I have just started designing a new low cost Fucking Machine. I have eliminated several costly components and generally simplified the design and construction.
The mechanical components are all inexpensive and very easy to assemble. The mechanical design uses inexpensive tubing for the ram and urethane skate wheels instead of the flanged bearings of the previous design. A few brackets will need to be made out angle metal but I will probably offer these ready made as well. A drive roller can be built out of available materials and I will probably offer a ready made one too.
I have eliminated the advanced features such as recording to audio. A stepper motor is used instead of a servo motor which eliminates one encoder and reduces the cost of the driver and power supply. I have a working prototype using a high quality Gecko driver but will be testing with less expensive Chinese components. The builder can choose cheaper or more expensive components to either make a less expensive unit or to insure the best and most reliable. I will be building several version to test performance and reliability of different component choices.
So far, the first prototype looks very promising, almost approaching the performance of the servo motor design.
My plan is to design a circuit board that allows the addition of elimination of various options so the builder can start out with a less expensive unit and add features over time if wanted. The following will be the minimal configuration:
Microcontroller board, stepper motor, motor controller, power supply, single potentiometer for position control, basic mechanical components with hard stops to limit ram withdrawal.
Additional options will include:
limit switches, encoder based roller controller similar to the current model, three knob speed, stroke and start position controls, LCD display to show operating parameters and possibly other data, color TFT display instead of LCD display, temperature sensor for motor protection, expansion capability for control with smartphones MIDI devices and addition to other sensors such as accelerometers, gyros and magnet sensors.
All options will be configurable and firmware will be updatable via USB connection. I estimate that a complete unit can be built to the minimum configuration for less than $400
Any comments are welcome.