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Homemade welding positioner build

Posted by 99gst_racer, Apr 21, 2017
Custom Fabrication - TIG/MIG welding, jig-building, metal working, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and other custom fabrication projects.

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  1. 99gst_racer

    99gst_racer Moderator Coloma, Michigan

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    I've been wanting a welding positioner for a while now and just didn't want to cough up the price that the market commands. A decent entry level one is ~$1400 and they easily go up to $3000 without going overboard on size and features. Even a medium sized Chinese model is $900 after shipping... Ugghh... So I decided to build one. :)

    I started with a 2" OD spindle to have a large "thru" bore. 2-1/4"-8 threaded snout for common availability chucks. After welding the snout tot he spindle, I chucked it up in my lathe to recut the shoulder square.

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    Next, I started on the frame using 1" square tubing.

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    Next, I made a captured, spring-loaded locking pin. The pin is machined from 304.

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    I chose to make the sprocket removeable in case I ever needed to change the ration or service the pillowball block. So I welded a split collar to it to make it a bolt-on affair.

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    Onto the electronics. The motor is a NEMA 23 stepper motor. Not incredibly powerful, but very precise. And I get a 3:1 torque multiplication using sprockets to help get the power that I need. It's all controlled by a Arduino microprocessor. I bench tested everything and programmed the Arduino prior to mounting it all in a box. Once I verified it all worked, it was onto the junction box.

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    I chose a plastic box so that it would isolate the electronics from the frame. The motor itself is also isolated from the frame using plastics. As you can see, it all barely fits. Perfect. :) 120v comes into the box, the power supply steps it down to 24v for the motor. And I also have a separate power supply to step the 120v down to 5v for the Arduino and LCD display.

    I had a front panel machined and laser engraved. It was wither this or drilling holes through plastic and using my label maker - this panel gave it a nice finishing touch.

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    And after priming and painting the frame and reassembly, here is the final product. Grounding is achieved by wrapping a nickel-plated grounding strap around the spindle. it's held tight with a spring and I have a 4-ga wire traveling from it down to a brass post. This helps keep my welding clamp low and out of the way. Speeds are adjustable between 0 and 10 RPM, in .1 rpm increments.


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    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
    #1
  2. ec17pse

    ec17pse Freelancer London, Europe

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    Looks awesome, nice work
     
    #2
  3. 99gst_racer

    99gst_racer Moderator Coloma, Michigan

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    Thanks Bobby!
     
    #3
    DetroitStroker likes this.
  4. ec17pse

    ec17pse Freelancer London, Europe

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    Your welcome, how did you get into learning programing and making the chip boards etc? Its a great skill to have, Thats 1 thing ive never found easy to do, mainly because i hate wiring haha
     
    #4
  5. 99gst_racer

    99gst_racer Moderator Coloma, Michigan

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    It's all new to me. I had help with component selection and also with the code. But the electronics are more simple than they look. The LCD was designed to be used with the Arduino, and the screw boards make it all a press-together affair. I certainly learned quite a bit about stepper electronics with this project. Just understanding the function (how and why) of each component made everything easier for me. This may someday edge me toward converting my lathe to CNC. :)
     
    #5
    SAKJR likes this.
  6. ec17pse

    ec17pse Freelancer London, Europe

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    I guess everything seems hard untill you get into it and learn about it, most certainly is impressive stuff.
    I would not like to imagine what it would cost to convert a lathe to cnc, a good fee grand right, good luck on that project,
     
    #6
  7. 99gst_racer

    99gst_racer Moderator Coloma, Michigan

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    I just found a couple more pics. This is a steady rest I made. It is positionable to be anywhere that it needs to be. There are 7 different bosses welded in the base to be able to move this steady rest around.

    20170421_134620_zpskssfkdnw.jpg


    And these are my first welds with it. Done just a couple days ago. A little bit too much heat, but it's a start! I figured there would have been some small amount of resistance in the grounding set-up, so I threw a little more heat at it than I normally would have. Turns out that I probably didn't need to. It will take some getting used to with the heat saturation with one continuous pass VS. starting and stopping 2-3 times to complete the weld. I'm looking forward to playing with it soon though.

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    #7
    ec17pse likes this.
  8. twicks69

    twicks69 DSM Wiseman Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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    That is pretty darn awesome Paul!!! Great work!
     
    #8
  9. 99gst_racer

    99gst_racer Moderator Coloma, Michigan

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    Thanks Tim!
     
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  10. YZFR1

    YZFR1 Proven Member Atlanta, Georgia

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    That's pretty awesome, man! I just think it's super cool that you actually got it figured out like that. :applause:
     
    #10
  11. lasthope05

    lasthope05 Proven Member Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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    And here, i was about to make a cheap homemade one with a bicycle wheel and drill. Lol
     
    #11
  12. 99gst_racer

    99gst_racer Moderator Coloma, Michigan

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    Thanks man.

    You still can, and you'll certainly save money. Even though I built this myself, I still have around $700 invested (the chuck was $180 alone). It's not cheap, but I did save a healthy chunk of change and had fun building it too. I've seen the wheel/drill positioners and they get the job done. If you do decide to build it, post up some pics.
     
    #12
  13. Jsrunnlus

    Jsrunnlus Proven Member Piedmont, South_Carolina

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    Very nice job on that piece!
     
    #13
    99gst_racer likes this.
  14. kmetiuk

    kmetiuk Proven Member Edmonton, AB_Canada

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    Very very nice. Love the Arduino....such a powerful device.
     
    #14
    99gst_racer likes this.
  15. pat white

    pat white Probationary Member West Bay, NL_Canada

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    I like ...beautiful beads
     
    #15
  16. RipperXX

    RipperXX Proven Member Royston, Georgia

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    Wow! I have got to figure out something like that. Would really take my welding up a notch, though it's not needed where I work, I don't care I'm always trying to do better than the old guy that's been there 30 years welding LOL. ( I'm getting close to his skill now but he can still best me.)
     
    #16

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