Vibratron: generalized electric motor
Motors are needed for just about everything we do. We transmit energy in electrical form, then need to turn it back into mechanical form in most cases to do useful things with it. A wide variety of life saving technologies involve pumps of fluids and gasses, and all of these require motors. Industrial production with any automation requires often large numbers of motors, and relatively complex control of them. Moving goods around from one place to another generally involves electric motors, even if some other engine is also used. We need them for cooling, heating, moving air around, moving water around, moving ourselves around, and moving goods around.
Motors suffer from several of the pathologies of most modern industrial artifacts including:
- They are generally made from mined materials or materials that are from a bulk recycle process, and have parts that cannot be easily re-arranged between one motor and another
- They are often frustrating to connect to arbitrary systems, and are shipped with smooth shafts that, without being modified or welded to something, don't do anything useful
- Changes in torque are usually accomplished with gears, which are precision machined in such a way as to inevitably degrade and fail and be next to impossible to repair
- The motor itself usually has brushes with friction which fail and are designed to be never replaced, making the entire artifact into waste because of one designed-to-fail part
- Motors are generally designed to be installed in one machine, and not be used for anything other than that function. Again, the deliberately unusable smooth shaft is part of this, and it means the "consumer" is forced to buy dozens of motors that all do exactly the same thing and when any one fails the other motors cannot be used to replace the failed one.
- Brushless motors are absurdly expensive and complicated, and have opaque control hardware and firmware, clearly designed to keep them as hard to use and modify as possible.
- Motor manufacturers in general do not incorporate any of the needed electronic hardware required to make the motor actually useful which might include flyback diodes, H bridge circuits, speed controls, or anything of that kind. Again this deliberately makes them hard to use for anyone not part of the existing industrial capitalist system.
- In robotics applications, motor control is generally all pushed into the world of software with relatively "dumb" controls going from some sort of microprocessor to the motors. This both cedes control to the Software Gangster Cartel who I regard as enemies of humanity and misses out on a huge array of simple feedback technologies which could exist if the control hardware actually had some thought put into it.
- A motor is just a motor. There is no flexibility in what they do. Sometimes you want vibration at high frequency(100's of Hz), sometimes very low(less than 1 Hz), and yet when you buy a motor, you're forced to choose one, and then, again, are stuck with that and cannot switch based on need.
To address these things, what I seek to do here is(again with a bullet point list):
- Motors are all buildable entirely from trash. Components might be sourced commercially at first, but there must always be a path for future research to replace those sources with a ongoing trash feed.
- Build a *system* of motor construction, which connects many potential designs with each other, where one type of motor can be unmade and remade into another
- The machines to build a motor, such as coil winders, robots to harvest parts from trash etc. are all integrated into the motor. A motor is always able to be used to fabricate more motors like it.
- Feedback, which determines when a coil will be triggered to have current run through it, is done directly in hardware, with as little so-called "smart" control as possible. There are many ways to do this, but I've been using op amps and transistor circuits to make very simple feedback response that allows one driver to be used with many modes of operation, both vibrational and rotational(in both directions).
- Everything is intended to be made with the lowest possible required precision, and no special tools that cannot be easily found in a normal modern environment(tweezers, candles, pliers etc.)
- All components of a completed motor can be repurposed into other similar but unrelated motor technology after the lifetime of a given motor. Once a piece of matter is used to make a motor, it is part of an industrial ecosystem that can exist indefinitely without going back to a landfill, mine, or destructive process.
- The procedures for teaching other humans to make the thing are part of the thing. A motor is not really deployed until the user is fully trained in not just making the motor but training others to make the motor, so that it can spread exponentially through the population
Much of the above list is just re-hashing my list of requirements for free technology from my political philosophical work. But I restate it all specifically because this is the main platform on which I'm trying to actually implement those principles.
I have been documenting some of this work online in several locations, including Instrctables, which are as follows:
Also I have documented a number of motor parts and procedures on Youtube and those can be found in the following list:
What is next here is better documentation, and making a larger range of everything: bigger coils, smaller coils, higher current, lower current, bigger oscillators and smaller. After I have a much larger range of finished working motors with some documentation, the next thing will be creating various applications, such as vibrating blades and other tools for cutting and grinding for harvesting plastic, as well as a coil winder to use the coils to make more coils. Then another major research topic will be replacing the cumbersome electronics with something simpler and easier to build from trash. All my electronics for one unit can be bought for about a dollar online now, but that's still outside my design rules, and I need a design that involves no purchases of any kind at all.
- Trash fabrication; self replication: robots that build robots from trash
- Smashers and grinders and chippers
- high voltage generator with tribo-electricity
- electric generators