Author Archives: Deadline

Successful DIY Dyno pump test!

This post is about an idea. An idea I had while on vacation at the beach in 2017. I haven’t talked about this much because it was just an idea and ideas are funny things. They are not really real, until they work. Until that moment, when something actually happens they are just a collect of thoughts, some parts, a design, and maybe some equipment. But not real. So unless you stumbled into this lost corner of my garage sometime over the last 4 years or were another racer there wasn’t really much to say.

In 2017, I had just returned to racing and while on vacation ( see vacation photo as proof I do occasionally take vacations) I decided that we needed a way to test an engine without actually putting in a car and driving on the track. We needed to test it before we got to the race. Now every racer knows you do that on a dyno. Dyno is the short name for Dynamometer – a device for measuring force, torque or power and they are crazy expensive. Even just renting time on a dyno is hundreds of dollars an hour. But I do not require all the workings of a full dyno shop just to test our small 1-2 liter motors. So I designed a test stand that could be used as a dyno.

I didn’t know anything about building a dyno, or how they work, or even how to weld. Really I knew nothing but had an idea. But that was enough. Like the Vacuum Former and the CNC projects before it, I just needed an idea and time to follow it through. I started collecting bits and parts. A pump here, a transmission there, an extra this, an extra that. To make a motor run without the car you still need all the systems of a car. The fuel system, the electrical system, the hydraulic system, the cooling system, etc. I would say it’s just as much work as building a car, it just doesn’t go anywhere. Over time (the last 4 years) it has come together.

Today we tested the pump. It worked. We successfully pumped water with a car motor. Now that doesn’t sound all that impressive. Why would you want to pump water with a car motor anyway? Well, we pump water because it is Work (physics definition of Work) and it is Work we can measure. Like MPH, RPM, or 0-60 it’s force and power. In the weeks to come the motor will run, the pump will turn, the torque will create force on the load cell and it will no longer be an idea. It will be an actual working Dyno machine.

It’s been a journey. I’ll post some of the steps and phases that lead to here. I hope that some of you have ideas that lead to things that work too. Happy workshoping.

Chain Saw Sharpener conversion to Hobby Chop Saw

As far as tools go the Chicago Electric  Chain Saw Sharpener is not a great tool for it’s intended purpose.  The motor is week, the arbor and nut are plastic, there is no shaft lock to hold the arbor still while you change disk, and so on. That said it seemed to me that it would make a good hobby chop saw for cutting really small stuff like brass rod, axles, piano wire, push rods and the like. Also the price is right at $29.99 for a good hack.

The big thing holding this saw back is the angle. As it was made to do just one job, they built in a fixed angle for sharpening.  I felt that could be over come. There are some other things will need to change too. The chain advancing handle would not be needed, the blade is not right and a proper vise for holding the material to be cut. So lets look at these one by one. The handle and advancing mechanism can just be removed.  We have to remove the red handle to remove the “bake handle” but it’s just a few screws.

With that out of the way we can look at the disk. They make some very thin wheels 3/64″ that have the same 7/8″ arbor. They are 4.5″ and not the 4″ that comes on it. But with a little trimming on the disk cover they will fit. They are much thinner so we will need a washer or two to make up the thickness so the arbor nut (plastic) will properly engage and tighten. Again there is no “lock” so getting a tight grip on the arbor and the arbor nut is not as easy as it should be. I don’t see an easy way to solve for this without replacing the arbor.

Next we need a good working small vice that will stand up to the parts getting hot. This simple $9 job from amazon should do.

Now to fix that angle problem. Remove the C-clip, hinge pin, and spring. Set those carefully aside for use later. Using a square to keep the 90deg angle, cut the base between 57 and 58 mm up from the bottom. Clean up the cut edges so you have the four empty holes. 3D print the replacement insert. STL print file. Use the printed part to mark a hole for a pin screw on the right back side. Use a 1/16″ drill to drill the hole. Carefully work the 3D part into the base. This is a tight fit and meant to be. We don’t want this coming out later. Put in a #4 or #6 – 1/2″ or 3/4″ screw into the hole to lock the the part in place. Re-attache the motor and disk to the base using the pin, spring, and C-clip. Refer to the image gallery bellow to follow these steps.

You should now have a good little saw for small hobby cutting. Have fun and hobby on.

DIY Dyno Control Column

The control column on the Dyno has to be all things. It’s you power, fuses, gauges, hour clock, throttle, clutch, fuel system, and note pad in one. Additionally it needs to move. Designed to be wherever you need it. Exhaust on the right side of the motor? No problem, move the controls to the left.

Like some other projects, I chose to use some CNCed Plexiglas and color from the back. I made the top hinged so you could pull two pins and easily get to the back.   It has a full complement of gauges (Rev limiting Tachometer, Oil pressure, Water and Oil Temp and Air Mixture). Also the usual toggles for fuel, coil and fan. We strive for everything to be just like the racecar. Just what you need and nothing else. If we use something different on the Dyno then we do in the car then you are not going to get the same results when the motor goes in the car. We don’t want to be tuning for the bench.

The fuel tank, pump, pressure regulator, and gauge are all on one support frame. With just a few bolts they can be removed as a unit. Again I have gone for a unitized system design. Easier to fix and diagnose. The tank was a hard one to find. There aver few small metal tank options. This one is a vintage steel tank from a 70’s riding mower.

The throttle is a marine style. Since this is a standing position a foot pedal didn’t make much since. It’s another vintage find. Most new ones have gone to drive by wire and they don’t use cables anymore. I had to build up the mount from scratch to fit it in on the side of the panel. Also had to design and 3D print custom parts (grey in the photo) to make the linkage work.

Happy workshoping.

Check out the other post in this series Dyno Frame, Dyno Pump, and Dyno Load Cell. 

DIY Dyno Pump

The heart of the Dyno is the Pump. There are two ways to measure motor output, with load (pump or drag break) or electricity. Probably the easiest way would be to measure the wattage output and this would be done with Eddy Current brake (Telma retarder). Not being able to find one of those, I opted for the water break and load cell. If you want to know more urge you to read up at YourDyno

The principle is simple. Create load, measure force from load with the load cell, calculate the end result. Is it 100%? No, but really you don’t need it to be. It is a loss loss system anyway. What you need is to measure change in load over the arc of the RPM of the motor. If you want to know if your carburetor changes helped, then the measured curve of this run vs the curve of the last run is what you need to know. Did our tuning make the motor stronger or weaker? Knowing if it generated 110hp or 111hp doesn’t really help, it just a number.

Where did I get my pump? I have no idea. It was salvage someone else was getting rid of because it was all locked up. I.E Free! When I took it apart, it turned out to just be full of mud. I think it’s an old farm pump for pumping out pond or lakes. For our purposes I have mounted it on bearings. One front and one rear. This mean the pump is free to swing or pivot. We hold it in place with the load cell. That then measures the drag applied when we close down the valve on the output shaft. A 55-gallon drum provides the water, which just circulates in and out. Simple, right?

Not so much. Not know who made the pump or where it came from means no parts and you get to make your own replacement gaskets. In fact I have had work out all the details. If there is any part of this I’m not sure about, it’s the pump. If I can’t make it work I’ll have to find a truck scrap yard and a Telma retarder. But since the frame design is modular, I can just swap these parts and the rest stays the same.

I was supper thrilled when we were able to pump water. It means that the pump is good and likely to do the job we need. Happy workshoping.

Look for the other articles in the series DIY Dyno Frame and Dyno Load Cell.

DIY Dyno Frame

The design for the Dyno’s frame is around the idea that everything is moveable and modular. Because we plan to test different engines and they come in different sizes, the parts of the dyno move along the frame to the best location for the motor being tested. Also it makes changing motors easier. For example, the radiator, fan and oil cooler unit comes off with 2 bolts. That gets those components out of the way during a motor swap. The same is true for the control panel and fuel system. We plan to test 1-2 liter BMC, Lotus/Ford and Miata motors. So, lets start there.


To calculate the frame size, I started by lining up the components in the order they needed to go and measuring everything.  See photo 2. That gave me a general width that the frame needed to be. Then it was trip to the metal supply depot for several 10’ (I discovered that is the industry standard size for raw steel) lengths of 2” square steel tubing. Another stop for some heavy-duty steel casters. Once I got that home it was a kind of a “now what?” moment. I really didn’t know what to do next.

I remembered my dad had an old Craftsman stick welder out in his garage under 20 years of dust. I borrowed that. Bought a helmet, gloves and other supplies at Harbor Freight on the way home and was off to the races.

No, I wasn’t. I learned I knew absolutely nothing about welding and you just don’t pick one up and lay down nice bead weld. There are about 100 ways welding can go wrong and I must have hit 99 of them.  And no, you can’t learn it from just watching some YouTube. I tried that too. In truth it’s an art that takes years to get right and after 4 years of trying I still suck. But a friend that did go to welding school came over and showed me how to start a bead and a few of the basics. On a good day, if all is in aliment, I only have to grind off half of what I weld and start over. On a good day. Welding is a skill and one I may never possess. I have accepted there are some things I’m not good at (my taxes, singing, all musical instruments) and I should just hire those out. But I did learn enough that with trial, and error, and lots of grinding that I can get non-critical metal parts to sick together. It will never pass inspection but I’m not taking it on the road.

Look for the next few articles on the Dyno Pump and Dyno Load cell. Happy workshoping.

Design your Workshop!

One of the classic problems in a workshop is layout. Deciding where to put things so that you still have room for materials and work to happen but be able to use each tool at it’s station with room to maneuver.   I decided to moving all the saw dust making tools to their own space. I was able to find a workshop design I liked in the SketchUp warehouse. I’ll use a simple saltbox shed design for this.  SketchUP_8 Shed File

To help with the layout problem I used my trusty SketchUp again. Using just the floor and the door of the shed for reference.  I modified it to the size I need. Then found most of my tools in the warehouse and moved them in so I could check the layout design and spacing. Using the layers it is a great tool for working out the details before you cut any lumber.  This way you can check to see that the plywood still fits through the door and can be run on the  table saw. Sketchup8 Workshop with Tools File

Dryer Box

How to build a heating Dryer Box

Plastic absorbs water. Moisture absorption (also known as water absorption) is the capacity of a material to absorb moisture from its environment. Type of plastic, temperature, humidity, how stored are all factors to how much is absorbed and how fast. When heating and then trying to mold plastic this a bad thing. Heated water turns to steam, expands 100 times it size and generally just makes a mess of the pull. So, how to get the water out of a sheet of plastic before molding?

Easy, you dry it. Yes, dry it. Heat the sheet plastic to a warm but not mold able state and bake the water out. Then mold, the now dry plastic with no problems. Polycarbonates are partiality sensitive to absorption.  So all you car body makers out there, need a Dryer Box.

A Dryer Box is easy to make. Think Easy Bake Over scaled up. Using heating duck board, a few 40-100 watt light bulbs, and temperature controller you can build a box with a few shelves that will hold your plastic the 4-24 hours it needs to dry before use. Times very based on temp, water absorbed, type of plastic, square area exposed excreta. Search for your plastic type, the recommended drying temperature and time. 

Simple materials to come by. I got mine at Granger.  Cuts easily with a box knife and yard stick.  Goes back together with the aluminum tape. Folds nicely with V groves. You can even use the tape for door hinges. It is important to put in a vent. You want the water to escape so add a 2″ vert hole in the top. Note the step cut in the door edge above. this makes a good seal. Worries about making a box, watch some HVAC videos that cover it all for you and you will be a pro.

I mold 2’x4′ sheets so mine is bigger than 2’x’4 on the inside. Works great. holds several sheets at a time.  Is a good way to dry paints, wet molds, cure epoxy, bond solvent type glues and all manner of other uses.

This a quick build in a few evening. Wear gloves and protective gears as the board is fiberglass and will be exposed until you get it all taped up. 

The simplest way is to use a grill temperature probe from the Grill department from your big box store (about $10)  and swap out light bulbs until you find the combination that keeps the box at temperature you want. I fine 2- 60 watts and a 40 keeps the box at a nice 125-130F.   The other way is to build a  STC-100 controller. There are several videos, here is one   How to build a Temp Controller with a STC-1000

Vacuum Form Machine Enhancements -Cheaper Heaters

Building Cheaper Heaters

One of the biggest costs to building a Vacuum Form Machine is the Heaters. Right? Well maybe not.

So kits are the simple way to go. As seen in the related article you can just order kits. They come with all the stuff you need. Spend an evening or two drilling holes and forming wire and poof, you have heaters. See Kits Here. For my first 2×2 that’s what I did. It was quick, no muss, no fuss and you wire them in. Not cheap mind you easy and quick.

What if it’s not as costly as we think?

When you look at the kits you get to thinking. At a rough cost of $60+ per 6 in x 24 inch panel you start to wonder what if one breaks? Yes, folks they do break, they are like light bulbs in that respect. They are good until they’re not and then you need new wire.

here. The key information is getting the right amount on each 6″x24″ board. The magic number is 42 ohms.  For the 220 v systems you need each panel to meter out at 42 ohms. They need to be balanced to heat evenly.

So boards. The suggested material is ceramic fiber board. What is ceramic fiber board and why do we want it? Well it turns out that ceramic fiber board is used as shelves in pottery kilns. It’s cool stuff designed to get very hot (up 1500 F), be somewhat easy to cut, used a few times and when to much glaze gets on it, and it is thrown away. Yes, tossed. If you have a pottery firing place near you, you might find it there. If not you might try what I did.

So what else gets fired in a kiln and takes high heat?  Well, the ceramic & porcelain, right? What are floor tile made from? Ceramic & porcelain. Now, I can’t find any information as to what heat a floor tile is rated for but if it can be fired in a kiln a few times to put glaze on (at 1500 F or so ) then it should work for us. And it does nicely. Cheap 12 in x 24 in white floor tile from your local home supply store is much better than any Hardi-backer.

Cut it with a wet tile saw into 6 in x 24 in (or a little under so it fits nicely in the ceiling grids). Lay out the hole pattern and mark it. Drill very carefully with tile bits and water. Lots of water and very slowly. The bits won’t last, so you will need several. Drill the corners first with fresh bits! As you can see in my photos, old bits and corners don’t mix and you get a break.

One tile makes two boards so you only need 2 or 4 at $2 a sq foot. With the wire, which has been spun, measured, and stretched on the kit frame. Affix with cotter pins “loosely”. Bolt the ends down and through to the heavy gauge 220 v wire on the back and light them up. Mine sit side by side with the kit ones and have been going for a year.

Building a MSE-6 Droid

Making a MSE-6 Droid R/C Car body

The goal of this project was to build a MSE-6 mouse droid in time to take to the con.
Ok, Plan B: will be to turn a mold in to a shell and then the shell in to an R/C droid for next years con.

Droid Mold  Droid top and bottom shell   What your finish droid should look like.


  • Join the yahoo group for MSE-6 mouse droids. Ask around for where to get, buy or order MSE-6 shell. Get no response.
  • Spend seven months building a home vacuum form machine (See how here)
  • Use the pdf plans from yahoo group to build form to build wooden mold. See nice photo gallery below. Invent new math to make the angels work out because plans are not complete or correct.  The mold is about 19 inches. 10.5 inch wheel base for standard R/C car components. NOTE: These are scaled! Not full size.  About 86%. If there is demand for Full 1 to 1 scale then I might build a second set of molds.
  • Use new home Vacuum Forming machine to make MSE6 shell on the molds you just built. See cool vacuum pull videos below.
  • Looking for Greeblies and Side panels!

Free Foamies Plane Plans (Fan-Fold and Depron)

This list is a compiled list of Foamies Plane Plans that I have run across. Plans of the planes are linked where available. Links to the sources in case where for sale.

Good resources for finding Foam Plane Plans:

Good place to buy your Depron- RC

Good place to buy DIY brushless motors (CD ROM motor kits)-

Good place to buy carbon fiber tubes/rods/woven –Aerospace Composite Products

Good place to buy RC motors, batteries, servos, etc. REALLY CHEAP – Hobby City

Here are some stats on other Foam Plane options I considered from their plans:

Plane Plan Motor Wing Span Prop ESC Batt Plans
ElectriFly RimFire 22M-1000 Brushless 31″ 10×3.5 8-Amp 3-cell 350-700mAh
FrogForg GWS IPS-A (5.86:1 Gear Ratio) 34″ 9×7 GWS ICS-50 2-cell 120mAh LiPo Frog_Instructions
Old timer GWS Dual IPS-A (5.86:1 Gear Ratio) 44″ 11×4.7 GWS ICS-100 2-cell 700/1200mAh Lipo
Staggerwing GWS IPS-A (5.86:1 Gear Ratio) 31.5″ 9×7 GWS ICS-50 2-cell 1020mAh Stagger_Plan
Tinabob 2 GWS EDP-50XC    Carbon Brush 24″ 3×2 GWS ICS-100/100E 2-cell Li-ion 7.2v
Pond Baby 280 brushed motor 27-32″ 6   8.4v 600 to 800mAh
Pelican GWS EPS-300c “2S” (2.80:1 Gear Ratio) 42″ 7×6  GWS ICS-300 2-cell 1200mAh LiPo Pelican_Kit_PDF
Baby Shark
Baby Shark
 Brushless Outruner 24″ 4.75 x 4.75 to 6 x 5 3 Amp BEC 700-900 mAh 3cell LiPo babyshark-plans
Nano Bi Plane


 GWS LPS-RXC-A ?” GWS 8043 2-5 Amp 450 – 650 mAh 2 cell LiPo Nano Bi plane
Fokker Eindecker
Fokker Eindecker
      LiPo Fokker_Eindecker
Micro Moth-balsa
Micro Moth
  ~9″    RFFS-100 LiPo Micro Moth
Micro Pitts-balsaMicro Pitts   ~8″   RFFS-100 LiPo Micro Pitts
Micro Pterodactyl  two hextronics 20 gram motors or other 50W motors 52″    one CC Phoenix or Thunderbird or other 10A controller 500mah – 800mah 2s -3s Li-Poly Micro_Pterodactyl
3D Fish   38″     LiPo 3D_Fish
SE5aSE5a_32   32″     LiPo SE5a 32 inch
Sea BB ESC-ELE 2100Kv
Blue Wonder 1500Kv
Suppo 2208-14
GWS 5 x 4.3
GWS 7 x 6
APC 5 x 3.8
10 amp ESC
10 amp ESC
18 amp ESC
3s 700 mah LiPo
3s 1000 mah LiPo
3s 1300 mah LiPo
Sea BB 26_34_42
SharkShark Grason Hobby Micro Jet V3 30″ APC 6 x 5.5 20 amp ESC 900-1500 LiPo 3 cell Shark Plans
Silent MiteSilent Mite   28″ 8 x 4.3   3S1P  LiPo Silent_Mite
STCSTC  IPS A / CD Rom 35″ 8 x 10   340 – 1300 ma 2/3 cell LiPo The STC
STSSTS  GWS 350 D gear 44″ 9 x 11   800 – 1500 2/3 cell LiPo The STS
Uni Fuse
Uni Fuse
Universal Fuselage N/A Any  Any Uni_Fuse

 With so many other good plane plans available to build just pick a project. Happy flying!