With the amount of information freely available online we can learn new things every single day. We wanted to create a working miniature tower crane with motors but had no clue how to do this. So we got some stepper motors, some buttons and an Arduino to control it all and proceeded to learn how to code. We studied different codes and used the Adafruit forums to ask questions and find out how to get these buttons and motors to talk to each other to do what we want. Within a week we learned how to code and made a basic prototype that worked!
We then hopped into SOLIDWORKS to create our crane. With this we also had no clue how it was going to look and how everything was going to work. We designed this on the fly and went with the flow. We would build something and if we felt it wouldn’t work we used the roll back feature and the history tree to help us go back and make changes as we went.
We added the assets of all the motors in so we could design around them. We built it from the base up, working out how we were going to assemble as we build the model. The whole crane was printed and assembled using nuts and bolts only. No glue has been used to hold the crane together.
Once we finished the crane we attached the motors and got the whole crane ready to be connected. We then assembled the control unit and wired everything up. We then connected up the motors and it all worked except the rotating motor in the base. The motor wasn’t powerful enough to rotate the crane. We tried to solve the problem with new hardware by changing out the motors. That didn’t work. We then tried to solve the problem with software, we tried different code and adding more power to the motor. This didn’t work either. We then used SOLIDWORKS to engineer the problem by using gears. This solved our problem!
The crane worked exactly how we wanted it to. A few software upgrades and it can be better but we are super happy with the result and we learned so much with this. The Arduino communities, the 3D printing community and the SOLIDWORKS communities all have something in common. They exist to help the users. They are there to get information and to learn from each other and all three of these communities are entwined with each other and many links can be found. This project shows that we used Arduino to program and drive the crane, we used 3D printing to design it and 3D printing to create the crane. These communities are a place for learning and sharing. Learn from each other but also share your experiences as you might be teaching someone new in the community.