I have made some significant progress on the fucking machine. I have tested the record to PC program and am sure I will have a fully functional version soon. As soon as this is done, I will work on making the editor/recorder/player program more user friendly and will get all the features working that I feel are most important so I can work on developing the DIY kit plans.
I have not tested it yet to see how well it works but I am going to add mouse support on the PC program so the mouse can be used to control the machine as an alternative to the “joystick”. This will reduce the cost and complexity of building the machine. Previous tests of the mouse indicated that it will not work as smoothly as a hard wired encoder based joystick because windows is not a real time operating system. I am hoping that the new USB connection might work well enough with the mouse control and will provide an adequate alternative. It definitely will work, just don’t know how smooth and precise it will be. The joystick is so perfect, I don’t want to use something else as the default unless it is very good as well. Should know soon.
I also thought of a cool feature that will be easy to add. The current machine version allows two and possibly three machines to be controlled by a single joystick controller. Anything more would require additional circuitry with the current design. My new idea allows for virtually any number of machines to be daisy chained. There are enough in/out connections on the microcontroller to allow this without additional circuitry. All that is needed is a minor change to the controller circuit board. So my fantasy of 10 20 or more machines all operating in unison is going to be possible. It will be possible to control them with a single joystick or to play the same recorded program from a PC all machines moving exactly the same. Actually, there will be a delay of a few microseconds between machines but this will hardly be noticed.
I am also going to experiment with common drawer slides as an alternative to the hand made dovetail slide of the all wood version. The dovetail works well but is a little difficult to make. I found some slides that have adequate extension and are not noisy like the ones I tried before. The DIY plans will include both options.