Teaching A DC Servo Motor To Act Like A Stepper

[Frank Herrmann] had an interesting idea to turn a geared DC motor into a servo motor assembly, but with a stepper motor-like interface. By stacking some small PCBs behind the motor body, it was possible to squeeze a DRV8837 DC motor driver and a pair of hall effect sensors on the first PCB layer, with the magnetic encoder nestled tightly behind it. Pin headers at the edge of the PCB connect to a second PCB bearing the microcontroller, which is based on the cheap STM32L432. The second PCB also holds an associated LDO and debug LED. Together, this handful of parts provide all that is needed to read the encoder, control the motor rotation and listen on the ‘stepper motor driver’ interface pins hooked up to the motion controller upstream. The Arduino source for this can be found on the project GitHub.

Whilst [Frank] mentions that this assembly has a weight and torque advantage over a NEMA 17 sized stepper motor, but we see no hard data on accuracy and repeatability which would be important for precise operations like 3D printing.

This project is part of a larger goal to make a complete 3D printer based around these ‘DC motor stepper motors’ which we will watch with interest.

While we’re on the subject of closed-loop control of DC motors, here’s another attempt to do the same, without the integration. If these are too small for you, then you always repurpose some windscreen washer motors.

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Robotic Cornhole Board Does The Electric Slide

There’s a reason why bowling lanes have bumpers and golf games have mulligans. Whether you’re learning a new game or sport, or have known for years how to play but still stink at it, everyone can use some help chasing that win. You’ve heard of the can’t-miss dart board and no-brick basketball goal. Well, here comes the robot-assisted game for the rest of us: cornhole.

The game itself deceptively simple-looking — just underhand throw a square wrist rest into a hole near the top of a slightly angled box. You even get a point for landing anywhere on the box! Three points if you make it in the cornhole. In practice, the game not that easy, though, especially if you’ve been drinking (and drinking is encouraged). But hey, it’s safer than horseshoes or lawn darts.

[Michael Rechtin] loves the game but isn’t all that great at it, so he built a robotic version that tracks the incoming bag and moves the hole to help catch it. A web cam mounted just behind the hole takes a ton of pictures and analyzes the frames for changes.

The web cam sends the bag positions it sees along with its predictions to an Arduino, which decides how it will move a pair of motors in response. Down in the cornhole there’s a pair of drawer sliders that act as the lid’s x/y gantry.

We love how low-tech this is compared to some of the other ways it could be done, even though it occasionally messes up. That’s okay — it makes the game more interesting that way. We think you should get 2 points if it lands halfway in the hole. Aim past the break to check out the build video.

Seems like there’s a robotic-assisted piece of sporting equipment for everything these days. If cornhole ain’t your thing, how’d you like to take a couple strokes off your golf game?

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Now This Is A Maker’s PCB Shaker

Anyone who has ever etched their own PCB knows that the waiting is the hardest part. Dissolving copper in ferric chloride takes time, much like developing a Polaroid picture. And although you really should not shake a fresh Polaroid to speed up development, the PCB etching process thrives on agitation. Why wait an hour when you can build a simple PCB shaker and move on to drilling and/or filling in 10 minutes?

We love that [ASCAS] was probably able to build this without reaching past the the spare parts box and the recycling bin. There’s no Arduino or even a 555 — just a 12 VDC geared motor, a DC-DC buck converter, and an externalized pot to control the speed of the sloshing.

It’s hard to choose a favorite hack here between the hinge used to rock this electric seesaw and the crankshaft/armature [ASCAS] made from a sandwich spread lid and a Popsicle stick. Everything about this build is beautiful, including the build video after the break.

Did you know that unlike ferric chloride, copper chloride can be recharged and reused? Here’s a one-stop etching station that does just that.

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