Category Archives: Mechanical

Repair a Broken Tip For A Tormach PCNC Touch Off Probe

If you have a Tormach PCNC machine with their passive touch off probe you’re bound to break the tiny ceramic tip at some point. There’s two strategies, one is to buy a new one with a carbide or stainless steel tip but then if you crash it you might damage the probe itself – the alternative is to upgrade to a thicker boss by purchasing a non-Tormach replacement. Either of those doesn’t help you with your current problem – finishing the job you started with a non-broken tip!

I ended up trying to drill out the broken off chunk of ceramic with carbide tooling but to no avail. What did work great was heating up the probe tip with the broken ceramic stuck in it with a propane torch, the glue burns off and the broken ceramic chunk will fall out. You can then superglue whatever you’ve got left of the tip back in. Of course you’d think this would mess up the precision of the tool but that’s why you have to calibrate the probe in the first place, because it’s not glued in precisely initially.

Once your probe breaks off:

Add heat with a propane/butane torch:

Reglue the remaining tip into the socket with some super glue:


Slightly shorter and the stainless steel is a little crispy looking – but it works fine!

Go forth and save your $90 on the replacement, at least for the first time until it ends up too short!

These are a few of my favorite stores. . .

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now 🙂

Electronics vendors:
Digikey (Excellent search function, expensive but very good pictures, lots of products too)
Mouser (lots of what digikey has but no pictures! Great for Delphi / Amphenol connectors)
Newark (bigger weirder stuff, careful some stuff ships from Farnell in the UK)
Jameco (Search is terrible, but if you can’t find it anywhere else. . .)
Allied Electronics (Cheap amphenol. . .)
Waytek (cheap for bulk connectors and wire, next day shipping)

Adafruit (cheap and usually has what I need, I’d rather pay a little more to support a still growing startup)
Sparkfun (expensive but a good one-stop-shop)

Electronics Surplus:
All Electronics

China Direct Electronics:
Futurlec (Cheap, good customer support, responsive, shipping takes a while – as indicated up front)
Deal Extreme (holy cheap, lots of people on eBay/discount stores are buying and drop shipping from them)
Sure Electronics (Lots of great cheap parts, you have to add them to your cart and check shipping after each item though, they’re making up some of their costs by charging shipping for each item – I received everything 3rd day after I ordered it though, which is amazing)
MPJA Ships from Florida, cheapest breadboard prices I’ve ever seen, not sure about anything else.

McMaster-Carr (Expensive, ships quick, stocks a lot, great pictures/details on products, search rocks)
Grainger (Search sucks, plumbing stuff/etc much cheaper than McMaster, if you can find anything. . .)
MSC Direct (Tooling, industrial consumables)

Harbor Freight (If you’re on a budget you can’t get better than HF tools, but make sure you read the reviews)

How to Repair a Camshaft Position Sensor 1997 Ford Taurus

If you’re looking to swap out the camshaft position sensor (distributor, synchronizer) on a late 90’s Ford Taurus jump on over to the projects page where you can catch my photos and instructions on how to do it quickly.

Enabling Devices Ultimate Switch

Anyone out there who’s more of a DIYer looking for special needs solutions may consider purchasing one of these Ultimate Switches from Enabling Devices. For ~$60 it might look like a cheap buy next to some of their other devices like this ~$250 Little Tikes toy.

Ultimate Switch

Ultimate Switch

Inside the Ultimate Switch is nothing more than an Omron single pole single throw momentary switch.

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch Top

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch Top

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch Bottom

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch Bottom

Digikey previously sold the same switch for $30 at one-off-quantities, you can likely get it cheaper from a supply house or from Omron directly in their industrial automation limit switches category.

RepRap / Makerbot CNC Madison WI?

Anyone else around Madison [UW-Madison would be great 🙂 ] interested in building a RepRap or a CupCake CNC machine? I’ve got a couple stepper motor drivers, several large stepper motors, a shop, and material to build one, but would prefer to order some of the more commercial parts with a few other people to drive the price down with quantity.

Anybody out there? Shoot me an e-mail or comment below.

UPDATE: I’ve built a RepRap and I know someone with a Makerbot!

PUR / Dupont / OmniFilter Faucet Mount Filter Failure / Broken / Bad

On the topic of failures, broken, and poorly designed stuff.  I’ve had a PUR faucet mount filter for about 15 days under a year and it’s literally sprung a leak:

I’ve been watching with intrigue as it had more an more stress fractures over time.  I’m betting the pressure pulsations combined with the mix of plastics (white and the clear for the window) allowed some points of stress concentration along the window which led to the cracks propogating around the filter and ultimately a broken PUR water filter.  I was half hoping for a spectacular failure one of these days, but the filter has finally sprung a leak that sprays about 8 feet across my apartment.  I’m moving in a week or so and I’ll just buy a new one (which is conveniently cheaper than buying a new filter. . . what a scam).


I’ve purchased a OmniFilter F1 Series A Faucet Filter hoping it would work better/as well as the PUR filter. This filter has a different designed filter housing (transparent and a single piece), and the filters are much much cheaper. These filters are available at Menards or Farm and Fleet (large hardware stores) along side the PUR and Brita filters.

Well, I purchased the filter on sale for ~$8 and hooked it up. . . and water just sprays everywhere. Right out of the box.

OmniFilter F1 Series A

As you can see above, the filter leaks out of the knob, out of a small hole on the bottom where the housing halves meet and a dribble of water comes out of the actual water output.

So I e-mailed OmniFilter (I like to call companies, but sometimes I don’t have time and in this case there wasn’t much at stake) on June 30th and was replied back to on July 9th. Sure it’s fourth of July weekend/week but I can’t imagine that OmniFilter’s e-mail traffic is high enough to take over a week to get back to me.

It sounds like you have a defective filter. You can take it back to the place of purchase & exchange it out or warranty it though us. I would need a copy of the receipt along with your name, address & telephone number. You can fax the information to me at 866-227-6218. Once it is received we would replace it out for you.

No chance I’m going to be fighting the fax machine at work to get my $8 back, I’ll just try to swap it next time I’m at Menards and I’ll post if I have any better luck next time.

To OmniFilter’s credit, I have their much larger whole house filter on a project and it runs great, no leaks, filters are cheap and work great, hopefully this was an exception to their faucet filters 🙂

I’ve exchanged my original bad OmniFilter for another. This one didn’t leak out the bottom, but instead had the filter shatter when water was ***slowly*** turned on for the first time. When I realized it broke I pulled the filter out and there was a chunk of o-ring in it that likely came from inside the filter. I’m going to pull it apart and post some pictures since my local Menards will no longer be stocking them (this was the last one and they’re marked down to $5).

I carefully disassembled the filter, you can check out the results here. It basically comes down to the o-ring seats aren’t deep enough to let the o-rings properly sit in the filter – JUNK 🙁

Next up for consideration, I thought I’d try again this time with a Dupont “Premier Faucet Mount” Filter model number WF-FM100XW.

Dupont Faucet Mount Filter Box

Dupont Faucet Mount Filter Box

Dupont Faucet Mount Filter - Includes free roll of teflon tape!

Dupont Faucet Mount Filter - Includes free roll of teflon tape!

Initially this filter seemed promising, it included a 4 Phase filter (most are 2 or 3, likely means they added an extra layer of plastic mesh and called it a filter).  The cool thing was a good design!  They housed the filter as it’s own case inside the outer top screw on cover:

Dupont Faucet Mount Filter - Cartridge takes pressure inside housing

Dupont Faucet Mount Filter - Cartridge takes pressure inside housing

So I shouldn’t have the same failure as I did on the Pur filter where the housing fell apart.  Unfortunately on hooking this filter up the sink flow rate was sooo low it was unbearable, I expect the filtered water output to be slow, but the restriction from the filter on the sink was too much.  It would take several minutes to fill a pitcher of water, let alone fill the sink to do dishes in with unfiltered water.  Ultimately this filter was removed and set aside.  I pulled it apart but can’t see any obvious restrictions, try at your own risk!

I cut open the Dupont filter and I call BULLSHIT on their “quadruple filter”, have a look:

Dupont Faucet Filter Chucked into the Lathe

Dupont Faucet Filter Chucked into the Lathe

On cutting it open we find. . .

Giant Single-wall Carbon Filter

Giant Single-wall Carbon Filter

That’s right, the water goes in the middle and out the outside through the carbon cylinder, no magic and no “quadruple filter” to be found.  False advertising?

No Dupont Magic to be found in the Bottom

No Dupont Magic to be found in the Bottom