Projects – Hobbybotics Reflow Controller Quad V1.0

Here’s a quick update to the new reflow controller project I introduced earlier.  I have fully populated one of the prototype boards and began to write test sketches to ensure it functions properly.  The project is moving a little slower right now as I am in the process of closing on a new house and that has been taking up a lot of my time.

2013-03-06 02.44.49_1024x768 2013-03-06 02.44.40_1024x768 2013-03-06 02.44.15_1024x768

The last picture shows an early prototype for the LCD/Button interface for the controller.  I am in the process of redesigning the LCD/Button interface to use a 4-way rotary navigation switch with a center select button.  I borrowed this idea from the Viki LCD project over on Kick Starter.  I’ll post more updates in the coming weeks.

Projects – Hobbybotics Reflow Controller Quad V1.0

I’ve been working on a redesign of the original reflow controller.  Here are the features for the new board:

  1. Four MAX31855 Type-K Thermocouple interfaces
  2. DS3234 Real Time Clock with battery backup
  3. FT231x USB
  4. XBee or Bluetooth Wireless
  5. MCP23008 I/O Expanders for 2-wire expanded communication
  6. ULN2803 Darlington buffered output relay/SSR control
  7. Internal or external micro SD interface
  8. External LCD I2C interface/input
  9. ATMega 1284P TQFP AVR with Arduino bootloader
  10. 16 MHz Crystal

Take a look at the new board:

2013-02-19 01.32.48_1024x768

2013-02-19 01.36.35_1024x768

download

 I’ll post more on this project in the coming days.  I’ll be offering this project as a full kit for those who are interested.

EEWeb Site of the Day

EEWebHobbybotics will be the Electrical Engineering Community (EEWeb) featured site of the day on Friday 22 February, 2013.  I have been to the site on numerous occasions but was not aware of the user engineering blog section.  there is a lot of good resources available for experienced engineers and hobbyist alike.  EEWeb also provides a free circuit simulation tool know as PartSim.

PartSim-Sidebar-Graphic“PartSim is a free and easy to use circuit simulator that runs in your web browser.”

A plus for PartSim is the integrated Bill Of Materials (B.O.M) that allows one to assign Digikey part numbers to their designs.  I’ll definitely add the site to my “Daily View List” and give the circuit simulator a whirl.  Hey, it might save me from some of the design mistakes I tend to discover after I have already sent board files off to be produced.

Projects – Hobbybotics Serial LCD Controller V3.0

p80900101Some of the projects I design make use of character displays. The Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) I typically use are based on the Hitachi HD44780 LCD command set. Most HD44780 compatible LCDs use a standard 16 contact interface and are known as parallel devices. This project presents a design that allows the LCD to be controlled by a single serial pin from a microcontroller or a serial connection on a computer. Check out the project here

Projects – Crazy for 3D Printing – First 3D Design

In the first installment of my adventures with 3D printers I talked briefly about Cubify Invent from the makers of the Cube 3D printer.

For just $49 you can pick up Cubify Invent which has many features that are contained in more expensive 3D packages such as Solid Works.  The work flow is similar to 123D by AutoDesk (free software).  You start your design by drawing a sketch in a 2D plane and selecting extrude or many of the other tools to convert the drawing into a 3D representation.  There is a 15 day trial so you can test it out.

Cubify offers some basic video tutorials to get you started.  You can also checkout Cubify Fans blog for more in depth tutorials (my favorite).

As a personal rule-of-thumb, I typically give myself roughly 30 minutes to figure out the basics of new software without having to reference a manual.  I believe that basic user experience should become routine within the first 30 minutes of use with more time reserved for tutorials and manuals once I have buy-in.  I found Cubify Invent easy to understand and within a couple of hours I had enough knowledge to create my first design.

In the first installment I stated I was using my Replicator 3D printer to build a Ecksbot 3D printer. Since the introduction I have aligned the frame, installed the stepper motors and selected the control electronics.  I decided to go with the Ramps 1.4 electronics and power it all with a WW1230A 12VDC @ 30A switching power supply.  The Ramps electronics and power supply can be found for a great price on Ebay.

I decided to clean up the mounting scheme for the electronics during the initial phases of the Ecksbot build. I’m looking for portability so, I decided to mount the power supply onto the printer. I also wanted to add more protection against accidental contact with the AC wiring than what is afforded by the barrier strip cover. As such, I present a front cover, rear cover and mounting plate for the WW-1230A 12VDC 30A switching power supply.  The design was created with Cubify Invent and available here on Thingiverse.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow the below instructions if you want to duplicate this project:

I printed the design files on the MakerBot Replicator with the following settings:

Object Infill: 10%
Layer Height: 0.3
Number of Shells: 2
Feed Rate: 41
Travel Feed Rate: 56
Print Temperature: 230
Heat-Bed Temperature: 115

Print one of each:

WW-1230A Front Coverx2
WW-1230A Rear Coverx1
Mount Plate Leftx4
Mount Plate Rightx4
Mount Plate Centerx4

Print 4 mount brackets from thing:10621 – thingiverse.com/thing:10621

The mounting plate is made from three pieces:

left mount plate
right mount plate
center mount plate

Snap the three pieces together and use super glue or acetone/ABS glue to bond.

Use M4 x 16 mm bolts to secure mount plate to 3D printer frame.

I’m using the following components from Mouser Electronics:

Power Entry Module

SPST ON/OFF Rocker Switch

I’m using the following component from Ebay:

WW-1230A 12VDC 30A Switching Power Supply (search for 12V DC 30A 360W Regulated Switching Power Supply)

This wraps up the discussion of my first experience with using Cubify Invent.  Next time I’ll continue the Ecksbot build with a discussion of how I intend to mount the electronics along with what hot-end I chose and how I mounted it.

Projects – Crazy for 3D Printing – An Introduction

Back in June 2012 I posted about purchasing a Makerbot Replicator 3D printer with dual extruders. Since then, I have been working with it so much that I have neglected many of my other project(s). As such, I intend to document my journey into the world of 3D fabrication.

According to the RepRap wiki:

“RepRap is humanity’s first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine.

RepRap takes the form of a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap prints those parts, RepRap self-replicates by making a kit of itself – a kit that anyone can assemble given time and materials. It also means that – if you’ve got a RepRap – you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend

RepRap is about making self-replicating machines, and making them freely available for the benefit of everyone…”

The RepRap movement has spawned improvements and innovations that led to derivatives such as The PrintrbotFoldaRapRostock and Replicator.  These printers use a method known as extrusion or addictive layering in which material is placed onto a build platform a layer at a time.

      

One of the first actions I took after many laborious nights of tweaking, adjusting, test printing and more tweaking is heading over to Thingiverse and downloading some open source creations.

One of the first objects I built is a derivative (with some modifications) of the Original Eggbot by Evil Mad Scientist.

Here is the Original Eggbot:

Here is the printable version that is available on Thingiverse:

Here is my version of the printable Eggbot:

I added a modified endplate from here so that my pin attachment will have full range.

Naturally, after printing many designs from Thingiverse, I wanted to embrace the RepRap movement and print a 3D printer.  I scoured the RepRap wiki for ideas and settled on the Ecksbot printer which is a derivative of the Prusa Mendel.  Building your own 3D printer is not for the faint of heart but, the savings and knowledge gained is worth the journey.  The first issue I ran into is the Ecksbots files are designed to be printed on a larger build platform than what is available on the Replicator.  This posed a problem when I wanted to print the Y-Carriage.  A request made to the Ecksbot creators yielded a resized Y-Carriage that fit on the Replicator’s build platform.  If you plan to build your own and intend to use the Replicator to fabricate the parts, be sure to download the file labeled “Y_Cart_ReplicatorResize_x1.STL.”

Here are some pictures of my mostly completed Ecksbot:

There are two software options supported by Makerbot for use on the Replicator and the recently released Replicator2.  The first being ReplicatorG and the second being MakerWare.

ReplicatorG focuses more on the Skeinforge slicing engine whereas MakerWare focuses more on the Miracle-Grue slicing engine in active development by MakerBot.

ReplicatorG:

MakerWare:

MakerWare is currently in beta but offers some welcomed capabilities that are missing from ReplicatorG.  My favorite is the ability to import multiple parts onto the build plate.  This allows one to easily combine prints into a single session.  Another favorite is the ability to run multiple slicing sessions at the same time.  Again, the software is in beta and lacks the capability to decipher between the difference in the build area size of the Replicator2 and the Replicator.  The way I get around this is to add parts to the build surface in MakerWare, save the session as an STL file and open in ReplicatorG.  Now I can adjust as necessary and print from ReplicatorG or MakerWare.

A natural progression after getting comfortable with a 3D printer is to design some objects.  There are a number of free offerings that can export to the STL format.  The STL file will be converted into g-c0de by the slicer application.  A couple of popular free applications is Sketchup and OpenSCAD.  Sketchup loosely follows the path of traditional 2D/3D CAD applications while OpenSCAD takes a programming language approach.

Sketchup:

OpenSCAD:

An online offering is Tinkercad:

For just $49 you can pick up Cubify Invent from the makers of the Cube 3D printer.  Cubify Invent has many features that are contained in more expensive 3D packages such as Solid Works.  The work flow is similar to 123D by AutoDesk (free software).  You start your design by drawing a sketch in a 2D plane and selecting extrude or many of the other tools to convert the drawing into a 3D representation.  There is a 15 day trial so you can test it out.

Cubify offers some basic video tutorials to get you started.  You can also checkout Cubify Fans blog for more in depth tutorials (my favorite).

This wraps up my introduction/experience in 3D printing.  I’ll continue this series with some projects that I am working on as I learn to use Cubify.  My initial designs are currently centered on modifying the Ecksbot 3D printer I presented above.  I’ll also dive deeper into the printable Eggbot I briefly discussed above.  Till next post, enjoy!

Parts – Teensy 3.0, an affordable 32 bit ARM Cortex-M4 board, for development in Arduino or C/C++

It took me a while to jump on board the Arduino bandwagon but, I found myself hooked on how easy it was to learn, the many libraries available and the subset of the C/C++ programming language that it uses.  What I do not like about the Arduino is its limited flash memory.  I’d like to have something with more flash memory and the same ease of use.

Along comes the Teensy 3.0 that just wrapped up a very successful Kickstarter campaign.  The Teensy 3.0 is a small breadboard friendly development board designed by Paul Stoffregen and PJRC.  The design uses a low-cost 32 bit ARM Cortex-M4 chip and is compatible with the Arduino programming environment as well as the C/C++ programming language.

Technical Specifications:

  • 32 bit ARM Cortex-M4 48 MHz CPU (M4 = DSP extensions)
  • 128K Flash Memory, 16K RAM, 2K EEPROM
  • 14* High Resolution Analog Inputs (13 bits usable, 16 bit hardware)
  • 34* Digital I/O Pins (10 shared with analog)
  • 10 PWM outputs
  • 8 Timers for intervals/delays, separate from PWM
  • USB with dedicated DMA memory transfers
  • 3 UARTs (serial ports)
  • SPI, I2C, I2S, IR modulator
  • I2S (for high quality audio interface)
  • Real Time Clock (with user-added 32.768 crystal and battery)
  • 4 general purpose DMA channels (separate from USB)
  • Touch Sensor Inputs
  • All pins have interrupt capability
  • 14 Digital-only and 10 Analog/Digital pins are accessible around the exterior of Teensy 3.0, and available when used on a breadboard.  10 more Digital-only pins, and 4 more Analog-only pins are accessible at interior and bottom-side pads.

Checkout the Kickstarter and project website for further details and to purchase.  Check out the Teensy forum for support and updates.