posts tagged with the keyword ‘machines’

2017.05.31

Claw Machine

Dr. Prodoehl was telling me about a colleague of hers that collects animal parts, and mentioned a claw from a pheasant, and I (sort of jokingly) said “Hey, I want a pheasant claw!” and then forgot about it until she brought one home for me! She also brought home a baculum, which is a raccoon penis bone, and while I haven’t found a use for that (yet) I did manage to use the pheasant claw. Obviously I built a Claw Machine.

Claw Machine

I often find weird little motors at Milwaukee Makerspace and keep them around for projects. This one had a strange gearbox and spring and belt. It also had some weird angles which made it difficult to mount, so I 3D printed a mount that worked well enough with it that I could screw it down into a piece of wood. There might also be some hot glue involved.

Claw Machine

I also ended up 3D printing a gear and some arms. Those are the sorts of parts that it makes a lot of sense to laser cut, but I wasn’t around a laser cutter at the time, so I just 3D printed them. I really do enjoy digital fabrication…

Claw Machine

There’s a few extra holes in the wood because I seemed to have a hard time finding the right position for the pivot point of the arm. I managed to find one that worked and left all the previous holes as a reminder than you don’t always get things right the first time. There’s also an abundance of nuts on bolts, because spacing is an issue best solved with washers, or nuts, or whatever is lying around.

Claw Machine

Speaking of first times, besides wood, I tend to not include natural materials (like, animal parts) into the things I make, so that was interesting. I attached the claw with the simplest of methods… zip ties. Also, this is called “Claw Machine Version 1″ because I intend(ed) to make some improvements, but I might never follow through with that idea.

Claw Machine

The claw is really interesting to look at. Is this piece some sort of cyborgian statement about the future where animals and machines are combined into some sort of terrifying nightmare? Probably not.

Claw Machine

claw-machine-6323

Claw Machine

2017.03.09

clicky-machine-01

I started this project with a goal in mind: test microswitches. Specifically, test the brand of microswitch that I chose for an exhibit I worked on last year. When I was younger, my dad used to have a subscription to Consumer Reports and I remember years ago reading about how they tested things, like using a machine that opened and closed laptops repeatedly to see how many times it could be done before it broke or wore out. One of my goals is to do that sort of thing, but with things we build for exhibits. This is a start. (And yes, I’ve considered just buying/building a robot arm to do these things… I may still do that!)

Meanwhile, since I’m 3D printing again (a lot!) I figured I’d design and print the parts for this machine. Not all the parts… some parts are scrap wood, and (in a recent version) home-made recycled HDPE. The first iteration was a total hack job, and it worked. Sort of. I get in this habit of trying to do press-fit parts, but then I remember that’s a bad idea, so… upgrades happen.

clicky-machine-02

The first version used a PLA plastic arm. Eventually it started to scrape and wear away, and squeak a lot. It was annoying. (Bearings got added to a later version, along with a proper set screw.)

clicky-machine-03

One thing I found out about the cheap microswitches is that the metal arm would bend, and then stop pressing the switch. That’s no good (but good to know.) Then I found times when the switch just wouldn’t trigger the Arduino to advance. Switch failure after just a few tens of thousands of presses? Maybe.

clicky-machine-04

I also had Arduino problems! At some point the cheap eBay Arduino UNO clone from China gave up the ghost and just stopped working reliably. Then I could no longer upload code to it or connect to it at all. Replaced that too!

clicky-machine-05

I also played around with the switch angle… as demonstrated in the above and below photos. I also considered a spring-arm sort of thing the switch could ride on to allow some flex, which would be interesting, but probably less of a real-world test. Maybe.

clicky-machine-06

Here’s a video compilation of some of the testing from early on. This is when I actually thought I could just slap something together and it would work reliably. I’ve since been proven very wrong. I’ll be writing more posts about the changes this machine has gone through and where it stands today. In the meanwhile, if you check out my Instagram or Facebook account, I often post in-progress/sneak-peek photos and short videos.

Stay Tuned!

2015.11.22

Click Whir Squee

Occasionally I show up at Milwaukee Makerspace with no clear idea of what might happen when I’m there. This piece, titled “Click Whir Squee” is the result of one such visit. Another member brought in a box of old computer hardware, including a Hewlett Packard Colorado T100E Tape Backup Drive. Being a fan of old technology (1997 is old, right?) I opened up the drive to take a look inside. I also powered it on and stuck a tape in it. The drive came to life and unspooled the tape and made a lot of spinning motor and tape loading sounds. Not everyone knows what these things sound like. It brought back some memories. (At my first job in the tech industry I had to load daily backup tapes into two tape drives. I remember the sound fondly.)

I somehow decided I should mount the tape drive to a piece of wood for display, so I went to the Wood Shop and started cutting up some scrap wood I found. Steve showed up to do some training, so I sat in on that for a bit so I could use the compound miter saw and the band saw. I had all the pieces cut by the end of the evening and knew how I was going to mount it.

I ended up taking all the pieces home and assembling it in my basement workshop. I manage to only split one piece of wood. Just a minor split, but a reminder to slow down when working with wood. The rest of the assembly went very smooth.

Click Whir Squee

Since the majority of fun with this drive is the startup sequence, I decided it should continually turn on, do its thing, then turn off, and keep repeating that. I’ve been playing with ATtiny85 chips lately, so I put one into service to trigger a 5 volt relay (which I also grabbed from Milwaukee Makerspace) and put the following Arduino code on it.


/*
 * TapeDriver.ino
 */

int relayPin = 3;
int onTime = 70000;
int offTime = 15000;

void setup() {
  pinMode(relayPin, OUTPUT);
}

void loop() {
   digitalWrite(relayPin, LOW);
   delay(onTime);
   digitalWrite(relayPin, HIGH);
   delay(offTime);
}

Yes, this is pretty much a glorified blink sketch. Sometimes the simplest things are exactly what you need. (Astute readers will see that the device will be on for 70 seconds, and then off for 15 seconds, and repeat indefinitely.)

Click Whir Squee

To power the ATtiny85 and the relay I found a Samsung phone charger on the Hack Rack at Milwaukee Makerspace. It even had a long cord, which was quite useful. You can also see one of the tapes that this machine uses. Now, if you really want to find some contrasts, consider that the modern day phone charger pictured here was used to charge a phone that probably had 8GB (or more) of solid state storage. The tape next to it could store 400MB of data (or 800MB of compressed data.) I should have included a MicroSD card which can store 8GB of data that I routinely buy for about $6 USD.

Click Whir Squee

Click Whir Squee

Since I removed the case there was no indication of what this thing was. I felt I should have something that told a bit of the story. I chose to mount the beige power pack, with “Hewlett Packard” emblazoned on it prominently.

Click Whir Squee

Oh, and while the whir of the motor is quite satisfying, we can do better. There is a wooden arm to which you can affix a small piece of material with a binder clip, which will then be activated when the primary motor spins. Fans of baseball cards and bicycle spokes, this one is for you! I call the “Annoy-o-tron” mode. (Look, if you’re going to use an ATtiny in an Annoy-o-tron, at least be original, right?) I’ve experimented with paper, vinyl, and plastic, but finally settled on a piece from an anti-static bag which some electronics were shipped to me in. It seemed fitting.

Click Whir Squee

Click Whir Squee

Click Whir Squee

Gallery owners and curators take note! This piece is ready to be mounted to a wall, and needs just two outlets to power it. It’s pretty much guaranteed to amuse some visitors while annoying other visitors. Art isn’t always about being pretty.

Enjoy the video below which allows you to experience this wonderful piece over the Internet while in the comfort of your own home (probably while wearing pajamas.)

2015.05.17

Here’s a video of the Turndrawble in action… Also, as an added bonus you get to hear the strains of a DC motor moving a gearbox to spin the platter. Turn it up, man!

Don’t forget to check out the blog post and the Turndrawble project page.

2015.05.17

Turndrawble

If you’ve been following any of my adventures since I first mentioned a Turntable Drawing Machine, this is the result. The Turndrawble is a machine that uses a spinning platter and a movable arm to create drawings.

Turndrawble

Unlike many of the things I’ve been working on lately, the Turndrawble leans more towards the “art object” side of things than the “here’s all the files/you can easily make one” side of things. That isn’t meant to say you could not make one, but the prime objective was to create an aesthetically pleasing machine that was unique. (I hope I did that!)

I also wanted to build a machine I could bring to events and allow people to use in order to create drawings. Often in the past I’ve brought drawing machines places but I’ve ether operated them or they’ve operated (semi-) autonomously. The Turndrawble presents a chance for the viewer to become a participant.

Turndrawble

(I’ll be posting photos of some of the drawings soon as well. There’s also a video.)

Check out the Turndrawble project page for more info, links to files, etc. if case you want to try to build your own. (I’ve been thinking of building a much smaller and simpler version as a kit you can purchase and assemble. Stay tuned for updates on that.)

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