Isn’t it often the case that you spend more time setting up your tools with which you plan to be productive than actually being productive?!? Well, that is definitely the case here at NerdKits, where we recently acquired a Smithy 1220XL lathe / mill combo machine. While getting acquainted with the machine, we noticed the calibrated dial ticks on the Z-axis were far too coarse to get the precise cuts we knew the machine was capable of making. So, in order to improve our machine, we created a digital read out for the axis by using a cheap digital caliper and a NerdKits Microcontroller Kit. The digital read out (DRO) uses the information from the calipers to display the current position of the cutting tool on the LCD. This project brings a lot of neat concepts together, including a few mechanical design concepts, the use of buttons and switches with microcontrollers, and even level shifting circuits to read the signals from the small digital calipers. As always, we documented every single part of the project, including explanations of the higher level concepts, physical construction, and source code. Even if you aren’t into power tools and cutting metal, there’s a lot to learn from this project on the electronics and programming side!
Digital Calipers DRO (Digital Read Out) – [Link]