Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sick as a dog but soldiering on!

Yesterday my linear actuator arrived. Today I looked hard at the door opening mechanism to see how I could implement my actuator. Here's the mechanism.
Looking at both the mechanism and the actuator, it seems that the actuator will fit nicely into the square box with the silver button on top. I'll have to make a bigger hole in the lid or perhaps make a new lid but it looks ideal. The button is something I want to move to the console anyway. That's the hillbilly horn button. Ideally, of course I want the real horn button to work but an auxiliary button is as good as anything else right now.

After that I had to take a break because I was exhausted. On Thursday I had to head home early from work as I wasn't feeling well. By Thursday evening I was disoriented with a fever. That continued mostly through Friday. Today I'm almost OK but need to take frequent breaks.

Inside the box there appear to be wires connected to the school bus flashers that I removed. I'll try to deal with those. The horn button is wired crudely into the fuse box, bypassing the fuses. As I said, hillbilly!

This is the part I bought. Described on the customs form it's a telescoping rod, which is a little bizarre. The data sheet printed on it is Chinese but the specifications are simple. It has a 50mm stroke, runs on 12v and lists 500 newtons. I tested it on a battery pack with 8 AA batteries. It seems to work brilliantly.
After returning to the bus following a suitable break, I headed to the bus and installed the new access panel at the back. That didn't take very long at all but I was exhausted again. I believe the temperature was something like 77F according to one thermometer and 81 according to another. The humidity is pretty high, making it fairly stifling to work out there.
I looked hard at the black box, dismantled it and found the hillbilly switch was unusable as it was a much bigger diameter than the switch holes in the console. What's new there? Nothing much that the hillbillies put in the bus could be used. Anyway, the wires to the lighting switch on the door mechanism didn't have to be cut or insulated. I just tucked them away with other wires. I spent a good while sitting looking at it all and thinking how to work around it all. I came to the conclusion that I need to secure my linear actuator with straps and a bottom bracket. The bracket I already have and the straps can be easily cut from the old table top.

Then I sat back and played with a steel bracket and a jubilee clip. Discovering with the aid of a magnet that the motor casing was steel, I attached the motor to the bracket with my jubilee clip. Then I realized that if I cut slits in the side of the box structure that I'd unscrewed, I could feed the jubilee clip through and around the motor. Thus I whipped out my trusty angle grinder and cut two slits. I should use a second jubilee clip but I will have to get that later. Then it was a case of painting the freshly cut steel and waiting.
While I waited, I looked at the cable the hillbillies installed and was horrified as it curled around the accelerator pedal. I refed the cable and now it comes out of a gap beside the Instrament cluster and goes up ready to feed beside my video cable into the control console where I will put a Radio Shack push button switch. While I was working in the area I noticed yet more old mud insect nests. I reckon the guy that I bought it off had spent all his time clearing out obvious infestations and that the first owner after the school district had probably left it over winter and in the summer found it was infested and gave up and sold it.

Thinking about how to attach the plunger to the locking flap, I realized I could use chain or even a piece of string. As long as when the plunger is fully extended, the flap is lifted out of the way of the handle and not over stressed, it should be fine. While I was at it, I adjusted the blocking screw on the door so that now the door opener cannot go beyond the fully closed point. It was previously able to exceed that by quarter of an inch.

As it's currently thundering and threatening to rain, it's unlikely that I'll do anything much outside the bus today. Maybe tomorrow. Meanwhile, I can do some of the preparatory work by cutting my aluminum brackets and attaching them to the solar panels. Mounting the panels and installing the control switch for the door lock might get done tomorrow.

I sat in the driver's seat and continued working. Eventually I had the linear actuator installed and temporarily connected to the flap with a handy piece of chain. Testing it proved that my device functioned as intended. An unforeseen problem cropped up in that the door arm needed to swing close to the bottom of the box when the door is opening. Oops! Just then the sky darkened and I had to pause work. 

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