Negative Reinforcement: Drill Bits Edition

In theory, it’s fun to have a lot of toys tools around, but the sad reality is that it’s only as fun as the organization level applied. Take it from someone who finds organization itself thrilling: it really doesn’t matter how many bits and bobs you have, as long as there’s a place for everything and you put away your toys at the end of the day.

[Cranktown City] is always leaving drill bits lying around instead of putting them back in their bit set boxes. Since he responds well to yelling, he decided to build an intelligent drill bit storage system that berates him if he takes one out and doesn’t put it back within ten minutes.

But [Cranktown City] did much more than that. The system is housed in a really nice DIY stand that supports his new milling and drilling machine and has space to hold a certain type of ubiquitous red tool box beneath the drill bits drawer.

All the bits now sit in a 3D-printed index that fits the width of the drawer. [Cranktown City] tried to use daisy-chained pairs of screws as contacts behind each bit that could tell whether the bit was home or not, but too much resistance interfered with the signal. He ended up using a tiny limit switch behind each bit instead. If any bit is removed, the input signal from the index goes low, and this triggers the Arduino Nano to do two things: it lights up a strip of red LEDs behind the beautiful cut out letters on the drawer’s lip, and it starts counting upward. Every ten minutes that one or more bits are missing, the drawer complains and issues ad hominem attacks. Check out the demo and build video after the break, but not until you put your tools away. (Have you learned nothing?)

Okay, so how do you deal with thousands of jumbled drill bits? Calipers and a Python script oughta do it.

21 thoughts on “Negative Reinforcement: Drill Bits Edition

  1. What are those strange looking chinese characters underneath every single drill bit. How quaint. :)

    But very good implemented. Although a (temporary) settable timer for longer operations could be a bonus.

    I immediately envision a system where a siren goes of as soon as you turn of the light and not all bits have returned to the hive. May be something for for hacker space

    1. For a hackspace I’d go clearly overcomplicated, though fun. This just screams to me using opencv to sort and place drill bits, and identify the tealeaf that pinched ’em and has not returned them. Return them to not have a “bounty” put on your head, to be displayed upon the wall of shame.. Or just to add the cost of the lost bits to your sub and email both you and the management every day/week/month whatever so the supply of bits doesn’t run out…

      1. As kids we had a joke about fish in an aquarium and the more intelligent species being able to train/control the dumber subject, aka Pavlovian Conditioning. I conclude that the Youtube algorithm eclipsed the intelligence of the average Youtube creator.

        1. That’s not hard, given the average YouTuber’s apparent intelligence level (or lack thereof, to be more precise).

          As tropical fish hobbyist, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any fish do exactly what you describe, though I have seen some very clever methods of being lazy and still being fed, particularly among catfish. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that it seems that they may have trained ME.

      1. This is why I have chosen to subvert my ideas to subvert my bad habits. Because I’ll always end up subverting my subversions. Can’t ever leave well enough alone. Nothing is ever finished. I could hire someone to clean up after me, but I would probably end up berating them because I can’t find the thing I was just using yesterday. (“Good Heavens Miss Sakamoto!”)
        I have accepted who I am. I am too involved in satisfying my own curiosity to reflect on how this shop would look if I just tidied up a little bit. I have stuff. It’s nearby. That will have to do. There’s more stuff being shipped. I will soon need more space. Things will be neat for a time when I move the stuff, but entropy will ensue. When I die, someone will be overwhelmed with it all, but someone else will have a field day. Just wish I had more impetus to document things. Oh, well.
        I am become Dr. Calgori.

  2. That’s not negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is when you remove an obstacle to encourage a desired behavior. This is just admonishment.

    I could definitely use something like this, but it would be nice if it were integrated with my tools or a motion sensor on the door of my shop. I end up using things like drill bits for a lot longer than 10 minutes, but sometimes I spend only a minute or two in the shop, and I am completely gone within ten minutes (And wouldn’t hear it). Like, yeah, I’ll spend hours at a time drilling some holes into set of panels for prototype, or sometimes come back in to drill just a single hole before leaving again.

  3. As far as the project itself, the main thing I noted was the way overkill power supply. An alternate way to do the bit detection would be to design a little lever into each holder, such that the lever blocks a transverse hole when the bit is removed, and clears the hole when the bit is inserted. Then just use an LED or laser diode at one end and a photodetector at the other to see if any hole is blocked.

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