Didn't think of that, and should give the desired motion now that I've changed my mind about something. I don't think I should have the boards spin. I can't imagine how I would have LED's lighting the boards if they are going to be attached to the board's frame with wires. When it comes time to spin, the wires are going to tangle unless I make it spin clockwise and then counterclockwise with enough wire that it doesn't tangle up, that should work, however I like the idea of having them only swing from left to right (like a grandfather clock) as my first project.
My greatest concern is with the wind catching the boards. If possible, some holes or slits will help reduce the force though.
Whether you want it to spin , swing or perhaps rotate around the length of the boards, everything is possible and while I don't know how many Watts of LED light you need(?), that could
be done by coils and magnets, in effect creating a small generator for the LED's (with the magnets stationary and the coils on the boards). That would use the power from the motor (with some loss) and would nullify wiring problems. However, it's probably better left to after you've got this one working.
To make it swing like a pendulum, a couple of optical couplers (interrupters/reading forks) like this
could be used to sense the extreme positions.
Their output changes when something opaque is blocking the (infrared) light from emitter to receiver.
Should keep things simple no? Is this rocking motion programmable? Or will I know need two different motors? From what I know in order to make a motor spin the other direction you switch the wires over.
Yes, it's fully programmable, whether you use an H-bridge or a relay to reverse the current through the motor.
My small is, hmm, the size of the panels you see on top of the emergency call boxes in some freeways. Is that still too small?
I'm a Dane and my only first hand experience with the US is a short week in Charlotte, NC and I must admit that the limo's hauling my sorry *** around were too comfy for observing the finer parts of your emergency infrastructure whooshing by
So, an approximate measure would help.
For reference: I recently got some panels (meant for top-up charging of 12V car batteries) and they're about 4"x12" and 12"x12" (active area) and give ~90mA and ~275mA (in full sun) respectively.
Not knowing what motor you'll end up with, it's too soon to tell how large a panel you'll need, but counter-balancing the boards and perhaps adjusting the time in between activations would help towards using the leanest possible motor (current draw).
T.ex. charging with 100mA for 60 seconds will enable a draw of say 1.8A for 2 seconds with a 60% efficiency (charging and mechanical losses).
You might consider a small wind powered generator on top of the pole for a possible extension of the project (more below).
The height of the pole won't be too high up, up to the same height of a stop sign or a bit higher to keep people from trying to smack or break the thing. I'll try my best to make the boards as light as possible, I'm thinking a thin aluminum frame with a light weight clear plastic panel and make the thing water proof, have an opening to slide in custom made banners.
Since the US is considered the lawyers Paradise, I'd make real sure it couldn't break off, fall down and scare someones cat (or decapitate the owner).
Weight isn't the major issue here (it can and should be counter-balanced), rigidity and resistance to wind is - as mentioned, some vents may help.
That will save me some money and that is always good to know. More money for a bigger panel?
Or the opto couplers, should you choose to go that route
I assume a low voltage microcontroller will be the most ideal, with the least of features since I only want it for programming the motors "rocking chair" motion and the LED's. If I can save battery life and money here I'd be happy. What would you recommend for this?
Controllers are quite cheap (they ought to be, they're mainly plastic and sand
) and the features you don't use won't get in the way, so whether you're using the tiniest 6 pin controller or eg. a 40 pin beast with 100 times the "horsepower" you need, the difference is just a few bucks.
Until you reveal the amount of LED's and how you want them controlled, it's difficult to recommend any single controller.
There's different microcontroller "families". Most people here use AVR controllers from Atmel, while I mainly use PIC controllers from Microchip (since most of my other development tools is presently packed away), so if you wan't my help in programming the beast, it will have to be a PIC. Apart from that, each family has controllers ranging from 6 pins to 100 pins+, with the cheapest going at around 50 cents and eg. an 18 pin controller can be had at around $1,- to $1.5.
They all run from somewhere between 1.8V to 5V (some PIC's can handle 15V as they have a regulator built in).
All can control 12V devices through transistors.
The motor would have to have good torque I assume, yes?
Right, but gearing down a motor increases torque, so you cannot look at one of the parameters alone.
It all comes down to how much force it has to exert in how little time.
I was thinking of getting a used electric ride on toy cars for kids, those things have very strong motors and it even comes with a battery and the charging port, saves me the hassle of shopping around plus those motors go forward and backwards all ready so the wiring should be set up for me? (I just thought of it a few minutes ago )
I think that would be overkill, but better "over" than "under"
Even if there is a sort of front/back controller, you'd still need something the controller can use.
If you're spending lots of time tinkering on cars, you probably have a spare wiper motor lying around (or can get a good, used one for cheap) I think you have the needed power and automotive relays are just the ticket to control forward/reverse.
The LED's would only have to be on until 2-3 hours of night time then they would be turned off or let die off. Hopefully that would make things simpler for me since the charging part seems like the highest challenge. It won't be operational during rain, I will just have to accept that, there wont be any way to wire it to a DC Jack where I want to place it.
As mentioned, a small wind mill/turbine like a Savonious rotor would help (perhaps even render the solar panel obsolete) and you should take a quick look at this
, if nothing else, just to know what can be done for next to nothing.
My DMM broke as it was a harbor freight one and not very durable. I have lots of automotive tools as my main hobby is working on my older cars, none of them run at the moment I have a buddy with a mig and tig welder, DMM, sodder, I should be fine.
I think it rather broke because you manhandled it
Once again thank you for your time inputting informative, helpful, responses. I will start gathering parts once I know where and what to get.
Don't start gathering stuff just yet. You should decide on the final outlay first. It's annoying to find that you've bought the wrong stuff.
If you tell me your plans for LED's (amount, how they're going to be driven - on, flashing, running or whatever) and what thoughts you have on using a wiper motor (if you have on handy, please measure the current draw), etc. we can get it a couple of steps closer to shopping time.