skirts from our store. This is mentioned several times in the Pinside mod thread but it talked about extensively in this post.
and deselect the PopCap (14) as most people won’t need a clear popcap.
Then click “Add Selected Items to Cart” button under the parts list.
Checkout via out shopping cart system
Note: I do not sell the GZ specific popcap nor do I sell the flying saucer mod some people seem to have. This is one of the recommended mods; but I have no affiliation nor do I have a Godzilla machine. You might be able to find other UFO vendors using this link.
This is part 2 of the Monster Bash figure painting series. For part 1; please see the painting of The Creature from Black Lagoon. In Part 2; I’m going to tackle The Mummy and his sarcophagus which reside above the lanes on the Monster Bash pinball machine. The mummy was chosen mainly because it can be fairly easily removed from the game with a single 1/4inch screw between his legs.
Like Part 1; we start with spraying the cream colored Mummy with some Adhesion promoter so that the air bush paint would more easily stick to the figure. Here’s a picture of the figure attached to some scrap acrylic material as we wait for the promoter to partially dry per the can’s instructions: This also had quiet a bit of detail; just no paint. I set out to use only neutral tones on this piece adding some shadowing as needed.
I started by putting some Transparent Black in the “cracks” of the mummy as a background for the raised bandages: The idea here was the bandages had “layers” so the ones in the back needed to be darker. In retrospect; I probably should have used something less black; maybe more grey… or maybe a custom mix of Sand and black. However, I didn’t figure this out until the end of the project. I may revisit this later.
I had applied the black with a paint brush. In fact this whole paint process would use airbrush paints applied with a paint brush; as it was just easier to work on the details. With the paint still wet; I used a toothbrush to aggressively work the black into every “crack” in the mummy’s casting:
I then used a dry paper towel to remove most of the black paint leaving mainly the cracks filled with paint: I then thermally set the black paint with a heat gun on low.
Then using a paint brush; I added some pearlescent white as a highlight on the raised bandages:
I then used some thinned out transparent gray and airbrushed a light coating over the whole figure to knock down the aggressiveness of the new white highlights: Again thermally setting the paint with a heat gun on low.
With the paint thermally set; I sprayed the mummy with matte acrylic clear coat and let it dry: As I stated; he’s a little to dark for my tastes; so I may revisit his paintjob at a later date. Here’s a picture of him installed – sorry for the flash; it kinda washed him out:
A Mummy transformation wouldn’t be complete without some work on his sarcophagus. On Monster bash; this looks to be a vacuum formed piece of orange acrylic. I took this off by examining the assembly drawings in the manual. It became clear that I could get it off if I just removed the e-clips securing the lid to the solenoid. Take care here; as those e-clips are tiny and could easily be lost in top of the playfield. Once I had the lid removed; I cleaned the surface with some Naphtha to remove excess oil which may have been present from my handling of the piece. Once I had it clean; I used some blue painters tape to mask off the areas I didn’t want paint: With the paint mask complete; I had decided earlier that the original artist was proably trying to duplicate part of King Tut’s sarcophagus with the unique shapes of the head and the heirogyphics on the side panels. This picture form dailymail.com.uk is a pretty good guess: With that picture as a guideline; I bought some metallic “Sapphire” blue acrylic paint from amazon and had it delivered. I haven’t seen the sarcophagus in real life; but figured that paint would probably at least be close enough for the game.
Unlike the Mummy himself; I didn’t want to risk “foggin” the orange acrylic with the Adhesion promoter; so I just liberally applied the paint using my latex gloved finger to work the paint into the groves of the acrylic: Then using a wet paper towel; I cleaned up the surface as much as I could so the orange acrylic still showed thru on the high points: I let it sit for about 2 or so hours before applying a second coat and repeating the process: Letting the second coat dry for about 3 hours in front of a fan.
I then remove the blue painters’ tape and cleaned up the masking lines with light scraping pressure from an exacto knife: If you are going to replicate this look; I do mean light pressure from an exacto knife as you do not want to scratch the surface of the acrylic. Here’s the sarcophagus lid re-installed over the mummy in the game: With that the Mummy has completed his transformation; short of a lighter color-scheme revisit.
Part 3 of this series has not begun. I’m still trying to decide which of the remaining monsters is easiest to remove. I’m guessing the Bride of Frankenstein might be the next easiest… but I’m not sure how her assembly is put together. I somewhat hopeful that I just remove the screw on top of her head and then her head comes off the pogo stick – then maybe her body will just slip over the stick. Not sure.
Earlier in the month; I purchased a great condition 1998 Williams Monster Bash pinball machine from a local collector. This machine was restored in that it had a new Playfield and new set of decals but it was still an original machine (not a remake). Everything looked pretty good except it had the original unmodified set of figures for the Universal “Classic” monsters. There are some fellow pinball vendors which offer to paint these classic figurines as a set for north of $140. I am not one to shy away from attempting to do this myself; and this was one of those situations. Also; I didn’t really want to leave my machine in pieces and parts for that long.
I decided to take a stab at the Creature from the Black Lagoon since he was relatively easy to remove from under the PF. The original figure is really pretty nicely detailed; it just lacks a finished look. This creature originated in a 1954 as black-and-white film so the only real “color” representation is the Theatrical release poster from that movie. One could say that there was a modern film release in 2017 but I haven’t seen it… nor have I any real desire to look for images of this modernized monster. Using some vague recollection of the movie poster (before my time); and probably some influence from pictures seen of fellow pinball vendors; I set about painting my figure. In my minds eye; I wanted him to be green with a yellow chest outside of that; I just let the piece “speak” to me as I worked on it.
The first step I decided to do was to spray my figure with some Adhesion promoter so that the air bush paint would more easily stick to the figure. Here’s a picture of the figure attached to some scrap acrylic material as we wait for the promoter to partially dry per the can’s instructions:
I then mixed green for the body. When I painted my Romulan Bird of Prey for my STNG pinball machine; Michaels had some pearl green on clearance for $1.77. I mixed it with the reducer and sprayed the rest of the figure. I had forgotten the thermally set the yellow prior to applying the green so it wiped away when I got a little aggressive with the green: This time I used a heat gun on low to thermally set the green and remaining yellow before moving on to the next color.
I resprayed the yellow areas and thermally set the color:
I used some Transparent Black I had on hand to fill (a small paint brush) in the mouth and eye pupils on the face:
I then mixed the transparent black together, transparent green and some pearl green to get a very dark transparent green. This was then applied to the thighs and sides of the body:
Finally, I used a paint brush to apply a little more black to the area between the legs. Once heat cured; I sprayed the whole figure with clear matte acrylic to protect the model from scratches and dust when back in the machine: Overall; I’m extremely happy with how this figure turned out. Took about 3ish hours with all the heat treatments. One of the disappointments: now the Creature doesn’t actually show up very well in game. I suspected painting it would mean it wouldn’t show up behind the green acrylic in the PF – This is probably a secondary reason for leaving it white. I’ll post a picture of it later once I put some green led strips under the PF to light him up better.
A recent Ebay purchase of a Xeltek SuperPro 280U came with the following note that it was supported only in Windows XP and not under Windows 7. This post documents how to make this working on a modern operating system; like Windows 10 64bit. Luckily; all of this software was readily available via webcaches and polish electronic forums. I’ve pulled all the documents here in one place so you can easily replicate it. I believe the software is the same for the 580U/3000U but you’re mileage may vary.
Why do this? This programmer is still very functional as long as you have a USB port.
First you need to get the Xeltek software from their support site under legacy programmers. Go ahead and download the 32bit windows install package and the test software so you can prove your “hack” is functional. Direct links for the SuperPro 280U install software and the SP280u Test.
Next install the SuperPro software to a known directory. The follow the instructions in the SP280u test archive. See the readme.txt file which tells you to put the TSETUSB2.USB file in \algo5 of the installed program.
Now you need to install the hacked EzUSB drivers from Cypress. This was explained in www.macros-arcade.com’s webcache. That website seems to be down – maybe forever which is why I’m copying the relevant bits here for prosperity:
The older Xeltec range of USB Eprom programmers do now work on 64 bit versions of windows, since, according to their own website “working on 64bit platform requires tremendous effort from our side“ So to save their programmers from all of this tremendous effect, here is how to make it happen N.B. This has only been tested on my PC using my Superpro 280u with Windows 7,8 and 10 – it should work for you, but everything is done at your own risk!
In the download file, Here, are the signed driver and support files.
If you need XVI32 you will need to download it from their website.
Xeltek use a standard USB interface chip, an Ez-USB FX2, originally made by Anchor chips, who were taken over by Cypress.
Fortunately, they only seem to have made a single change to the reference driver that was issued by Anchor / Cypress, so as long as a 64 bit version of that driver exists then it should be possible to use the eprom programmer on a 64 bit OS.
A clever guy (Here) has already created a 64 bit version of the driver to use with some other hardware that utilises the same chip, and also sorted out the necessary inf files to allow you to install it on various newer versions of windows. A small change to that inf file, so it recognises the identity of the chip within the Superpro, and that will install the driver.
Another helpful guy, Doug, has now signed the driver file so that you no longer need to do any trickery to let Windows allow you to use the driver – many thanks to him. finally, you need to make one change to the SP3000.EXE to allow it to work with EZUSB.SYS (rather than their version XEUSB.SYS), and for this you will need a hex editor. I use XVI32, a free download from Here. using this search for the text “Xeltekusb-0” (on the latest version it is at offset 0x9B344). This is the name of the driver that it is going to use, and so we need to change this to “Ezusb-0” and then pad the extra characters out with 00’s (Hex 00, not characters!). Save this change and coupled with the driver you should now be able to use your Superpro on the 64 bit version of windows.
I heard from a user about a problem with the signed Xeltec drivers. So in case you are having the same problem :- “My new PC has windows 10 installed as UEFI. Installing it that way enables secure boot by default and saves the default keys to your motherboard. Secure boot adds another layer of driver authentication, which causes the Xeltec patched driver to fail. In order to fix this, you need to disable secure boot (which is motherboard specific). Once disabled, the driver plays nice. Only caveat – your system is now (technically) susceptible to rootkits and other forms of malware that attack your drivers. Not a huge concern if you’re not using fishy software.” Thanks Bill
UnRar (or use 7zip) and uncompress the Xeltek 3000U Win7x64.rar to a subfolder in your installation location. You are going to want to further unzip: sp3000u_x64_driver_signed.zip to your installation folder. This contains a How To.txt file and several ezusb.* driver files. That howto file has most of the text from the Bill quote above. All I did was right click on the ezusb.inf file and click install. This installs the signed 64bit driver for use under Windows 10 64bit. 😀
Now uncompress SP3000.exe from the Xeltek 3000U Win7x64.rar archive. This is the hex edited executable discussed in the How To.txt and the Bill quote above. I renamed my original SP3000.exe to SP3000.exe.orgDriver in the bin directory and copied the new SP to that folder.
With that; the “hack” is complete. Now let’s test to make sure your programmer will function with it’s new Win10 64bit host. To do this; double click the new SP3000.exe and it should automatically detect the programmer (assuming it’s plugged in and turned on) with the new ezUsb driver. With no chips in the ZIF socket; follow the Xeltek instructions contained in the readme.txt file… regurgitated here:
Type “Xeltek” under search when choosing a device on your software. Under device name choose “####..222…“. Run all the test functions except “test_type“.
Each function should return OK! indicating the test passed. Here’s a screenshot of my completed test runs:
Back in October 2018; I purchased a new 2018 F-150 Raptor from new dealer stock to replace my 2000 Dodge Dakota which I purchased new from a dealer in Oregon. Given the way Chrysler failed to support their products under warranty; I informed them that I would never own another Chrysler product again. If you want more details as to why I won’t support that company any more; I posted briefly about it here.
I bought the Raptor to replace my daily driver and to haul the occasional Pinball machine to/from events. One of it’s jobs is to haul my enclosed trailer when I’m taking more than one machine. The result is I needed a new drop hitch. I originally started with a 8inch drop; but that was really too low for other trailers – while it fit my trailer fine. I ran into this when a friend rented a Uhaul trailer and it was nearly dragging the ground. As a result I decided I needed an adjustable trailer hitch which then became obvious that I needed a way to store this trailer hitch when it isn’t in use. On my other truck; I basically left the hitch always on the truck and managed to hit it with my shins or sometimes the driveway on the way out of the house. I wanted to avoid that this time around. Originally; I thought I might fit the hitch in the center console; but it turned out to be too heavy and bulky. So I’ll also be talking about my storage solutions in this post.
My saga began when I came across a Uriah Products UT623410 Adjustable Aluminum Mount with 3 Interchangeable Balls-6″ Drop on a Amazon Warehouse deal for a good price. In the past I had really good experience with AMW deals; where the packaging or minor issues which didn’t effect functionality were worth the discounted amount. The biggest problem with this mount was it was what I’d call heavily used. It appears the previous purchaser used it for a cross country trip; then boxed it back up and shipped it back to Amazon. Because of this I decided I wanted to clean it up and make it match the “Electric Blue” of my Raptor. I started with the drop mechanism. The two main pieces are made from a thick Aluminum alloy; so they tend to scratch and dent under heavy use. Specifically; the drop mech tends to “crease” on the lower part of the receiver when it’s rocking back and forth while hauling the trailer. I cleaned up the previous user’s creases with a file and some sandpaper: I proceeded to clean the part and then powder coat it with the blue powdercoat I had from a previous project.
I did the same thing with the slidable ball mount; here’s the part getting the powdercoat: I used some carriage bolts sourced from Lowes to secure this heavy part on my makeshift powder coating rack.
Next, I used a scrap sheet of aluminum to make a makeshift “cooking” stand for use in the toasting oven. Here’s the part before heating: Here’s the part after curing the powder coat:
I did some more offline work to add a powder coated “raptor” to the ball mount on both sides. Sadly I didn’t take any pictures of this process. The process was that I basically put some Polyamide tape over the mount and then laser etched the raptor image into the powdercoat and tape. Once I had clean metal from the laser etch; I powdercoat a matte black onto the polyamide tape and re-baked the piece. Here’s the installed ball mount with the Raptor embellishment:
With the ball mount complete; I turned my focus on how to store the hitch when it’s not in use. This turned out to be tricky because I had already used up all the under rear seat storage with other items; so I needed a organized way to keep it out of the way while being able to quickly install it when needed. After some research; I decided I needed to use a Pelican Vault V200 Medium Case to store the hitch and all it’s accessories in “layers” inside the Pelican. I wasn’t keen on hand carving foam… and the foam that came with the Pelican wasn’t strong enough to resist the weight of the hitch. A plan solidified which involved laser cutting some high density PE foam on my cutter. Why PE? Because it’s laser safe ad can be bought readily on Amazon. Before I got to that point; I proceeded to work out the geometry in CAD before committing to lasering the foam and to make sure everything would fit.
I started by using a set of digital calipers to measure the various parts I wanted to put in the case and transferring the basic outline into a DXF file. Most of the parts are under 2inches tall. with the notable exception of the ball mount. This is why I decided on the 2inch thick foam and then stack two layers of the foam to hold the various other miscellaneous pieces. For the Ball mount; I’d have to mount it vertically to keep the horizontal space for the “L” shape of the drop. A couple of design itterations later; here’s the final bottom layer as seen in CAD: The bottom bascially holds the three balls, the ball mount, the drop, one of the locks, and one of the ball pegs. The Top Layer housed the remaining parts: This layer houses the remaining parts:
remaining Z-height of the Ball mount,
The remaining Z-height of the 2-3/4 ball,
The remaining ball peg,
a second hitch lock,
The unused receiver hitch peg,
a tonge lock,
a spot for the Plano Case – which holds the misc clips,
and a spot for the Keysmart keyring (for the various keys)
I wanted the bottom of the locks and pegs to be flush with the top of the given layer so I made some “filler” parts out of 1inch. I wanted the ball mount to be “snug” between the first and second layers; so I also made a filler out of 1/2inch foam to mount on top of the second layer.
With the CAD work done; I started trying to laser cut this PE foam. Turned out to be quite tricky for several reasons. First; there’s no published power/speed values for the foam. Second; my poor Epilog 24TT laser just lacks the power to punch thru the foam. My laser specs for a new tube is 25watts – but I’m sure mine has aged and probably puts out 20ish watts if that. Third; the 2inch foam is really too thick for the 2in lense my machine has. Focusing on top of the 2in foam; the laser’s focal distance causes almost unmanageable beam spread at about 1/2inch from the bottom of the 2in foam. This causes extreme melting at the “bottom” of the layer. Again because the focal length of a 2in lens; it was impossible to re-focus the laser to cut the final inch in z-depth on the foam. Regardless; I was able to cut the pieces – which really turned out better than if I’d tried to hand cut them. I don’t remember specifically what I used for power; but it was multiple (read 4-6) passes with varying power. I started with 30% power at 30% speed for the initial cut. This was dialed in by doing some test cuts to maximize cutting and minimizing shrinkage due to excessive heat at the cut line. With each pass; I reduced the speed by 10, 5, and 5 while adding 20% more power. Again; this was to “punch” thru the remaining material without being able to refocus the 2in focal length. Here’s the final “table” of the power settings used for each pass:
The 1 inch and 0.5 inch foam cut much easier; I think the 1inch foam cut in 2 passes and the 0.5inch with one pass at 30/30. With the foam cut; it had to put the parts together. The only way to really get this foam to glue to itself is using CyanoAcrylate glue. I forget where I read this; but Google search basically indicated this is how the “industry” makes custom shipping foam out of this stuff. I did this by putting the CyanoAcrylate Accelerator in the Needle tip Glue Bottle. Then I put the Accelerator on one side of a seem and the CA glue on the other. Then using my fingers; pressing the seem together for about 15-20seconds. Take my advice here… unless you want to be dealing with superglued spots on your finger tips; use some disposable latex gloves. The CA glue still gets everywhere… so make sure you’re wearing “junk” clothes. Even after 20seconds; the glue really hasn’t set well. So once you completely finish a “layer”; leave it to set overnight so the CA glue will completely “cure”. The Accelerator is suppose to make this bonding instant… but either I was using too much of it… or the glue had a longer shelf life. So since I was going to be using this foam for really heavy things; I just left it to cure overnight.
What did all of this work yield? Here’s the bottom layer populated with it’s various pieces:
Here’s the top layer with it’s pieces. This was a earlier non-reworked version which didn’t have the tounge lock or keysmart keyring areas in the empty spaces.
The Plano Pocket Box holds the various clips, o-rings, and extra keys for the locks:
IIRC, I reused the compressible foam sent with the vault case for the top of the lid so that the layers would remain snughly compressed in the Vault case:
I used the Premium Cinch Strap to secure the case in the bed of my truck by securing it to the Camper shell’s linear actuator:
With that project is complete. I’ve used the case about 3-4 times and it makes the whole storing of the drop hitch easy.
About 3 months ago; we announced on Pinside that we entered into a distorbution agreement with Pinball.Center to begin carrying their Frosted Clear drop targets for modern Stern, retro Williams, and old school Data East Pinball machines.
You can use these Drop targets anywhere you want to backlight them with LEDs but they have much better resiliency than the 3D varieties which were available a couple of years ago. Unlike the 3D printed varieties; these are injection molded out of Polycarbonate (Lexan) in Germany for maximum resilience until man can mass produce Transparent Aluminum.
To answer the question of ultimate resiliency; we sent a set of these drop targets to @vid1900 on Pinside to put them thru some checks. He reports that after 2 months of heavy commercial use, and over 900 games none of the sample drops have been damaged. You can read more about his honest review on Pinside.
We currently offer three styles of these “clear” drop targets in our store:
Already in Vid1900’s thread, several customers have begun to show how these drop targets enhance normally dark areas of their pinball machines: Fytr on Pinside outfitted his Iron Maiden with our Clear drops. See more on Pinside. roar on Pinside outfitted his The Walking Dead with our Clear drops but he went the added route of installing the stock decals over the drops. See more of Roar’s work on Pinside.
As expected; these drop targets are available for immediate shipment in our webstore: Pinball Drop Targets
During Amazon Prime day; I decided to enhance the security of my driveway and Garage by adding a Foscam Outdoor PTZ (FI9928P) HD 1080p IP Camera. While I had WIFI in the garage; I wanted to wire this camera in with the other camera watching the front door but I wanted to position this camera on the Left side of the driveway so it could watch the garage door as well as keep an eye on the driveway. To do this meant I was going to need to run a very long power cable along with a 16-20foot CAT5E cable but I decided I’d rather run a Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE) connection to eliminate the long power cable run and run a single CAT5 POE configuration. The Foscam FI9928P does not natively support POE; so I’d have an injector and a splitter to enable POE for this camera.
This Blog entry is a expansion of my Amazon Review of the WT-GPOE-1-AB by PoE Texas. This device is a passive splitter / Injector which can be used on both ends of a PoE connection to inject and breakout the DC connections. I wanted to add a little detail here incase someone needs to replicate my work on their personal installation. This should be applicable to anyone trying to use PoE for any network device which has a power brick.
Installation is pretty simple. All you are going to need is two of the WT-GPOE-1-AB which thankfully comes with some DC splitter cables to connect them up to a DC power brick, some Cat5E cables, and maybe a few screws to mount the WT-GPOE-1-ABs to the wall. Total cost would probably be under $20 if you have the cat5 cables on hand. The Author picked the WT-GPOE-1-AB for several reasons:
Support Gigabit Ethernet speeds
Allows for use any voltage on PoE up-to-56V for a total of 60watts. In our case the Foscam Power adapter is capable of delivering 12VDC at 2amps for a total of 24watts.
Can be used on both ends of the PoE link.
Carries DC across all 4 pairs of the Ethernet link maximizing current carrying capabilities of the CAT6 Cable.
Let’s start with the Network side of the PoE connection. To do this you are going to want to connect the WT-GPOE-1-AB to the network switch as pictured:
The LAN side of the WT-GPOE-1-AB connect to the network switch or to anything on “lan” side of your device which you’d normally plug the IP camera into. The PoE connection would become the side which carries both LAN data and the DC power from the power supply. Finally; you’d connect the camera’s power supply directly to 45+78- DC jack of the WT-GPOE-1-AB.
On the Camera side of the POE cable; you need to split the Power from the Ethernet (data) using another WT-GPOE-1-AB… although the configuration isn’t quite as obvious for some reason. The PoE cable from above; plugs into the “LAN” connector and the Camera plugs into the DC jack at 12-34+. The Camera’s data port then connects to the remaining “POE” RJ45 jack. The Camera power is connected with a DC to DC barrel connector also available on Amazaon.
Using two WT-GPOE-1-AB‘s I was able to transmit the DC power for the camera approximately 20ft along with the gigabit data for the camera. The small physical form factor of the WT-GPOE-1-AB allows it to fit easily on top of my garage door ledge and not interfere with the opening or closing of the garage door.
When I first got my Revenge From Mars from a local Pinhead; the fan was clogged with dust and grime. At the time; I simply cleaned the fan, removed the sticker, and added some oil to the bearings. This lasted about 3months before the fan began to make some horrible noises because the bearings were shot. I “lived with it”; but it remained on my todo list.
For years; I had watched threads about Pin2k in Pinside… always feeling a little guilty I had not eliminated the risk that my CPU fan would die… overheat the cpu… and put my RFM in jeopardy of force converting to NuCore or Pinbox. Today was the day I vowed to resolve that noisy fan.
First; I did not want to buy NOS (new old stock) of some 50mm fan made back in 2000 or some china knockoff that wouldn’t last another 18 years. I wanted a high quality fan with very little noise; but a good performer. I’ve grown to like the Noctura brand of fans because they aren’t cookie cut china knock offs. Noctura does not sell a drop-in-replacement for 50mm fans. Going smaller usually means less air flow with a higher “whine” because the fan blades have to go much faster to move more air. So I decided that I was going to try and use the NF-A6x25 FLX 60mm fan:
and build an adapter to fit the larger fan over the existing heatsink. This blog entry documents my solution, provides a TAPR/NCLed DXF for my adapter, and links to a Shapeways implementation of my adapter my fellow pinball enthusiasts to use.
First, I removed the CPU box from my RFM and pulled out the existing CPU heatsink:
Once I had the CPU heatsink free; I unscrewed the old FAN from the heatsink. This was done for two reasons;
I need the heatsink to take caliper measurements in order design a 60mm to 50mm bracket.
Eventually; I’d toss the worthless 50mm fan – but wanted to keep it incase I couldn’t find a working solution.
Obviously; the 60mm fan wouldn’t fit within the 50mm cavity of the heatsink; so I knew I wanted to use some 1/4inch clear Acrylic as an “adapter”. I went into qCAD resulting in a DXF file which I could then send to my laser cutter. I wanted to reuse the 50mm fan/heatsink screws and the 4 qty Vibration-Compensators provided in the Noctura kit. My second proto resulted in success and looked like this:
Reusing the 4 qty 50mm countersunk heatsink screws; I attached the clear acrylic bracket to the top of the heatsink. Then I put the 4 qty Vibration-Compensators provided in the Noctura kit thru the acrylic bracket and into the NF-A6x25 fan. The whole assembly fit together quiet nicely.
I carefully; reinstalled the fan-sink combo back onto the cpu and socket. This was a little tricky because the 60mm fan is bigger; but as you can see the whole contraption fits well:
Conveniently; my Pinball 2000 motherboard had a FAN header right next to the cpu socket; so I simply attached the CPU fan’s 3pin PWM connector to that unused mobo connection:
I powered up the Pin2k system on my bench with both the original and the new fan connected. !That old fan really needed to be replaced! This new fan is ultra quiet; I don’t think you can hear the fan over the PSU fan even when the box is open. You won’t be able to hear the fan at all when its in the backbox behind the backglass. Success!
For years I’ve been limping along with a very noise older model Air compressor for my Modding needs. Recently; I upgraded from a Universal Laser 25E laser to an Epilog Legend 24TT laser cutter. The former could be outfitted with Air Assist; while the latter came pre-plumbed for Air assist. The issue is that the Air Assist works best if the lens doesn’t get splash back form the Air assist when it contains water.
Air compressors work by compressing the gas of surrounding air which contains water vapor. This water vapor leaves the compressor very hot along with the compressed air stream. As it sits under pressure; the water vapor condenses as it cools leaving water in the air lines. A properly configured Air Assist needs to remove that water vapor so it cannot exit the assist nozzle and insta-cool a warm laser lens. This leads to cracked or otherwise damaged lenses which can be expensive or lead to downtime as a new lens is sought.
This air compressor was purchased straight from California Air Tools with less than 50hrs at a fair discount and automatically cools the air stream as it exits the Tank by running thru a radiator on top of the tank. This radiator is cooled by some fans to keep the radiator near room temperature causing the water vapor to condense out of the compressed air. The air then passed thru an air/water seperator. This separator causes a significant amount of water to be deposited in it’s reservoir where a tube just drips the water onto the ground (problem #2).
The Air stream is then plumbed to a Activated Alumina desiccant Air Dryer where additional drying is done by chemical reaction. The bottom of this air dryer is also plumbed with a tube which just drips onto the ground (problem #3). The main problem (problem #1); however, that the tank itself needs to be drained periodically as is required for ALL Compressors to prevent the air tank from rusting inside. If I had been purchasing new; I may have just purchased a 10010DACD which as a Automatic Drain Valve installed at the factory… but since this was a discounted unit; I couldn’t get drain valve option. Additionally; the factory charges an additional $150 to cover the installation and plumbing for the Auto-valve; I do not know if CAT will rectify the tubing outputs of the separator and dryer, so this may be an interest read for owners of the more expensive unit.
The result is I need to plumb my own automatic drain valve while making an attempt to tidy up the separator and air drier water outlets so they all exit the machine into a reservoir which can be dumped periodically instead of spraying the water all over my garage floor. This Blog entry is the documentation of what I did in the hopes it can help some other budding laser hobbyists in creating their own Air Assist setup.
I started by researching the concepts behind CAT’s Automatic Drain valve which is pictured here:
As best as I can figure is this is no different from any of the other auto-drain valves available for less than $30 on Amazon. It’s probably even made in China.
I started by researching auto-drain values on youtube where I came across Farmboy’s Garage’s implementation. While complete; it’s kind of scary how he just lets the valve blow water in the the corner of his garage. As he states in a later video; it scares him every time it triggers. My goal is to try to keep all of the water draining into a lidded bucket so the water can be contained and easily dumped as my garage doesn’t have any drains and the compressor is near the interior wall rather than the external garage door.
To plumb the cheaper auto-drain valve; I’m going to need to purchase some piping accessories and some vinyl tubing. I came up with this crude napkin sketch before I went to Lowes to “engineer” a solution in their plumbing section. Here’s a shopping list from Amazon if you’d rather purchase as much as you can using your Prime Membership. While this blog entry will focus on adding a auto-drain valve to my compressor; it will probably be very similar to your air compressor. Feel free to reuse as much of this design as you’d like. IF you decide to purchase from your local Lowes; I’ve included pictures of the bags for each step and included the bag part numbers in the shopping list below between ()s.
The total cost of this shopping list isn’t exactly known as the Author has some parts on hand. The plumbing and Auto-Drain valve combined costs about $80 in total. YMMV as costs on these items can vary. Time wise; again it’s tough to say because I had it spread over several days as I waited for parts to arrive from Amazon prime. I estimate you could finish the whole project in an afternoon if you have everything ready to go.
Please note: This retrofit process will likely void the warranty of your CAT air compressor especially if you perform the electrical modifications. The Author of this blog entry is not responsible for any damage you do to yourself or your property.
Duplication of or Plagiarizing from this blog entry is not permitted without written consent from the author and Pinball-Mods.com.
RetroFit the plumbing:
Begin by determining which direction you want the drain valve to go. I’d advise you put the air compressor in its final position and determine which direction the valve assembly should go and drain. The author choose to install his valve assembly going to the right as your looking at the machine. To ease working on the compressor; put the compressor on a work surface on it’s side so you can get easy access to the drain. The Author worked up in the Z direction as he assembled the plumbing.
Remove the stock ball valve on the underside of your air compressor’s storage tank. On my CAT; the factory installed with some clear plumber’s goop to help prevent air leaks. The result is you may have to use a little bit of force to break the clear sealant inside the threads.
Next; install the 1/4in MIP x 1/4in FIP Brass 90 Street Elbow in the drain hole as pictured:
Be sure to wrap the male end of the elbow in teflon pipe tape
Wrap both ends of the 1/4in MIP x 2-1/2in Long Brass Pipe with pipe tape and install it into female end of the elbow. Use your robogrip or Pipe wrench to make the connection tight.
Wrap the male end of the 3/8in MIP x 1/4in FIP Brass Pipe Bushing with pipe tape and install it on the remaining end of the brass pipe. Snug it up with an appropriate sized wrench.
Install the 1/2in FIP x 3/8in FIP Brass Reducing Coupling onto the 1/8″ MIP fitting and tighten.
Carefully disassemble the drain valve using the top silver nut and the star washer. This should allow the black plastic body to be removed from the brass assembly. Then you have access to the brass nut holding the actuator assembly to the brass body. Remove it. Note how the device comes apart because you will need to reassemble the valve properly once its completed installed on the machine. Take care as there is a spring and small brass piece inside the brass could get lost. With the black electrical case and valve assembly removed; you’ll be able to install the brass fittings in the following steps.
Now thread the drain valve assembly onto the 1/2 FIP coupler from above after pipe tape-ing the male end. Make sure the final tight position of the valve is parallel with the bottom of your tank. The black switch body and actuator should have enough clearance to set just under the tank. Open the assemblies ball valve now.
Tape the male end of a 1/2in MIP x 1/4in FIP Brass Pipe Bushing and tighten on the Valve assembly.
Tape both ends of the 1/4in MIP x 1-1/2in Long Brass Pipe and install onto the 1/4″ FIP bushing.
Install the 1/4in FIP All Ends Brass Tee as shown. Ensure the final tight position has the top opening in the direction of the top of the compressor. This will be the inlet of the Problem 2 and 3 filters drains.
Tape the male thread of the 1/8in ID Hose Barb x 1/4in MIP and install it on the top facing opening.
Tape the male thread on the first 1/4in ID Hose Barb x 1/4in MIP and install it on the remaining opening of the tee. This will be the outlet for all water and will eventually go to the bucket.
Thread one end of the 0.71ID vinyl tube onto the 1/8in hose barb. Cut the tube off about half way up the side of the tank.
Slip the end of the 0.71 tube into the compression fitting and tighten it onto the bottom end of the Tee. For instructions on installing compression fittings; see this youtube video; however, note that the tee’s compression sleeve is build into the brass nut. Loosen the compression fitting from the Tee and verify the compression fitting is solid. Tape the male end of the fitting and reinstall.
The fitting opposite the drain should be plumbed to the bottom of the Air/Water separator using additional 0.71tube. This separator will have the most volume of water; so it should have the easier path. Remove the existing black tubing on the bottom of the water seperator.
The perpendicular fitting should be plumbed to the bottom of the Chemical Air dryer as large volumes of water are not expected from that part. Remove the existing black tubing on the bottom of the Air Dryer.
Secure the compression Tee fitting to the side of the tank using a self-adhesive tie down and a zip tie.
Cut the 0.71ID tube between the compression tee and the 1/8″ID hose barb at about the halfway mark. This will be the location for the 4mm ID Check Valve. The direction arrow should face the hose barb so that only the water can drain and prevents at pressure air from the tank from back-flowing into the filters.
Reassemble the solenoid valve (reverse of disassembly).
ReAttach the electronics to the valve as shown. Note that the “AC in” port of the drain valve should be in the same direction as the 1/8in ID barb (IE facing top of compressor).
The idea behind the Tee is that water drained from the filters will flow thru the check valve and pool at the outlet of the auto-drain valve. When the drain valve fires; the compressed air+water from the tank will force the pooled water after the valve up and into the bucket will provide later.
We’ll pick up the final bucket assembly after a short break of electrical wiring.
RetroFit the electrical:
Please note: The following electrical retrofit will likely void the warranty of your CAT air compressor. When in doubt consult a licensed electric professional. The Author of this blog entry is not responsible for any damage you do to yourself or your property.
The drain valve operates on 110VAC on the CAT air compressor. MAKE SURE you unplug the compressor from the wall and verify no AC power is present before proceeding. Always make sure the unit is unplugged before continuing work.
There is no clean way of getting switched AC from under the compressor’s switch cover. The Author decided to tap into the wiring harness outside the switch cover. This means that the Auto Drain valve will not always have power and the timer functionality will be effectively disabled unless you are running the compressor at a very high duty cycle. In the Authors case; he expects the auto drain valve to fire each time the compressor comes on; which should be good enough.
You could choose to wire this directly onto an AC plug so the auto drain valve fires as it is intended. This would mean you would have to unplug it each time you power off the air compressor. The Author chose to keep the wiring “inside” the compress as a single unit with one plug to supply power.
The author went overboard on this wiring job; channeling his sleeving powers to make the installation look nice, neat, and professional. He installed some “molex” style connectors as a “y” in the harness to allow the auto-drain valve to be disconnected in the future (or re-wired). This is by no means required; as you could use the same technique CAT used with crimp style connectors. The Author’s method is just one way of solving the problem.
Begin by locating the AC wiring harnesses. The Author checked under the power switch body and identified the black harness. Showing that inside the black harness there was a blue and brown wire which goes to a couple of the AC powered components on the top of the compressor. These were sealed in black heat shrink. Cut the heat shrink away to reveal CAT’s crimped pin connectors.
Cut away the existing crimped-on connectors and use a 0.093 2pin connectors with a Y connection (white/brown) in the picture. Basically we’re adding another connection the compressor side of the harness. Crimp the 0.093 male connector for the compressor side and the female connector on the accessory side. The Author used female sockets on the male connector and male pins on the female connector. The idea here is that the pins when disconnected from the main harness cannot easily be touched – lessening the shock possibility.
Crimp on the 0.062″ connector for the new auto-drain valve. Again male connector, female sockets compressor side. Female connector, male pins on the drain valve side.
Route the drain valve ac connection over the top of the compressor, down near the Tee. Disconnect the AC inlet on the drain valve and wire the socket. The author connected the white hot wire to pin 1, the brown neutral to pin2, and the green ground to pin3.
But… wait Seymour. A 3rd Ground connection? I’m lost… Clearly the AC wiring harnesses of the compressor only have a hot and neutral connection. There’s no third wire. The Author got the ground connection from a screw at the top of the compressor. If you look under the power switch; you’ll see that the ground basically ties into the metal tank. My multimeter check show that any threaded connection will serve as a good ground. More data to follow.
With the drain wired; put a 1/2in strain relief in the hole and route the ac cable up to the same mount used for the Tee and secure it there.
Route the drain power behind the handle and secure it with another mount and zip tie.
Finally, secure the new connectors onto the other side of the compressor tank. The Author didn’t have large enough heatshrink for the 0.093″ connector; but, he secured it the 0.062″ connector with heatshrink and a zip-tie mount.
With the electrical complete; you can test the functionality of the auto drain valve. When you first turn on the compressor; the auto valve will fire releasing air out the 1/4in barb fitting. Note your tank will probably be empty when you first fire it up. For that you can watch that the LED comes on Green then goes to red when the valve is closed. You can also let the compressor run for a minute or so and then turn off the compressor with some air in the tank. Then turn it back on and you should hear the drain valve open.
Because the author has his valve fire each time the compressor turns on; he set the time open to the shortest value. This should keep the tank empty of water each time the compressor turns on.
RetroFit Plumbing (continued):
With the electrical complete and tested; it’s time to plumb the exit barb into a reservoir of some type. For this it’s really up to you as to what container you want holding the water. The Author had just used up the last of his Windshield additive so this made a simple, cost effective reservoir. You can use anything you’d like; but we’d recommend something sealed (with a lid) to limit accidental spilling and blow back from the compressed air+water.
On this reservoir; we cut 3 ‘v’shaped holes in the top of the jug above our intended inlet. This is to allow the air to escape but try and contain the water. Failure to put vent holes will likely lead to catastrophic failure of your container. 😀
Identify an inlet location which will be the final 1/4in ID Hose Barb x 1/4in MIP. Wanted the water under pressure to eject downward; so drilled on the top angled surface of the jug. Using a 3/8″ drill bit; drilled the pilot hole and the used the step drill to get right sized hole so the barb could be threaded.
Connect a section of 1/4in ID vinyl tubing to the reservoir.
After about 4-6 inches of tubing; cut. Install the swagelok quick disconnect. On this part; connect the button side which auto closes to the reservoir side. This way; the reservoir remains pseudo-sealed until while you transport it to your dumping location.
Connect the other end of the coupler to 1/4in ID tubing.
Finally cut a suitable length of the tubing and connect it to the exposed 1/4in barb on the bottom of your tank.
I have yet to use this system extensively; but I’ll report back if there are any issue and their possible solutions. Hopefully, you have found this blog post useful. If so; feel free to comment below or share on social media.