Sound Card Tachometer Rises From the Junkbox

sound-tach

We love writing up projects that re-use lots of old parts. In fact, we save the links and use them as defense when our significant other complains about the “junk” in the basement. No, that tactic hasn’t ever worked, but we’re going to keep trying. Case in point, [Wotboa] needed a non-contact tachometer. There are plenty of commercial products which do just that. After consulting his parts bin, [wotboa] realized he had everything he needed to hack out his own. An IR break beam sensor from an old printer was a perfect fit in an aluminum tube. With the outer shell removed, the emitter and detector were mounted in the nylon shell of an old PC power supply connector, effectively turning them pair into a reflective sensor. To amplify the circuit, [wotboa] used a simple 2n2222 transistor circuit. The key is to keep the voltage seen by the sound card the range of a line level signal. This was accomplished by adding a 2.2 Megohm resistor in line with the output. [wotboa] drew his schematic in eagle, and etched his own PCB for the project. Even the tachometer’s case came from the parts bin. An old wall wart power supply gave up its shell for the cause, though [wotboa] is saving the transformer for another project.

For sensing, [wotba] used [Christian Zeitnitz's] Soundcard Oscilloscope software.  Measuring the RPM of the device under test is simply a matter of determining the frequency of the signal and multiplying by 60. A 400 Hz signal would correspond to a shaft turning at 24,000 RPM. The circuit performs well in the range of RPM [wotboa] needs, but using a sound card does have its limits. The signals on the scope look a bit distorted from the square waves one would expect. This is due to the AC coupled nature of sound cards. As the signal approaches DC, the waveform will become more distorted. One possible fix for this would be to remove the AC coupling capacitor on the sound card’s input. With the capacitor removed, an op amp buffer would be a good idea to prevent damage to the sound card.

[Via Instructables]

Arduino Tachometer tutorial

This tutorial will guide you through the process of building a tachometer around an Arduino. Tachometers are used to measure rotation rate in Revolutions Per Minute (RPM). You don’t need much in the way of hardware, this version uses an Infrared beam to measure fan speed. As with last year’s PIC-based tutorial, [Chris] is using a character LCD to output the reading. Wiring and driving the LCD ends up being the hardest part.

An IR transmitter/receiver pair are positioned on either side of the fan. When the blade passes in between then, the receiver shuts off a transistor connected to one of the Arduino’s external interrupt pins. He shows how to use this interrupt to measure the amount of time between the passing of each fan blade. If you divide for the number of blades, and average the reading for greater accuracy, you can easily calculate RPM.

Another alternative would have been to use a reflectance sensor which allows to for the transmitter and receiver to both be on the same side of the fan.

Junkyard scavenging nets a tachometer to play with

We never thought to hit the automotive junkyard to find electronics we could play with. But [Istimat] was able to pull this working tachometer from an otherwise destroyed motorcycle dashboard. The Kawasaki part has just three pins on the back of it. By connecting 12V to the IGN pin, ground to GND, and tapping a 12V wire on the unlabeled pin he was able to make the needle dance and knew he was getting somewhere.

His microcontroller of choice for the project is an Arduino board. But the 5V logic levels aren’t going to put out the square wave needed to drive the device. A search of the internet led him to a 2-transistor circuit which lets him get the results seen in the video. His plan is to add functionality that uses the Arduino to pull data in from just about any source and display it on the dial. That computer desk that featured all the CPU load readouts immediately comes to mind.

Do you think the square wave circuit is more complicated than necessary? Could this be done with just one NPN transistor and a pair of resistors?

[Read more...]

Digital speedometer with an arduino

[Martyn] is restoring a 32-year-old Honda motorcycle, so when the ancient speedometer broke last year he thought it was prime time to start of a digital speedometer project. We’re loving the results so far, and would love seeing it on a nicely restored bike.

Instead of the relative horror of driving 40 LEDs with a single Arduino, [Martyn] bit the bullet and got a Maxim 7221 LED driver. Controlling 64 LEDs  over a three-wire interface simplified the board design somewhat, allowing [Martyn] to etch his own PCB with the toner transfer & HCl/H2O2 method. To actually power and control the entire circuit, [Martyn] used an Arduino loaded up with a program based  LedControl library makes programming the spedometer a snap.

Although the speedo works, [Martyn] says he isn’t proud of how it looks. We don’t mind – the candy colored jumpers add a nice flair to the project, and they’re hidden behind the face plate of the speedometer. We’re sure once he gets the neutral, high-beam, and warning indicators working with the LED bar array / tachometer, everything will look awesome.

via reddit

Adding a tachometer to the SX2 Mini mill

sx2_mill_tach

[Jeff] recently bought an SX2 mini milling machine with plans to eventually automate it for use as a CNC mill. After paying nearly $700 for the mill, he decided there was no way he was willing to pay for the $125 tachometer add on as well. Instead, he reverse-engineered the mill and constructed a tachometer of his own.

He opened the control box and started looking around. After identifying most of the components, he got sidetracked by a 3-pin header that didn’t seem to have any particular function. That is, until he realized that a lathe by the same manufacturer uses the same components, and figured that the header might be used for reversing the motor. Sure enough he was right, and after adding a reverse switch, he got back to business.

He probed the 7-pin socket with his logic analyzer and quickly picked out the mill’s data line. He hooked the line up to an Arduino and in no time had the RPM displayed on an LCD screen.

[Jeff] says that this little experiment is the first of many, since the mill is so hacker friendly. We definitely look forward to seeing a CNC conversion tutorial in the near future.

CPU tachometer

Recently, analog displays have come back in vogue. This is partially due to the common steam punk theme that is popular right now. [Cristiano] has done an analog display, but instead of brass and polished wood, he’s gone automotive themed with it. He purchased a cheap tachometer from ebay.  A circuit had to be designed to give the tach the signals needed for it to operate, and you can download the schematic from his site. As you can see in the video above, it works well. We think that “shift” light might get annoying pretty quickly.

Bluetooth motorcycle control panel with arduino

Motorcycle_in_neutral

[Bill2009] has made some nice progress on a control panel for his motorcycle over at the arduino.cc forums.  It can show speed, tachometer readings for the wheel and engine, as well as indicate the current gear. He reads the square wave coming off of his tachometer input and pulses from a reed switch mounted on the wheel to calculate all this. To top it all off he can monitor the data via a Bluetooth module attached to the board, which is much better than trying to balance a laptop on your knees while cruising down the highway.  He is working on getting the size down so that he can mount the whole assembly inside of his motorcycle. He also plans to add new software features like wind resistance calculations and0 to 60mph timing.