Make it Slide!


After having the first prototype of the hyperspectral camera rotating mount, it was time to start the rail version. We have aluminum extrusion in the lab, but I still need to design the carriage that will carry the camera. One important factor in this design is that it has to be modular, meaning that we have to be able to make it as small or big as needed. Having all this in mind, I set off in search for solutions that would allow me to put together this modular rail.


To find the best material that will balance weight, modularity, and precision in order to create the rail version of this product. 

Materials and Methods:

Internet searches were the main method of investigation.


  • Aluminum Extrusion
  • Rails
  • Rollers 
  • Linear Systems
  • Linear guides


After surfing the web, I concluded on 4 potential paths to take in order to commence the build of the rail version of the hyperspectral camera rotating mechanism. The options are: linear guides,  Buy Rollers or 3D print rollers.

In terms of guides, the options were good but expensive. I found T, W, and V style linear guides. I easily found T and W, but I didn’t find V until the end of my search. This was due to the fact that it’s not common among the mass-produced material. The problem with the 40×40 aluminum extrusion that we have in the lab is that there exists almost nothing in terms of rollers, and the ones that do exist are expensive.  I did a couple of test prints for the rollers, but I was not satisfied with the quality, therefore this was not an option. 

As of right now, I think that going with the V style guides is our best option. This is because they are the most economical of all and they are specifically manufactured for linear motion systems. The price is about $6/m, compared to the others this is cheap! The other materials were coming in at $825.82/m, $301.72/m, and $65.55/m; this is for the w and t style rails. 

The website that carries the V style guides also has the necessary components to mount the rails onto the aluminum extrusion and has the plate for the carriage. This way we can get everything from the same vendor and at a  reasonable price. 


3D printed rollers3D printed rollers

3D printed rollers


W Style guides

T Guides 1

T Guides 2

V Guides

Low and slow


Why go slow? We need to take pictures at very slow speeds and at a continuous rate using a hyperspectral camera! With the old electronics board, this was not possible, but the new one works amazing!


Rotate the stepper motor at very slow and steady rates to allow the camera to take pictures. 

Materials and Methods: 

Using the Sparkfun’s EasyDriver Stepper Motor Driver, we are going to drive the stepper motors for this project. We were previously using Adafruit’s TB6612 Stepper Motor Driver but it was not giving us the performance that wee need.  Here is the wired up motor driver:


Using Sparkfun’s board we are able to achieve the results that we wanted. We are going use the new board instead. It works great at very low speeds and is very steady.


3D Printing a Culvert Entrance


I’ve been working with Desiree D. Tullos to create a 3D printed culvert entrance. The designs are done and are about to be printed. These will help illustrate the flow of water in a real system. The designs were created to simulate an efficient and inefficient culvert. 


To simulate the inefficiency and efficiency of water flow in a real culvert using 3D printed culvert entrances and acrylic tubing for the pathway of the water. 

Materials and Methods: 

Desiree’s team sketched the design in 2D and then passed the specifications to me. I then designed the 3D model, in Fusion360, from the 2d design. We will print these on the Fusion3-f400. Here are the designs: 



I still need to print them, but I did test print the entrance of the piece and it fits well with the acrylic tubing. Here are some pictures of the print:


Acrylic Tubing with o-ring Acrylic Tubing with o-ring 

Acrylic Tubing with o-ring 

3D printed entrance on acrylic 3D printed entrance on acrylic 

3D printed entrance on acrylic 

Electronics Enclosure for Evaporimeter

Having the electronics secured and accessible on the evaporimeter is essential. The solution that we came up with is having a transparent jar that would screw on the evaporimeter’s pole attachment. Here is the updated design:

When turned to the underside, one can see the extruded base to accommodate the threads and the breadboard and battery compartments. The breadboard slot might be edited to have a slide in feature instead of having a little slot to hold it in. The battery slot is just fine. Here are some pictures of the assembled pole attachement with the jar:

Assembled EvaporimeterAssembled Evaporimeter

Assembled Evaporimeter

Pole attachment without the jar.Pole attachment without the jar.

Pole attachment without the jar.

The inside is not a smooth print because it prints on the support material, but we are more concerned about function of the inside piece and not the aesthetics. 

Jar and pole attachment Jar and pole attachment 

Jar and pole attachment 

A humidity/temperature sensor and a uSD card adapter are being added to the electronics. I prototyped these new electronics and wrote code for them. An intern here at the lab is integrating the code and new electronics into the current design. 

Designing Base for Camera System

Most of the design for the rotating system is complete, but there are still some minor things to straighten out. One of the next things to design is the actual attachment to the pole that will be holding the whole system. This attachment has to be really strong because it will be holding the whole weight of the camera and rotating system. Here is the initial design of the base:

My initial idea is to have the attachment slide over the top of the pole and use some bolts as set screws to make sure that it will not move or fall off. The attachment has to also be connect to the motor housing. As of right now, I have four bolts coming from the motor housing into the base attach. I am trying to think about a way to get the nuts into the piece itselft, this way they are secure and will not fall out. I might just end up making a bigger holes on the bottom and use a socket to tighten them. Here is the the pole that we are using for this project.

Hyperspectral Camera TripodHyperspectral Camera Tripod

Hyperspectral Camera Tripod

This week I will finish the design and print it. I will then proceed to mount the rotating system on it, and start testing the whole thing. 

3D Printed Hyperspectral Camera Mount

I have 3D printed the pieces from the initial design. Here are pictures of the pieces: 

Shaft CouplerShaft Coupler

Shaft Coupler

Assembled Shaft CouplerAssembled Shaft Coupler

Assembled Shaft Coupler

This is one of the most important pieces of the whole assembly. This made from two pieces that screw together. The top piece holds the 360 swivel in place and the bottom piece is the shaft coupler. The next iteration needs some improvements, but this design works great. 

Shaft BaseShaft Base

Shaft Base

This base is the rest for the shaft coupler; the base plate of the shaft coupler rests on the bearings. The shaft base connects to the motor housing making a solid base for the camera. 

Disassembled baseDisassembled base

Disassembled base

Assembled Base Assembled Base 

Assembled Base 

Here is the assembled piece. The motor electronics have been tested and soon will be integrated. Some more things have to be edited in the desing before printing a working version. 

The post before this one outlines the CAD for these pieces, for a more detailed description of the design look below. 

Hyperspectral Camera Pole Mount

This project is intended to be a mount for a hyperspectral camera. The interesting thing about this project is that the mount has to be able rotate and tilt up and down. The spinning and tilting will be determined by the user of the camera. Here I will post pictures of the CAD renderings and explain how they all go together. 

CAD model of pole mountCAD model of pole mount

CAD model of pole mount

This first image is the model of the first design. This mount is composed of four printed pieces: motor mount, shaft rest, and the shaft( motor coupler). the shaft is made out of two printed pieces that are then screwed together.

This 3D model is the shaft base/rest. The base has four ball bearings on which the shaft will be resting on. Theses ball bearings will allow for a smooth rotation of the camera. If these were not to be there, the shaft would be resting on plastic and the would potentially have a rough rotation. The hexagons that extrude from the sides are the locations of the ball bearings. This base will be the connecting piece between the shaft and motor mount. 

This 3D model is the motor housing. It is a pretty straightforward design. This model will house the motor and connect to the base that will be connected to the pole. It has slots that will allow airflow through the piece and keep the motor from overheating. 

These two models are the shaft/ motor coupler. The top model is the piece that attaches to the 360 swivel and the bottom model screws on. This is the piece that rests on the four ball bearings and will be spinning.

I will now be printing the pieces and verifying that they all fit how they should be. Most of this design will be used for the other project. This other project will also be for the hyperspectral camera, but this design will have rails instead of a pole. 

Super Validator Wick

Cutting up the wick has been the last part of getting the evaporimeter completed. The method used to cut the wick is quite unique. We placed densely-packed wick inside an acrylic tube and then froze it. This is done so that the wick is easier to cut because when it is dry it is difficult. Freezing it allows us to cut it with a bandsaw really quick.The wick is as long as the tube itself and then cut to size.  Here is a picture of what the setup should look like: 

Setup of the wick inside the tube.Setup of the wick inside the tube.

Setup of the wick inside the tube.

After cutting them we just insert them into the evaporimeter and let the water melt. We then fluff the wick and the system is ready to go. The only problem with this method is that the wick gets dirty while cutting. The bandsaw cleans itself on the wick and since the wick is white it is really noticeable.

Fiberglass wick after cutting and fluffingFiberglass wick after cutting and fluffing

Fiberglass wick after cutting and fluffing

Em50G Data Loss Solution

Losing data while performing field test is very inconvenient. The sensor cables connected to this data logger come out very easily and this causes data loss. I made a small clip that locks on the cable and rests on the sensor socket. This will prevent the wire from coming out. Here is the 3D model of the piece: 

Gripv13 By Manuel Lopez Modelo »

This grip will fit on most sensor tips. It is strong enough to keep clamp on the sensors but flexible to accommodate bigger sensor tips. Here is the actual piece on the Em50G. 

One concern with this solution is that the pieces might get lost since they are individual grips. The other concern is that while placing or removing the piece, the board might get damaged. Here is another solution that was proposed:


squeezev1 By Manuel Lopez Modelo »

This solution provides a more compact design because it’s only one piece. This design has a strong grip on the cable by pressing it against the foam. Here is are images of the actual piece. This design takes a little more effort to put in because you have to press the top really hard to get the sidelocks to get in place.