Monday, December 12, 2011


Moco dolly/head electronics
Just a quick note, most of the electronics for the motion control dolly/head have arrived, as well as some of the laser cut parts, belts and timing pulleys etc. At this point, it will have three axes of freedom, track, pan and tilt. I spent better part of a day soldering etc. The basic setup seems to be ok now (at least everything powers up). I will test this as is when i get the rest of the parts, running under computer control. The standalone controls (also seen in the picture) can wait until i have everything else working properly. I'm using D9 sub connectors in many roles - they are pretty robust, and work well with pre-crimped cables and can even be soldered directly to boards - most of the connections will not be permanently soldered though, at least on this prototype, for easier debugging and maintenance.

The electronics setup is rather similar to that of CNC mills/routers and 3D printers. I will need to write my own software though. But speaking of CNC, i ordered an extra set while at it, and will probably build my own CNC / 3D printer. So far, i have been ordering 3D printed parts from Shapeways and laser cut parts (plastic and steel) from Ponoko. While this works really well, everything can be done online, quotes are automatic and the quality is great, in the other hand it's not too cheap when the parts are largeish, especially with shipping... and it takes quite a while to get the goods. Having my own gear to make the prototype parts would make things move along much faster. Not so surprisingly, usually the first version of a part doesn't really work too well, it's the 2nd or 3rd generation that's, well, "ok". And between each iteration, there's a few weeks of waiting, not to mention, usually a few hundred more bucks spent.

As a small rant, i'd really like to see similar online service as with Shapeways and Ponoko from Finnish companies - i'd like to get stuff done locally, but i do not want to call a sales representative just to know how much a square meter of 3mm aluminium costs. That stuff should be available online. Especially as i mostly work on this project after hours, and the question usually arises at 1 am.

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