The guts of a micro continuous servo motor

I fried one of my micro continuous servo motors yesterday so I decided to open it up and take a look inside.
IMG_0005It’s as simple as taking off four screws on the back. The gears have some white grease on it.

IMG_0007A little tugging got the tiny PCB out of the casing. I used the screwdriver to push the motor out after it. It looks so simple laid out like this, but you’ve got to admire how they can fit it all into such a tiny package!

IMG_0008The backside has all of the resistors and capacitors for the circuit.

IMG_0011The IC on there is a KC5188.

Not much analysis here, just a look around the insides of this servo motor. I’m still trying to decide what to do with this project since I only have one servo left… Stay tuned!

The bad servo-RF mix

A long while back, I purchased a couple of RF transmitter and receiver pairs. My idea was to make a remote controlled robot. I did do some experimenting with it before but nothing came of it at the time. I tried some more experiments today and, well, I broke more things, but I also confirmed a few other things that will sway where this project goes, if it does go anywhere.IMG_0001For the transmitter, I used an Arduino Uno. At first, I used it for the receiver, just so I could make sure the communication was working fine via the serial monitor. Once that was ready, I swapped the transmitter and receiver on the two systems. Using the transmitter on the Uno allowed me to change what was being sent instead of setting up a hardware circuit with buttons.IMG_0002Here’s the receiver. It uses my ATmega328p Breakout Board (Rev B) and my old AMS1117 voltage regulator board. I used my 16 SMD LED board and an LCD for debugging purposes.IMG_0003Before the servo motors were thrown into the mix, I tested the communication between the two separate systems. I’ve gotten the hang of it. I can edit the transmitter code to send as many characters I want. The only time I need to touch the receiver code is to change what the system does with the received data (the conditional logic).

I accidentally wired the power connections (Vcc and Gnd) to one of the servos backwards. It got really hot at that point and now it doesn’t work. I decided to take it apart for fun and will share those photos in a future post.

And after that, my problems with the servos continued as I realized the servo and virtualwire libraries try to use the same interrupt timer. To get around it, I’m trying to use the ServoTimer2 library which uses another timer. It wasn’t working properly for me so I’ll have to look into it more, but I think I’m just using the library wrong. You can take a look at my code on GitHub. It would make things easier if I just used DC motors instead of servos, but I’d rather use parts I already have. I do have another idea for these RF pairs so, even if this project is lost, you’ll still get to see them in action elsewhere…

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned if you’ve ever been interested in seeing the innards of one of these micro continuous rotation servo motors! That’s coming up next!

Investing in the lights

A few days later after ordering a few things off of eBay, there’s now more to come. I did a little experimenting on the fountains yesterday and, well, I broke things.

IMG_0001One of the things I’m changing with the fountains is the power supply. I’m upping it to a 9v power supply. To make it easier to move around the project or to swap the power supply again, I’m using these 9v clip connectors. IMG_0003I started taking apart the fountains to set up my experiment. I will move the current-limiting resistors for the fountain LEDs from the mini-breadboard to a soldered perfboard. I’m also planning on soldering the shift register boards directly to the perfboard since these LEDs will be running off of shift registers the next time you see them. I still need to draw up a plan to confirm the number of pins I need and things like that.

IMG_0001Anyways, on to that experiment! There were a few of things I wanted to test. I had some ideas on new nozzle designs, as well as “piping” designs where the pump would be placed away from the actual nozzle outlet. The last thing was to see if the 9v power supply would play nice with my current setup.

The picture above is of a new nozzle design that takes cues from the experiment I did with the last light show. The opening is slightly larger this time and the flow is pretty decent. The flow gets a little rough as the height is increased or if the water is aimed directly straight up. Those are the limits to using the cheap materials and pumps I’m using. The easy work around is to not aim it directly up, which looks good enough for me.IMG_0002About the “piping” design… I was thinking about trying to isolate the pumps from the turbulent water caused from the water falling pretty much directly onto the water going into the pump, which does cause the pumps to fail at times. I started playing around with the straws I have and I think this is something I’ll be trying out the next time. Of course, the picture above is literally just playing around with water. You’re not going to see random straws sticking up from the pool in the show. 😛IMG_0003This was the aftermath of those piping experiments. I’m pretty satisfied with my short experiments. To sum up, the pumps will be at the back of the pool and the nozzles positioned away from the pumps using the straws. They’ll sport that new nozzle design (though I’m still working on being able to reproduce them consistently). Now about that 9v power supply…IMG_0004It seems as though I’ve burned out three of the 5 transistor circuits. I used 2N4401 transistors because I already had them when I was building the circuit for the fountains. I’ll be moving to mosfets as I’ve always wanted to.

Those mosfets have been ordered on eBay. I also ordered some more of these 5x7cm perfboards, and five more water pumps. I’m not so sure we’ll see all 10 water fountains in the next show (but anything is possible, right?). I mostly ordered them as spares.

So that’s it for now. The project is again on the backburner as I wait for things to come in. Thanks for reading!

What’s in my cart?

Whenever I buy things on eBay, I tend to buy in waves, ordering a few things at a time. I was looking to get some new tweezers since I’ve been working with SMD components recently and wanted one with larger grips on the component. I ended up picking up four things in total last night.


I have two tools for picking up components. One is a needle nose pliers and the other is a tweezers with sharp pointy ends (cannot compute plural dilemma with “pliers” and “tweezers” :/). I find them both difficult to use when soldering small SMD components so I found this type of tweezers that has a better size and form for handling those small components. I hope that it’ll make SMD soldering a little more pleasant.

minibMy Canon point-and-shoot camera had pretty budget packaging. It didn’t include a data cable so I’ve been borrowing one all this time. I decided to finally get one for dedicating to the camera. You can’t go wrong for $0.99!

microusbI decided to also pick up a new cable for my phone. I don’t know about you, but I hate those USB cables that come with phones nowadays that are thing, have glossy ends, and no tension/strain support. The one that came with my Samsung phone stopped working so I stripped it and started using it for powering projects through via USB power. I have a couple other USB cables that I can use with my phone, though one is too long (for my Logitech mouse) and the other is a bit too short (came with a USB battery, I think). This one looks like it will be just right at 1 meter and I like the grippy ends.

ledsAnd here’s the relevant segue! I did a little tinkering with my Light Show project and showed off a little show snippet that I posted on Instagram. In that one, I was playing around with my new 74HC595 Shift Register boards that allow some PWM control using the Output Enable pins. I’ve never used these WS2812B LEDs before because I’m cheap and have been using “dumb” 5mm LEDs for the Light Shows up to now. The plan is to replace the LEDs on the “towers” of the current light show with these new WS2812 LEDs.

With the attention back on the Light Show, I also want to do more experimenting with the fountain pumps. For starters, I will be swapping out the current 5v power supply with a 9v power supply. The pumps are rated at 6v so we’ll see what happens. I also want to work on a better nozzle design. I believe I was getting somewhere with the secondary nozzle design on the holiday light show, so for the next try I will make the openings slightly bigger and see where that takes me. With these changes, I don’t expect to rush into an actual choreographed show as I have in the past. The focus will be on one thing at a time. Stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Pulling the plug on the ESP8266 project

IMG_0001Look at all that dust!

I had my ESP8266 capsule plugged in and sitting in a corner of my room where I just sort of forgot about it. I decided to check up on it today on ThingSpeak and discovered it stopped transmitting data a week ago. After about two months powered up and 9735 recorded entries, I’ve decided it’s time to take it offline.

I haven’t been fully attentive on what’s been going on but I’ve been seeing a few things here and there about some new things being done with the ESP8266 module that I’d love to check out. I still need a new project idea so we’ll see what happens.

A significant chunk of my blog’s traffic has been for my ESP8266 posts so I hope everyone is finding what they’re looking for. Check out my Github for code! Thanks for visiting!