Tindie Fundraiser – Gauge Stepper Breakout

blackPointerI put my second product up on tindie.com as a fundraiser.  It’s a breakout board for one can use to make custom Analog style gauges.  The actual drive is a stepper motor – the same model used in GM cars and trucks.    The breakout uses an arduino library written by Guy Carpenter, who has a great blog over at http://guy.carpenter.id.au/gaugette/


So far things have been going great, I was able to make my funding goal in less than 24 hours!  Needless to say I’m very happy.  I’m sure the US Postal Service is going to love me too when I start shipping out the gauges ;-).

Here’s a link to the fundraiser : http://tindie.com/shops/TheRengineer/analog-gauge-stepper-breakout-board/

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17 Responses to Tindie Fundraiser – Gauge Stepper Breakout

  1. Ryan says:

    I recently purchased one of these and I’m wondering what went wrong :p

    Mine is MUCH slower than what you show in your videos, even with a tiny piece of tape as a super-light needle. Also, with a simple sketch (using X25 library) that sweeps between min/max step, it occasionally stutters/hiccups rather than smoothly arcing back and forth.

    The code is brutally simple, so I’m worried that either I screwed up assembly of the kit (only other soldering I’ve done is on pinball machines, and their solder joints are comparatively gianormous), or that I got a dud of a stepper motor. I’m unsure of where to go from here…

    • Ryan says:

      Oops! I said “your videos”, but I was referring to the videos from Guy Carpenter demonstrating your board. Sorry about that. Either way – got any advice? :D

    • Ryan says:

      All set now. Bad power supply was the culprit.

      • TheRengineer says:

        Glad it was just a bad power supply! Just curious what was the power supply issue – the motor only draws about 20ma with the coils on.

        • Ryan says:

          It was completely dead, so all power was being drawn from USB. I got the same behavior if I disconnected the PS entirely and ran the sketch with only USB connected. Once I switched to a working 9v supply, things started working like a charm.

          Should it work just as well being powered only by USB?

  2. Peter says:

    Hi, Would it be possible to build something like this, to drive 15 automotive style gauge stepper motors. Including one speed gauge from gps receiver? I would like to build a bespoke gauge cluster for a twin engined boat. 3 reasons, 1-It would look better than so many 2 inch gauges, 2-Finding all the gauges from the same manufacturer is hard and 3-They charge a fortune for that many gauges.

    • TheRengineer says:

      Hi Peter,
      It would absolutely be possible to drive 15 of these in a cluster. You could use multiple AVR or PIC chips to do it, or go with a driver made for the task. Switec makes a quad driver chip specifically for these motors. Unfortunately it is hard to find – but the AX1201728SG (clone) is available on ebay. Check guy carpenters blog – specifically for more info.
      I’m also working on a “smart” stepper board, which will put the smarts all on one board – and allow daisy chains.

      • Peter says:

        That sounds very interesting. Now for the problem, I don’t know the difference between an AVR and a PIC. I found this page while searching for the answers to this question. So…. How would I get someone to set this up for me? I’m ok with a soldering iron and have built some simple circuits before but this is way over my head. Is it something that somebody could design and I could build? If yes, any ideas who could do it?

        Thanks very much for taking the time to reply.


  3. Sean Neal says:

    I ordered the stepper breakout from you through Tindie. The stepper motor itself is bad. It never homes back to the same position, and it sounds like it is grinding. I am just using the example X25 library code and the plastic needle you provided. I would like it replaced if possible. Is there any other way to get in touch with you?

    • TheRengineer says:

      Hi Sean! You can always contact me at TheRengineer@therengineer.com.
      With your stepper motor problem, please check your wiring and first – The stepper can make a grinding noise if the wires are not all connected. The same thing can happen if the “update” code is not called fast enough in Guy’s X25 library. (This isn’t actually grinding, but cogging)
      A good test of the motor would be to power off the arduino and move the pointer by hand. It should turn relatively (you can feel the gears moving, but it won’t stick). Once it hits the mechanical stop, the pointer will slip on the shaft, and you’ll feel more back pressure.
      Anyway – try these things, and let me know how it turns out. If your motor is broken, I’ll get you fixed up.
      Adam (TheRengineer)

  4. Derek says:

    Can you share any details on the 3D printed needle? I’m considering ways to mount a cardstock disc to one of these motors, and started with a thin acrylic wheel as a hub. However, I’m having trouble getting the hole for the motor’s shaft the right size – thicker acrylic could work, although weight goes up quickly. Now I’m wondering if a modified needle would work better – thicker hub, and maybe four shorter blades instead of just the one.

  5. TheRengineer says:

    Mike, The switecX25 library from Guy Carpenter can be found here: https://github.com/clearwater/SwitecX25 Follow Guy’s example for using the motor with an arduino. If you have any other questions on hookup or the library, ask away.

  6. Mike says:

    Ok. Thanks.
    One last question. How do I load the libraries. Just add a call library header in my Arduino code and it magically calls it? Or, do I need to do something else? My favorite program is solder, so any help is appreciated.

  7. TheRengineer says:

    Sorry for the late reply – There are a couple of ways to do it. I’ve always copied the library in question to the /libraries/ folder under my arduino install.
    So for the switec driver, your path would look like this:
    From there you can just include the headers in your source files.

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