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Help with a project brainstorm. Answered

 I am building an automated parts storage thingy. I envision having a catalog of parts with numbers next to them. I enter a number on a keypad that corresponds to the part, and the drawer containing the part slides out* and the smaller compartment containing the part's lid flips open** and I enter the amount I took or put in and it logs it*** and notifies me when I am low on a part****
*How would I make it slide out?
**How would I do this? Electromagnets, maybe?
***How would it remember? Compact flash or SD memory?
****How would it notify me? Network to the printer? I think i would press a button that said "STOCK" and it would tell me what to stock up on.

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jeff-o
jeff-o

11 years ago

A single servo attached to each drawer, with a spring-loaded lid, is probably all you'd need as far as mechanicals are concerned.  Each servo would need its own "address," so the computer can activate just that one.

You're looking at some custom software running on a computer, an interface between the computer and the bins, and various power supplies.  Definitely not an easy task!  You must be going through a lot of parts to make this worthwhile.


One low-tech way of doing the same thing would be to set a "water level" for each bin.  Any time you take a part from the bin, compare the quantity remaining to the water level.  If the quantity is lower than the water level, order more parts.  You could have a "shopping list" attached on a clipboard next to your bins where you can record parts that need to be ordered, and each week you'd check that list and order whatever is written on there.

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steveastrouk
steveastrouk

11 years ago

How about something that picks a drawer OUT of a rack, brings it to the front, and, at the front, there are a strip of LEDs alongside the drawer. The position of the item is indicated by the flashing LEDs.

Frankly, the software is the very least of your problems.....

Steve

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lemonie
lemonie

11 years ago

You want stock control software (essentially a database) and in practical terms a bar-code reader or similar. Having drawers open isn't going to help, but you might have the space identify it's self with a LED.
It's the sort of thing you buy rather than build really.

L

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Re-design
Re-design

11 years ago

This is not a simple project.  But if you break it down into parts then it is certainly doable.

I would design and perfect the draw system, then motor system using manual switches, the convert to computer control but manual control of computer, the write software to control and track everything.

If you try to do it all at once you are doomed to failure.  Even an engineering company would do it in stages.

If you just used an electromagnet the drawer would slam out, probably shooting your parts all over the place.

What I would try is a linear motor like what is used on some floppy disk drives that moves a magnet on the end.  on the back of the drawer is a metal plate that the magnet would connect to.  THen the motor would push the drawer out and a leaver on the door would hit a catch on the top of the frame and the door would open.  Then when you hit close the motor reverses pulling the magnet back with the drawer with it.  When the drawer hits the back the magnet disconnects.  You will need gear and software to run the motor.

Doing a motor for each drawer is going to be very expensive.  What you need is a motor unit mounted on a sliding framework that works like a cnc machine.  It would move horizontally and vertically to the correct drawer to open.  So you will need controlling gear and software for the positioning also.

For the inventory control, you will have to write or find some inventory control software.  Unless you put barcode tags or something like that on each piece you will have to tell the software if you remove a piece or not.  You will have to tell the software how many pieces to keep on hand, how many are on hand, update anytime you add or remove any piece.  You could write it so the software would show on the screen how may are available, how many are minimum and flash a message showing that you should order the parts.  If you do the software writing then you can make it as simple or elaborate as you want it to be.  You could have it write a report on ALL items if you wanted.