Intro to Fabrication - Week 4 - Rotating Display Platform TAKE 1

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From the outset I will say: my idea this week was ambitious to begin with. However it was an idea I had been playing with for a few weeks now as a possible Christmas gift for my brother so I decided to go for it (making things as gifts has been a theme in this class for me). My idea was to create an enclosure which would hold an Arduino nano, a 360 servo, an LED and a push button switch. When you plug in the nano, the servo would spin, rotating a display platform on top to hold a trinket of some kind. When the user pushes the button, it would illuminate the inside of the box, making the innards visible through the two way mirror panel in the lid.

My enclosure started as a metal tin from the container store. I first cut out the thin plastic window in the top so I could replace it with the mirrored acrylic. I then spray painted it, which I soon after learned was something I should have done much later (I ended up having to paint it again after cutting the holes in it). Both holes in the enclosure I made by first drilling and then using the nibbler; it worked but ended up turning out a bit messier than I would have liked. And the mirrored lid I made using the laser cutter after first doing a test with cardboard.

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All things considered, the enclosure construction itself went according to plan, and so did the beginning of the electronic construction. I tested all the components on a breadboard after writing a very simple code which kept the servo continuously spinning and turned on the LED when the button is pressed. While I was waiting for all my parts to arrive in the mail, I soldered the Nano to a perf board and successfully attached the servo so that it ran when the Nano was plugged in.

Then this afternoon I soldered the LED, and was going to test the circuit one more time before I attached the button. But it was my overexcitement that did me in - when I plugged in the Arduino, the LED flashed bright for a second and then the whole Arduino went dead. Based on on the clues (and input from Danny Rozin) it would appear that some stray wires were touching and I short circuited some component. I also made the mistake of soldering the microcontroller directly to the board, making it very difficult to get to the root of the problem or fix it.

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I intend on fixing this guy at some point before the holidays (I am committed to giving this as a present), but unfortunately this setback was just enough to keep me from getting the whole thing working this week.

fabStefan Skripak1 Comment