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Biannual update – Engineering on the fly

Engineering on the fly has been the go to mantra over the last six months or so. We have iterated a few times on our original designs as we progress through the build, encountered problems that were somewhat unknowable at the time and adjusting to suit as we needed. This has made the assembly a much more enjoyable experience overall, as it doesn’t require meticulous over engineering and simulation beforehand. So far the redesigns have been pretty manageable, but the most recent problem has been the trickiest to solve. Once we got the end effector (the moving component that holds
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New servo drives

I’ve now spent hours on research into all the different combinations of servo motors and drives on the market at the moment. Places like AliExpress helped to narrow down what was even available, though I didn’t buy from there in the end. Identifying all the pros and cons of the differing motor types wasn’t easy, but if I’m going to invest a lot of money it had better be the right one or at least close enough. The most suitable motor drive combination for the delta rig motors worked out to be 1.3kW (8.27Nm) servo drives, which operate on mains voltage
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So where were we?

It has been quite a while since the last update, but that’s mostly due to the ongoing development taking up the limited spare time I have. Progress was definitely being made on the Impulse portal. Last update I wrote about the beginnings of the linear actuator design. It has since been fully developed and tested. I made a closed loop PID controller that turned into a fairly powerful linear actuator. It could move rapidly under load and provide data feedback about variables like velocity, acceleration, jerk, etc. I used this bench test to see how far I could push the selected
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Multi-project-itis Part 2

We have had a bit more time to spend in the workshop lately, which is great. Here are some updates to the previous 3 projects: The Impulse Portal: Yet another design change, better now than later. It’s not a major change, but we thought the roller / truck assembly was a bit over engineered and as a result would be very time consuming to build and maintain. The roller coaster analogy has been dropped in favour of a simple roller bearing / linear slide translation method. A quick and dirty test build worked much better than anticipated. The ball nut was
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Multi-project-itis

It’s time for a bit of blog attention I think. My multi-project-itis has really kicked in and I have been on tangents all over the place, unfortunately none of them were blogging. Right now there are 3 projects taking up workshop space: The Impulse Portal: The prototype is still chugging along as we delve into the next major engineering hurdle, moving the chair. Using the small scale prototype as the functional baseline, we have been looking for the most effective method of power transmission for this particular application. Without wanting to commit too much time and resources on a structure that
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Onwards and upwards

While we toil away on the Impulse Portal in the background, I have managed to finally pen down the grand vision of Phobos Industries. The vision wasn’t nearly as linear as I expected, but it all the more complete for it’s complexity. It includes many of the disciplines we are trying to learn and work with, but also details the possible business outcomes at the completion of each stage. It might seem overly ambitious, but if you don’t aim for the stars you will always stay on the ground. And where’s the fun in that? The first step is always
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Introducing… The Homer!

We have fabricated a monstrosity of a chair rig with multiple attachment points, future slide rail locations and an over the top temporary high frame (held down by bags of concrete). We call it “The Homer”. This is of course a “lets see if this works” kind of rig at the moment, and we have already found a few things which need a redesign or workaround. Definitely version 0.1. Getting the harness attachment points set up (with added realism): This first try left a few of the buckles in awkward positions however. So as a result, new attachment points were added
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Brainstorming and planning

We will be hosting a brainstorming session shortly to hash out some of the design details regarding the Impulse Portal. Some topics of discussion: The need for a better website (lets face it, this one is a little bit rubbish…) Ideas for generating an early income stream Potential sales pitch formats for gathering investors The expansion plan for after the first Impulse Portal is complete The need for updated content on this website Further to this is a desire to decide on some of the finer design choices regarding the machine itself. Calculations are required to figure out the motor
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Functioning Delta Chair

The delta chair prototype is working well. Most of the bugs have been worked out, so now we have a solid foundation to build the full size from. Some next steps will include using game data to drive the rig directly, acceleration and deceleration, testing the idea of sending force data instead of position data. But here it is in action: The delta chair and the rotating rig have been combined onto one controller, and the cabling has been tidied up. But the rubber bands holding the slip rings in place have deteriorated over time and will need to be
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The full size build begins!

The original plan was to build a 1:5th scale model and work up from there. After we worked through the required parts and stages it became clear that the best way forward was to just build it, full size. Some calculations of parts and materials came up with motors and controllers as the most expensive items. Steel and aluminium is relatively cheap, we already have the workshop, the same tools are needed for both full and small scale versions. So the decision was made. But where to start. We have 2 major size constraints in mind: the chair at the centre
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