Award clock put to good use as a bench meter

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The motivation industry turns out these type of award trinkets by the millions. Here’s a way to actually put the thing to use. Instead of displaying time, the clock dial serves as the readout of a voltage meter.

When we first saw this post we assumed that the hack used some type of coil injection to drive the hands. But it turns out that this is mechanically driven. The image above shows the stepper motor which is mounted behind the clock. Its drive shaft is coupled with the adjustment knob on the back of the clock. The precision of the motor lets the PICAXE set the clock dial based on the number of motor steps. The hour hand shows the tens value with the minutes serving as ones (base 10, not base 60). This means the top measurable voltage is 12V — when the hour hand is at 12 the measurement is 0 volts plus tenths of a volt from the minute hand. With the dial taken care of the rest of the project focuses on measuring the voltage using the ADC, which has an upper limit of just 5V. This is overcome with a simple voltage divider.

After the break you can see the accuracy of the rig as it performs measurements next to a digital voltmeter.

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Custom gauges with a stepper motor breakout board

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Throw some blinking LEDs on a project and it’s bound to make the front page of Hackaday. We do love builds of a more analog character, though, and this analog gauge stepper motor breakout board seems like just the ticket to make those projects a reality.

The idea behind the project is simple: take a stepper motor, put a needle on it, and connect it to an Arduino. Instant analog gauge, measuring anything an Arduino can calculate.

The motor used in the build is a Switec X27.168, the same motor used in the dashboard of tens of thousands of automobiles from dozens of different makes and models. Controlling the motors is done through [Guy Carpenter]‘s Switec X25 library for the Arduino, allowing an Arduino Uno to control up to three stepper motor gauges simultaneously.

The movement of the needle is amazingly smooth and quite fast, as seen in the video after the break. A pretty cool piece of kit if you want a more analog display than LEDs and LCDs can provide.

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Versatile motion dolly for time lapse photography

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This beautiful build is a motion dolly for making time-lapse videos. It is at a point where you could consider it complete. After all, the segments featured in the video after the break look marvelous. But [Scottpotamas] has a few additions planned and it sounds like it won’t belong before he accomplishes his goals.

The build is a linear rail on which the camera rides. In the image above you can see the stepper motor which moves the camera mounted at the far end of the rig. This is controlled by an Arduino. Currently the camera is responsible for timing the capture of the images, but [Scottpotamas] says the firmware is nearly ready to hand this responsiblity over to the Arduino. The system is modular, with a simple setting for the length of the track. This way he can swap out for a longer or shorter rail which only takes about five minutes. He also included support for a panning mount for the camera. It allows the control box can be programmed to keep the subject centered in the frame as the camera slides along the track.

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Raspberry Pi driven Polargraph exhibits high precision drawing ability

This polar graph draws some amazing shapes on a dry erase board. Part of that is due to the mounting brackets used for the two stepper motors and the stylus. But credit is also due for the code which takes velocity into account in order to plan for the next set of movements.

The Go language is used to translate data into step commands for the two motors. This stream of commands is fed over a serial connection between the RPi board and an Arduino. The Arduino simply pushes the steps to the motor controllers. The inclusion of the RPi provides the horsepower needed to make such smooth designs. This is explained in the second half of [Brandon Green's] post. The technique uses constant acceleration, speed, and deceleration for most cases which prevents any kind of oscillation in the hanging stylus. But there are also contingencies used when there is not enough room to accelerate or decelerate smoothly.

You can catch a very short clip of the hardware drawing a tight spiral in the video embedded after the break.

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Thousands of physical pixels turn these walls into a huge display

The scale of this project is daunting. Each of the three white walls seen in the image above is made up of thousands of oblong square blocks. The blocks move independently and turn the room into an undulating 3D display.

If it had only been the demonstration video we might have run this as a “Real or Fake” post, but we’re certain this is real. Each pixel is made of what looks like a foam block mounted on a stepper-motor-driven linear actuator. So basically this must have set the world record for the CNC machine with the most axes. The motors make for very accurate and smooth motion, and the control software lets them draw shapes, words, animated objects, and the like. But the one side effects that we absolutely adore is the sound all of these motors make when running. After the break you can see a demo video and a ‘making of’ clip.

The installation is the work of the Jonpasang art collective and is installed as a Hyundai exhibit at an expo in Korea.

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Logging temperatures with an Etch-a-Sketch

What do you do if you’re given a gigantic ancient printer? If you’re [IronJungle], you throw that printer on your workbench and salvage all the parts you can. After coming across a few stepper motors in an old Oki printer, [IronJungle] decided to automate an Etch-a-Sketch with the help of a PIC microcontroller and H-bridge chip to log the ambient temperature on an Etch-a-Sketch display.

After [IronJungle] was finished figuring out his stepper motor circuit, the only thing left to do was to add a thermometer. For this task, he chose a very cool one-wire digital thermometer that carries power and data over the same wire.

In the video after the break, you can check out [IronJungle] playing with his new Etch-a-Sketch temperature logger with a shot glass of hot water and a cold can of holy water. There’s no scale or graph lines drawn on this Etch-a-Sketch temperature logger, but [IronJungle] has a few more things planned for this rig. We can’t wait to see those plans come to fruition.

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A closer looks helps you build your own DiWire Bender

Whether or not you’re actually going to build this CNC wire bender, we think you’ll love getting a closer look at how it’s put together. The team over at PENSA got such a strong response from a look at the original machine that they decided to film a video (embedded after the break) showing how the thing was put together. They’ve also posted a repository with code, bom, etc.

In the image above [Marco] shows off the portion that actually does the bending. It’s designed to mount on the pipe through which the straightened wire is fed. The 3d printed mounting bracket really makes this a lot easier. The assembly provides a place to attach the solenoid which moves a bearing in and out of position. That bearing presses against the wire to do the bending, but must be moved from one side of the wire to the other depending on the direction of the next bend. This is a lot easier to understand after watching the demo video which is also embedded after the break.

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