Friday, November 16, 2018

3D Printed Camera Slider With Stabilizer Is Completed

I am very happy to report this morning that I put the finishing touches on my 3D printed camera slider with a new stabilizer arm. This along with a little more tweaking of the electronics finished out the project very nicely.  With the electronics I had missed putting in an on/off switch so the battery was being used even though the slider was not actually moving.  An oversite on my part.  So let me show you how it all turned out.

Here is the new setup.  With the addition of the stabilizer arm that extends from the right side of the camera slider to the tripod the slider now is no longer like a teeter-totter.  It has taken this flaw out of the slider and is now very rock solid.  This addition also was no extra cost to me other than a couple more 3D printed parts for the 3/4" x 16.5" long aluminum tubing to mount it along with a modification to the underside of the right side tripod mount for the slider. 

A key component that I luckily had in my stash of miscellaneous parts in the shop was this photography jaw clamp.  This is quickly and easily added or removed from the tripod and securely clamps to one of the legs.  Once I had discovered that I had this part it was just a simple task to work out the rest of the stabilizer in Fusion 360 and 3D print the needed parts.

Next I had to figure out where I should install the on/off switch for the electronics.  I originally wanted to mount it to the back side of the slider but this would involve possibly having to reprint the entire housing if it did not work right out of the box. If I drilled through this housing it could go all wrong and I would have had to reprint the housing which would take another 11 1/2 hours to make.  Not something I wanted to risk.  So instead I opted to putting the switch on the housing cover.

Again I already had the switch in my spare parts and it was back to Fusion 360 to make sure there were no issues inside the electronics housing.  I simply drilled out the hole for the switch, worked out a little more wiring, mounted the switch and label and called it good. With choosing the cover instead of the main housing for the switch I could risk messing it up by just drilling the hole for the switch. If it failed it would have taken a lot less time to reprint a new housing cover.  Now I know when I want to use the camera slider I will have a good battery when it is needed.

I wanted to add this image to my earlier post and forgot about it so I thought I would post it now.  This is a good image from Fusion 360 of the inside of the electronics housing.  At the very top of the housing is the geared 9V battery powered motor.  By the way works very well.  Inside the housing on the lower left you can see the 9V battery and inside the main cavity of the housing is the electronic circuit board that is the controller for the motor, motor direction and speed.

Lastly here is a good shot of the back of the electronics housing.  The large on/off/on switch  controls the movement of the camera slider for either left or right movement.  The knob just below this switch controls the speed at which the camera slider moves the camera along it's track.  

So that's about it. The plus side to the stabilizing arm for the slider is that I can adjust the camera slider up or down with the tripod center shaft. I only have to reposition the stabilizer arm on the tripod leg to make the slider rock solid once again after this movement.  All of which takes only a few seconds to accomplish.  It will be a nice piece of equipment that should help make some interesting video shots in the near future. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What A Bargin..... A $50 Mini Cooper Part For Three Cents!

As most of you already know I am a big fan of Mini Coopers and I am happy and proud to say that I own one.  A great little car that looks great, drives great, and gives me exceptional gas mileage.  With all of that what could be bad about it? Right?  Well I found out this week when I had a very small part disappear from my car.  On the drivers door handle of my 2014 Mini Cooper is a small plastic cover that hides the opening where a key would normally be used to open the door.  This opening on my car is still there it is just covered up and only used in case of an emergency where the battery powered remote had a dead battery and you still needed to open the door. The small plastic cover would be removed and then an actual key that is already built into the remote can be removed and used to open the car door.  To my surprise this week I found out that this little cover had gone missing. 

Somewhere in my travels over one day it simply fell off of the car. I did some searching only for the nearest Mini Cooper forum and sure enough this is a common occurrence. Other owners like me have been complaining about this part falling off of the car as well.  Not a good sign.  

So I called my local Mini Cooper dealership and inquired about this little plastic part that is no bigger than your thumb to see if I could get a replacement.  To my astonishment I was quoted a price of $48 (plus tax) for a grand total of $50 for a little plastic part.  I turned the offer down and told them that being a retired industrial designer and owning a 3D printer now was the order of the day.  The gentleman at the parts department agreed with me whole heartedly and so my mission for that day was clear.  Make a new part!

This is what my door handle looked like with the little plastic cover now missing.  Not a pretty sight to be sure. My original cover was black and so I had that bit of information to start.  The passenger 
door did not have this cover so I could get a good close look at it and possibly take measurements. So I had to start from scratch.

These images of chrome covers that I found online were exactly what I was looking for.  But no way was I willing to pay $50 for a piece of plastic around the size of your thumb!

Here's another good shot from online showing you exactly what kind of scale this part is to the car as well as someone's hand.  On one end of the cover is a small tab and the opposite end is a small raised bar.  All metal.

After three or four tries to get the outer cover shaped to match the handle I came up with what you see here.  I 3D printed the part and fit it to the opening in the door handle.  It looked to be right on for shape and size so I pressed on.

Here's view of the underside of the cover.  This had a simple "L" shaped configuration with a small wedge on one end.  To get the locking mechanism to work I printed the "L" shape without the cover first so I could see what was going on.  This again took several tries and so the last step was to combine these to parts into one.  This was a simple matter of using Fusion 360 CAD software and dialing in the part to have it print all in one piece.   Once I had the part 3D printed I wet sanded it smooth with 600 grit wet/dry  sand paper.  Then I primed the part as you see in the photos above.

After the primer had dried properly I wet sanded the outer face of the cover once again and finally added a couple of coats of gloss black spray paint.  

Lastly when the part had dried for 24 hours I took it out to my car and carefully slid the part into place with a nice steady pressure.  The part went "Click" and looks to be secure. Just to make sure that the new cover will not also disappear I added a very small amount of silicone sealer to one end of the underside of the cover. A very small amount.  I will keep my eye on my new cover over the coming weeks to make sure I have this all dialed in the way I want.  But for right now I think I have the best replacement part in the world when I can 3D print it and only cost me 3 cents instead of $50!  Plus the fact that if ever I should loose this one I can do a bit more tweaking to the design to improve upon it if I have to and reprint a new part in less than an hour.  Works for me every time!

Monday, November 12, 2018

3D Printed Motorized Camera Slider Project Nearly Completed!

Like most projects that are started and finished here at the workshop delays, changes, new ideas and what have you seem to creep into the original design. Not that this is all bad but when I start a project I always seem to want it to be finished faster than it actually takes. Sometimes this works out better than I hope for and other times worse.  

This has been the case with the 3D printed camera slider. But that is neither here nor there now that it is completed.  This has been an interesting project that has had many revisions in the design to improve it and make it easier to build and also use.  So I am happy now to show you the finished project and what it can do when shooting video.

Here is the motorized camera slider by itself without the tripod mount or video camera.  The camera slider is very light weight at only 2 pounds 6 ounces. The extruded aluminum rail is the key to the assembly which makes the slider very light weight and sleek looking.

In the upper photo you can see the enclosure for the electronics on the far right that make the slider move both left and right with a variable speed control.  All of this runs on one 9 volt battery.  In the bottom photo is the camera slider platform where a video camera or DSLR camera is mounted using a quick release mount. Under the platform are three rollers that are mounted in a "V" configuration and glide smoothly along the extruded aluminum rail by use of a small electric motor and attached drive belt.

Here's a good view of the control box for the camera slider. At the very top you can see the small battery powered motor that makes the slider move.  Next just below it is the double throw on/off/on switch to power up the slider and change directions either left or right.  Lastly at the base of the control box is a knob to control the speed at which the camera platform moves along the extruded aluminum rail.

At the opposite end of the camera slider is a simple guide wheel for the toothed belt that runs from the camera platform to the motor through the upper portion of the extruded aluminum rail around the guide wheel and then back to the camera platform. 

Here's a good shot of the camera slider tripod mount.  It took me a bit to get the center mount designed and 3D printed.  Ten and a half hours for the center piece alone. The tubing is 3/4 inch aluminum tubing and the end mounts as with the rest of the project have been 3D printed. The mount is very light weight so that is a plus with the project.

Here the camera slider is completely assembled with my video camera set up as well. At this point I still have to shoot some video to test out the assembly and the only issue I think I will have at this point is stability using a single center mount.  I will explain about this in a minute.  All the electronics that are inside of the control box on the right have been tested and everything works so far so that is a good sign. 

The center mount locks into the tripod nice and firm but I am still thinking about changing this to end up using either two tripods instead of one or having at least a stabilizing arm to support one of the far ends of the slider.  Mainly because of the weight of the control box on one side and the additional weight of the video camera or my DSLR camera I think I will have balance problems. The overall travel that the slider has is 28 inches.  This makes things a bit tricky with the camera weighing a couple of pounds and being moved to the far ends of the assembly.  Two tripods which I already  own will solve this issue in a quick hurry but would be a bit of a hassle to use when shooting. So I think a stabilizing arm will have to be incorporated into the design to solve all of this. 

The entire assembly looks very professional so that is a real plus with the camera slider. Total cost came to right around $60 which is a far cry from the cost of a professional camera slider that can run into the hundreds of dollars. I will take that any day.  

As I said earlier I have not had a chance shoot some video with this camera slider yet to show you what it does but I do have video that I shot some time back with another camera slider that I designed and built.  This will give you a good idea of how this equipment works and what the end result looks like.  Click the video below to check it out. 

I will be working on the stabilizer for the tripod mount over the next few days so stay tuned for that update.  As I said earlier about changes and delays in my projects? It's holding true to form on this project. This one has just a bit more fine tuning and then hopefully I can be completely happy with the end result.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dune Buggy Project Update

All kinds of things have been happening this week so I thought it best to get this post out before I loose track of what has been going on.  Progress has been made with acquiring the new dune buggy as I spoke with the owner yesterday and have exchanged addresses, phone numbers, etc. to seal the deal.  I will send off payment to the owner first thing tomorrow morning so that the process will proceed as planned. Then I will contact the shipping company and get the trucker lined up to pick up the new vehicle.  Hopefully it will be delivered in the next couple of weeks and I can get started dialing in the plans for the trunk enclosure.  

In my last post I had shown all of you what I had in mind for this enclosure or trunk and already this has been changed to eliminate some issues that have shown up.  This is how the first version looked that I posted last week. 

(Click on any image for a larger view)

The enclosure it self looks great in the images above but turned out to be unworkable once I laid it out in my CAD software.  The blisters behind the seats looks very cool but took up a lot of area on the rear deck that is needed for the trunk lid.  Simply put the trunk lid would end up being much smaller than I would like so the blisters had to go. 

 With the elimination of the blisters the rear trunk or deck looks a lot cleaner and will afford a much larger trunk lid that will open up between the roll bar supports that extend from the roll bar to the tail of the dune buggy.  The best guess I have for the size of the trunk lid would be roughly two foot by three foot in size.  Not overly large simply because the roll bar supports take up some of this area.  I will know more once I can measure the dune buggy itself to see what I can make work on this idea. 

To add a bit more detail to the design I thought a carbon fiber wrap would be a nice touch to add to the recessed areas of the deck. This would be a fairly simple task to accomplish and would be much cheaper than real carbon fiber inserts.

Here's a closer look at how the carbon fiber would look like in the deck panels for the dune buggy. I nice touch I think.

In this image from my Fusion 360 CAD software you can better see the layout of the panels that make up the enclosure for the new trunk for the dune buggy. The center panel would have two carbon fiber inserts and a center lock just like any other trunk of a car.  The two side panels would only have one panel of carbon fiber and be mounted to the rear of the dune buggy body at the mounting points that are used for the roll bar supports. 

The assembly for the trunk as shown above would be made up of four separate panels.  The three top panels that you see here along with a larger panel that is mounted just behind the roll bar at the floor of the dune buggy. In the image above you can see two "U" shaped mounts that hold the trunk face panel to the roll bar.  The center trunk lid would be hinged at the trunk face panel and the two smaller side panels would be bolted to it as well. 

Also on the front panel you can see a small rectangular door.  This would make a nice glove compartment that will also be lockable. Something that the dune buggy also does not have and would be a nice addition to the vehicle. 

These last to images that I created in Blender 3D software give you a good idea of how the dune buggy would look with  and without the rear trunk area added to it.  As I never planned on having a dune buggy with more that two seats the rear area looks much more finished with it being completely enclosed and allows me to have a lockable storage area should I need to haul something that I want to protect when the vehicle is left alone.  

That's the plan for now.  Lots of design work will need to be done once I have the vehicle in my hands but for now this portion of the design gives me some good ground work to lay it all out in the coming weeks.  Once I have the dune buggy  safely in my garage I will shoot more photos of it.  Then I will be able to get the correct measurements of the project and hopefully get started on this addition to the vehicle.  Should be interesting and fun all at the same time. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Fun New Vehicle For Me And Another New Project!

Lots of things as usual have been happening here at the workshop over the past couple of weeks to I thought it best that I get this post put out about all of it to let everyone know what is going on.  For many decades one of the vehicles that has always been on my wish list to own has been a dune buggy.  I have looked at, drooled over, and dreamt about owning one of these awesome little vehicles what seems like forever.  Well this past week this dream has finally come true.  For my 65th birthday which will be coming up soon I  bought my dream machine.

I came across this beautiful little buggy on eBay this past week and watched the auction that took place as only one person had placed a bid on it.  The "Buy It Now" price on the car was a bit higher than my limit so I did not place a bid to even start with the auction.  I waited to see what would happen at the end of the auction just to see if someone else would buy the car and I could put it out of my mind once again. This was not the case.

The auction ended with only one bid that did not meet the reserve price and with no one pressing the button to "Buy  It Now".  I thought about the car the next day and just for the heck of it I contact the seller, enquired about the reserve price and made an offer on it.  We talked on the phone that same day and agreed on a price that we could both live with and soon this little beauty will be parked in my garage.  I think mainly because like anyone else this time of year the car would be stored away until next spring and that is why the car did not sell on eBay in the first place.

So with my luck at being able to acquire the dune buggy of my dreams in the first place has been amazing to me to say the least.  This brings me to the second part of this post. Another new project.  The dune buggy will take at least a couple of weeks to be delivered to my house here in Wisconsin from Florida. This has given me time to make room for it to be safely tucked away in my garage until winter has come and gone and time to think about the new project that will be made for the little car.

As you can see from the photos above the dune buggy is set up with only two seats.  This is exactly what I want so with that and everything else in it I will be very pleased to be able to call it mine once I get it into my hands.  The project I have in mind for the dune buggy is to make an enclosed compartment that covers the area that is behind the seats.  This will make a nice storage area that can be locked if I have something with me that I want to protect when I am not with the car and it is parked somewhere without me. 

Here is what I have in mind for the enclosure covering the back of the dune buggy.  I modeled these images up using Blender 3D over a year ago so they are coming in handy now as reference material for the real thing. 

I like the idea of having blisters that are shaped just behind the seats.  I thought it looked really good.  The big issue of this project is being able to go around the roll bars that are mounted in the car.  The enclosure would obviously have to be made in sections in order to accomplish this task.  The fact that the dune buggy does not have a roof shows that this vehicle would not be taken out on a rainy day. I do the same with my motorcycle so that is the plan with the dune buggy.  With that being said the cover that goes over the back of the car would not have to be water tight.  This makes things a bit simpler for the project.  

This all looks good at this point but I will not be able to lock the design down until I get a mock-up made to fit the back of the car and then build it all in fiber glass.  I want to be able to have fairly large opening in the back to get things in and out of the enclosure and also be able to lock it securely it when it is parked. A lot of planning will have to be made to get it all worked out but I think it can be done.  

So that is the plan so far and I have the winter months to work it all out.  I will post more about the dune buggy and this project once it is in my garage and I am ready to tackle it head on.  Should be another fun project to work at. Have a good day on your latest project.