We all have old projects which maybe didn’t quite deliver knocking about, sometimes they gather dust for years. They have a use though, in that when you *really* need that part you can lift it from that forgotten project. That’s what [Mustie1] did with a forgotten electric bicycle project, he took its motor and used it to automate his bead roller.
A bead roller is a tool used in the world of automotive bodywork to press a bead — a continuous depression — into a piece of sheet metal. The inexpensive roller he had fitted in a bench vice, and was operated by means of a handle. Unfortunately the size of the tool meant that it was difficult to operate at the same time as rolling a precise bead, so improvement was required.
He first considered using a cordless drill, but then remembered the electric bicycle project. Its geared motor had come from an electric wheelchair and certainly possessed the right speed, but he needed a suitable sprocket. This was supplied from a scrap engine-assisted bicycle that he’d acquired, and proved to be perfect for the job. The final automated roller used the trigger controller from a cordless drill mounted in a foot switch, and the roller mounted on a stand repurposed from a piece of gym equipment. The result is a useful, and above all controllable, tool that can run a perfect bead in any shape desired on a piece of sheet metal.
The humble automotive alternator hides an interesting secret. Known as the part that converts power from internal combustion into the electricity needed to run everything else, they can also themselves be used as an electric motor.
These devices almost always take the form of a 3-phase alternator with the magnetic component supplied by an electromagnet on the rotor, and come with a rectifier and regulator pack to convert the higher AC voltage to 12V for the car electrical systems. Internally they have three connections to the stator coils which appear to be universally wired in a delta configuration, and a pair of connections to a set of brushes supplying the rotor coils through a set of slip rings. They have a surprisingly high capacity, and estimates put their capabilities as motors in the several horsepower. Best of all they are readily available second-hand and also surprisingly cheap, the Ford Focus unit shown here came from an eBay car breaker and cost only £15 (about $20).
We already hear you shouting “Why?!” at your magical internet device as you read this. Let’s jump into that.
Messing about in boats has always held a curious appeal for the hardware hacker. Perhaps that’s because it remains an approachable way to make something that moves under its own power with a bit of speed, and barring calamities, the worst that can happen to the unwary boater is a soaking. [NASAT Channel] is a Vietnamese hacker who is a serial producer of small motorised boats, and one of his latest is a particularly impressive example.
The boat itself is a relatively conventional expanded polystyrene hull covered with fiberglass, but the motive power is something a little special. He’s taken eight of the ubiquitous 775 DC brushed motors and used them in a star configuration with beveled gears, which in turn drives a flexible shaft which goes straight to a propeller under the craft. Each motor shares a water cooling pipe serviced by a small pump, and the drive comes from a pair of cheap PWM motor controllers. We see him zipping up and down a stretch of river next to some moored boats, and if we’re honest, we wouldn’t mind a go ourselves.
We’re not entirely convinced such a rough-and-ready eight-way gearbox will be reliable for long-term use, and we’d be interested to know just how equally so many motors are actually sharing the load. But we like it for its sheer audacity, and we think you will too. Take a look at the video below the break, and if you’re inspired then grab a hammock, some friends, and have a go.
Radio control projects used to be made of materials such as metal or wood, and involve lots of hand crafted parts. That’s still one way to go about things, but 3D printing has become a popular tool in recent years. [RCLifeOn] has been working on a 3D printed jet boat, which recently got a serious power upgrade.
The boat in question received a 5000W brushless motor – significant power for a vehicle weighing less than 2kg. Powered by a 12S lithium pack, and outfitted with a water jacket for cooling, it drives the boat through an off-the-shelf turbine after initial attempts to DIY the drivetrain were unsuccessful.
The biggest problem in the project came from coupling the motor to the turbine. A 3D printed coupler was unable to hold up to the strain, while attempts to make a metal part failed due to the lack of a lathe. Eventually the solution was found by daisy chaining two off-the-shelf parts together.
The boat proved itself ably on the water, with the large motor proving more than capable of shifting the boat at a strong clip. It’s an excellent shakedown for the parts that will eventually find themselves in a powered surfboard build. We’ve seen [RCLifeOn]’s work before, too, like these stylish 3D printed sneakers. Video after the break.
The Axiom motor controller was a winner of the bootstrap contest and is a Finalist in the 2019 Hackaday Prize. The driver aims to deliver 300A continuous at 400V all day long. Which is a very impressive amount of power from a board that appears to be quite compact.
The brains of the device is an ice40 FPGA from Lattice running software based on the VESC Project. Its open source roots will certainly allow for some interesting hacks and an increasingly stable platform over time. Not to mention the existing software tools will aid in the sometimes cumbersome motor-driver tuning process.
The board designs are available, but we agree with the team that the complexity of assembly is likely going to be high (along with the price). The amount of research and skill going into this complicated kit is a bit mind-boggling, but we hope it will really enable some cool hacks, from cars, to ATVs, and maybe even an electric flyer.
This servo/gear reduction was assembled with almost all 3D-printed parts. Apart from a brushed 36 V DC-motor, a stainless steel shaft, and screws for holding the servo together, the only other non-printed part is the BTS7960B motor driver.
Some interesting stats about the plastic servo – its stall torque is about 55 kg/cm, reaching a peak current draw of 18 A when using a 6s LiPo battery outputting 22-24 V. The shaft rotates using two 20 mm holes and lubrication. (Ball bearings were originally in the design, but they didn’t arrive on time for the assembly.)
The holes of the gears are 6.2 mm in diameter in order to fit around the shaft, although some care is taken to sand or fill the opening depending on the quality of the 3D print.
This isn’t [Brian Brocken]’s only attempt at 3D-printing gears. He’s also built severalcrawling robots, a turntable, and a wind up car made entirely from acrylic. The .stl files for the project are all available online for anyone looking to make their own 3D-printed servo gears.
As far as electric propulsion is concerned, the vast majority of applications make use of some kind of rotational motor. Be it induction, universal, brushed or brushless, these are the most efficient ways we have to do mechanical work with electricity. There are other, arcane methods, though – ones which [Maker B] explores with this 4-cylinder solenoid engine.
The principle of the solenoid engine is simple. Cylinders are wound with coils to act as solenoids, with the piston acting as the armature. When the solenoid is energised, it pulls the piston into the cylinder. The solenoid is then de-energised, and the piston can return to its initial position. The piston is coupled to a crankshaft via a connecting rod, and a flywheel is used to help the motor run continually. These are also known as reciprocating electric motors.
[Maker B]’s build is a 4-cylinder design in a boxer configuration. Produced with basic hand-operated machine tools, the build process is one to watch. Aluminium and brass are carefully crafted into the various components of the motor, and parts are delicately assembled with small fasteners and plenty of retaining compound. Solenoid timing is via a series of microswitches, installed neatly in the base of the motor and actuated by the crankshaft.
While solenoid motors are inefficient, they’re quite something to watch in action. This one is no exception, with the motor spinning up to 1100 rpm when running at 7.2 volts. We’d love to see some data on the power output and efficiency too. It’s possible to build solenoid motors in different configurations, too – this radial build is particularly fun. Video after the break.