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Author Topic: Project Chronos Kits
tiddler
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Posts: 17
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Post Project Chronos Kits
on: May 8, 2014, 05:46
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The Chronos project kits are something new. I purchased a couple of kits and thought it would be appreciated to report on the results.

The new kit forms and printed circuit board shield for the arduino are a great new addition to the Chronos project. The full Chronos timer kit is a great kit. It truely offers a person with just about everything a person would need to complete an assembly of the chronos timer control box. Upon opening the box it was a pleasure to see everything packaged together and organized in a logical and labelled manner. Resistors for the assembly were all labelled and even segregated into individual envelopes so that a person didn't even have to read resistor codes to figure out which componets to use where. Doing anything in a kit form a person should have a basic understanding of electronics and an aptitude for component assembly. Soldering skill need to be moderately good as some of the componets like the polulu motor board have very small pad surface area and can be a bit of a challenge to get a successful solder application and connectivity. It would be recommended to have a temperature controlled solder station, fine guage solder wire, flux, and flux cleaners along with appropriate small tipped cutters and needle nose pliers.

The kits are very new so there isn't any enclosed assembly notes. This is not a problem because controller assembly instructions are available for download from the web site. The current assembly instructions are a bit dated as the instructions are based on original breadboard construction and not the new printed circuit board (PCB) assembly. Basically the components are labelled on the silkscreen of the PCB so it makes it quite easy to follow. While everything is basically encluded, be prepared to possibly change some components out to make the final product even better.

Example: The PCB comes with the ability to have a programming/run switch. None is included in the kit nor is there any mounting hole for one in the case. A person could choose to just use 2 header pins and a 0.1inch jumper typically used on computer assemblies to provide the switch capability. I went out an purchased an alternate push on - push off switch and drilled a hole in the chassis to bring that functionality to the outside of the case.

Another example is the mounting of the dB9 connector. The rear mounted dB connector had supplied screw lock assemblies. The typical problem with this rear mount is that the panel thickness often prevents the mating connector from properly seating into the dB connector. This is often cause by screw locks being higher than the rim edge of the connectors as is in this case. I opted to replace the connector with typical solder cup chassis mounted connector where it is mounted external on the chassis. The d-Sub hole had to be widened out with a file because the back size is larger than the front size of the component. Adding nuts and washers to the screw locks totally secured the dB 9 connector and now ensures full engagement of the mating connector pins.

I was totally taken aside by the puzzle box chassis. I can't believe the tight tolerance machining achieved such that the box can be friction fit assembled without the need of glues or adhesives. i would really like to know how Chris achieves such close and tight milling of these plastic components. I'm totally impressed! Just like the box edge, the same goes for all the mounted components construction like the LED fitting in the cutout and the raised platform for the arduino and shield to mate with the holes for the USB and power connections.

One thing to note sometimes component selection may change and no longer fit the design cut outs. Take for instance Chris has been using fairly large control potentiometers for adjust and mode control inputs. There is a slot cut in the front panel that acts as a key to prevent the pot from turning. The production run is now sourcing a smaller form factor potentiometer and the key hole no longer matches. So be prepared to take a small drill bit and drill to cut a new key hole to match the new supplied components. I don't consider this problem with the kit because in electronics components often get substituted with replacements and sometimes form factor is not always identical. My career is in the electronics industry and I do encounter such problems on a regular basis.

I want to thank Chris for considering and designing the PCB like an arduino shield and going back to many case mounted components and wiring. It makes if extremely flexible to adapt this unit to a variety of housing configurations. I have no problem recommending the full kit assembly to people to consider as a viable option. The only reservation I would not recommend this to a beginner electronics hobbiest as there is some fine and close solder tasks to perform. This can make it a bit of a challenge to ensure good solder conductivity is achieved and a realiable chronos timer is achieved at the end of the project. If you don't think you can handle soldering tight in on 1mm solder pads, then seriously just order the assembled unit and save yourself the frustration. You really don't want to end up with bad or cold solder joints and yor really don't want end up having lifted PCB pads because of poor soldering skills.

I love the kit and I just got the last of the first one assembled tonight and now I have to finish the other kits and then load up the arduino code and go through the calibration process.

Todd Benko

Chris@Chro-
nos
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Posts: 137
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Post Re: Project Chronos Kits
on: May 9, 2014, 19:33
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Thank you for the write up!

You were right with the potentiometers. The older ones we used came in short supply for some reason, i couldn't find them anywhere. I moved to these new ones and you are correct the holes for the pins do not line up. You can either drill new holes, or just use some pliers and take the tab off. it comes off very easily. If they are tightened up properly they should stay in thier spot, a small glob of GOOP glue will eliminate any chance of them twisting.

that is a very fair review, and i appreciate you taking the time to write it up.

To address a couple points, you are correct, there is no mounting hole for the Display switch. When we first started this the displays we used could be connected while uploading code with no problems. Unfortunately that design was changed on us and they became very susceptible to being "bricked" if you did not remove the arduino, so we added a switch to the feed on our newer controllers. We had already moved away from the older box design, but it still fit well for DIY purposes. One could install a small rocket switch, or a normally ON pushbutton and just hold it in when uploading. I went ahead and set the new PCB up to force people to make a decision, either hard wire it, add a jumper, or add a switch.

The db9 connectors. I never really liked them. You cant get a decent connection without a screwdriver, but DB9 is very accessible for DIY and easy to use. Plus our instructions already had the DB-9 connector on it, and the box comes with the DB-9 hole.

The provided hex nuts should still allow good connection, we had to search quite a bit to find some as short as these. The first batch we found was perfect, but when those were out we were unable to find any more with such a low profile head. The ones we provide we have used on plenty of these enclosures and they SHOULD work just fine, but you do need to screw it in completely.

The puzzlebox chassis is all done by hand. I use a very thin hacksaw blade on a wooden handle. It took a couple tries to get it to fit right, but after you do 2-3 of them its easy to get that fit.

I am a fan of the Arduino shield design. The Arduino's really are genius, and so easy to use. It makes it possible to make very complicated DIY projects much easier. I have built about 20 or so of the old style controllers, i used the same instructions on the website, and it really was a pain in the ass. All those jumpers and solder connections just increase the likely hood of a failure. By designing a shield it really makes things easier, the labeling makes it a breese to know what connects where, and hopefully more people will be willing to try this as a DIY project.

By the way, I'm kidding no the puzzlebox. That is laser cut. ;)

geppetto
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Posts: 3
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Post Re: Project Chronos Kits
on: May 10, 2014, 12:03
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I'll second what Todd says.
I just finished making up a control kit for a friend who doesn't have soldering skills.
I fitted a small toggle switch for program mode which was easy to do.
With the smaller control pots, I just snipped off the tabs and made sure the control nuts were tight.
Re the 9 pin socket, I just used countersunk screws in place of the hex nuts to secure the D socket.
The plug holds in tight enough without needing to be secured with screws.
The only other thing I needed to do was to drill a hole either side of the display for the jack sockets
as no holes were pre drilled in this kit.
Oh and I fitted a panel mount fuse holder to put a fuse between the motor driver board and the
12 volts in from my lead acid battery.

Anyhoo, it all works and it's a great value kit.
It won't be me that will be using it but I had fun building it

Regards
Philip

tiddler
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Posts: 17
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Post Re: Project Chronos Kits
on: May 12, 2014, 04:23
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Phillip,

that is strange, my kit had the holes cut for the two 3.5mm input and output jacks.

Todd

Chris@Chro-
nos
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Posts: 137
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Post Re: Project Chronos Kits
on: May 12, 2014, 19:55
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Wow, i just saw that. Phillip, there were NO holes on either side of the display?

geppetto
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Posts: 3
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Post Re: Project Chronos Kits
on: May 13, 2014, 07:51
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No Chris, there were no holes pre drilled for the jack sockets.
Not a problem though, I decided it was just easier to drill two holes rather
than have to request a bag of holes from you :)

Chris@Chro-
nos
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Posts: 137
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Post Re: Project Chronos Kits
on: May 13, 2014, 20:08
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Sorry for that.. we get them lazered out at a plastic shop we have a good relationship with, Kyle normally handles that side, ill bring this up to his attention. It could be that they have 2 copies of these files floating around and used the wrong ones.

How is everything working? have you run into any issues? Also, what motor are you using?

geppetto
Newbie
Posts: 3
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Post Re: Project Chronos Kits
on: May 14, 2014, 12:31
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No problem Chris...

The guy who is using it says it's all working fine.
The motor is one of these

http://www.hobbytronics.co.uk/motor-control/stepper-motors/stepper-motor

I fitted it and a 6mm threaded rod to his existing slide mount, one of these...

http://tinyurl.com/lzzs8do

Philip

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