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High-Tech Pneumatic?

A place to ask general spud cannon related questions.
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High-Tech Pneumatic?

Unread postAuthor: HaiThar » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:14 pm

Alright, I know this may seem a bit off the wall, but has anyone ever tried using a microcontroller to control a spudgun? I'm not the biggest tech expert, but looking at what you can do with basic commands, it honestly looks rather on the easy side....Are there any techies on these forums who'd like to give their input? If I do do this project, it won't be until I get sufficient funds, but the look I'll be going for is High-Tech. I'll have an LCD Readout Display with Wind Speed, Chamber Pressure, using a pair of servos to control the horizontal and vertical movements of the barrel, maybe even a way to control the regulator perhaps?...

Does anyone know if it has been, or can be done? Again, it looks rather on the expensive side...

Again, thoughts and comments are appreciated.
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Unread postAuthor: benstern » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:24 pm

Yes! In fact I have an example in my spudgun montage I made:
at 1:29 and 1:34

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdnIwcTS-nM[/youtube]
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Unread postAuthor: mtronic » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:41 pm

wow :twisted: I loved that vid!!!!! Best bits were the slow mo pcs being shot out from under each other :D
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Unread postAuthor: HaiThar » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:41 pm

That is very nice, very similar to what I am looking for.
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Unread postAuthor: Hailfire753 » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:58 pm

Haha, great vid!

BTW mtronic, I like your advatar. Salad Fingers is the scarriest flash movies around!
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Unread postAuthor: singularity » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:59 pm

micro controllers are dirt cheap, so are the supporting components, and the programmers can be made from old pc parts. the expensive parts are going to be the servos/sensors i would bet you could find most of them dumpster diving so long as you know what to look for. it wouldn't be hard to control the horizontal and vertical movements with some dead cd drives (they use stepper motors)i don't know where to find the wind speed or pressure sensors.
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Unread postAuthor: HaiThar » Fri Oct 05, 2007 6:13 am

singularity wrote:micro controllers are dirt cheap, so are the supporting components, and the programmers can be made from old pc parts. the expensive parts are going to be the servos/sensors i would bet you could find most of them dumpster diving so long as you know what to look for. it wouldn't be hard to control the horizontal and vertical movements with some dead cd drives (they use stepper motors)i don't know where to find the wind speed or pressure sensors.


Well, I've got a couple of dead cd drives, but I'm not quite sure how I would go about making/programming the thing. I've used BASIC Stamp before, but I would have to create a program/firmware from scratch, correct?
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Unread postAuthor: benstern » Fri Oct 05, 2007 11:09 am

singularity wrote:i don't know where to find the wind speed or pressure sensors.


get one of those hand held weather stations
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Unread postAuthor: singularity » Fri Oct 05, 2007 5:42 pm

well if you go with a PIC 16F84 there are loads of tutorials on how to build programmers and how to program the chip itself. the starting cost should be around $25 then after that you can move to faster less expensive chips (the 16f84 is old but it still does its job)
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be sure to check out my <a href="http://www.spudfiles.com/forums/ak-style-airsoft-vortex-gun-t10959.html">AK Styled Vortex Gun</a> and my <a href="http://www.spudfiles.com/forums/at-4-t9627.html">AT-4 Rocket</a>

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Unread postAuthor: Gepard » Fri Oct 05, 2007 7:00 pm

Singularity, you suggesting he uses tiny stepper motors from CD drives hooked up to a '84? *Shudder*

Not sure how high-tech your looking at going.....but if you want top of the range look at using a DC motor with either optical or magnetic (hall effect) feedback. Servos are too small, slow and expensive. You'll also want to ditch the BS2 as like servos they're slow and expensive - ideally use a PIC (though not the '84 since that's very old) or an ATMega. Pressure can be done with a pressure transducer though most need to be fed through some form of unity gain buffer for stability and then a diff amp at the end with a gain of 10 otherwise you'll get allsorts of readings. It's not just a case of hooking them up to an ADC pin and yanking a reading. You'll also need some form of input. Again top of the line would be a joystick input with some form of 20x4 LCD display for the various readings.....

It is one of those topics though that if you have to ask then your not at all ready to make it.

Make the frame first and then work on the electronics. That way if the electronics fall through then you still have a pan/tilt frame.
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Unread postAuthor: HaiThar » Fri Oct 05, 2007 8:28 pm

Alright, I'll do some more research into it/build a frame...Do you have an idea as to how I should make the vertical/horizontal movement?( like so I could attatch it to a motor and it would work and be precise?)
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Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:01 am

You could use electric or you could use pneumatic.

We were going to use a pneumatic cylinder and microcontrol valve, (four-way), to control our elevation on my friends cannon, (I got him the cylinder, tubing, fittings, and valve for his christmas present), but he wound up just mounting it on his four-wheeler. :evil: Sorta pissed me off.

If you do decide to use some sort of electronic actuator or weak pneumatic actuator, (piston diameter less than 3/4"), look into a balance and/or counterweight system. That was the only way we were going to get my friend's cannon to be controlled, was with a few pounds of counterweight mounted on a steel pipe nipple under the chamber frame, (2x4).

If you're looking into pneumatic, (as the title suggests), I would propose you use an unmodified sprinkler valve to fire off the pilot volume of your main valve. This way, you could fire the cannon electronically. Use three 9 volts wired in series to power the solenoid on the sprinkler. 27 volts vs. 24 volts needed, but I never had any problems.

You could make a control box out of an old cut-down CPU housing, (you cut, re-lip the ends, and bolt it together again). It allows you to reach the internals when you need to in the field and you can bolt through your panel mount switches and/or panel-mount minivalve.

If you look into combustion, take a look at <a HREF="http://www.spudfiles.com/forums/camera-flash-circuit-questions-and-comments-t10824.html">this</A> thread for ignition ideas. If you wanted remote propane injection control, I would use some sort of pneumatically piloted valve instead of electronic solenoids. Q.E.V.'s seal off the pilot when the piston moves all the way back, so you may or may not be able to get accurate fueling with one of these. If you can find some cheapo small elelctric solenoid valves at a yard sale or something, then obviously use them.

Other than that, I have one word: RadioShack and Wal-Mart. Use radioshack to get your more specific electronic components, (LED's, switches, any timer chips, resistors, transistors, circuit board), and use Wal-Mart to get your basic stuff, (paint, wire, solder, etc.)
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Unread postAuthor: Gepard » Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:07 am

You can make something like this (he's a SF member BTW): http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wQh6VZdjfBI

Just remember to reinforce any bits where recoil could bend it.

It all depends on the size of cannon your going for.
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Unread postAuthor: HaiThar » Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:09 am

Gepard wrote:You can make something like this (he's a SF member BTW): http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wQh6VZdjfBI

Just remember to reinforce any bits where recoil could bend it.

It all depends on the size of cannon your going for.


That looks massivley complicated and expensive, though very cool. Also, I will be shooting in a field, so there will be no place to really hang it...






markfh11q wrote:You could use electric or you could use pneumatic.

We were going to use a pneumatic cylinder and microcontrol valve, (four-way), to control our elevation on my friends cannon, (I got him the cylinder, tubing, fittings, and valve for his christmas present), but he wound up just mounting it on his four-wheeler. Sorta pissed me off.

If you do decide to use some sort of electronic actuator or weak pneumatic actuator, (piston diameter less than 3/4"), look into a balance and/or counterweight system. That was the only way we were going to get my friend's cannon to be controlled, was with a few pounds of counterweight mounted on a steel pipe nipple under the chamber frame, (2x4).

If you're looking into pneumatic, (as the title suggests), I would propose you use an unmodified sprinkler valve to fire off the pilot volume of your main valve. This way, you could fire the cannon electronically. Use three 9 volts wired in series to power the solenoid on the sprinkler. 27 volts vs. 24 volts needed, but I never had any problems.

You could make a control box out of an old cut-down CPU housing, (you cut, re-lip the ends, and bolt it together again). It allows you to reach the internals when you need to in the field and you can bolt through your panel mount switches and/or panel-mount minivalve.

If you look into combustion, take a look at this thread for ignition ideas. If you wanted remote propane injection control, I would use some sort of pneumatically piloted valve instead of electronic solenoids. Q.E.V.'s seal off the pilot when the piston moves all the way back, so you may or may not be able to get accurate fueling with one of these. If you can find some cheapo small elelctric solenoid valves at a yard sale or something, then obviously use them.

Other than that, I have one word: RadioShack and Wal-Mart. Use radioshack to get your more specific electronic components, (LED's, switches, any timer chips, resistors, transistors, circuit board), and use Wal-Mart to get your basic stuff, (paint, wire, solder, etc.)


I didn't even consider using pneumatic action to control the axis movement. By saying pneumatic I meant building a pneumatic CANNON. :P. But it sounds like a really good idea...I just have trouble visualizing on how it should work. I think for the piston maybe I should put a piece of pipe through a bushing(such as in a coaxial) and flare the edges(so it can't slide out). The only problem I can really see is making it airtight....[/quote]
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Unread postAuthor: Gepard » Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:34 am

You won't have much control though - DC motors are the best way IMO......
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