So it’s been a hot minute since the last time I updated this project. Checking the date now I realize another year has passed and again I am reminded of the glacial pace at which I work on my projects. Over the last year, I have made some significant progress on the design of the CFR and assembling a V1 prototype. Much of this time was spent mastering a new tool I had been putting off purchasing for a very long time… a 3D printer.
My new Creatlity CR-10 Pro V2 arrived in good order in early February, and I do not exaggerate when I say that I have not had so much fun with a tool for a very very long time. Now when I say tool, I do mean a proper usable tool. I had put off getting a 3D printer for so long because I did not want most of the process to print a part to be about fiddling with the printer. I have gotten to the point in my life were getting to the result, due to simple time constraints, is more important, and not having to struggle with the tool needed to do the job is a big plus.
The 3D printer did require a bit of a learning curve but once mastered I am now at the comfortable point where I can queue up my design for printing and just click print. My current workflow is as follows:
Design in SkechUp/Freecad->Export to STL->Import into Ultimaker Cura->Slice->Click Print.
Given the cost of some of the parts that will eventually need to be CNC’ed out of metal, I decided to build it completely using 3D printed parts. This was something that quickly justified the purchase of my 3D printer due to a simple equation when having parts printed at a 3D Printing shop:
(Individual Part Setup Cost X Number of Unique Parts) = Setup Cost
Setup Cost + (Individual Part Print Cost X Total Number of Parts) = 70% of New Printer Cost
I know the formula is not 100% but due to the sheer number of unique parts I needed printing and the number of times, I would get it wrong due to my lack of 3D printing experience it was just more economical to get the printer. At least that is what I told my wife….
Now getting to the actual project: I am about 90% done with the V1 prototype’s mechanical construction. Overall, I am happy with the design especially with the “Core”. From the photos below I think it looks good. The bar graph LEDs and the LCD I added are artistic liberties that I will write off against making the actual unit more functional and resembling the unit inside the game itself.
I have also started the basic programming and have a start-up sequence used to test the lighting. I have also started working on a UI interface for the PC control side of things. My initial idea is basically to turn the CFR into a sensor platform thus making it an actual useful prop instead of just blinking lights. The UI design is based on the in-game UI design used by Monarch Solutions computer systems. Some of the initial designs are shown below.
On the electronics side of things, all the sensors have been assembled and tested separately on a breadboard and still need to be installed into the unit. The wiring is a mess but will eventually be trimmed when I design the custom PCBs needed. The brains for the CFR will be provided by an Arduino Nano and a NodeMCU board. As for not just using the NodeMCU board: I have found them to vary greatly in reliability depending on what generic manufacturer supplied them to the local electronics supplier in our country leading to weird input/output problems.
All in all, I have to say that this project is progressing well. Once I get the V1 prototype completed I will go the route of getting the panels and parts CNC’ed for V2.
Technically all the mechanical files are done if someone wanted to replicate the prop as it is now, and I will share if anyone is interested. It will probably take me another year to finish the next set of work so…. cheers to the year ahead!