Aluminum Extrusion - Breakout from Line Sensor Thread

John R.John R. Posts: 1,376
edited July 2009 in Accessories Vote Up0Vote Down
Thanks to Ken, I received a length of the extrusion that was shown and discussed in the thread introducing the new line scanning sensor. Along with the extrusion, I ordered the sensor, Prop Proto Boards and the Hydra EtherX Ethernet card (no hydra, going to use it with a "bare" prop).

Comment for Ken and others at Parallax:

The EtherX card is JUST barely too "thin" on the width dimension to be held in the extrusion. To really maximize the utility of the extrusion, especially if offered in lengths other than specifically for the Motherboard, it would be nice if other sensors and cards like the EtherX could be adjusted to fit the extrusion. Another example of a products that could possibly benefit from some "adaptation" would be the Ping[noparse]:)[/noparse]) sensor and even the Prop Stick.

As always, this opinion, and $1.00 will get you a bottle of pop from the machine in our break room.

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John R.
Click here to see my Nomad Build Log
John R.
Beaver Dam, WisCOWnsin
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Comments

  • 29 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,361
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hey John,

    There's certainly something right about your suggestion. Just like a 3-pin header and 3"x4" board standards that we use, such a change could improve compatibility elsewhere across the whole product line. Kinda makes me think of the 8020 aluminum extrusion company - you could build anything with their compatible hardware parts. Modifying certain board sizes poses some challenges elsewhere (i.e., Ping))) has several mounting brackets around the PCB size; PIR uses very small PCB real estate and would need to be enlarged). Perhaps there are products which can be easily morphed to fit the extrusion, and those which can't.

    Phil Pilgrim is making quite a bit of progress on the different daughterboards for the MoBoStamppe, and they all fit within the extrusion.

    For now, we're taking the next steps to have the extrusion in stock to accommodate the MoBoStamppe + daughterboard lineup.

    We'll talk more about your idea when you are at Parallax on June 27/28th.

    Carry on with the discussion - I'll be watching.

    Sincerely,

    Ken Gracey
  • FranklinFranklin Posts: 4,747
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    You could always cut a piece of board that fits and hot glue the other part to it. May not be the most efficient use of space but it would let you mount the part.

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    - Stephen
  • John R.John R. Posts: 1,376
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken Gracey (Parallax) said...
    Hey John,

    ...

    Phil Pilgrim is making quite a bit of progress on the different daughterboards for the MoBoStamppe, and they all fit within the extrusion.

    For now, we're taking the next steps to have the extrusion in stock to accommodate the MoBoStamppe + daughterboard lineup.

    Cool and cool!

    Ken Gracey (Parallax) said...

    We'll talk more about your idea when you are at Parallax on June 27/28th.

    Carry on with the discussion - I'll be watching.

    Sincerely,

    Ken Gracey

    Unfortunately, I won't be making the California version of the Prop expo, but am planning on making the Ohio version.

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    John R.
    Click here to see my Nomad Build Log
    John R.
    Beaver Dam, WisCOWnsin
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  • TubularTubular Posts: 3,300
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    John,

    Like you I'm very excited about the possibility of this tube as a "standard shell", and I'm already designing stuff for it even though I don't have a sample as yet (my order has probably slipped in between the cracks 'cos there is no official part yet, I'll chase that up shortly).

    I don't know if you're familiar with Unistrut, but its a similar steel profile used for just about any kind of mechanical mounting, welding etc. The Parallax extrusion is of similar dimension but much prettier and more useful as it unites the electronic and mechanical.

    One example would be to use the the extrusion to simply slide in different 1.35" lenses and color filters:-

    [noparse][[/noparse] Cover plate ]
    [noparse][[/noparse] Lense longer focus ]
    [noparse][[/noparse] ]
    [noparse][[/noparse] Lense short focus ]
    [noparse][[/noparse] Color Filter ]
    [noparse][[/noparse] Aperture / iris ]
    [noparse][[/noparse] Linescan db ]
    [noparse][[/noparse] ]
    [noparse][[/noparse] Mobo ]
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Below's a cover design I'm getting laser cut.

    Your idea of standardizing the modules is a good one. It could be done just by adding some small tabs during the PCB routing, these can easily be filed off to make it backways compatible.

    __ __
    _/ \_________/ \_
    | |
    | |


    tubular
    925 x 447 - 8K
  • John R.John R. Posts: 1,376
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Just a note on using the extrusion with the TCS230-DB color sensor. It appears that the color sensor will not slide into the extrusion when attached to a BOE Mother board (I don't actually have a mother board).

    The plastic standoffs for the light source LEDs interferes. By rotating the sensor 90 degrees, it will slide in. This is fine for my purposes, but may be a problem when used with the Motherboard.

    On my assembly, one side (the right side when looking at the image sensor side with the "TAOS" logo on top) will clear, but the other side will not. The TCS230 board is Version 1.3.

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    John R.
    Click here to see my Nomad Build Log
    John R.
    Beaver Dam, WisCOWnsin
    Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    John,

    You are correct. All you have to do, though, is clip the little plastic corners off the LED holders. They serve no useful purpose. Then you can slide the board in, plugged into the MoBo.

    The spacing of the LED mounts was one of those compromises I have to make sometimes. I would like to have mounted them closer together, but then the subject distance became an issue, and they would've been perilously close to the lens holder. So I settled on making sure the stanchion portion fit the extrusions with an eye on trimming the angular parts when necessary.

    Attached are some photos of a special enclosure I did for TAOS for a trade show demo that uses the extrusion. The TCS230-DB (repopulated with a TCS3200) is plugged into the MoBo. The whole assembly was tethered only by the USB cable.

    -Phil
    568 x 537 - 33K
    558 x 548 - 33K
    640 x 364 - 31K
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • John R.John R. Posts: 1,376
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil;

    Thanks for the confirmation and the info on trimming the standoff.

    To other users: There is room to trim the standoff without getting to the LED leads, but you need to be careful. If you do trim all the way to the LED leads, this still shouldn't be a problem, as they are far enough from the edge of hte board and shouldn't be a problem.

    Separate Subject:

    Did I read somewhere that someone had a prop based board that fits the extrusion? Can someone direct me to the source?

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    John R.
    Click here to see my Nomad Build Log
    John R.
    Beaver Dam, WisCOWnsin
    Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    John R. said...
    There is room to trim the standoff without getting to the LED leads, but you need to be careful.
    You shouldn't need to trim the standoff portion at all, just the 45° section. The extrusion is bowed in slightly at the top, and it helps to flex it outwards a little when you're inserting boards — particularly the TCS230-DB.
    John R. said...
    id I read somewhere that someone had a prop based board that fits the extrusion?
    Yes: two of them, in fact. The one on the left in the photo below (Propeller Backpack) is nearing production and accepts one daughterboard. It's powered via a three-pin servo connector, which also provides communication. The stereo phone jack is for both audio and video. It can't be used in the bottom extrusion slot, though, due to some protruding header pins too close to the edge. Any other slot is okay.

    The one on the right (MoBoProp) is still in development. It will accept two daughterboards and is meant to be the Propeller complement to the MoBoStamp-pe. The phone connector is for audio and video but won't have the same capabilities as those of the Backpack, which was designed for enhanced A/V use.

    attachment.php?attachmentid=61544

    -Phil
    811 x 286 - 50K
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • John R.John R. Posts: 1,376
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) said...
    John R. said...
    There is room to trim the standoff without getting to the LED leads, but you need to be careful.
    You shouldn't need to trim the standoff portion at all, just the 45° section. The extrusion is bowed in slightly at the top, and it helps to flex it outwards a little when you're inserting boards — particularly the TCS230-DB.
    -Phil

    Phil;

    We're talking about the same part, just using different terms. By "standoff", I meant the plastic piece that holds the LED at 45 degrees and "stands it off" the board too. (Not the Aluminum stand offs used to set the image distance.)

    (I look forward to the release of the prop boards. They look neat!)

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    John R.
    Click here to see my Nomad Build Log
    John R.
    Beaver Dam, WisCOWnsin
    Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ah, okay, I see where the confusion comes from. What you're calling the "standoff" is actually two pieces: the stanchion (or what I called the "standoff"), which doesn't need trimming, and the little 45° piece sitting on top of the stanchion with the jutting-out corner that does.

    My apologies for the confusion. I guess if you didn't know ahead of time, there's no way to tell by looking that the plastic LED "standoff" is two pieces.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • John R.John R. Posts: 1,376
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    We're still not quite on the same page, but we're getting closer, and I'm the one on the wrong page (duh - big surprise there).

    I was putting the card in the outermost slot, so I didn't even notice the 45 degree piece interfering. Indeed, it was one of the plastic standoffs I was seeing the interference on, but as you said, if you put a little outward pressure on the extrusion, all is well there.

    Looking now, I can see where the 45 degree pieces would need to be trimmed.

    Probably something to put in the docs for use with the extrusion. (Yikes, what a long way around.) I probably should have posted pictures, but the camera wasn't handy. Maybe latter tonight.

    Thanks for sticking with me, and getting me on the right path.

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    John R.
    Click here to see my Nomad Build Log
    John R.
    Beaver Dam, WisCOWnsin
    Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Attached is a preliminary description of a proposed set of panels for the extrusions. I'm posting it here in case forum members want to offer suggestions. It's important to keep the number of SKUs to a minimum, while still handling the majority of desired combinations. The standard MoBo system protocol simplifies this somewhat, in that interface daughterboards are usually plugged into socket "A", with sensor daughterboards being plugged into socket "B". This obviates the need for an entire separate set of end "B" panels with connector cutouts.

    Anyway, take a look, and see what you think.

    -Phil

    Post Edited (Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)) : 6/19/2009 8:03:21 PM GMT
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • TubularTubular Posts: 3,300
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Looks good to me Phil.

    It may be worth having a blank end plate too. I can imagine sometimes wanting to bring an electrical conduit out.

    Also some thought needs to be given to how to mount the whole assembly. Off the top of my head, I can't think of something that preserves the existing elegance. However Hammond have angle end plates as per attached photo... the 78mm wide x 43 high one could be cut in half to give 2 x 38mm wide flanges perhaps. Depends where the holes end up after cutting.

    tubular
    216 x 144 - 8K
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I thought about the blank endplate, but since the extrusion will be sized for a MoBo, and since the DBs won't typically be used without one, the MoBo cutouts will always be necessary. That doesn't mean I can't be persuaded otherwise, though. smile.gif

    You're right: some sort of bent-metal mounting bracket is called for. I'll see what I can come up with. I've grown unaccustomed to working with sheet metal outfits, so I'm going to have to reeducate myself about their demands, spec-wise. (My memories of past encounters with them are not all pleasant ones.)

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • TubularTubular Posts: 3,300
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    You're right Phil, the connectors would stick through. Using a basic end plate with just the lower cutouts would still leave enough room for a gland or cutout higher towards the cover plate.

    Upon further reflection about this the OD of the extrusion is very common, how would something like this go at the midpoint?

    I'm sure I know of other options, just got to remember them, they'll come back to me. This is the kind of thing I store in the biological equivalent of bubble memory part of the brain
    2479 x 3507 - 201K
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  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Tubular,

    What is that thing, exactly?
    tubular said...
    This is the kind of thing I store in the biological equivalent of bubble memory part of the brain.
    LOL! I know what you mean. 'Reminds me of Arlo Guthrie's line in "Alice's Restaurant":

    ····"So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and
    ····sing it when it does. Here it comes."

    'Problem is, half the time it manages to come 'round on the guitar, I'm asleep!

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I've added mounting brackets to the system, and the modified doc can be downloaded five posts up. Here's what an assembled unit might look:

    attachment.php?attachmentid=61688

    -Phil

    _
    291 x 354 - 30K
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • TubularTubular Posts: 3,300
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) said...
    Tubular, What is that thing, exactly?

    _that_ would be yer trusty cross clamp. Typical application would be in say a beverage factory, with a 40mm bar going across and above a conveyor, and the smaller port dropping down to lane dividers. Keeps everything square. They're available with 0, 1 or 2 quick release handles from companies like Marbett (Germany), System Plast (Italy). There is sure to be a 1 1/2" US equivalent, though the extra few mm of the 40mm may actually accommodate the 2 less radiussed cover plate corners better??

    Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) said...

    LOL! I know what you mean. 'Reminds me of Arlo Guthrie's line in "Alice's Restaurant":

    ····"So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and
    ····sing it when it does. Here it comes."

    'Problem is, half the time it manages to come 'round on the guitar, I'm asleep!

    Gotta confess I don't know the tune, but a quick wiki search tells me I surely should! Better get myself cultured. I arrived a bit late on the scene and am still working my way through Woody's stuff, of which there is plenty...

    That end bracket looks very tidy and suitably general purpose for other stuff too... lets get it all in the store so we can spread the love...

    tubular
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ah, a cross clamp. I get it now (and would've killed for such a device in my industrial installation days — especially at a certain gin-bottling plant).

    I need to make one more mod to the end bracket: a bulge in the middle of the mounting slot for a 1/4" (6mm) screw. This will enable the bracket to be used with strut systems.

    I've got RFQs out for the laminate parts and am shipping the whole kit of hardware samples to Parallax today for their evaluation. I don't think my laminate engraving supplier does aluminum, though, so I've got to find someone else for that.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • John R.John R. Posts: 1,376
    edited June 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) said...
    I thought about the blank endplate, but since the extrusion will be sized for a MoBo, and since the DBs won't typically be used without one, the MoBo cutouts will always be necessary. That doesn't mean I can't be persuaded otherwise, though. smile.gif

    You're right: some sort of bent-metal mounting bracket is called for. I'll see what I can come up with. I've grown unaccustomed to working with sheet metal outfits, so I'm going to have to reeducate myself about their demands, spec-wise. (My memories of past encounters with them are not all pleasant ones.)

    -Phil
    Blank endplates are always a good thing.· Yes, the MoBo will be the primary use, but there are others (self included) that don't do the STAMP thing.· I fully understand the desire to limit the number of SKUs, and I would think a blank plate would be part of the answer.· Have a plate for the "common" holes, and if that doesn't work, use a blank.

    Edit 12:24 PM CDT:

    I guess maybe another way of stating the case for a "blank" plate/end cap would be that it's generally easier to make holes in someting than to take them out...


    This opinion, and a one dollar bill will get you a soda from the vending machine in our shop break room...

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    John R.
    Click here to see my Nomad Build Log

    Post Edited (John R.) : 6/23/2009 5:25:22 PM GMT
    John R.
    Beaver Dam, WisCOWnsin
    Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati
  • TubularTubular Posts: 3,300
    edited July 2009 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken,

    Any ETA on when this AL extrusion will be available? Will 2.75" lengths only be available, or will other lengths too?

    Hopefully you've moved it out of the way for the last time for stock take...

    cheers
    tubular
  • *bump*

    wondering whether any of this magic extrusion is still available. Phil? Anyone?
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,106
    edited July 20 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I actually needed more of these myself for a customer project, but no luck. Ken scoured the warehouse for me but couldn't find any. Dunno what happened to them, but I still want some! The (almost) last of my original stock is at a local machinist -- as of today in fact -- being cut and milled into 2.750" lengths. But those are all committed to a customer.

    The original extrusions were sliced from stock shapes offered by a heatsink company. But those shapes have been discontinued and are no longer available. The Parallax version was an improvement over the originals, by providing additional clearance for a board mounted in the bottom slot and -- IIRC -- one additional slot.

    I have a long-term commitment to provide more of these to my customer -- more than I actually have. That means I will eventually need to contract with an extrusion company to make more. $$$$ :(

    Tubular, how many do you need, and what length? If it's only one or two, I can definitely accommodate.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Thanks for the quick response Phil

    I'm thinking of using it for a new P2 product, its not out of the question to get something custom but always best to start with something existing where possible. Lansing also sell something vaguely similar but significantly wider.

    But to be honest its quite a useful form factor. You probably already know this.

    I have a few lengths (~16"?) that parallax (or you) sold me some years ago. I'll see if I can locate those, for whatever happens next
  • I found 2 untouched lengths ~ 16" long, and one which has been cut down a bit
  • 'Glad you found some! I just got my cut-down extrusions yesterday from the local machinist. This guy's amazing! The extrusions are within a mil or two of the correct length, and the price was right.

    Truth be known, I didn't trust him with all that I had -- only about half. If he screwed all of them up somehow, I'd be tap dancing, looking desperately for a quickie extruder. But he's earned my confidence, in spades!

    Still, though, when the next batch is gone, I'll be looking for an extruder. These guys are a possibility:

    http://www.produstrial.com/Aluminum-Extrusion-Custom-Shapes-p/100209.htm

    The extrusions are done in -- and shipped from -- China, however. With the new aluminum tariffs being what they are, I'm not sure that this is a viable solution.

    OMG, Parallax, where did your extrusion stock disappear to? I need it -- desperately!

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • jmgjmg Posts: 12,646
    Still, though, when the next batch is gone, I'll be looking for an extruder. These guys are a possibility:

    http://www.produstrial.com/Aluminum-Extrusion-Custom-Shapes-p/100209.htm

    The extrusions are done in -- and shipped from -- China, however. With the new aluminum tariffs being what they are, I'm not sure that this is a viable solution.
    For what you need, surely the material costs are small, compared with the NRE/tooling costs ?
    What is their MOQ and setup/tooling charges ?

  • Stumbled across this yesterday for something and when I saw this thread today, I figured I would pass it on. Haven't been able to verify that you can buy sticks of the extrusion, but with the way it is designed, you can make any size 1U height enclosure you want. Top, Bottom, and end panels can be easily cut on a laser or cut out of sheet plastic/metal.

    https://www.protocase.com/products/electronic-enclosures/aluminum.php

  • Neat find, Andrew. There's some great attention to detail there, with the profiled end plates and all,
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