Sunday, November 14, 2010

Building A Reprap, pt. 2 (Motors)

Part one of this series is here.

You know what a motor is. But you may now know what a stepper motor is. A stepper motor is a motor where an exact, precise, jolt of electricity will rotate the shaft one complete revolution. This is very useful for when you need to move something in a measured manner, like say, a printer. The Reprap will use several of these.

The NEMA 14 stepper motor
In order to send those precise jolts of electricity, you have your computer (in this case an Arduino Mega) send a signal to a stepper motor driver. A stepper motor driver is yet another tiny circuit board covered in handy bits of electronics. (My astonishingly small familiarity with these technologies allows me to use these complex technical terms.)

I will be using Pololu A4983 stepper motor drivers.

Now that you  have background, here's what I worked on Saturday:
  1. Converted the loose wire ends on the motors to convenient plugs (x4 motors).
  2. Soldered the driver boards together (x4 drivers).
  3. Programmed the Arduino Mega to talk to the Reprap software.

Before Pictures:
Pre-solder driver

During Pictures:
Lots of little bits to connect.

The USB cable is connected to a netbook which is programing this Arduino.

After Pictures:

Wires now a plug.

Driver, post solder. I'll try to get a better picture of this later.