Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Like Electric Motors

I spent some time this weekend tearing apart an old floppy and CD-ROM drive on the hunt for some components. The floppy drive is fast becoming a retro relic these days; the one I've just destroyed is probably dates from the early 2000s. I'm amazed at the precision engineering and precious materials that have gone into every one of these 'obsolete' devices ; and we so readily toss them away.

I've found in these drives some tiny stepper motors that might be useful for one of my ongoing projects; also some ready-made linear slider mechanisms that look pretty useful too. Unfortunately I've not been able to drive these motors yet with my Stepper Bee (USB motor controller card). It seems like these little 5 volt motors are bipolar rather than unipolar motors, so I'll probably have to buy another card to control these from the PC. I'll maybe blog a bit more about this stuff if it looks like it's going anywhere. Quite apart from their functionality though, some of these pieces actually look quite pretty...

Over the past few years I've been using a single stepper motor (from an old scanner) as a very basic motion control system for rotating objects under the camera. With a stepper motor controlled by the computer, it's possible to get really precise turnarounds of small objects and models, and I've used this technique quite a lot in my film-making work. For example, the rotation of the Simon's Cat Earrings was shot this way, as were many elements for the Canongate Book trailer films I made in 2011.

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