Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Stirling Engine Progress

The new Stirling Engines are coming along nicely. I really like the clean look of the clear acrylic. It is a little tough to work with, but the outcome is very nice. I would post pictures here, but these designs are all top secret until the book comes out!

I received a request for some woodworking today. It would have been a money maker, but I had to turn it down. I could not get it finished before Christmas, and that was one of the requests.

The studio received two really nice pairs of headphones as barter for a recording deal today. I can't wait to use them! At last I will have some headphones that don't leak!

You can visit the studio web site at 16Strings.Googlepages.com.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cutting and Joining Acrylic

The build today was focused on cutting and cementing acrylic sheet for the next two new Stirling Engine designs. Lessons were learned on both fronts.

The 1/4 inch acrylic sheet was cut with a hand held jig saw sporting a fine tooth metal cutting blade. The first few cuts went well, then it started to develop a little heat and the chips started to melt and weld the cut back together. I started blowing a stream of compressed air on the blade to keep it cool. The trick worked. All the cuts were clean from that point on. The only drawback is that the compressed air stripped the protective coating from the acrylic sheet.

This was my first attempt at cementing acrylic with solvent. The instructions indicated the pieces should be held in a jig until the cement cures. What they did not say was that nothing should be touching the back side of the joint! The solvent flowed through and penetrated the wood jig and glued my project to the jig! Well, lesson learned. I have some sloppy looking joints and some real nice ones. I might be able to polish out some of the bad looking ones.

Oh, and for anyone who is keeping track, I managed to record and send between 30 and 40 sound effects for the game development project. I haven't heard back from the chief developer yet. He must be busy today. Kids! Aren't they supposed to just come when you call them!?

The New Build Starts Today

Today will be the beginning of the new engine build. I can't show any pictures because the designs are all top secret! These are the last two new designs for the Stirling Engine book. When I have these up and running, and when I have the build process thoroughly photographed and documented, I will have only one more task to accomplish before publication. I want to create that Pop-Can Stirling Engine instruction set to include as a special bonus to the book.

Also on the list for today is some studio time to make some more video game sound effects. We hope to get this game out before Christmas. Then it will be re-themed and put out again after Christmas without the Christmas decorations in it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

"The Book"

I hate to admit that I have been writing a book. That phrase has become such a cliche' that I notice a drop in respect for anyone who uses it! Nothing is for certain. I have a publisher who is interested, but since my concepts are not exactly what he is looking for, I will never know until the full manuscript is submitted if it will be published or not.

The topic is how to make Stirling Engines. The challenge I was offered was to design a Stirling engine that will run from the heat of a warm hand, and do it without a machine shop. The design must be something that is easy for others to replicate. Well, I think I have done it. My first design was up and running with less than $35 invested in parts.

The publisher asked for some design modifications so that the engine would run in a more traditional manner. It has a mechanism that moves back and forth and lacks a spinning flywheel. As a result of that request I have designed two more concept engines that both have spinning flywheels.

When the two new models have been built and tested, I simply need to document the construction process for them and add it to the manuscript.

I want to add a "Special Bonus Section" to the book about how to build a Pop-Can Stirling Engine. The Pop-Can engine is the starting point for many young engineering students, and it is also the entry point for many into the world of hot air engines like the Stirling. The plans that are available on the Internet are a decent guide for the process of building one, but I have yet to find any serious documentation about the building process.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Jim's Coffee Cup Stirling Engine

Wooden Music

Wood and Music. That is what I do. Yet very rarely do I do them together. Perhaps that will change soon. One would think that I made many instruments. Yet with all the wood working I have done, all the instruments I play were bought from a store. I will let you know if that changes any time soon. Those Carvin bass kits look pretty cool!