View showing other components that still need to be made.
By Justace Clutter
Like some of you, I came to Nova Labs to help realize a project that I have wanted to complete for some time. My project, a German Equatorial star tracking mount for my SLR camera to support long exposure astrophotography, is a combination of circuit board design using KiCad, firmware coding for a STM32F4 microcontroller using the Rust programming language, 3D printing, and metalwork. I used Freecad (Version 0.19) to help with the mechanical design and drawing. Components designed in Freecad can be easily exported as STLs to support the 3D printing elements. While some portions of my project are expected to be 3D printed, the core mechanical elements require a level of rigidity that 3D printing cannot provide. Rather than outsource the metal work I joined Nova Labs and got to work!
As of February 4, I finally completed my project’s first metal milled component. Although simple, it is a critical component which holds one axis of the mount at a 90 degree angle from the other axis as shown in the following figure in red. Additional components still to be manufactured at Nova Labs are shown in blue while components which need to be modified are highlighted in yellow.
To create this component, I started with a block of Aluminum cut on the metal shop’s horizontal band saw (image on left). With this large chunk, I cut the piece down using the Cold Chop Saw and then proceeded to finish the component on the Enco Vertical Mill (image on right).
Nova Labs has been instrumental in helping me go from zero knowledge in metalwork to being able to complete my first part. I would like to specifically thank Daniel Schneider, Sean Hollowood, and Frank Hum for their help on the project. Without their guidance during Metalshop Mondays and several discussions on the Slack #metalworking channel, I could not have completed this component. I have several more parts to go and look forward to continuing to work on the project and update those interested. I will see all of you around the shop and keep building!