Adding A Digital Readout To A Wood Lathe

The benefit of living in the modern era is that there are plenty of affordable machine tools on the market for the budding maker. However, to meet lower price points, products often forgo some of the nice-to-have features that make working easier. Of course, if you’ve got the skills to do it yourself, this needn’t be a problem, as [Zach] demonstrates.

[Zach] enjoyed using his wood lathe, but it didn’t come with a digital readout. Thankfully, retrofitting one was an easy, straightforward project. After a little research, a Hall effect sensor was chosen to detect the rotational speed of the lathe. The spindle was thus fitted with several magnets to trigger the sensor, allowing for higher resolution than just using a single device. An Arduino Nano was then used to monitor the output of the Hall effect sensor, displaying the rotational speed on a set of 7-segment displays. The project was then given its own custom PCB, and a nice 3D printed enclosure to fit it to the body of the lathe.

It’s a project that shows how easy it is to add functionality to basic machine tools using maker components. It also serves to demonstrate the value in giving a project a proper enclosure, to enable it to survive in a workshop environment. We’ve seen other hacky DRO mods before, too. Video after the break.

6 thoughts on “Adding A Digital Readout To A Wood Lathe

  1. That is a pretty nice job, given the constraints. Especially like the ring for positioning and supporting the magnets.

    Nitpick: this is not a DRO. This is a digital tachometer. A DRO provides position information.

    It is a belt drive lathe, though, and even the moderate resolution here is overkill. Nice, but overkill. I actually have my lathes, drill presses, and mill tachometers read at the nearest 2.5% to 5% for stable display (1000RPM, 1025, 1050, 1075, 1100, 1150, 1200, etc). I eventually plan to “downgrade” to an analog setup (X27.168 gauge stepper driven needle, actually) with a semilog scale for easier reading. I just need to make up the boards, when I get the time (as I have been saying for several years)

  2. I was going to say, DRO on a wood lathe, but it is even lamer than that, it is only a tach. What do you need a tach for on a wood lathe? IMHO just another gee gaw to brake. My first wood lathe, and I wish I still had it did not even have a motor on it. Just a pulley. What it did have was a very heavy and solid cast base and beautiful bearings. The important things.

    1. Right, looked at this three times since it was posted and thought I wasn’t getting it. “Don’t you know what speed it’s going by the pulleys you put the belt on????” I kept thinking.

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