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Automatic laser level made from an old Hard Disk Drive.

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Picture of Automatic laser level made from an old Hard Disk Drive.

I need a laser level, but I don't need one very often so dropping a few hundred on something I might use once in a while was just not going to happen.
That still left me with out a laser level, and the only solution was to make one.

So with nothing more than a few hand tools and some odds and ends from my junk pile I got to work.

For my automatic laser level I decided to use a gimbal and because I wanted to make the most accurate device possible I needed to make it as smooth and precise as possible.

What I needed was a cheap and highly precise bearing assembly already made. That's when I hit on the idea of using the bearing assembly from a HDD.

 
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Step 1: Manufacturing the gimbal - first axis.

First job was to strip the HDD down to its components.

For this I used a Torx drive 8H and 6H.

Once the drive was striped I looked at how to use the motor assembly as part of the gimbal.

Whats first noticeable about the drive motor is that the are threaded holes on a wide drum, this will make a good seat for attaching my aluminum angle.

Using a peace of 25x25x1.5mm aluminum angle I drilled holes to match the threaded holes on the HDD motor, this was done using the collar that holds the HDD platters in place as my drilling template.

Step 2: Manufacturing the gimbal - second axis.

For the second axis I used the bearing from the read and write arm of the HDD.

I cut a bolt down to size and using a couple of nuts as spacers and some heat shrink to keep the nut centered in the bearing I assembled the second axis on to the aluminum angle.

Now I was ready to assemble the second axis to the first axis to make my gimbal.

wingman3582 months ago

Cool project. I'm interested in seeing pictures of the steps you took to calibrate (not really understanding your description) and what does the projected beam look like?

crispndry (author)  wingman3582 months ago
Cheers wingman, sorry for the late reply, I missed your comment. I have posted a pic a few comments up showing the calibration technique and the projected beam is a spot.
I made this project today. It works awesome, though I took out the insides of the plate motor as to have less resistance, though minimal it may give better accuracy. Awesome project, works great
crispndry (author)  ledspeakermaster2 months ago
That's great, I'm glad my project inspired you and that's a good idea about taking insides of the motor out. I have had another look at mine and I'm more than happy that the weight of the pendulum overcomes any resistance that may be there. But in saying that if I modify my project to include a 45 degree or plumb laser I will remove the motor's insides.

Congratulations. Can you please upload a video of it while it's is working?

crispndry (author)  ameri1102 months ago

Ok, video didn't really turn out very good so I have drawn up the calibration as a diagram to help explain what I did, hope it helps.

laserlevel.jpg

Thank you for the diagram.

I know what do laser levels do. (like ones on youtube)

but I cant understand the relation to the water level!

for example you set the laser level to 2meters above the ground and measure the difference between laser level and the water level? right?

and in what situations you need to measure the water level?

I'm really sorry for this much questions. I'm not smart at all :-D

crispndry (author)  ameri1102 months ago
The water level was only used once to give me fixed points far apart so I could adjust my laser to a perfectly horizontal beam. The wiki "http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_level" probably explains the concept better than I can. And ask as many questions as you need, its great your interested.
crispndry (author)  ameri1102 months ago
Hi ameri110, will get a video up at the weekend to show it working.

Thanks my friend.

I'm waiting for that :-)

ameri1103 months ago

what does this device do?

wikkit ameri1102 months ago

It shines a laser beam more or less perfectly horizontally even when the box is not quite level. It is a replacement for a water level.

A higher end commercial version of this uses sensors and actuators to level itself, rather than gravity, and then spins the laser to create a plane of level laser light rather than a beam.

ameri110 wikkit2 months ago

Thanks for your good reply

Can you upload a video if you have made it?

wikkit ameri1102 months ago

It shines a laser beam more or less perfectly horizontally even when the box is not quite level. It is a replacement for a water level.

A higher end commercial version of this uses sensors and actuators to level itself, rather than gravity, and then spins the laser to create a plane of level laser light rather than a beam.

Ortzinator3 months ago

How did you power the motor? I've tried powering a HDD motor before and it would not spin.

phar Ortzinator3 months ago

if you want to make one of these drives spin you'll need a brushless motor driver circuit.. just putting power on will just cause the motor to jerk a little and not move.. there are 4 leads, 3 will have the same resistance to remaining lead, this is how you know how to wire it.

They have to be powered by the circuit board fitted to the drive, if you leave this connected to the motor and plug in a spare four pin connector from your computer, the drive should spin, these are brushless motors and develop a fair amount of power for their size, I'm sure I've seen something on Youtube about converting one into a miniature angle grinder, try this link

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=running+hard+drive+motors

tego1 Ortzinator3 months ago

It's a pitty, it could be fun. :-)

This device doesn't use motors but gravity.

evgen_ru3 months ago

Goooood!!! :)

victorvector3 months ago

Very innovative use of surplus material.

Good work !

billbillt3 months ago

double plus good

crispndry (author) 3 months ago

Thanks for the great comments. I was originally going to pass the wires around the joints but the iPod wires are so thin and light that against the pendulums weight they really have no impact with the movement. The range of movement isn't to big so as long as the wires dont snag it works great.

Tazmjm693 months ago
Very creative idea!
zrelli3 months ago

genius idia

andrea biffi3 months ago

yes Rimar is right, you can also bring the wires passing near the joint, where they will make a smaller moment

rimar20003 months ago

Great idea, great design.

I suggest you to coil the thin wires, that will reduce the force it eventually can make on the pendulum/gimbal. Longer, better.