Computerized Index Wheel

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by billooms, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. billooms

    billooms

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    I've published two videos on YouTube that show how to make a computerized index wheel. You can have any number of holes and easily create unique patterns. Although I developed this for ornamental turning work, it will definitely come in handy for people doing open segmented work (or any other aspect of turning that needs indexing). One person has already implemented this approach on an MDF Rose Engine.

    The first video shows how I mounted a stepper motor to my JET mini-lathe:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqoIk6IRizY

    The second video shows how to use the software that I developed for Macs, PCs, or Linux computers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHpQbDNsyfU

    Parts list (along with sources for parts) is on my web site at:
    http://cornlathe.billooms.com/indexer.html
     
  2. dmann

    dmann

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    Very impressive. Thanks for sharing the info and software!
     
  3. Darryl Fective

    Darryl Fective

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    Very cool stuff!

    I took the low-tech route (something more my speed) and used a flywheel ring gear to make an indexing wheel. I might have to look into this kind of a setup, though.
     
  4. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Outstanding work, Bill. This is something that perfectly fits my needs for my Native American Basket Illusion turnings. Currently, I am using DeltaCAD to lay out a full sized template, print it out on a large format printer, and then mark the divisions on the perimeter, and finally use a flexible straightedge to mark the lines. It is a very slow and tedious process. I can envision that with the stepper and using the toolrest as a straightedge that I would be able to do in minutes what now takes hours. Of course, I need to consider the time to enter the necessary parameters in the software, but that seems to be straightforward.

    On the second video, at the six minute point when you go to your shop, the screen has a strong moire pattern. I am assuming that must be due to pointing the video camera at the computer monitor. Is there some way using your shop computer to capture the screen video? Everything is clearly visible and this is just a nit.
     
  5. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Man I would love to do that but having only one computer and it's in my office it wouldn't be practical.
     
  6. Hal Taylor

    Hal Taylor

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    Fascinating stuff. Thanks Bill.
     
  7. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    This sounds amazing, clever, and useful!

    Hey, have you considered writing a version for the Android tablet? The guy who made a do-it-yourself DRO for milling machines and metal lathes decided a tablet would be a lot easier than a computer to use in the shop. He calls it TouchDRO - there's a big following on Google+. People have made brackets that position the tablet near the machine and use the touch features of the tablet for all control. His tablet sofware communicates to the sensor hardware with an off-the-shelf Bluetooth module plugged into an Arduino, which interfaces with the hardware. Very cool! I built one and it was almost trivial from the user's perspective. Android tablets are so cheap now that almost everyone using this DRO just gets one and dedicates it to that one use. This method solves the sometimes cumbersome problem of positioning and using a laptop in a messy shop!

    JKJ
     
  8. Douglas Ladendorf

    Douglas Ladendorf

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    That is super cool Bill. Looks like most of us are a bit late to the thread but I love this. Great solution, and stuff I didn't know about.

    Doug
     
  9. James Seyfried

    James Seyfried

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    Thank you for sharing this Bill! I have made it my goal for this year to make a computerized Index wheel for my shop. If I am successful with that I'll give the CORN lathe a go!

    Also, I really admire the phenomenal work you do on a lathe.
     
  10. billooms

    billooms

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    It's good to see this old thread come back to life! As they say "what goes around comes around" (pun intended).

    For those of you who want more information, look back at my presentation from the 2012 AAW Symposium. A copy of the hand-out is at:
    http://www.billooms.com/Resources/AAW/OomsAAW2012.pdf
    Also, see the article I wrote in the June 2011 issue of American Woodturner:
    http://www.billooms.com/OrnamentalTurning_AAWJUN11_LR.pdf
    (both reprinted by permission of the American Association of Woodturners)

    Details of the Indexer Software and mounting a stepper motor can be found at:
    http://software.billooms.com/indexer.html
    http://cornlathe.billooms.com/indexer.html

    This software is no longer supported by me. Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, and Phidgets make changes faster than I can keep up with them.

    The source code for this software is available to anyone who wishes to make their own changes or modify it for their own purposes. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, version 3 of the License. It was developed using the NetBeans interactive development environment which is available for free. To download the source code, see:

    https://github.com/billooms/Indexer.git (and be sure to read the README file).

    There is no good reason to avoid putting a computer in your shop. Our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells old refurbished computers for around $50 (including a flat screen monitor). I recently "upgraded" my shop computer to a used (but newer) Mac Mini that I bought on eBay for around $350.

    I've considered running the software from a tablet (or smart phone), however the main issue is that on most tablets there is no USB output. You need some kind of output from the tablet to drive the electronics. Yes, there is a USB charger connection, but you generally can't connect some external device (like a printer or a USB thumb drive) to that port. There are only a few newer tablets that have that capability. The Bluetooth/Arduino idea is probably beyond the average woodturner's ability to get working. Furthermore, on Apple tablets and phones you can only run software that you buy through Apple's store. You can't run software that you buy from someone else.

    Anyone who is actively building some hardware can email me directly for additional thoughts and comments.

    Have fun!
    Bill
     
  11. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Bill. I have a garage computer that is running on XP which is just fine foe a stand-alone shop machine which only needs to run DeltaCAD and an obsolete version of Photoshop. Microsoft hasn't supposed it nor provided security patches in several years. Would your software be compatible with an old machine like that?
     
  12. billooms

    billooms

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    Bill -- The compiled version on my website was compiled on a 64-bit computer with Windows7 and Java8. I don't recall if Java8 runs on Windows XP or not. I suggest you download whatever is the latest version of Java that runs on your XP computer and then give the software a try. You can see if it runs without having to connect up the external motor and hardware. If it doesn't work, you'll have to have someone re-compile the program for the older computer.
     
  13. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the additional information, Bill. I'll need to check to see what version of Java is on my XP computer. My main computer which is primarily for graphics processing is a 64-bit Windows 7 computer over-clocked and fully pimped out. It has Java 8 update 75 which is the latest release. I'll give the software a try on both machines. This could be the excuse that I am looking for to upgrade my garage computer.
     
  14. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Successful First Step

    OK, I have made a first baby step. I downloaded and installed the Indexer Wheel software on my 64-bit Windows 7 PC which has Java 8 installed. I was in too much of a hurry to view the tutorial videos, so I just started playing around with it and created and saved two new indexer templates ... 25 holes and 50 holes. My next step is to see if it will run on my old Windows XP computer ... Java version unknown at this point.

    After this brief bit of hands-on, I will say that the software GUI seems reasonably intuitive ... at least from an engineer's perspective. I haven't looked yet at what it takes to set up the parameters for the motor controller. Looks like time to start perusing flea bay.
     
  15. billooms

    billooms

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    Sounds good.
     
  16. James Seyfried

    James Seyfried

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    Me too.

    I got no controller and it's breaking my heart,
    but I got a stepper motor and that's a start!
    Beeb beeb'm beeb beeb yeah! :cool:
     
  17. James Seyfried

    James Seyfried

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    Computerized Indexer Build

    I’ve made some progress on this project. This gave me another reason to get a midi lathe, so I took advantage of the recent Jet sale and bought a 1221vs. As previously mentioned I bought a stepper motor on Ebay. I got a couple of Molex connectors from Ebay also. The controller and MXL pulleys are from the sources Bill Ooms lists on his website. Rummaging through parts I have, I found a 5v 1a power supply and a cover. Here are some pictures of what I done so far.

    stepper-mtr1137.jpg
    The leads from the stepper motor were long enough that I cut them in half and soldered the pins for the Molex connector on the motor leads and then six for the controller. I used some plastic tubing that I had to protect the wire; I think it was medical oxygen tubing. The alligator clips sure helped to solder the pins on the wires. I think next time it will help if I will drink less coffee before hand. ☺

    IMG_1138.jpg
    Here are both plugs completed and connected to controller per instructions provided by Bill Ooms website.

    IMG_40.jpg
    I had a small plastic electrical box and a piece of plastic (HDPE?) to mount and protect the control module. It came with USB connector. The small MXL pulley needed to be drilled out slightly to fit the shaft. The source that had the larger pulley didn’t have 20 tooth one with a ¼†hole and I didn’t want to buy from two places and pay shipping twice. I drilled out the aluminum insert on the 130 tooth one and mounted it in a chuck to make it fit my lathe.

    IMG_41.jpg
    I think the new model lathe has a slightly different hand-wheel than Bill’s has, as it didn’t seem like I would be able to thread it on enough with the addition of the pulley. So I decided to position the pulley on the wheel. The MXL pulley was solid plastic and cut nicely. I must of lucked out sizing the pulley to my hand-wheel, as it was a pressed fit. I can’t move it by hand so I might just leave it without epoxying it.

    IMG_47.jpg
    After checking the sizes of belts available at McMaster-Carr, I decided it was a good idea to see what might work. I taped up some speaker wire the approximate size of a belt to see how it would fit. I think I'll order a belt so I'll have it on hand before I put on the mounting brackets.

    The back of this lathe is different than Bill’s so I plan on mounting a bracket on the bottom similar to the top one. I also don’t have any end mills to make the slots or recesses in the mounting brackets so I sketched up the brackets and emailed them to a machinist friend of mine to make them for me.

    I suppose I should download Bill’s software, hook up the motor to a computer and see how it works while I’m waiting for the brackets.

    That’s all for now.
     
  18. Douglas Ladendorf

    Douglas Ladendorf

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    Looks like a great start Jim. Looking forward to the rest.

    Doug
     
  19. billooms

    billooms

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    Jim --

    You should be able to download and install the software and run it with the motor sitting on your desk. You can watch the stepper motor turning while you play with the software and get to learn it. I like your little blue box.

    I've looked at the 1221 (which is a great little lathe) and you're right that the hand wheel is different. Just make sure that however you mount the large pulley that it's as perfectly centered as you can make it. Otherwise, if the pulley is slightly off-centered the belt will get tighter and looser as the spindle rotates.

    Bill
     
  20. James Seyfried

    James Seyfried

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    Works like a charm

    Thanks for the tip Bill! I used the Nova soft jaws and made a recess just smaller than the 130mm pulley. I checked the pulley with a dial indicator and it was very accurate, I must have gotten lucky.

    nova-chuck.jpg

    I wasn't so lucky with drilling out the small one though. When I was testing it as you mentioned, I could see that it was off center so I ordered one with the belt. I got them from Designatronics.com because they had the size belt that I wanted.

    My machinist friend had some steel stock that would work and made the parts per the drawing I emailed him. This is the way I made it. I had both top and bottom brackets made the same. I used a magnet to hold the bracket to locate the holes to tap. I probably should have put something in the headstock to get a reference of level, but I thought that the bed was probable fairly parallel with the spindle and it seems to be.

    bracket.jpg

    The support arm is made out of the same stock as the brackets and the weight is just about enough to tension the belt. I still will probably find the right size spring, but for now a couple of rubber bands do fine.

    step_mtr.jpg

    I was able to download the software necessary on my newer Macbook and had the motor working before I mounted it. But I couldn't find the java that would work on the older one in the shop. I was going to upgrade the OS so it could use the newer version, but couldn't remember my Apple password. So I went to the house and took the newer out to the shop and it all worked like a charm! :cool:

    step_wr.jpg

    Now I just got to get out there and make something. I have been busy for a week on another project.
     

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