1st post, here goes:
I cannot describe how small I feel among you guys.
I am a graphic designer by trade preparing to go back for my master's degree in the fall. I am totally a design/art-minded person. I did excellent in geometry and physics classes, but most math escapes my tiny brain.
The reason I am here is, I am outfitting my truck:
to be a search and rescue vehicle. I'm off to a good start, but my latest idea has led me to this site.
Too often rescue operations go on at night so I find myself needing a good exterior lighting system.
My plan for the roof lights is to make them pan and tilt using an inside controller. Inspiration came from this system from Lucrum Industries:
Lucrum is no longer making this system (not to mention the $1700.00+ price tag it had). It also had some limitations that I hope to overcome (with a lot of help from you guys)
My design goals:
•Lights (4, usually two spot beam and two flood) will pan 360º and tilt about 135º up and down.
•The system will be mounted to the top of the truck to an aluminum roof rack (Baja Rack is already on board to help design/fabricate the roof rack http://www.bajarack.com/
•Although my truck is garage-kept, it spends much time off the beaten path. Not to mention the vast majority of search and rescue operations are no where near pavement. So the system will have to withstand harsh weather, constant airflow at freeway speeds, and a good amount of jostling when driving over rocks and streams etc...
•Lights should be removable/ interchangeable in the event that one is damaged or better lights are obtained.
•Estimated size of lights is 4"-6" diameter (currently I am compiling dimension specs on the most popular options available)
•The Lucrum system (youtube video) I believe is set up on linear actuators which limits the angles. I am guessing I will need to set them up on servos to achieve the desired rotation.
-Servos would need to be somewhat water proof.
-Able to withstand the bumps of living on my truck
-Strong enough to tilt or rotate the lights. I'm guessing they weigh <2lbs each but I'd prefer to over-build rather than have to re-do later. I can't think of a situation that would require the use of the roof lights at any speed over 25 mph (conservatively faster than actual expectations).
•Each light I'm guessing, will have to be on a 2 servo system. The lesser option would be to have each one pan on a servo, and have one servo on a rod to tilt them all. The problem with that solution is when you begin to aim off to one side or the other and then tilt, the tilt becomes increasingly less as the angle from center approaches 90º.
•I would like the panning speed to be 180º in ~3 sec. (adjustable would be even better, though not necessarily from the cockpit)
•Currently I plan to replace the gear shifter in the truck with a flight control stick from an A-10 warthog/thunderbolt. Exactly like the one pictured below:
The idea is to use the china hat to control the pan and tilt. Also once the system is turned on, the trigger will activate the roof lights (momentary switch). The top thumb button will act as a switch for the same roof lights (press=toggle on, 2nd press=toggle off), and the pinky and half-shaft buttons will toggle other lights (Tantrum system:http://www.visionxusa.com/led/tantrum/
and rear facing lights)
-The Flight control stick is more robust than the small joystick solution that shipped with the Lucrum system. Also it consolidates the controls so you are not having to feel around for them while driving in generally "less than ideal" conditions. To top it off, I think it is just pretty dang cool.
-The flight control stick has a 17 pin connector on the bottom (each pin is labeled with letters a-m around the outside and n,p,r,s,t on the inside). There are a total of 8 "buttons" on the stick, which leads me to believe that there are 2 pins per button, and an extra one to ground them all (again I am no electrical engineer)? I plan to use a standard electrical tester by trial and error until I figure out what pin goes with what button (any thoughts?)
-The servos/mounting system must consider the electrical lines going to the lights and allow for full pan and tilt without damaging the powering wires going to the lights. (cords may span from rear mounted ballasts if I decide to go HID) although I'm liking everything about these LED's: http://www.visionxoffroad.com/led/s6100/
except the cost.
•I will be incorporating an air dam to help protect the lights when not in use (I'm hoping to program them to face to the rear and down towards the roof when not in use to help protect them). The air dam does not need to move like the Lucrum (youtube video above) unless it is necessary to avoid collision with the lights as they tilt.
Holy Crap! So I'm now staring at this seemingly insurmountable project (due to my limited brain functions) with a lot of determination, but needing a lot of help. I have many fabrication skills/tools in my garage, and I have welders and machinists, powder-coaters, etc that I can access to fabricate if I need to. If anyone feels compelled to help me in any way possible I will always give them the credit they deserve. Also I can offer my graphic design skills to help you make your pitch to NASA as polished and professional as possible. I specialize in branding and logos, but I can do most any design.
A few initial questions:
1- I have searched servos for days and still have no clue where to begin. Are the hobby motors durable/strong enough? I've read about 10 different ways to "water proof" a servo, and saw that Traxxus makes them now. I do want to "overbuild" a bit but I don't need a servo that could steer a lincoln.
2- Do you see any fatal flaws in my thinking/design that can be modified or improved?
3- I'm considering one of these for each mount
but $90.00 each seems expensive. I wonder if I could build my own for less.
The gear has a hole through it which would allow the power cords to go through. Does anybody have any feedback about that idea?
I am open to all suggestions and willing to compromise some functionality if need be.
Thanks for taking time to read this.