What is a brushless ESC, really? Well, generally, it’s usually a microcontroller with a whole lot of power transistors hanging off it to drive three phases of brushless motor coils. [Frank Zhao] realised that with a little reprogramming, you could simply use a brushless ESC to independently run two brushed motors. Thus, he whipped up a custom firmware for various AM32-compatible ESCs to do just that.
The idea of the project is to enable a single lightweight ESC to run two brushed motors for combat robots. Dual-motor brushed ESCs can be hard to find and expensive, whereas single-motor brushless ESCs are readily available. The trick is to wire up the two brushed motors such that each motor gets one phase wire of its own, and the two motors share the middle phase wire. This allows independent control of both motors via the brushless ESC’s three half-bridges, by setting the middle wire to half voltage. Depending on how you set it up, the system can be configured in a variety of ways to suit different situations.
[Frank’s] firmware is available on Github for the curious. He lists compatible ESCs there, and notes that you’ll need to install the AM32 ESC firmware before flashing his version to make everything work correctly.
The VESC project has long supported brushed motor operation, too, though not in a tandem configuration. Meanwhile, if you’ve got your own neat ESC hacks, don’t hesitate to hit us up on the tipsline!
Starter motors aren’t typically a great choice for motorized projects, as they’re designed to give engines a big strong kick for a few seconds. Driving them continuously can often quickly overheat them and burn them out. However, [Austin Blake] demonstrates that by choosing parts carefully, you can indeed have some fun with a starter motor-powered ride.
[Austin] decided to equip his drift trike with a 42MT-equivalent starter motor typically used in heavy construction machinery. The motor was first stripped of its solenoid mechanism, which is used to disengage the starter from an engine after it has started. The housing was then machined down to make the motor smaller, and a mount designed to hold the starter on the drift trike’s frame.
A 36V battery pack was whipped up using some cells [Austin] had lying around, and fitted with a BMS for safe charging. The 12V starter can draw up to 1650 amps when cranking an engine, though the battery pack can only safely deliver 120 amps continuously. A Kelly controller for brushed DC motors was used, set up with a current limit to protect the battery from excessive current draw.
The hefty motor weighs around 50 pounds, and is by no way the lightest or most efficient drive solution out there. However, [Austin] reports that it has held up just fine in 20 minutes of near-continuous testing, despite being overvolted well beyond its design specification. The fact it’s operating at a tenth of its rated current may also have something to do with its longevity. It also bears noting that many YouTube EVs die shortly after they’re posted. Your mileage may vary.
For a more modern solution, you might consider converting an alternator into a brushless electric motor. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Heavy-Duty Starter Motor Powers An Awesome Drift Trike”
Do you have a hundred bucks and some time to kill? [Peter Sripol] invites you to come along with him and build a remotely operated submarine with only the most basic, easily accessible parts, as you can see in the video below the break.
Using nothing more than PVC pipe, an Ethernet cable, and a very basic electrical system, [Peter] has built a real MVP of a submarine. No, not Most Valuable Player; Minimum Viable Product. You see, there’s not a microcontroller, motor controller, sensor, or MOSFET to be found except for that which might reside inside the knock-off GoPro style camera which is encased in a candle wax sealed enclosure.
Instead, simple brushed motors live right out in the open water. Single pole double throw switches are connected to 100 feet of Ethernet cable and control the relays powering the motors. The camera signal is brought back to the controller through the same cable. Simple is the key to the build, and we have to admit that for all of its Minimum Viability, the little ROV has a lot going for it. [Peter] even manages to use the little craft to find and make possible the retrieval of a crustacean encrusted shopping cart from a saltwater canal. Not bad, little rover, not bad.
Also noteworthy is that the video below has its own PVC ROV Sea Shanty, which is something you just don’t hear every day.
Underwater ROV builds are the sort of thing almost every hacker thinks about doing at least once, and some hackers even include Lego, magnets, and balloons in their builds! Continue reading “Low Buck PVC ROV IS Definitely A MVP”
Casually browsing YouTube for “shop improvements” yields a veritable river of project ideas, objects for cat amusement, and 12 INCREDIBLE SHOP HACKS YOU WON’T BELIEVE, though some of these are of predictably dubious value. So you might imagine that when we found [Henrique]’s adorable disc sander we dismissed it out of hand, how useful could such a tiny tool be? But then we remembered the jumbo tub o’ motors on the shelf and reconsidered, maybe a palm sized sander has a place in the tiny shop.
Electrically the build is a simple as can be. It’s just a brushed DC motor plugged into a wall wart with a barrel jack and a toggle switch. But what else does it need? This isn’t a precision machine tool, so applying the “make it out of whatever scrap” mindset seems like a much better fit than figuring out PWM control with a MOSFET and a microcontroller.
There are a couple of neat tricks in the build here. The most obvious is the classic laser-cut living hinge that we love so much. [Henrique] mentions that he buys MDF in 3 mm sheets for easy storage, so each section of the frame is built from layers that he laminates with glue himself. This trades precision and adds steps, but also give him a little flexibility. It’s certainly easier to add layers of thin stock together than it would be to carve out thicker pieces. Using the laser to precisely cut holes which are then match drilled through into the rest of the frame is a nice build acceleration too. The only improvement we can imagine would be using a shaft with a small finger chuck (like a Dremel) so it could use standard rotary tool bits to avoid making sanding disks by hand.
What could a tool like this be used for? There are lots of parts with small enough features to be cleaned up by such a small tool. Perhaps those nasty burrs after cutting off a bolt? Or trimming down mousebites on the edges of PCBs? (Though make sure to use proper respiration for cutting fiberglass!)
If you want to make one of these tools for your own desk, the files are here on Thingiverse. And check out the video overview after the break.
Continue reading “Adorable Desktop Disc Sander Warms Our Hearts And Our Parts”
A motor — or a generator — requires some normal magnets and some electromagnets. The usual arrangement is to have a brushed commutator that both powers the electromagnets and switches their polarity as the motor spins. Permanent magnets don’t rotate and attract or repel the electromagnets as they swing by. That can be a little hard to visualize, but if you 3D Print [Miller’s Planet’s] working model — or just watch the video below — you can see how it all works.
We imagine the hardest part of this is winding the large electromagnets. Getting the axle — a nail — centered is hard too, but from the video, it looks like it isn’t that critical. There was a problem with the link to the 3D model files, but it looks like this one works.
Continue reading “3D Printed Brushed Motor Is Easy To Visualize”
A big part of the Hackaday Prize this year is robotics modules, and already we’ve seen a lot of projects adding intelligence to motors. Whether that’s current sensing, RPM feedback, PID control, or adding an encoder, motors are getting smart. Usually, though, we’re talking about fancy brushless motors or steppers. The humble DC brushed motor is again left out in the cold.
This project is aiming to fix that. It’s a smart motor driver for dumb DC brushed motors. You know, the motors you can buy for pennies. The motors that are the cheapest way to add movement to any project. Those motors.
The Smart Motor Driver for Robotics allows a DC brushed motor to be controlled by a host microcontroller over I2C, and sends back the speed and direction of the motor. PID is implemented, and the motor can maintain its own speed, independently of a lot of difficult control on the host system.
The guts of this motor controller are made of a PIC 12F microcontroller, a H-bridge motor driver, a Hall-effect sensor, and a neat magnetic encoder disc. Ultimately, this project will simply bolt onto the back of a cheap brushed motor and give it the same capabilities as a fancy servo or stepper. It’s never going to have the same torque or power handling as a beefy NEMA 17 stepper, but sometimes you don’t need that, and a simple brushed motor will do. A great project, and an excellent entry for the Hackaday Prize.
We’ve seen some cheap quadcopter builds over the years, but this one takes the cake. After seeing somebody post a joke about building a quadcopter frame out of zip ties and hot glue, [IronMew] decided to try it for real. The final result is a micro quadcopter that actually flies half-way decently and seems to be fairly resistant to crash damage thanks to the flexible structure.
The first attempts at building the frame failed, as the zip ties (unsurprisingly) were too flexible and couldn’t support the weight of the motors. Eventually, [IronMew] realized that trying to replicate the traditional quadcopter frame design just wasn’t going to work. Rather than a body with arms radiating out to hold the motors, the layout he eventually came up with is essentially the reverse of a normal quadcopter frame.
Zip ties reinforced with a healthy coating of hot glue are arranged into a square, with a motor at each corner. Then four zip ties are used to support the central “pod” which holds the battery and electronics. No attempt is made to strengthen this part of the frame, and as such the heavy central pod hangs down a bit in flight. [IronMew] theorizes that this might actually be beneficial in the end, as he believes it could have a stabilizing effect when it comes time to record FPV video.
He mentions that he’s still struggling to get the PID values setup properly in the flight computer, but in the video after the break you can see that it’s flying fairly well for a first attempt. We wouldn’t recommend you tear into a bag of zip ties when it comes time to build your first quadcopter, but it does go to show that there’s plenty of room for experimentation.
We’ve covered a number of unique quadcopter frames if you’re looking for something to set your next build apart from the rest. If you’ve got a big enough bed you can 3D print a very nice frame, but if you’ve got more time than equipment, you could always cut one out of a piece of plywood.
Continue reading “Zip Tie Quadcopter Frame Is As Cheap As They Come”