Getting more throttle resolution from an old RC Controller.

I have been flying my tricopter around lately, and have been getting a bit better at not running it into things. However, one thing in particular has been bugging me about the my controller for the tricopter. The throttle stick resolution has felt really low, especially when compared to a friend's newer and nicer controller. When flying it around at the Makery there was about one notch of difference between it barely skidding around the floor, and heading straight to the ceiling.

So, tonight I took it apart to see what I could do about getting finer control out of it.  It turns out there is just a small spring arm with a bump at the end riding on notches molded on the back of the joystick. I believe this is pretty standard from what I’ve seen online.

This is one of the times where having a 3D printer, and knowing how it works pays off. I needed a very specialized piece with several notches running up a curved surface. This immediately reminded me of the surface that 3D printers make as they lay down each layer of an object. So I took a few measurements, fired up the 3D modeling software and made a “cap” that will sit on top the current notches, so that the spring rides on it instead. You will notice that the 3D model has a perfectly smooth surface, but we get the ridges that it needs by setting the layer height for the printer.  I measured the old notches at .5mm on center, so I set the layer height to .3mm for the first try.

After trying to print one by itself, and having it end up all blobby and malformed, I remembered to turn the “cool” setting on in Slic3r,  and put five of them on a plate to make sure they have time to cool between layers. I also turned the fan on, which I believe is why they all came detached from the build platform halfway through the print. After turning that off and trying it again, 3 out of the 5 finished properly, and I was able to test it out. It worked great! The new piece fit right over the top of the old piece and the spring lined up perfectly on top.

It turned out to be a great improvement over the original. The ridges were smaller and more rounded, which gave it a lighter feel, but the spring was compressed more, so it still felt like it was strong enough to hold position. And most importantly, it had better resolution, and I can fly it around without worrying so much about it running into the ceiling while indoors.

All in all it took about an hour from idea to completion. I would say it’s definitely worth trying this if your controller is like mine.


The Mendel is Alive!

We have finally gotten the Makery Mendel to print properly!

So far we have printed a huge camera mount to connect Kevin’s camera and bike. Also, we have made a couple of new gears and linear bearing mounts to upgrade the ‘bot.

However, we are in need of funding for more plastic. The roll of PLA we are using is almost out, and a new spool will be about $65 plus shipping.

Here are some pics of stuff printed so far. 🙂

Furnace crucible and tongs

Kevin was kind enough to bring down his nice crucible after I brought in my furnace body. The crucible is just barely small enough to fit inside the body with about 1/2″ clearance on either side.

I may try to increase this slightly, as the sides aren’t perfectly circular anyway.  I’m just not sure how to ream it out without destroying it.

So I spent an hour or so making a tool for the upcoming aluminum smelting sessions. :) I came up with a nice set of tongs that fit right around the body of the crucible. It fits nicely between the body and the sides of the furnace, but you sometimes need a bit of finagling to get it in, or out. All in all, it works pretty well.

I loaded it up with a bunch of aluminum scraps we have, as tightly packed as I could make them, and the tongs seem to hold it just fine.


Furnace at the makery

I was finally able to get my medium size furnace moved out of the shed, and into the Makery. This was used at my previous residence to melt aluminum with a waste oil burner I built from scratch. I have a feeling that it will eventually be converted to a propane, or propane/oil hybrid burner here at the space.


This is the inlet port that it cast right into the side. It takes a 1.5″ OD pipe and locks it into place with a small bolt tapped into the side.


A nice view of the inside, where there is a small plinth block to keep the crucible off the bottom, and the burner inlet with the venturi tip installed.


It has a chamber about 7.5″ Diameter and 8.5″ depth.



Saturday/Build Day

Well, nobody thought to take any pictures of the construction, so we only have a couple phone pics of the finished bench and tables. I think they came out pretty well.

Also, David supervising.


Has Tables and Benches

Got a few pics of the Space as it is currently.

There is a nice bench with some tools mounted to it, and a couple nice tables.