Welcome to the Thornlea NoCO2 Project Site

Welcome to the official website for the Thornlea Secondary School, NoCO2 Launcher Project. For first time visitors, please start from the bottom of the blog and read your way up, doing so will allow you to read "up" to where we are today. There is also a convenient Archive of posts on the right sidebar under "Blog Archive". There are options to subscribe to the blog at the bottom of the page.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Project Update September 2, 2013

Coming Down to the wire here! School starts tomorrow! Have Programmer Rico Teamviewer'ing in to help me do the Visual Basic Programming, have an all new background and Thornlea S.S. logo's to go with it. Still no luck on the GPIO32 though.

Lets get updated!

First off,
Here we have a modification from the initial design, I realized that if we did a Plexiglas side, it would look great! For the first run anyways, However, due to this unit being stored in a wood shop, it would eventually be COVERED in sawdust, and having a little under 1/4" gap between the track guardrail and the Plexiglas would end up full of sawdust with no way of removing it.
To combat this problem, I simply made up the difference in height with a piece of material 5/8" wide (because that's how wide the original oak Plexiglas supports were), and as tall as the track barrier. It just so happens that after I do that, the windows are 3.5" tall, which is the height of a 2x4 standing on it's narrow side.
After I Grooved a 1/4" hole into the new Plexiglas supports and made the front pillars/Race Time Bar supports, as well as grooving those 1/4", I made a tongue on the bottom of the front pillars so they would slide in to secure them. The grooves are slightly offset toward the track so that the pillars only fit in one way for ease of re-assembly.
You may be wondering why the groove is 1/4" if I'm using 1/8" Plexiglas. The reason for this is safety, I am using two pieces (not laminated), placed side by side in the slot. Should one piece be cracked or penetrated by a object such as an axel shaft or splinter of wood shattering off of a failed model dragster, there is a good chance that it would hit the second piece of glass after losing most of it's momentum in the first piece, therefore either imbedding itself or becoming lodged in between the two pieces.

Here we see how I cut the Plexiglas, I realized after, I could've saved myself the trouble and set-up time by cutting it on the Mitre saw.

Here is the final fitting of the Plexiglas for one wall. The pillar tongue is not glued or nailed in place and is simply friction mounted to the barrier wall. it is held in place from above by a single 3" wood screw going vertically through the top Plexiglas support.
In the next update, I will have the full unit finally assembled and preparing for the electrical. I look forward to getting that and the program done. If anyone can figure out how to program for this thing, and wants to, I would most certainly be willing to test it. To collaborate, send an e-mail with your intentions to cal920c@gmail.com. Be sure to include Modelcarlauncher.blogspot.ca in the subject line.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Project Update August 16, 2013

A couple things have happened since I've posted the Relay16 code.

First, I'm back on track after successfully sourcing a 1/4 x 1/4 shank router bit after the last one broke. therefore I can get back to working on the enclosure.

Secondly, my Alex was unable to get the GPIO32 working. If ANYONE would like to take the RELAY16 code and add a section for the GPIO32 for this project. OR even write a whole new program for it (agreeing to release it open source), I am open to that idea and almost anything you can come up with at this point. You can download the user's manuals for the boards at the following links:

RELAY16 Manual: http://numato.com/productdoc/usbrelay16/usbrelay16.pdf

GPIO32 Manual: http://numato.com/productdoc/usbgpio32/usbio32dv1.pdf

Additional information can be found on these boards at the following web addresses:

RELAY16: http://numato.com/16-channel-usb-relay-module

GPIO32: http://numato.com/32-channel-usb-gpio-module

If you have any questions, you can e-mail me at cal920prod@gmail.com, or message me on Facebook: Facebook.com/cal920c, or Tweet me @cal920c (tag modelcarlauncher.blogspot.com in the tweet, and we'll make a dialogue). I have very limited experience in programming, but anything you send me will be opened and inspected by a trusted (on my end) third party to get a second opinion, and tested before it's posted on the blog.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

RELAY16 Open Source Code

Using this code means that you adhere to our open source agreement. Is provided as is and we accept no responsibility for damage to your equipment, hardware or software. It has been tested to work with the RELAY16 module from Numato Labs.


You may need to rename the file extension to .zip

Once you have the file downloaded, extract it and open it in Visual Basic 2010. Personally I used Visual Basic 2010 Express.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Measuring it up!

Time has come! Final assembly (minus Solenoid valves *insert "Awwhs here", which aren't set to arrive until at least September) is well underway. During the final week in the school workshop, I got the prototype down and learned a few things along the way, including: your math may be impaired by heat (because 11+0.75+0.75 = 14 right?). More lessons learned below.

 Thornlea's existing launch system (the while triangle with all the stickers on it). You can see the Kel-Accel Race timing system as well.

 A view of the Thornlea workshop and the first section of the 64' long modular track, which can be reduced in length down to 16' + an 8' run off. (an apostrophe (') means a measurement in feet)

 Deciding how I am going to mount the race tree. At the beginning I considered doing a flip up unit, however the thought of this being a school environment caused me to re-think that idea.

 A quick measurement of how high the existing unit was before I dismantled it.

 After removing the existing launcher I realized that there was an extra 0.5" spur out the back. (a quotation mark (") means a measurement in inches).

 A quick measurement deemed the existing timing system to sit 12" away from the back of the track. After talking with the teacher, it was deemed a good idea to integrate the mounting of it into the new launcher.

 The Prototype, after much cutting and hot glue, it's finally complete. The top of the unit will hinge upward to allow the cars to be staged.

After cutting out some pieces and seeing how I would do final construction. this mock-up was at a point where I thought I would make the top out of acrylic glass, once again, it was deemed not a good idea in a educational environment to have such a easy to break material in a place where someone could potentially fall on top of it. The frame wood was then re-purposed for the side acrylic glass windows.

 A quick test fit, and seeing where the provisions for the Race timing unit would be.

The final width of the launcher is 13"

A view of the inside of the launcher, the sides will be acrylic glass, that was spectators can see without taking a huge blast of compressed air in the face.

 The 45 degree piece at the back top that will hinge the top. This is where I learned that it helps to pay attention in math class. Luckily my math teacher dropped by right in time for me to ask for help on the calculations. in the end, I missed by a little bit, however another cut on my table saw at home should solve that issue.

 A view of how the 45 degree piece would fit into the final design.

 That's all for the shop folks. It's working at home from here on in.

The box of stuff I took home to build this enclosure. The tools in the top left of the photo are provided by Prime Mechanical Co. (of Toronto, Ontario, Canada). I would like to thank them as well for providing the hard drive space to hold all the drivers and software for this project in addition to providing tools for assembly.

When I got home, I went right to work assembling the pieces I already had. The solenoid plate measures 13"W x 10"H. The 45 degree piece is a little more than 0.75" on the edge... which causes a problem which I will have to solve.

 As you can see from this view, I've attached both sides however have not yet cut or attached the acrylic glass.

Replacement GPIO Module

The new Replacement GPIO32 module from Numato has arrived! I must express my sincere gratitude to Numato Labs for providing a replacement via express UPS. I love it when companies stand behind their product.

 Arrived in a mighty brown UPS bag, with the Numato package inside.

 The new module nicely bubble wrapped for protection.

 The new module inside the sealed Anti-static bag.

 After grounding myself, I extracted the GPIO and tested it in HyperTerminal to see that it worked!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Update 16/06/13 Controllers

UPDATE 16/06/13: The making of the acrylic launch buttons/controllers has been interesting, using a piece of 1" Acrylic rod cut 4" long and drilling a hole vertically through it. I will be using 4-wire Telephone extension cables to connect the controller (2 wires for the switch, 2 for an LED so that users can confirm that the controller is plugged in properly).

As you can see here, I kinda messed up the first one

The trick according to my teacher was to go slower.

The next one I did was essentially almost perfect

and the final one was a pain and I broke the drill press at school in the process.

But in the end, I succeeded

Lessons learned: drill slowly (maybe only a couple cm at a time, and allow 5-10 minutes to cool down, don't rush it), if your going to cool it with water, do it from the beginning or don't do it at all, otherwise it separates (as you can see halfway through the second one), never stop the bit inside the acrylic or thats the end of it unless you can pry/spin it off, lastly, it's important to have an emergency stop, that saved my butt more than 4 times on this project.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wrap up of working at school

With Summer Vacation around the corner, I have to face the reality that this is no longer a school project and have taken it under my wing as what is probably the most expensive/advanced personal project I've ever done. I would like to take a moment to post from my facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cal920c/posts/10152952895525512 :

Modelcarlauncher.blogspot.com hit another snag today, the program it seems is incompatible with Windows Xp (SP2 & SP3). Working with the programmer (unsure if he wants to be named) on a solution, or if we should just write it in the manual. With exams right around the corner, I hope this thing moves more smoothly from now on! gotta thank Numato Lab for helping me diagnose problems and for the boards. Without them over 50% of this project would've been impossible. thanks to my consulting teams as well. Hopefully this thing will be ready for final delivery to Thornlea S.S. (my school) by September. Monday and Tuesday I'll have to collect everything I need from school one final time before the summer, as well as send the DOA GPIO32 (which Numato has graciously UPS'd a new one to me) back to Numato for diagnosis.

As mentioned above, I'd like to thank Numato Labs for their ongoing support of this project. I will soon have some more pictures, this time of the launch controllers (the boards haven't done much as the GPIO is DOA). In addition once the code for the Relay is done (without the GPIO), i'll post that separate from the final code for anyone who doesn't wish to use the GPIO with their unit. Right now as stated were having some Operating system compatibility issues.