Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Pointy Stick Thingey

I was asked to lead some music, specifically, a congregation.  With my background, I needed a baton, and the closest thing I had was a piece of 3/16 stainless steel rod.  I grabbed it and did what I was supposed to do.  When all was said and done, someone was teasing me about my "stick thing" (which was hilarious, because that young lady knows music and what a baton is).

I needed to step up my game.

Today, I ran out to the "shop", and found a chunk of 3/4" round brass rod.  I drilled and tapped the end, then turned the outside down to just over 1/2" (I hit 0.600", not that it really matters), about 1.75" long.  I threw the 3/16" stainless into the chuck next, and turned the tip down, then flipped it and threaded it to match the brass pommel using an 8-32 common thread.  A dab of Loc-tite, and the baton (official term is actually "pointy stick thingey" now) was complete :

Note, the music is copyrighted.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Kennedy Cantilever Toolbox

I found a local guy willing to sell an old cantilever tool box.  I bought it for $50.  It was dinged up a bit, internal paint chipped, and needing some oil.  It seems functional.  Turns out it was a Kennedy 1017-336418 .

I was going to put the fly fishing tying setup into it, but it is a little large.  I might need to just make the right sized tool box for that and use this in another position.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Finally, MQTT Sensor for Home Network

I had been building my own home alarm system a long time ago.  I found that the event server had a memory leak I tried to figure out numerous times, but never succeeded in getting it identified.  It would just get killed randomly on the raspberry pi.  I needed a better interface.

The first iteration was the Arduino with code and a custom TCP connection for alerts.  The server side was the problem here.  This functioned well, but the "server" was a cheap desktop PC that failed because it was on all the time and wasn't designed to.  The PCI bus failed, and it went down.

After the server crash, I then moved it to a raspberry pi to get it online (I didn't care about the PC).  Though it functioned well, it was at this point that a memory leak raised it's ugly head.  I found a number of that I tried to figure out numerous times, but never succeeded in getting it identified.  It would just get killed randomly on the server by the out-of-object memory killer.  (SSH would also get killed, which made it difficult - the process killed was random, and the SSH job dying would force me to pull the plug on it and go through the filesystem scans, HMPH!).

At that point, I switched over to MQTT.  I ran some initial tests using Raspberry PI GPIO's as inputs and Mosquito as the server.  Most seemed to work, but the raspberry Pi would die on me weirdly.  I think the issues with the memory leak were the Linux distribution on the Pi, but it still frustrated me.  Rebooting it forced me to start those processes manually, even though they were in the proper RC files.

At this point, just MQTT (still Mosquito) and a few MQTT translator python scripts was the next move.  It's been going for a while now (with a few power outages) and it fires right up into operational state fairly quickly.  The GPIO's (probably where the kernel had the memory issues) have been offloaded to an Olimex ESP32-PoE device.  It has a simple MQTT plug-in loaded onto it and all it does is check pins and update the MQTT server. I do have one problem where the garage reports errors regularly, so I have to figure out one line (hope a mouse didn't chew through it, or next I'll have to go mouse hunting).

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Easy way to a Lathe Tool Holder

I have a cheap Chinesium quick change tool post (the found-everywhere 250-100 AXA clone), and a few tool holders.  I'd wanted a way to keep the tool holders close and organized, but I was frankly too lazy to 3D print something I didn't think would last long.  So, I cheated.

I bought some 1.5" x 0.375" 6061aluminum rectangle bar ($50 for 5').  I tossed it into the Wen angle vise ($75), and then milled the bar at 30 degree angles to get the 60 degrees needed for the tool holders.

I tested them out, and probably should have used bar that was more than 1.5", but it will still work just fine.

The next step is to drill and counter sink the pieces so they can be bolted up to a brace, and then they're done.

Installing a Collet Closer Attachment to a South Bend Heavy 10 (10L) Lathe

I'd been eyeing the collet closers that keep appearing on eBay, and finally pulled the trigger.  On arrival, I realized I had a few issues to work through.  Not having ever used one, I didn't know what I was getting into.  As I played with this puzzle, I realized I was missing a few things, so I asked a great machinist forum (all are welcome there except for folks who push for power or troll everyone else endlessly - it's a welcome forum) - The Hobby Machinist Forum.  The response came back rather quickly.

First, these collet closers include a pin that sticks out of the headstock.  My headstock didn't have that pin.  Most Heavy 10 lathes include a threaded plug that you can pull out and install the pin.  However, I didn't even have that on my headstock.  I had to drill the headstock, tap it, and thread a shop-made pin in.

Second, I was missing the gear.  Yeah, in case you didn't know, the outboard gear on a heavy 10 lathe (the one driving the reverse tumbler mechanism) is not the same for collet attachments.  That one sticks out a little bit to engage a woodruff key in the attachment itself.

Third, the good collet closer attachments have a Gits oiler on top to keep the brass bearings for the clutch handle lubricated.  Mine didn't have that.  It means I'd have to replace the threaded pin holding it on up top with a new one that had a hole through it and an oiler.

First was handling the pin in the headstock.  This is easiest (and doesn't get cast iron chips into the machinery) if you remove it from the lathe and dismantle it.  Once ready, you need to center punch where you will drill, then do the normal.  The procedure is documented on the hobby machinist thread where I originally asked those questions.

If you look in that last picture, you'll see my lathe's live center in the quill.  It allowed me to keep the tap centered along the axis of the hole I'd just drilled.  However, it should be noted that you don't want to do this if your live center doesn't have a tang to help remove it when you are done.  It's a serious pain to remove if you don't pay attention to this.  I first tried holding things at an angle into the quill, different keys, and even prying on things I shouldn't.  I finally gave up, grabbed one of my ball joint separator forks, shoved it around the live center taper, gave it a couple of small whacks with a hammer, and it came loose.  Again, please don't ask me how I know not to do this.  It's a painful memory that has repeated itself twice.  [sheesh].  Don't forget to counterbore the hole.

Well, with that ready, I had to make the pin.  It's pretty simple,  Again, dimensions come from that hobby machinist thread I'd mentioned earlier.

Install the pin, drop that arm over it, then bolt the arm up to the closer handle, and this piece is done!

I also had to create the set screw/Gits oiler combination.

Next was to get the gear.  I'd watched eBay for a while after knowing I needed one, but never found one.  It's a 16DP, 40 tooth gear that sticks out 1.4" farther than the standard gear.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Tools to Make Tools

I've been wanting a tubing bender.  So, I downloaded plans from the chopper builders handbook website (a JD2 clone), ordered some stock, and started making it.  In the middle, I realized I needed to bend some flat stock on a hard angle for the handle.  So, my tool quest turned into a second tool quest.  This tool, my "brake attachment" for the harbor freight shop press, is made from :

  • 1" angle iron about 16" long (4 pieces)
  • A flat bar stock that will fit two pieces of angle iron wide
  • A flat bar stock to hold the upper piece of angle iron
  • 7/8" tool steel dowels about 5" long (two of them) for guide pins

First, I cut the edges on two of the pieces of angle iron so they could be welded site by side to the bottom plate.  I then welded the second piece of angle iron to the other two inverted.  This gave me an inverted 90-degree channel offset by 45 - exactly what I needed.

I then drilled and tapped at 3/4-16 the two ends of the bottom plate, turned down the two dowels to 3/4", and then threaded them to 3/4-16" to fit the bottom plate.  This was my first foray into power tapping.  Can you do it on a harbor freight mini mill?  Yes, but you want the tapping head.  Collets are a bad idea - you'll ruin your collets when it galls from spinning.  This got it started, and I was able to hand finish the tapping.

I punched two matching holes into the top plate to loosely fit the two dowels.

Lastly, I need to weld the last piece of angle to the top bar with everything in place so that it all lines up perfectly.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

South Bend Heavy 10 (10L) Build

So, with the Heavy 10 Lathe Headstock I purchased to put on my junior bed, after realizing I'd made a mistake and bought an under drive headstock that wouldn't work with the Junior I had, I knew I'd need to just build me another lathe.  This one would be tough because I had to buy a lot of pieces from eBay sellers and then assemble them into a hopefully-functional lathe.  It's a lot of money to throw at a hope, but I'd done it before with the car.

With the headstock, I had to then purchase :

  • Lathe bed
  • Lathe bed feet and adjusters
  • Spindle
  • Spindle Pulley
  • Spindle Bull Gear
  • Spindle drive gear
  • Spindle thrust bearing
  • Spindle thrust (outboard) bearing and lock nut
  • Back gears
  • Chuck (still not purchased)
  • 5C adapter for the 10L spindle
  • Face plate
  • Reverse tumbler assembly
  • Banjo
  • Idler gear
  • Gear box drive gear
  • Gear cover
  • Headstock hold down bolts
  • Quick Change Gear Box
  • Lead screw end holder
  • Lead Screw
  • Apron (and gears)
  • Saddle
  • Cross slide
  • Cross slide gib and screw
  • Cross slide hand wheel and screw
  • Compound base and hold down pins/set screws
  • Compound slide
  • Compound slide gib and screw
  • Tailstock base
  • Tailstock hold down clamp
  • Tailstock
  • Tailstock ram
  • Tailstock lead screw
  • Tailstock dial
  • Tailstock hand wheel
  • Tailstock ram spring
  • Tailstock lock
That's a pretty big list.  The "good" thing about this is I can clean up the parts and paint them before assembly.  I started with a 4-foot bed (a little more space over the Junior would be nice).  I didn't get that until late March - and immediately stripped down the bed and feet, scraped it clean (and into specifications) and masked it off to paint.  The bed had serial number "9272RKL14".  The serial card gives :

This is a lathe manufactured March 11, 1957 that had a regular clutch for the power cross feed.  It was shipped on April 12, 1957, but then shipped again on June 24th, 1959 to Grimes Mfg. Co. in Urbana, Ohio.  Grimes Manufacturing Company was started by Warren G Grimes (you know, the guy who invented the navigation lights we see on all the aircraft) in the 1930s, and later purchased by Honeywell.

The lathe itself is a heavy 10 Large (the "L" in "RKL") 10x4 "Toolroom" lathe with undercount drive.  It came with a quick change gear box on a 4' bed.  I got it out of California.  The model is CL8187AB (listed in the Vintage Machinery catalog).  Catalog number is CE2801D.  Gear box is DTG106R, and originally included collets, a collet rack, micrometer carriage stop, and a taper attachment (no threading dial).  For the sale, on June 10, 1959, it was changed to a toggle cam clutch before being delivered.

The lathe bed came with a saddle, and I picked up the compound base and slide from the same seller along with a lead screw for the bed.  He did not have the compound base screws - those were ordered on eBay - nor did he have the cross slide (also ordered off of eBay).

The tailstock was interesting in that someone sold it cheaply on eBay (if you call $60 cheap) because they couldn't get the ram screw, ram, and a drill chuck apart.  That was joyous.  I think the seller didn't realize it's a left-handed ram screw, once I got the screw out.  It had been modified for a hand-lever instead of a hand-wheel.

It was a short and quick stripping/cleaning/scraping of the tailstock.  I then masked off the tailstock and painted that up.  I needed a tailstock screw, so I used the current tailstock screw to measure the surfaces, and then ordered a chuck of left-handed, 1/2" ACME screw threaded rod.  I turned it between centers to get the threads off, then Loc-tite was added to the shaft and a piece of steel was put over the shaft and also pinned.  Unfortunately, I turned the features down BEFORE connecting it to the threaded rod - if you have to do it, turn the features down AFTER you anchor it to the threaded rod.  Luckily, I found out that the features I had turned were the wrong size, so I had to put it back on the lathe between centers and turn it down, so it all worked out.

I got the tailstock painted and re-assembled, and it works excellent!  It was time to work on the cross slide (I had ordered a cross slide from eBay).

I tracked down on eBay a compound slide gib, and from another seller I picked up the compound screw, dial, and hand wheel assembly.  I could not find a gib screw.  I do not have a rotary broach, so I needed to find a gib screw, and ended up taking a chance at a gib screw from an 11" lathe.  Note to self, the 11" lathes used a 5/16-18 gib screw, while the heavy 10's used a 1/4-20.  Still, I turned it down to get the screw head the right size, cut the threads off to get down to 1/4", then put a 20 pitch thread on it.  Works like a champ!

I cleaned the headstock, and masked it off.  I was able to get it painted, but have yet to install the headstock parts I'd ordered.

At this point, I have the carriage/saddle/cross slide/compound slide cleaned, painted, and assembled, the tailstock/parts cleaned, painted and installed, and the headstock ready for parts.

So, I started on the gear box, but I'm having a difficult time removing the tumbler shaft because someone peened over the taper pin holding it in place (probably why I got it for so cheap on eBay) :

I thought I'd have to drill the taper pin out - but I didn't.  A friendly suggestion over on the hobby machinist website ( - and that's not a paid endorsement, though I probably should be paying to endorse that group) pointed out a simple heat up on the cast iron and give it a good whack should loosen it up enough to release it.  I'm going to have to back this up now, as that's exactly what happened.  Don't head it up too much, though, as if it gets too warm too quickly, the cast iron could break.  Note, because I couldn't reach in with a punch, I used my broken ones as "spacers", and gave it a good whack with another punch against that one.

Once the tumbler shaft out, I was able to dismantle the gear box, paint it, and re-assemble it.  I was able to pick up reproduction badges from eBay (I believe the guy who makes them is trying to get out of that, and I don't blame him at all).  I stamped the model number into the new name plate, the bed length, and added it to the gear box.

At this point, I knew I needed to start making a stand so I could lug the thing around.  It's getting brutally heavy, and I don't want to assemble it only to try and lift it onto a stand.  So, a few trips to Home Depot to grab some (I know, some will call this insufficient material) 1.25" square tubing with a 1/16" wall thickness.  I measured a few things up on the lathe base, made some cuts, and started welding :

The most painful parts were the kerf cuts to get the bends, and getting the right angles (14 degrees to get the foot spread for stability) and also those angled cross braces on the back end.  Those all interconnected at the middle in a lot of weird angles (so that the horizontal cross braces in the middle could be level to turn into a shelf and also a motor mount).  I really need to get through this, as the lathe (over the oiled surfaces) is now starting to grow spider webs.

I was finally able to transfer it over to the new stand after a few weeks' delay because of a humanitarian trip.  I was able to bolt the bed to the stand, the headstock to the bed, and the gearbox (and lead screw) to the bed as well (though the gearbox went on first).  I had to piece the headstock together (back gears, spindle, etc is all installed), and I'm missing three screws - one that keeps the back gear lever from over reaching, and two that pin it down from underneath.

I started working on the collet closer I'd picked up :

I was missing the oiler on top, as well as the gear and the pin in the headstock.  I had to drill the headstock (good thing I trammed my drill press table to within 0.002" over 15" a while back), and then tap it.  I used stainless steel to make the closer mounting pin for the headstock.  Then, in my ah-ha moment, I center-drilled the upper screw (the one that should be an oiler).  I made a two-ended nut that fit onto that screw and then an oiler could screw into that.

I still need to make the gear that engages everything, but I'm one step closer to the closer (I had to say it).

I also needed a micrometer attachment to get closer to the original lathe.

My to-do list is :

  • Convert the star knob on the apron to a cam (like the conversion noted on the card for the second sale) - this is a lower priority
  • Make the spindle drive gear for the collet closer
  • Build the countershaft/motor mounts
  • Install pulleys and belts
  • Finish the bottom rack to lift it onto castors and move it around (
  • Turn drawer slides into a sliding tool rack for the QCTP (quick change tool post) tooling - should keep it closer to the lathe and make it readily available without things being in the way
  • Wire it up
  • Assemble a taper attachment

I'll get this thing running soon enough.  I'd like to get my hands on a keyway cutter (they aren't "milling attachments" like everyone claims), as well as a turret tailstock - just so I could say this thing is fully loaded.  It's already a nice machine, but I wouldn't mind getting it decked out, then breaking into some simple videos on how things work and operate.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Morse Code Cheat Sheet

I whipped up a morse code cheat sheet today because of a format I had seen that made it easy to translate from morse back to text. Start at the top and work down when added dots/dashes are added, and you have the character. The PDF is available on a google drive.



1•———— 6—••••
2••——— 7——•••
3•••—— 8———••
4••••— 9————•
5••••• 0—————
A•— J•——— S•••
B—••• K—•— T
C—•—• L•—•• U••—
D—•• M—— V•••—
E N—• W•——
F••—• O——— X—••—
G——• P•——• Y—•——
H•••• Q——•— Z——••
I•• R•—•   
73Best regards CSCall sign (used to request a call sign) PXPrefix
88Love and kisses DEFrom (or "this is") Rreceived as transmitted (origin of "Roger")
AAAll after (used after question mark to request a repetition) DXDistance (sometimes refers to long distance contact), foreign countries RPTRepeat please/I repeat
ABAll before (similarly) FMFrom RSTSignal report format (Readability-Signal Strength-Tone)
ADRSAddress FWDForward SFRSo far (proword)
ADSAddress III say again SIGSignature
AGNAgain KInvitation to transmit SKSilent Key (a deceased radio amateur)
ARNo Reply Expected KNOver; only the station named should respond (e.g. W7PTH DE W1AW KN) SVPPlease
ASWait LIDPoor operator (Licensed I*Diot) WWords
BKBreak (to pause transmission of a message, say) MSGPrefix indicating a message to or from the master of a ship concerning its operation or navigation WAWord after
BNAll between NNo; nine WBWord before
CYes; correct NILI have nothing to send you WCWilco
CFMConfirm NRNumber WDWords
CKCheck OKOkay WXWeather report
CLClosing (I am closing my station) PLSPlease ZZulu time i.e. UTC
CQCalling ... (calling all stations, any station) PPRPaper   
CQDAll Stations Distress (Used Before SOS to Let All Operators Know of Distress) PSEPlease   

Friday, February 1, 2019

Prove My Lathe Work

I needed a good way to prove what I've learned on a lathe.  Since a late hobby has been prepping for fly fishing, I decided to make a fly tying vise.  Here's what I'm doing to prove I know what to do on a lathe :
  • Lots of facing
  • Interrupted cuts (making something round that isn't)
  • Knurling
  • Off-center drilling
  • Threading
  • Internal threading
  • Indexing (I have to do this on the mill, this can easily be done on a lathe with the right hardware)
  • Slitting (for the clamp, I have to do this with a bandsaw since I don't have slitting saws for the mill)
  • Creating pockets (Milling them, they can be drilled)
  • Ball turning (for the pivot socket)
  • angled facing (for the pivot socket clamp)

First, I built the jaws.  Since I wanted a good, round finish (not an oval that you'd get by taking round stock and cutting out some of it), I used two pieces of 1/2" x 1/4" stainless flat bar.  I notched a rounded slot in it using the mill (for a pivoting washer to allow easy angle changes), and drilled a hole through it for a clearance fit for a 6-23 screw :

Next, I drilled and tapped another piece of stock (for the matching jaw) for a 6-32 screw.  Note that small taps break easily in stainless steel - but, stainless is what I wanted.  After tapping the second side, I screwed the two pieces together :

At this point, I'd advise you to mill some pockets on the inside of these two jaws for springs.  I waited until I had rounded the jaws (seen later), and that made it more difficult to get the jaws level.

This gave me two independent pieces that would fit together quite nicely as jaws, and would have a perfect roundness - after turning the pieces down.  I chucked them up in the 4-jaw chuck, got them as close to center as I could, and turned it round with an interrupted cut.  I also bevelled the end closer to the screw in order to have a better point in which to hold the fly hooks.  The nut kept things together quite nicely :

The perfect point here is that these two pieces together formed a 1/2" round stock.  The next step was to chuck the pieces up into a 1/2" collet, and put a slight bevel on the backs (and get the not-rounded ends so that the outside diameter lip would be symmetrical along the same axis).  In the second picture, you can see the beveled edge on the butt side - this is intended so that when a nut is clamped down, the jaw tips pull together :

I milled two round pockets on the inside of the jaws for springs (to press the jaws apart).  This is something I'd recommend doing before they are rounded at the lathe, as the stock can fit flat onto your mill ways (or drill press).  With a 6-32 brass knurled thumb screw (but no washer), it's looking pretty good :

The washer was made from hex rod that was rounded and then milled flat and drilled.  This gives the thumbscrew a little better seat for operation.

The jaws with the pockets :

I needed the horizontal shaft that the jaws would but up against.  I had a piece of 3/4" stainless steel (it was already polished), and I needed a fine thread.  I ran a 20 pitch thread on both ends :

To get them to connect, I needed a "nut".  The nut needed to have an internal thread that matched the 3/4-20 cut above.  It also had to have a complete bore the size of the jaw shaft (1/2"), and an internal shoulder the diameter of the jaw butt outside diameter.  I chose brass, since my first attempt is to do a brass-and-stainless trying to get it to look halfway decent.  This was done using 1 1/4" brass round bar.  I used the steady rest because I felt like it was sticking out a little too far.

First, I drilled the inside (I know it should have been the outside first, but the internal bore and threading was the more critical piece of this for the fit).  It was bored through for the 1/2" jaws.  Another bore was done (not all the way through, but deep enough for the jaw butt lip) for a clearance fit for the jaw lip.  Once that was complete, a third bore to the thread depth was done (less than 3/4' obviously, as the outside thread diameter was 3/4").  This was then threaded (my first attempt at internal threading).  I made sure it fit before proceeding here.  I added a thread relief, just in case.  It was then turned down outside, and knurled.  I parted it off, and slapped it together :

Yeah, it's looking good so far.  The reason for the thread on the back end was purely cosmetic.  Having that stick out the back of the stand would have been weird.  The rear nut, also internally threaded, was cut from the same 1 1/4" round bar.  First, internally bored and threaded.  It was then turned down on the outside (except for a larger lip I wanted an indexed way to really grab a hold of this part and turn the hook to different angles), so I decided to use the rotary table.  For some odd reason, I didn't want these grooves to be inline with the bar (too simple), so I set it up on an angle on the mill.  You could do this on a lathe without the angle, just by drilling holes in the round stock then turning it down and cutting into those holes.  I wanted it to be a bit different.  The setup for the angle actually took a long time.  It was frustrating until I finally got the setup right.

The next task was the bar clamp.  This would slip over the bar shown above, and allow me to lock it down, or release it and pivot that full bar to get a different angle on the fly.  I wanted to use that same 1 1/4 " brass bar I made the nuts from previously for the sake of simplicity.  This meant I'd have to drill and bore a 3/4" hole off center to have enough room for a lock bolt.  Incidentally, if you were wanting to do this and you didn't have a mill, you could easily do a center drill, not off-center.  Then just drill a hole into that bore from the side and tap it.  A lock-down screw can easily be made (or had from a hardware store).  Still, I wanted to prove I could do a precision off-center drill.  With the 1.25" diameter, minus a 0.750" diameter, I was left with 0.500" to play with.  I wanted about 1/8" (0.125") on one end for a better clamp.  So I had to find the center line from both sides.  Then measure on one of those center lines and place my offset with a center punch :

With the center punch, it was time to chuck it up in the four-jaw chuck.  A trick I've picked up is to place a dead center tip against the center-punched divot, and the back end against the live center, like so:

Place an indicator against the end of the dead center as close to the part as you can, then index it in like you would anything else.

At that point, you should have that off-center-punched hole on the center axis of the lathe.  Now you can fire up the lathe, and drill and bore it like you would any other part :

It turned out pretty perfect, actually.  I surprised myself.  It's still not quite complete.  I needed to set up the screw points.  Again, I expect this could be done on the lathe by placing the clamp with the bore perpendicular to the lathe axis and doing an off-center drill again, but it was just easier to set it up on the mill and mill out the pockets and drill them for the 6-32 screw clamp :

Then, just a light tap and we're good :

I kept breaking 6-32 screws when I tried to cut them, so I ended up with a long 6-32 store-bought screw, and I drilled a chuck of drill rod with a counter bore hole deep enough to cross drill it, and tapped it (and Loctite to prevent it from coming undone).  I threw a piece of stainless steel rod through it (and I was tired, to I simply bent the ends to keep that chunk of rod in place).  It makes a great lever and really clamps down on that bar well.  The current top-end of this now looks like :

My next task was to create an adjustable pivot so that the jaws could be repositioned.  I wanted a ball socket for this (I needed an excuse to try out my ball-turning attachment).  This would transition from the ball pivot to the stand.  Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of the ball before I lost that camera card, so I can't show much.  There are two sockets.  One is on the nut around the ball, and the other is where the ball locks up to (the stand).  The sockets for the ball were simply a cylinder and the inside face being at a 45 degree angle.  This would allow it to clamp down in a ring on the ball at the stand side, as well as the vise side at the top, essentially locking it into place.  To mount the ball screw to the vise, I used a small chunk of stainless steel, faced it, drilled and tapped for 1/4"-20 threads, and added some smaller holes that were tapped to bolt it to the brass nut already tapped (you can see the two offset holes in the last picture right on the bottom).  This piece was then attached, the nut put around the ball screw, and then the ball screw Loc-tite'd into that mount, e.g. :

All assembled (without the base), it's starting to look pretty decent :

My plans for the base are to use a brass fish ordered off of eBay (don't ask my why, some odd vision got stuck in my head).  I would suggest that you keep the base fairly simple and use square stock to attach it to a table, but if you are making one, make it the way you want to make it.  Since I wanted to use a brass fish, I first needed to clean it and gut it, I mean, get it flat.  To do this, I thought I'd cut it in half.  So, ask yourself, how do you hold something very much not round still enough to cut it half way decent?

I built a box about the right size.

I dropped the fish in and filled it half-way with Plaster of Paris.  It was during this time I marked where the cut should go onto the box in blue sharpie.

I finished filling the box with the rest of the Plaster of Paris.  Note that as I've thought about this later, I don't think it is as critical, and probably would have better results if you didn't fill it all the way.  You simply need enough to anchor the object (fish) to the box so that it won't move, you have a flat surface on the bottom of the box, and you can feed it through the bandsaw.  In my case, it resulted in an off-center cut, so one half of the fish was much thinner than the other half.  I'll still make it work.

I let it cure for a day or two, then I connected the two blue sharpie marks with a line, and used that to feed it through a bandsaw in a relatively straight line.

I then broke the Plaster of Paris off to see how it turned out.  My heart sank when it was't absolutely perfect, but then I remembered it is exactly where I had that line of separation.

I wanted to make a brass base to bolt it down to, but found a cheap piece of stainless steel 304 plate (1/2" thick), so I opted for that.  I basically drilled a hole, tapped it to 1/2-13, and then re-turned the other end of the stand off down and cut a 1/2-13 thread on it.

After seeing it as it's simple self, I opted to leave the fish off.  I love the solid simplicity of this vise.

UPDATE : I finally took the chance to test it out - this vise is the most stable one I've used.  I haven't put rubber feet underneath it yet, but that will help just a little bit more.  One of my intentions was to adapt it to bolt securely to a table.  The base is solid enough that it is not a problem.  I'll leave it as it is.

It is nice to have it fully functional!