Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Repairs and Remakes

All week it's been fixing and shoehorning, shaving down or shimming up. I came up with a novel (for me) way of making small grooves with a hacksaw blade. The students were celebrating that I was going to become rich from my invention until I reminded them that a hacksaw blade costs a buck.

A number of hydraulic motors had to be re-bracketed and re-pulleyed and a hydraulic friction testing piston needed reinforced. So it has gone.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PCB Opus 1

In all these years, although I've done minor repair soldering here and there, I'll have to admit to never having populated a PCB with components. I'm beginning work on a pendulum traverse system for one of the professors and decided it was a good opportunity to save several thousand dollars by doing the microcontroller and motor control board from open source hardware. In addition, its a great opportunity to begin creating my first microcontrolled system. I have a backlog of 5 or 6 projects already, this being the simplest!

I'm using an Arduino Deumilanove and purchased Adafruit's Motor Shield, which I highly, highly recommend! The shield comes as a PCB and components and you have to solder them in yourself. The instructions are clear and very complete. I'm fortunate to have been able to simply head over to Radio Shack and buy the tools for a basic soldering setup, and by following the picture by picture instructions, the soldering took less than an hour and the board is running the sample code for DC and stepper motors like a champ.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Busy Busy

It's been the busy time. Many projects all come together for the end of the year. The seniors are all working on (i.e. frantically trying to finish) their Senior Design Group Projects.

These are parts for a motorcycle "landing gear" project that is designed to assist riders who have difficulty with balancing. "Why should someone with balance problems be riding a motorcycle?" you ask. Perhaps those who have fallen off of one previously, but who still love to ride.

Another team is working on a torsion testing machine that will twist samples to destruction, measuring the torque required and the angles at which the samples pass from one state to another.

Not to be outdone, the faculty have been asking for things as well. Here's one of the more exotic, a set of clear cast acrylic flanges with brass inserts that will be used to study fluid dynamics. The prof. couldn't find what he wanted, so he asked me to design and fabricate them.