Author Topic: 3D printable Heliostat  (Read 7562 times)

aplavins

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3D printable Heliostat
« on: March 09, 2012, 12:03:10 PM »
So I'm starting the build of a heliostat based on the electronics and arduino sketch featured here and I also have a working 3d printer...

Has anyone already designed the mechanical parts of a heliostat in a CAD program?

Does anyone have a design or drawings that i could use to CAD the parts?

If not, I'll just get started on designing it and share when I have some results.


Gabriel

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2012, 10:09:58 AM »
Hi aplavins,

I know Brendan at http://www.heliostats.org/ has been working on a printable heliostat design. I don't think it's completely up and running yet, but it's definitely worth a look.

Other than that, I don't know of any available CAD drawings. I've muddled around with some drawings of my own in Sketchup, but I don't have anything that's especially good.

Regarding the design, I think Jim's is the best so far. He has a build thread here http://cerebralmeltdown.com/forum/index.php?topic=293.45 (There might even be a Rhino CAD file in there somewhere, I don't remember for certain though.)

I am strongly recommending that people try and use a worm gear design instead of the linear actuator design like I have on my older heliostats. The reason being is that the worm gears have a much larger range of motion, and they are also much easier to align when you first set the heliostat up.

About how large of a heliostat did you want to make?


zininzelfdoen

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2012, 12:15:06 PM »
Hello,

Sounds like fun.
Which parts do you want to print? I mean, the structure, the mirror and the actuator/motor cannot be printed I assume.

On my site you can see the heliostat we are working on, it has some plastic parts
http://zininzelfdoen.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/solarstream-2/

It is all in CAD, but the plastic parts are bought. Often you can find cad drawings at supplier though

cheers

aplavins

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2012, 06:43:18 PM »
I can't print the mirror, motors, or semiconductors. I can print most if not all of the structural and mechanical components and possibly the circuit board when i get the pen plotter working.

aplavins

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2012, 03:47:21 PM »
Electronics are working thanks to your careful documentation.

Specs:
Arduino UNO rev3
Sparkfun RTC breakout board
2x Polulu A4983 Stepper drivers @ 16x microstepping
2x Wantai motor NEMA 23 stepper motors 1.8/step model: 57BYGH420
Power Supply: 500W ATX computer power supply

Have some printed worm and helical gears that i'm going to test out soon

comming soon: NEMA 23 brackets and structural components to hold bearings.


Gabriel

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 04:45:08 PM »
Wow, you're moving right along. You are going to be up and running in no time.

That worm gear will look really neat once it's printed out. If you get this working I'm definitely going to have to get myself a 3D printer so that I can try out your design. :)

Brendan

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 06:05:01 AM »
Hi guys,

This is Brendan, just wanted to say hello.  After a lull I'm back working in the last month and will post again soon.  My project is focused on making a heliostat as cheap as possible so I've got gear motors instead of steppers (with hall sensors to count rotations) and a cinderblock base and things like that. 

I have a Makerbot cupcake (which I'm now mired in trying to do an upgrade on) and it has really changed my perspective on design.  Before I got it the design was driven by leveraging parts I could buy.  Once you know you can make, for example, gears of the size you want, it frees things up a lot.

Gabriel, if you're looking to buy a 3D printer the market has opened up a lot in the last couple years.  I love makerbot as a company and they have a new bot out (Replicator) with an 6" x 8" build area but you'll also want to consider an Ultimaker (8" x 8" build platform with better resolution which is important for gears and such) and Cubify and others.  There is a good google group for makerbot which has nice honest discussions from people considering different printers.  The possible game changer of the Replicator is that it has two extrusion heads so that you could extrude a water soluble material out of one of them which opens new possibilities.  With your design and CNC experience, you are going to love 3D printing.

Best regards,
Brendan

aplavins

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 02:16:08 PM »
With your makerbot you can print out a prusa mendel, it has whatever build size you would like. Mine has a 9" cubed build area. Also it's about half the cost.

I've almost completed the design of the parts, just need to print and test them.

This weekend will be interesting!

Gabriel

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2012, 03:15:26 PM »
Hey Brendan,

Yeah, I've had my eye on the Ultimaker for awhile now, precisely because of its higher resolution which would be good for making gears. It's on the top of my list of things I would like to get once I'm no longer a broke college student.

It will definitely be interesting to see what aplavins comes up with this weekend. :)

aplavins

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2012, 09:40:59 PM »
Here's a sneak peek, I'll release the files when I have tested the finished product.

Hehe
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 09:43:02 PM by aplavins »

aplavins

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2012, 12:05:50 PM »
New update!

I've printed all of the parts and I'm calibrating it now. Had to reprint the helical gears due to an error I made in designing them. Everything is working quite well now though.

Files will be up soon!

aplavins

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2012, 04:05:33 PM »
The 3d printable heliostat v1.0 is live at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:20604

Gabriel

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2012, 05:55:15 PM »
 :o
Wow that is awesome! That's a huge step forward for heliostat designs, and open source solar in general. I'm definitely going to have to try and print this out when I get my hands on a 3D printer. Have you tried it out in the sun yet?

Do you mind if I post it on this website's homepage and also possibly borrow a picture or two of it to use in a poster board I'm putting together for a science symposium at my university?

aplavins

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2012, 06:05:08 PM »
Absolutely! Just PM me an email address to send the pics to.

Open source FTW!

aplavins

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Re: 3D printable Heliostat
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2012, 06:22:09 PM »
I'll work on getting a video of it tracking (in the sun) ASAP.