Last weekend I built one rig for testing my calculations for the large scale delta project and to verify the concept. The goal was to be able to lift 22 lbs vertically using an 125 oz-in stepper motor and an AutoDriver stepper motor driver, both from SparkFun. All the mechanical bits, timing pulley, timing belt, pulley and axle, were from SPD/SI. While I was able to determine that the general concept will work it failed to lift the 22 lbs. This was due to the timing belt and pulleys not being a heavy duty enough and skipping when the load got around 8 lbs, so on the next version I will go for better a heavier duty timing pulley. See below for a video of it in action.
I’ve been playing around with the idea of building a rig to suspend an object, like a camera or prop, using three wires and then control its position in 3-D space using a few stepper motors and a micro-controller. The general idea is similar to the skycam system they use at football games and other pro sports, or a large scale delta robot. The first thing I needed to figure out was how much I wanted this rig to be able to hold and how much tension (force) would be required to hold and move this weight around. Additional I wanted to be able to visualize the results so I could look for any peaks, valleys or other anomalies that would throw off my calculations. I ended up writing the python script below utilizing the mpmath, sympy and matplotlib libraries to calculate the tension on a wire due to a suspend mass at a specific height and plot it as the weight moves around the x/y plane. The image below is a sample of the output from this script for a 5 kg mass suspend 2.0 m above the ground with three anchor points at 3.0 m above ground level and each 120 degrees apart.