posts tagged with the keyword ‘lasercut’

2015.03.29

When last we discussed rotary encoding, it was all experimental. Since the project (which will eventually be revealed) is complete, I figured I should share a bit more about the exploration and final solution.

Encoding Disk

I moved from printed paper disks to laser-cut disks. I cut some 3mm Baltic Birch plywood at Milwaukee Makerspace. They worked well, but since I was hoping to get more steps/resolution I continued with the paper prototypes as well.

Encoding Disk

The one in the photo above was a bit too fine… too many steps. The more steps the more precise the alignment has to be, and the more chance of errors.

Gap

We had some concerns about a disk spinning between a U-shaped sensor with just a few millimeters on each side, so rather than just go with the GP1A57HRJ00F Photo Interrupter, I started experimenting with the QRD1114 Optical Detector / Phototransistor as an alternative.

Sensors

The idea would be to use a wider disk and instead of it spinning between two pieces, it would have the encoding stripe on the edge, and the sensors would be on the outside of the disk. Back to the breadboard! The QRD1114s require a pair of resistors to work properly, so I wired it up and did a few tests and things seemed to work.

Encoding Strips

My first tests just involved sliding a piece of striped paper across the sensors, but I needed a real disk. I used the laser cutter at Brown Dog Gadgets to cut some disks from 1″ pink foam, and also from 1/4″ foamcore board. The pink foam actually ended up with concave sides due to the melting power of the laser, so I used the foamcore board pieces stacked up.

Stripes

Math time! How long of a strip do we need to wrap around the disk? Well, you can determine the circumference of a circle if you know the radius or diameter. Hooray for math! Above is a letter size file that I could print on a laser printer to produce the stripes I needed. The thin line on the right side was used for alignment since I had to use multiple stripes to wrap around the disk.

Encoder

Here’s a sneak peek of what the final disk looks like. There’s a few more steps before we got this far though, so I’ll continue the story next time.

2014.11.19

GP2Y0A41SK0F

The Sharp GP2Y0A41SK0F is an infrared proximity sensor. You can grab them from SparkFun, Pololu, or many other vendors. (There’s a bunch of different models, but I’m using the GP2Y0A21YK right now. The GP2Y0A21YK appears to be roughly the same physical size.)

If you’re using it with an Arduino, Jeroen Doggen has a nice library called Arduino-distance-sensor-library (which should be easily extendable). It’s just a few lines of code to read distance in Centimeters, so it can be used for robotics or physical computing projects quite easily.

Distance Sensor Mount

Since I’m using this sensor, I needed a way to mount it. As usual, I look around for a datasheet. Datasheets will often contain the technical drawings of a part. If you’re lucky, they’ll be vector based (Hello, Inventables!) but if not, you can still use them to determine the dimensions of things, or where mounting holes need to go.

Sharp GP2Y0A41SK0F Analog IR Distance Sensor

Often I’ll pull a datasheet into Inkscape, put it on the bottom layer, lower its transparency, and draw on top of it. Sometimes that works, and sometimes you just need to pull out the calipers and take a few measurements. In an ideal world, all vendors would release technical drawings of their products in vector formats. (Well, at least in my ideal world.)

Distance Sensor Mount

You may notice that some of these parts look familiar. Indeed, I grabbed part of the motor mounts from my FND upgrade.

Distance Sensor Mount

Oh, I should note than I want this sensor mounted on the inside of things. If you want it mounted on the outside, you really just need two holes for the mounts, and maybe one for the wires.

Distance Sensor Mount

If you were wondering about that part with the notch, that’s to make the sensor level while mounting it inside, and the notch is for the wire connector.

One more note on the mounting holes. They are 3.2mm in diameter, which means using a 3mm screw would make sense, but I only had Imperial hardware handy. I also only had 6-32, which is 3.5052mm in diameter, and no 5-40 which is 3.175mm in diameter. No worries, since the sensor is plastic, a quick shave with an X-ACTO knife on the inside of the holes made them fit quite easily.

At some point I’ll need to test how multiple sensors react to each other in the same physical space… That should be interesting!

Note: You can find it on Thingiverse and YouMagine.

2014.11.18

FND v3.75

A few weeks ago I designed what I like to call “version 3.5″ of my main drawbot platform. The improvements were still mainly a two dimensional design, with horizontal plates sandwiching things together. I found two main faults with this design, so I started working on improvements.

The first improvement was in the tool holder. The one with rubber bands proved to not be strong enough to hold tools in place easily. The rubber bands were a pain to work with. (They did work well enough to hold clay carving tools though, and we ran the drawbot across some slabs of clay.)

I wanted to move to a new design where a screw could be used to hold the tool. I know that the Egg-Bot uses a screw, and for the unfamiliar, it looks like this.

Egg-Bot Pen Holder

This is a great design, but for various reasons I chose not to attempt to copy it. Instead I borrowed some ideas…

FND Pen Holder

The screw I’m using is a standard 8-32 screw with a wing-nut threaded on backwards to the head, and then a hex nut is added and tightened against the wing-nut. On the other end is another square nut to push against the tool, and again there’s a hex nut tightened against it.

In the above image showing the parts for the tool holder you’ll see the first and third pieces have holes for the screw to go through, while the second plate has a square hole to hold the square nut between them. So far it’s working quite well, and holds things without any slipping or wobbling.

Most of the rest of the plate is similar to the previous version, with the exception that now there is no bottom plate, as this mounts directly to the body.

The previous version relied on four screws and eight hex nuts to hold the motors between two plates. This was less than ideal for a number of reasons. First, there was no good way to align the motors and tighten things up. Alignment isn’t a crucial element of the drawbot, but it’s nice to have. The second issue was structural, as the 3mm wood was flexing quite a bit. I didn’t even try acrylic, but it probably would have been worse.

FND Servo Mount

The new version of the motor mount is much improved! I’m sure I’ll have an issue with some of the other servos I’m using, as they aren’t all the same size, but it should be as simple as printing two new parts with the properly sized and spaced holes. Again, there’s only three parts because this mounts to… the body!

FND Body

Here’s the new body platform. It’s got all sorts of mounting slots and such. The tool holder gets assembled and then attached to the body. (The “assembly” involves a lot of wood glue at this point.) The motor mounts are glued into place on the body as well. It’s nice finally having things rigid and not held together with hot glue and rubber bands. (Well, some things.)

At this point I’ve basically got a (semi-) generic platform with no specifics on electronics or components. You can fit any number of controllers and battery packs on it. That will probably change in the future as I choose the parts I plan to use.

FND 3.75 Plate

The whole plate fits in a 280mm x 100mm area. That’s just under 12″ x 4″, which means you could fit three of them on a 12″ x 12″ sheet of Baltic Birch.

On to the next revision!

2014.11.11

One of the issues I’ve had with the Friday Night Drawbot is the part that holds the tool has never been very solid. In early revisions I used corrugated plastic, and would just use an X-ACTO knife to cut a hole for a Sharpie, and it would work well enough, and when the plastic wore out, I’d replace it with a new piece. (The most recent body design failed miserably at producing a good pen holder.)

Since I’ve been using other things besides Sharpies, including pencils, charcoal, paintbrushes, clay tools, etc. I decided to design a proper tool holder.

Tool Holder Mockup

I typically use Inkscape to design laser-cut things, but often visualizing a 3D object, even if it will be made from flat pieces, can be difficult, so I decided to use OpenSCAD to model it in 3D. It definitely helped me picture how it would be assembled. I also had the idea of exporting the “plates” from OpenSCAD into DXF files I could then use for the final laser-cut design but that failed miserably.

Sizing

Here’s the start of my layout in Inkscape with the pieces laid flat. This let me get a good idea of the dimensions.

Tool Sizes

I wanted the tool holder to be adjustable, and handle tools from 8mm wide to 16mm wide. (In this top view, the blue circle represent the different sized tools, the yellow piece pushes the tool into a v-shaped piece to hold it tight.)

Layout

Here’s a top view of the layout with some guides to help align things. This is designed for 3mm Baltic Birch (though acrylic could be used.) The slots and tabs are all set for 3mm. There are no fasteners planned as I’ll be gluing it all together.

Layout

Another view from the top, this time with some pieces rotated 90 degrees to see how they will fit together.

Laser Ready

All of the pieces laid out flat and ready to be laser cut. I used 3mm Baltic Birch which worked well using the Epilog Zing 40 watt laser cutter at the DCRL. (I also ended up adding yet another laser cutting workflow to my list. I now have three different methods depending on which of the four lasers cutters I typically use.)

Tool Holder

Assembled with some wood glue, and using rubber bands to hold the tool in place. It works… sort of. I’m already planning improvements, so expect version 2 to arrive by next week. I may switch to a screw mechanism for tightening, which was my original idea, as the rubber bands aren’t working as well as I hoped.

2014.11.01

MakerCase

A few years ago I mentioned Rahulbotics’ BoxMaker, and I’ve used it plenty over the years when I needed to laser cut an enclosure, but when someone has a good idea, eventually someone else decides to implement their own version. (This is good!)

One of the other box making sites I’ve used recently is MakerCase, which has a few more features than Rahulbotics does, including a choice of edge joints, specifically t-slot, which lets you create cases that can be assembled with nuts and bolts, though the choice of nut & bolt sizes are a bit limiting. Still, it’s a good effort, and I use MakerCase quite often.

make-a-box is another one I’ve taken for a spin. It didn’t offer much in the way of special features, except for the fact that all the Ruby code is in github ready to be forked. (Of course if you prefer Java, look at Rahulbotics’ BoxMaker code instead. Or, check some of the other boxmaker code.)

If you’re looking for non-web-based solutions, supposedly 123D Make has a beta out with finger joints. But it’s been nearly a year and I still don’t see that option in the software. I’ve also tried this BoxMaker for Inkscape, but it just gives me errors and fails to work.

I’ve long wanted a box maker for OpenSCAD, and I did find Parametric box maker for lasercut on Thingiverse, and it’s definitely something worth playing with, though on my creaky old laptop it’s not speed demon. Still, I really like the idea of code I can download and run rather than relying on a web site to generate a box.

I’ll continue to explore box making options that work well with laser cutter and other CNC machines, but if I’ve missed an option you know about, please let me know!

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