Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sabbatical Entry 2

The time is simply moving too quickly!  There have been many irons in the fire and lots of work getting done to be sure. 

On the curriculum front I've been working on a couple new packets of information for students.  The first is an all new take on the planning information for the Electric Construction course that runs in the spring semester.  This information has evolved over the years but this time I started from scratch and have put a lot of time into the new packet with some pictures and details that have never previously been included.  I'm really looking forward to putting this to use and ironing out the kinks with this years class.  The second packet of information I've been working on is for the Guitar Production and Development program.  The second year students are expected to be more self reliant than in the first year program and as part of that, they handle the finishing materials and equipment much more than they did last year.  So to address this reality and help everyone invovled I'm working on a packet of information for "finishing procedures" that goes beyond the mechanics of using a spray gun or a brush.  Instead, this packet is designed to give them the information they need to use the finishing area more efficiently by knowing where things are stored, which guns are for which materials, what solvents to use at certain times and how to handle, setup and clean the spray guns.  We use finishes that will ruin a spray gun if they're not cleaned properly or as was the case last year, not cleaned at all.  No more of that and no more excuses!

The CAD course is moving along at a perfect pace.  We're studying Rhino 5.0 which is not only a drafting program but a modeling program that gives the user an unbelievable amount of control in creating and designing just about anything the imagination can dream up.  We are in the process of working through a training manual but along the way we take the opportunity to put that to use on something directly related to guitars, mandolins or other fretted instruments.  We worked through creating an outline of a dreadnought acoustic guitar and from that created a three dimensional object.  Eventually we'll be doing a full 3D rendering of a dreadnought. For now though we've created the outline, extruded a 3D solid object in that shape and "rolled out" a side template.  There's a lot more to it but here's just a sample:
Above is a perspective view of some different things created in Rhino.  An outline of a dreadnought acoustic, a 3D extrusion, a radius dish and a side template.   The options for what can be done are virtually limitless and we've only scratched the surface thus far.
Another exercise related to instruments was to create a fingerboard.  Students can choose to create whatever scale length they want but in my case I simply went with a 25.5" scale.  I won't get into a step be step accounting but you can create a custom scale length using a simple formula and some arcs.  From there you can lay lines out, establish a taper and extrude it into three dimensions.  It's easy to organize the different parts you're doing and turn those on and off.

Here is a fingerboard as it appears when we're done.  On this particular fingerboard I chose a 9.5" radius.
These pictures are not in order but here I've turned on the arcs we created to find the location of each fret slot earlier in the process.  We don't necessarily have to keep but it's very easy to put them into another layer and turn them on and off as necessary.  I took the time to draw them, why not keep them just in case?
In this picture I've turned on another layer so the slot locations are visible.  It is from these blue lines that we make a taper and it begins to look like a fingerboard.  My high school geometry teacher could have inspired me by explaining this is how the frets in my guitar make the proper notes but I digress...
Here are some copies I made of the tapered fingerboard in two dimensions.  I could easily come back, extrude them and put a different radius on each one.

My Wednesday's are usually dedicated to electronics and there aren't any fancy pictures or illustrations to share here.  I have been focusing on a deeper understanding of electronics with emphasis on tube guitar amplifiers and their design.  The fact is, without the amplifier an electric guitar is incomplete!  Later I'll be working with pickup winding to create some pickups for the program we can use in class or in different school guitars and eventually be demonstrating how a pickup is made. 

I've set some dates for travel and am looking forward to spending a few days at the Colling's Guitar factory in Texas learning about how they organize their workflow, manage their manufacturing and seeing particular processes and procedures.  I can't thank them enough for being so generous with their time.  I'm not sure about taking photographs while I'm there but am hoping to share a few pictures on the blog if I can get the "ok".

The finishing time on Friday's has had some overlap with curriculum since I'm working on with the finishing procedures packet.  I did get a chance to meet with a sales rep about some new spray guns to phase out our turbine spray guns that have served us admirably for at least twenty years.  However, it's time to make sure all the equipment is what is on par with industry and this should make for a more efficient process and clearer understanding of equipment.  With these new spray guns all the different ones will share the same basic design.  In the coming weeks I'll be getting back to my test boards for the wood filling process. In October I'll make a trip to Des Moines and work with an alumni at his shop for a couple days.  We'll be working on all sorts of things but I'm excited to see his processes for doing touch up work on all sorts of different coatings.  Another big thanks goes out to him for giving up some time to have me there.  More on that later and I'll be sure to include the specifics in a blog post.

I think that's it for now, time to get back to work on some CAD (computer aided drafting) exercises and with any luck, finish that electric design packet of information.  Aim high right!?