Author Topic: Mechanical Design  (Read 32513 times)

Jim McMillan

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Re: Mechanical Design
« Reply #75 on: August 20, 2011, 06:22:05 PM »
Thanks Gabriel.
Yes, I figured I'd make two this time. I have enough confidence in the basic design that I figured I may as well dive right in. Besides most of the build time is spent setting up the tooling for each operation, so once it's set up it seems a shame to make only one part.
If you're thinking about small metalworking tools take a look at Taigtools.com. You can buy their mills with a "CNC Ready" option and install your own steppers and controller. That's what I did. I like my little Taig lathe too, but it's purely manual. I know of some folks who have converted them to CNC, and it looks like it would be pretty straight-forward. Cartertools.com is a Taig dealer and has a wonderful website. Check out all the user links. Some of them will blow your mind.
Sherline also makes a really nice line of small tools, though their mills are a little light for my kind of use. One of their CNC-ready lathes with the optional milling column makes a sweet portable CNC kit that could be carried in a suitcase or small trunk.
Then of course there are the Chinese imports...
Cheers,
Jim


Jim McMillan

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Re: Mechanical Design
« Reply #76 on: September 05, 2011, 04:15:05 PM »
Just a quick update on my number 2 machine build project:
I'm just about done with two of them.  Just need to add the limit switches, mount the machine to a base, and mount the mirror(s)... then of course the electronics...
I ran it last night connected to my Gecko 540 drive that runs one of my desktop CNC machines. Still tweaking on some minor binding and backlash issues (trying to find a happy medium between the two), but I think it's going to work out ok. This has been a real test of my amateur machining skills but I'm learning a lot, and I have a new-found admiration for folks who build precision mechanisms!
I tried to do a better job of documenting the build process this time, and am working on a build log with pics and comments which I will post when it's finished instead of trying to do it piecemeal in this forum. Stay tuned.
I have attached a couple pics of an almost finished machine.
Cheers!
Jim


Jim McMillan

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Re: Mechanical Design
« Reply #77 on: September 12, 2011, 12:01:38 AM »
Follow the link below for a short video of the thing in action. I thought it would be fun to see how fast I could make it go, and also to help "wear-in" the gears and bushings. I tried to make all the clearances real tight to minimize slop, so it needed a little limbering up. It was running off my Gecko 540 CNC controller in the video.
Cheers,
Jim

pic 002.avi

iamtawon

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Re: Mechanical Design
« Reply #78 on: October 25, 2011, 03:20:56 AM »
Hi Jim how is it going with your 2nd heliostat, I have been reading this thread for a while and your machine look very clean and robust, so envy  :P
May the sun be with you

Gabriel

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Re: Mechanical Design
« Reply #79 on: October 29, 2011, 08:38:59 AM »
Hi iamtawon,

I attached a couple of pictures of Jim's heliostat to this post. He sent me his first one so that I could work out any possible bugs in the software.

It's been up and running for over a month now without any trouble at all. There hasn't been as much sun as I would like, but every time it does come out the reflected light is always in the same spot.  ;D

Gabriel


Jim McMillan

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Re: Mechanical Design
« Reply #80 on: October 30, 2011, 05:47:05 PM »
Hi Guys,
Sorry I haven't posted any updates for a while. I've been real busy with work and other projects. Still haven't got the other machine set up.
Thanks for the compliment iamtawon. I'm fairly pleased with how they came out given my amateur level of machining skills. I also learned a few tricks along the way that should help out on the next one. I still plan on posting a write-up of the build process when I get time.
Gabriel, thanks for posting the pics. It's nice to know it's still working fine! Mine is still just sitting on the bench. I bought a little water tight box for the electronics and another Arduino Uno, but still haven't decided on the stepper drivers.
Jim

solardude

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Re: Mechanical Design
« Reply #81 on: August 28, 2015, 01:51:44 PM »
I just found this website and have been playing around with a Arduino based solar tracking program on and off for about  a year now.

I have a motor setup that I was working on that is small and compact just like Jim's except it was using motors with a worm gear drive to hold position.

I'm just curious how stable Gabriel has the code working now with Jim's tiny motor setup?

I'm looking at building out a low cost commercial version of this to go along with some portable solar generator systems we build and sell all over the world.

Keep up the good work guys!

Gabriel

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Re: Mechanical Design
« Reply #82 on: September 02, 2015, 07:35:38 AM »
This project is years old now, and the machine itself hasn't been up and running for a long time. I do remember I had it working for several months though. There was a bit of a problem with drift, but I figured out that it was because of the worm gears slipping or something at the more extreme azimuth angles.

What worm gear drive are you using by the way?