There are a lot of common phrases that no longer mean what they used to. For example, you may have used the term “turn on the lights.” What are you actually turning? Where does this come from? Old gas lights had a valve that you did physically turn, and the phrase simply stuck around. Kids of the 90s have no idea why they “dial” a phone number. What about “roll up the car window”? You don’t often encounter old-fashioned car doors with manual locks or a crank to roll up the window. These days it is all electronic. But have you ever wondered what’s going on inside there?
Let’s take a look at car doors, how they keep you safe, and how that sheet of glass slides into place, sealing against wind, rain, and noise. Of course, there are fancy car doors like suicide doors or sexy-but-impractical gull wing doors. At least one concept car even has a door that disappears under the vehicle when it opens; check out the video below. But even garden-variety doors are marvels of mechanical engineering. A compact structure that is secure and — mostly — reliable. Let’s look at how they do that.
Continue reading “Tech In Plain Sight: Car Doors”
We agree with [Mário Saleiro] that the motors from a car’s power windows make for a fantastic high-torque solution to your next project. If you have a you-pick junkyard in your town they’ll be dirt cheap after you put in a bit of time to find and removing the parts from the yard. But you’ll probably want to add a few extra steps to get them ready, and he’s done a great job of documenting how he augmented them with wheels and rotary encoders.
One aspect of the project which really struck home with us was his machine-shop-101 style tricks to mate the axle of the motor with the wheel. He has a process which ensures you will find the exact center of a cylinder as you work. This starts by lining up a bench vice on his drill press. He then inserts a drill bit upside down in the drill chuck, lowers it and clamps the vice on the bit. After loosening the chuck he ends up with the bit pointing up at the exact center of the chuck. Next he chucks up a piece of threaded rod, drilling a perfectly centered hole by lowering it into the drill bit while the drill press is rotating. The image above shows him using this machined part as a guide to continue the hole into the motor’s axle. Click through the link above to learn the rest of the tricks he uses.
Here’s a watering can and water vortex that are controlled with a webkit browser interface. The interface displays a drawing of the watering can on your browser. If you grab one of the handles on the circle around the image and move it, the can will rotate as well.
Okay, so this isn’t going to change the world and actually presents a fairly useless watering setup. But [Ben] seems to be a master of fabrication and that’s what we appreciate in this build. The watering can is solidly mounted and moves fluidly with seemingly little effort from the motor. He uses a spring to keep the rope loop taut, sourcing a castor wheel and automotive power-window motor to provide the motion. The hinged base on which the can sits has a potentiometer in it, used to measure the current position of the watering can. Remember these techniques as they’ll come in handy in your future builds.
There’s also a little bonus at the end of the video after the break. We wondered what [Ben] might use that power drill controller hack for. Looks like it makes an appearance in his water vortex work.
Continue reading “Web Controlled Watering Can”