Hackaday Prize Entry: The Green Machine

For Hackers, rapid prototyping is made easier using basic building blocks such as the Raspberry Pi, Arduino and the huge variety of add on shields for home brew projects. But we don’t see too many real world Industrial applications or machines built using these off-the-shelf electronics. [SlyScience] built The Green Machine – an industrial grade, automated spray painting device to help coat polycarbonate tubes consistently.

The Green Machine is essentially a linear drive that can move a spray gun across a spinning clear tube and coat it evenly with the desired color. These tubes are used as color filters – they slide over standard T5, T8 or T12 fluorescent lamps – and are used in advertising, special effects, films and similar applications. For almost 10 years prior to this machine, the task was done manually. The HPLV (high pressure, low volume) spray gun used for this process needed skilled hands to get consistent results. It was easy to ruin a tube and cleaning them was not possible. [SlyScience] figured things out on the go – teaching himself and figuring out all of the software and hardware pieces of the puzzle. The welded steel frame is about the only “custom” part in this build. Everything else is COTS. Check out the video of The Green Machine in action below, and if you have any tips to help improve the build, chime in with your comments.

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8 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: The Green Machine

  1. “But we don’t see too many real world Industrial applications or machines built using these off-the-shelf electronics.”

    There’s likely many reasons for this.

    NDAs, competitive advantage, feeling that ladder logic and SCADA is superior, perceived or actual lack of value in documentation, a corporate structure that discourages them, perception of unsuitability in an industrial setting, lack of hardening and basic shielding, suboptimal development and debugging tools, differing reader demographics, etc?

  2. One of these could do the job. http://www.dx.com/p/jtron-speed-reversible-control-simple-stepper-motor-controller-pwm-generator-controller-green-266237#.V1kQ_OSbXuM I got one for testing stepper drivers and motors without needing a computer.

    Remove the on/off and direction switches then solder on wires so remote switches can be mounted. Add adjustable end stops to trip the reverse switch so it’ll cycle back and forth. A small bit of additional circuitry could have a pass counter for automatically tripping the on/off switch. Use a BCD switch to set the number of passes.

    Put a dial on the knob and put a chart by the machine for speed setting and number of passes for different paint colors to make different color densities.

    Box it all up nicely to protect the electronics from dust etc and it could be operated with minimal training.

    “See here, the work order says Green 5 – 10. After putting the green paint in the cup, you turn the knob to 5, poke these buttons until these numbers are 10. Then press the START button.” No need for a keyboard, or display, or any kind of software.

  3. >But we don’t see too many real world Industrial applications or machines built using these off-the-shelf electronics.

    Go watch Dirty Jobs. You’ll see custom creations in just about every episode. They range from bucket washers to entire onion processing plants.

    1. Well looking at industrial stuff usually gives your sockets and connectors where the smallest pair costs 10x the price of a whole arduino. And the cases to house it all are sturdy, custom and expensive.
      Inside it’s just Bits and Bytes.

  4. Colored fluorescent lights today? The last few times I went to a carnival all the rides have had their colored tube lights replaced by LED’s! Our last street fest had 3 trailers with games for kids midway style, all LED lit. Gaudy as it can get.
    Sometimes I spray round things chucked in a slow drill. Get speed right and let it go keep spinning no drips runs or errors.

  5. Needed this this weekend. Sprayed A LOT of polycrylic on some table edge trim pieces. That stuff is thinner than water, yet you want a good build up, so it takes a lot of spraying. My hand his hurting right now from it! I would simply reprogram the work piece from spinning to facing each side to a pass of the spray gun. Sanding wouldn’t be possible between coats, but if you time the coats right, you can get new coats to bond to a still tacky undercoat without running.

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