Let's Make Robots!

What to do with a drunken sailo.. err linear slide?

Ok I was cleaning up around the work bench and found this stepper and belt linear slide assembly that came from a printer. I had kept it to knock up a cheap x/y plotter, but I scrapped that idea and am building a CNC out of better stuff. It seemed like such a waste to destroy or scavenge the motor from it so I need some ideas of what to use this for. The stroke is about 350mm if something were to be attached to the belt, but theres no reason it can`t rotate continuously for something. I also have the metal strip that was used as a slide for the opposite side.

Some things I have thought of..

  • Robotic plant tender for a small rectangular indoor planter. Mount a mini robot arm and watering hose to the belt. Maybe a colour sensor to monitor strawberries or mini tomatos?
  • Digital ruler/cutting guide. Mount it into the bottom of a little hobby work table with a pot or buttons to select the size and a display? Could get some great accuracy.
  • Mobile floor printer. Attach a hopper and crude print head to the back of a robot and fill with flour. Print/make a mess?
  • Automated CD changer. Interfaced to the PC. Click a button for which CD/DVD and the machine takes care of it. Wouldn`t use it much though (image most of my games and rip most of my music). Could be cool for a standalone DVD player if I had one.

I`m leaning towards the planter right now since I like the feel of greenery in the room but can never remember to take care of it.

What do YOU think? Any ideas? Post them! The weirder and more wonderful the better! 



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Glue some glass shards onto it and make a chainsaw =D
Put a fan on the far end and make a wind-powered generator.
Insulate/replace the metal guide, add a few metal brushes and a topload to make a Van de Graaff generator.

OOOoo a van de graff generator might be cool! I`d have to replace the rollers or cover them with the right stuff. Might have to do some research on that.

My question is rather; given that this thing is rather large, how is it that you were "cleaning up" around your bench, and you "found" this? I gather that you were not so much "cleaning" as performing an archelogical dig???

So I thought that that the point of a stepper motor that it can be used to keep track of how far it has rotated, if you were to use it as a kind of "move something from a to b", then you could just have a regular motor with limit switches. With that in mind,Something I always want to build is an image scanner - This would be something that you have, say, a drawing of a printed circuit board (just in ink, or an etched one), and the reader scans across it, reading the light levels which are piped over to a CNC machine directly (which can then etch a new board, or make a copy of the drawing, or whatever...So really what I'm suggesting is just another CNC, but it's dedicated for image-scanning the output of it can be understood by your "real" CNC which can produce a copy of it on the fly. You could, I suppose, just attach an outrigger to your "real" CNC so that it can do this anyhow.....

Alternatively, I'd make a robotic puppet show....



Err well it was under the 3 in 1 printer chassis that I pulled it from and promptly forgot. It`s just finding the time to break this plastic crap down into small enough pieces to fit in the burnables bin :) Stupid rubbish system in Japan..

You mean like a 3D photocopier?! That would be cool. CNC plugged into a 3D scanner. I had seen the 3d scanners lots of people made from steppers using lasers. Interesting stuff!

I haven't figured out the burnables/nonburnables yet - as far as I know - plastic is not burnable....?? Fortunatly, we also don't know where to put our rubbish, so we find the nearest big junk dump, and turf ours in - they can't catch us if we're random!.. (not random by choice, random by lazyness...).

I was really talking about just a 2-d scanner, but one that had an output that would pipe directly to a synchronised plotter/CNC machine. but - I guess a 3d system would be great!,  but I don't think you really need a 3-d capability for it, especially if you used a laser and camera:



Edit; Blah.. I realised too late that you actually mentioned lasers already - serves me right for trying to read LMR at work..

How about a really awsome electric lamp. I like lighting and making lamps interactive so it seems the stepper control could be used to raise/ lower or adjust the height of the bulb.

Come up with a really cool method of controlling the height.

Maybe somthing non contact? IR sensors or something so you wave your hand at it and it raises and lowers or tilts to a better position. program it so a very breif interuption turns it off so you just flick your hand at it and go to bed!

 Endless posibilities, it would be like having the force! :P 

I used a series of reed switches in a wooden base to control a lamp for a uni project once.

I put a magnet in an aluminium pebble and sliding it around on the base turned the bulbs on and off, but hands free control would rock!