Construction

Materials needed for a 16 squared, 50 x 50 cm grid: 

  • MDF (medium density fibre board)- box frame, grid slots
  • 16 Micro Servo 9g Motors
  • Arduino Mega + connective wires
  • 16 mirror tiles 10x10cm
  • 2mm wire (to mount tiles to grid and attach tiles to motor)
  • 6 Gauge screws 40mm long
  • Wood to mount motors 4x2x2.5cm
  • Cable ties 2.5mm
  • Double sided foam tape
  • PVA glue
  • Hot glue gun
  • Breadboard pinhead connectors

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16 Micro Servo 9g Motors

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2mm wire and pliers

Equipment needed:

  • drill + various sized drill bits
  • pliers
  • drill press
  • smoldering iron

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Cost of materials:

  • MDF $100
  • Micro Servo 9g Motors $50
  • Mirrors $40
  • Accessories (wires, screws, small cable ties) $20

Materials sourced from:

  1. The place where I bought the MDF material was Joes DIY Unanderra. When I first explained what I wanted to them they all laughed and thought I was crazy! They have the most helpful staff which collaborated with me on the design of the frame and grid which they then proceeded to cut for me.  I did have to wait 3 days for it to be ready but the wait was definitely worth it. They cut not only the pieces of wood to size but also created holes which indicated where needed to be drilled, cut out the slots ready for it to slide into each other and even created indents where the wood would sit into itself when constructed. This was lucky for me because I do not possess the tools to do all this and it also saved me A LOT of time!

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2. The mirror tiles were cut by Langson Glass. I told them that I would like 16 tiles, all 10 x 10cm each and made from a glass mirror and they said no worries and within the hour they were ready for me. A highly professional and efficient business!

3. Bunnings Wollongong provided me with a one stop shop for all other goods such as wiring, screws and cable ties.

4. My tutor linked me to Deal Extreme, the website where he purchases his electronic parts from. I found the price of the individual motors $4.85, to be decent and the shipping was a lot faster than excepted. It ships from China and it said to expect up to 3 weeks for shipping but mine arrived within 7 days. This is the link for which exact motors I bought.

Process:

Before I bought anything, I first made a prototype to ensure that the movements and everything were suitable to the materials and measurements in mind.  At first I played with an electro-magnetic pully system whereby an electrically charged current (programmed into the Arduino) would go through magnets on the tiles to push and pull the tiles but there was not enough charge on the wire coil. This could have been over come by wrapping more wire around but A LOT more was needed and therefore I deemed this way of moving the tiles to be redundant.

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Tile not attached but this is the wire coiled around a makeshift foundation to hold the tile.

From this grew the idea of using a solid wire to connect the motor and the tile. It would ask as a push and pull hook and it proved to be very successful!

Next:

Motor stands:

  • Get your 4x2x2.5cm wood and drill a hole halfway through the wood. Drill the the 2×2.5cm bottom so a screw can connect it with the backing (should be vertical from the bottom)
  • Also drill a hole completely through the 4x2cm side (it should be horizontal)
  • Use double sided foam tape to make sure the motors stay in position and use small cable ties to secure them in place.
  • Use PVA glue to position stands and use a screw to secure.

 

Tiles:

  • So this part was a time of trial and error!!!
  • My first attempt I bent wires and used a hot glue gun to attach them to the back of the mirror tiles.
  • I created a dent in the wire so the wire used to push and pull the wires could connect but due to human error, I couldn’t get all the dents the same and so the push and pull wires would slip behind out of place and therefore it was consistent and reliable.
  •  After this I tried using wooden clothes pegs broken in half. They already had a pivot out of them perfect for the wire to sit in and then I just drilled another small hole below for the push and pull wires to sit in. I used super glue to attach the wood to the tile and after trying this out with the motors moving the tiles, I found it to be a lot smoother and reliable in the long term function.
  • The tiles are connected to the grid via a wire that goes across the entire length of one row (4×4)

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Construct frame:

  • Because Joe’s DIY in Unanderra had cut all my wood to size and shaped it for easy construction, putting the grid and frame together were no hassle at all. The issue in this section lies in the intricacies of the individual boxes.
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  • Before you slot the grid pieces together, I’ve learnt that the best approach is the attach the motors prior, as well as the connector wire which attaches the tiles/motors – this lessens the fiddly handy work later on

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Wiring:

  • The next step looked daunting due to the amount of wires used but really it is one simple task done 16 times.
  • First decide which side you would like them all to come to one – the side where your Arduino will sit – for me it was the top so I turned the structure upside down so it was easier to slot the motor wires through the drilled holes in the frame. When upright, my Arduino was sitting on top at the back and then my motion sensor was attach with double sided tape to the front of the top row.

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  • Next attach all the servo motor wires in one vertical column together by the same 3 colours. Just make sure that each yellow is connected to the other yellows of the same column otherwise it won’t work. For this I smoldered individual wires on to rows of breadboard pinheads which I cut into sections of 4.

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  • Next I smoldered the ends of the coloured wires onto a row of 16 breadboard pinheads. This part will fit into the breadboard of the Arduino and ultimately give the servo motors signals to move. When choosing which wire the grid connects to goes to which of the 16 pins, I did it randomly because I wanted my tiles to move in a random pattern. If you want to program which tile exactly moves individually, then make sure you smolder the wires in the order the grids are.

 

Attach Arduino:

  • Final step in construction is to attach the Arduino!!!
  • Put the 16 row breadboard pinheads into the ‘Digital’ pin section of the Arduino Mega.
  • Connect the motion sensor pins (red and grey twisted wires) in the same row as the red and black signal wires.

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