Sensor Base Design the Hard Way


If I ever join you climbing a mountain, I’ll probably be the one wearing roller skates and carrying a piano.

Sometimes it seems to me that I have a stubborn determination to do things the hard way. For example, today’s task was to create some designs for an outdoor air quality sensor. I wanted a circular fitting to go in the base of a pipe and a support that would attach to the fitting and hold the processor and air quality sensor.

Some people (I think I call these people the “sensible ones”) would reach for their CAD tool and begin designing. Not me though. I reached for my Python interpeter and the ezdxf library that lets you write Autocad files from your code.

I wanted to use the “nut holder” approach to fitting where the laser cut plastic (which is what I want to make the stand out of) holds nuts that a bolt engages with to grip it. I’ve used these on the Hull Pixelbot quite successfully. I was quite proud of the “nut holder generator” that I’d written for the Pixelbot, it even makes each change of direction into a tiny curve, which apparently reduces the chances of the plastic cracking after it has been cut. However, my original code only drew the holders in one direction, whereas for the holder I wanted to put them all around the edges of a circle, as shown above.

Cue lots of bits of paper covered in drawings of triangles, sines and cosines and cursing over code. Eventually I managed it though, and the next step will be to get the plans cut into plastic so that we can make some sensors.