Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Electronic Leadscrew Control Panel

A year ago I started making an electronic leadscrew for the Taig lathe, which is a leadscrew coupled to a motor. The motor is controlled by a computer of some description. Generally an electronic leadscrew is used on an otherwise manual lathe, to allow threading or automatic feed.

Design goals:
  • Keep a simple user interface
    • No electronic displays
    • Unambiguous if something isn't working as it should
    • Intuitive
  • Build it well
    • Reliable connectors and enclosure
I designed this panel in CAD and paid Ponoko to cut/engrave it out of acrylic.

I'm right handed, so the most used buttons went on the right (9, 10, 11). With the three selector switches (6, 7, 8) and two-digit thumbwheel switches (5), the user can choose just about any metric pitch, any inch pitch, and a wide range of feed rates. Part of the project was a precise limit switch to stop the lathe carriage, indicated by the 'limit' light (3).

You can view the panel components here.

Below is a panel with screw 'holes'. Being laser cut, I also sized the holes differently in case the above panel was too tight/loose.

I mostly abandoned this project after being honest with myself: I hardly ever need to cut single-point threads. For my own purposes, I can usually just use a threading die or modify a screw.

I think it was a good lesson in not buying stuff. Despite the project never being finished, I like what I made.

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