A Fountain of a Different Flavor

18 07 2008

Couldn’t resist thinking about engineering this decadent display at the Bellagio. Read about it here. The chef says it works just like a water fountain…hmmm…laminar chocolate anyone?


Servo Tests

31 05 2008
I thought I would check out Servo motor to make the mechanical cutoff valve for the laminar nozzle. I picked up the cheapest one I could find at a regular old hobby shop. The long and the short of it is I am very impressed with servo motors. They are very simple to use and need little to no extra components to run them. I was quickly able to get it to turn to the desired location.
The setup is really quite simple. I have a PIC Microcontroller 16F690. In order to program the PIC I am using Proton Development Suite. The code is fed to the microcontroller via a programmer by Microchip, PICKIT(TM) 2. I have a board that came with the PICKIT 2 that contains the microcontroller and some LED’s and other peripherals. The servo is hooked to GND, +V, and Pin 12 (RC2). The servo has a PUSH/PULL rod which enables the cutter lever (a drilled out CD) to open and close the nozzle. The cutter lever is attached to the nozzle.

Note: For those of you following along at home there is NO water in this test. The code is very simple due to the wonderful software that I am using.

Results: The servo performed exactly how it should. I was able to get it to move to several different positions. I recorded some of the results. Just so you know, it’s really hard to record and talk at the same time. I can do calculus, but I can’t talk in front of a camera!

Setting up the servo was really easy. All it required was to hook it up via the header pins (I think that’s what they are called let me know if you know). It was simple to get it to the proper position all that was required was to send the proper pulse which the software took care of and the servo moved to the desired position.

The simulation could have been better. Holding the servo by hand was difficult and as a result the cutter lever was never positioned over the opening. Conclusions I don’t know if the servo will be fast enough, but I think with some tweaking I’ll be able to get it to work. I’d like to use servos because the additional electronics involved are minimal. However, servos are slower than solenoids.

A very special thanks to my wife for believing in me and helping me get started on this journey!

Mab Laboratory

19 05 2008

I always wanted to be an evil genius. I have TWO main problems with that:

First, I’m not very mad. I’m not mad in either sense of the word. I’m not an angry person, nor am I crazy. At least, I don’t consider myself mad.

Second, I’m not a genius. That’s the real bummer. =( I keep trying to come up with something really creative, that everyone wants, that takes no money to start, and let the royality checks come rolling in, but that hasn’t happened yet.

I am, however, very passionate about engineering, building, creating, and being creative, and as such this leads me to one of my favorite things to do PROJECTS! This blog will be a tribute to both success and failure of my projects. Hopefully there will be more of the former and less of the latter.

Welcome and enjoy your stay. Please comment on anything you like or make suggestions that you have for billion dollar ideas.