Lost the motherboard on my CNC machine

I was performing a long running job cutting out a topographical map of the St. Pete area of Florida (for my son). Partway through the process, I saw a small puff of smoke and a heat sink popped off the back of my CNC 3018 Pro CNC machine. Anytime you let the smoke out of an electrical component — it’s not a good day.

If you were not aware, smoke is the thing that makes electronic and electrical circuits work. Don’t be fooled by scientists and engineers talking about electromagnetic force and electrical potential… All components perform there function based on their ability to store and manipulate smoke.

Just kidding…

I turned the CNC machine off and replaced the heat sink. When I turned the CNC back on, the heat sink popped off again – immediately. I figured at that point the motherboard was shot, so I looked for a replacement motherboard and found one on Amazon. I can investigate fixing the old one later but with surface mount components, it is probably not worth it.

New motherboard

The new component has a built in fan and seemed to have solid reviews, so I bought one. It came in a few days and only took a few moments to install.

Motherboard mounted

My CNC machine is happily cutting away again. I didn’t have to make any changes to my software…

Fusion 360 for woodworkers – session 9 (drawings)

This 9th session focuses on creating 2D drawings from 3D models.

Sometimes you need a 2D drawing to document your design. This session covers the highlights of how to get this done.

The PDF for session 9 can be found here.

Screencast for the session

If you have gone through all 9 sessions, you should have at least a foundation for using Fusion 360 for woodworking. As I mentioned at the start, there is so much more capability than can be covered in any session and many resources available on-line.


  1. An overview of the user interface
  2. Creating a sketch with a line and a shape, as well as an introduction to parameters and constraints
  3. Bodies and components
  4. Fusion tips and copying design elements
  5. Creating a lap joint and using parametric design
  6. Parametric driven table base design
  7. Mortis and Tenon, putting top on the table
  8. Dovetails and using Revolve to create a pawn
  9. Generating drawings

Good luck

Field Day 2020 is in the rearview mirror

Field day 2020 is now behind me. As usual with any ad-hoc setup, I learned a few things and remembered a few things I’d forgotten about this kind of configuration.

Like don’t accidentally switch your rig from VFO mode to channel mode and then wonder why nothings seems to be working right. My radio has a touch screen and an early morning glancing brush of the screen made the radio relatively inoperable for quite a few minutes. Eventually, I figured out what I had done.

As with almost every field day I’ve ever participated in, we had a wind storm show up to test the stability of my antenna system and drench everything.

The following is a pivot table of the contacts made over the 24 hours, broken down by mode and band. I operated for about 7 or 8 hours and focused on digital modes switching to SSB voice for the last half hour I was on the air.

Count of CALLBands
Mode   10m15m20m2m40m6mGrand Total
Grand Total1256312342209
Breakdown of contacts

I worked 6 countries (Aruba, Canada, Cuba, Saint Lucia, US Virgin Is., Venezuela) but I was not really trying for DX. The US and Canada based activity covered 45 out of the 84 sections. Overall, the most diligent and valiant effort I performed in a contest in probably a decade. It will be interesting to see how things fairs up against other hams in my area, but that will not be published until December.

I did have one unexpected visitor to my efforts (circled below). As field day started, an 8-foot-long alligator decided to mosey by and look at the setup. I had a flyer about ham radio and field day, but he did not take one.

Field day visitor

Field Day 2020 at home

This year rather than doing FD with our local club, I am going to go-it-alone at home. I have my rig (ICOM 7100) set up to run on batteries on the lanai behind my house, and the Buddipole set up on the concrete pad out back. The weather report looks like we are going to be in the mid to high 90s with little chance of rain (but high humidity). I will need as much shade as I can get. If I really get desperate, I should be able to move the rig inside.

Station on my porch with a 2M antenna for the net on Saturday

For testing, 6 meters was open and I was making numerous FT8 contacts around the mid-west from my home in South Carolina. This could be a wild field day if conditions are open on Saturday and Sunday.

When I first set it up, I had the antenna inside the porch (in the picture below I moved the antenna outside). It was not extended vertically, and I was still getting contacts in the Midwest at about 10 AM. Note, if you use a Buddipole attaching a gallon jug of water to the bottom makes it very stable and it would take a perfect storm to tip it over.

Buddipole set up for 6 meters but not extended vertically

It looks like everything works, so I can tear it down until Saturday AM.


Amateur Radio Field day this year is going to be a bit different

Every year the amateur radio community has an emergency preparedness exercise called – Field Day. It takes place at different times of the year in different regions of the world. For the US and Canada, field day is the 4th full weekend of June, starting at 1800 UTC Saturday and running through 2059 UTC Sunday (June 27-28, 2020). Even though it is next week, I thought I’d share our club’s approach here, in case anyone finds it useful.

This year has been an interesting one so far, and field day will be no different. Field day has multiple purposes:

  • Ham radio’s Open House – where others can see the hobby in action
  • An opportunity for those who have not been operating to get on the air, with the help of others
  • A social activity where hams can meet and mingle (and usually eat together)
  • A chance to operate in simulated emergency conditions

It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933 and remains the most popular event in ham radio.

The SCHH Ham Radio Club executive board met to discuss how we could meet most of these requirements during the current environment safely. Fortunately, the ARRL had made a couple of changes to the rules that we will take advantage of.

  • 2020 Rule change 1: For Field Day 2020 only, Class D stations may work all other Field Day stations, including other Class D stations, for points. Field Day rule 4.6 defines Class D stations as “Home stations,” including stations operating from permanent or licensed station locations using commercial power. Class D stations ordinarily may only count contacts made with Class A, B, C, E, and F Field Day stations, but the temporary rule waiver for 2020 allows Class D stations to count contacts with other Class D stations for QSO credit.
  • 2020 Rule change 2: An aggregate club score will also be published, which will be the sum of all individual entries indicating a specific club. Ordinarily, club names are only published in the results for Class A and Class F entries, but the temporary rule waiver for 2020 allows participants from any Class to optionally include a single club name with their submitted results following Field Day. For example, if Podunk Hollow Radio Club members Becky, W1BXY, and Hiram, W1AW, both participate in 2020 Field Day — Hiram from his Class D home station, and Becky from her Class C mobile station — both can include the radio club’s name when reporting their individual results. The published results listing will include individual scores for Hiram and Becky, plus a combined score for all entries identified as Podunk Hollow Radio Club.

This means that each club member station that wants to participate in an aggregated club score will need to submit their own entries postmarked or submitted electronically by Tuesday July 28, 2020. 

A requirement is that all the stations wanting to affiliate with a club use the exact same spelling of the club name, as part of their submission.

Other opportunities for bonus points are available like previous years:

  • Satellite contact
  • W1AW bulletin copy
  • Alternative power
  • Media contact

One other opporunity we discussed is the fact that simplex QSOs on 2 meters should also count, so we plan on having a simplex net (147.55 Mhz) during field day at 3PM Saturday — every contact/exchange made will count on both ends of the QSO. 

This net is an opportunity for hurricane preparedness as well (since that is something we worry about down here in South Carolina), with the exception that we’d also include the field day exchange as well.

My current plan is to operate using batteries, an Icom 7100 and a Buddipole on my back porch. I’ll focus on digital modes. The way the bands have been lately, 10m and 6m may even be open?!?!


Fusion 360 for woodworkers – session 7

This 7th session builds on the previous sessions and focuses on:

  • Review the table base made for session 6 homework
  • Create a tenon
  • Create a filet
  • Create a mortis
  • Adding a mortis and tenon to the table base
  • Adding the table top

The PDF for session 7 can be found here.

Screencast for making a mortis and tenon.

This will be the last session post for a week since I’ve now caught up with the synchronized sessions in our shop.