THE ROBOT LAUNDRY LINE PROJECT

A MOTORIZED LAUNDRY LINE MADE FROM AN OLD POWERCHAIR MOTOR AND SOME LEFTOVER JUNK.


idler pulley mounted to the post

The idler pulley installed on the post.

At this point, I only have the small centered woodscrew holding the idler pulley to the post. I will wait until the 75 foot cable is strung between each pulley so that the forks will self-align for the installation of the two lag screws. Good thing I made the fork legs longer than required, since the angle of the wheel ended up at 45 degrees to the flat face of the post.

idler pulley lag bolts

Installing the permanent idler pulley bolts.

To align both wheels, I ran the length of clothesline pulley between both wheels so that I could look down the line at each end to make sure it was tracking well between the wheel flanges. Once a good alignment was achieved, I added the two main lag bolts that secure the idler fork to the top of the pole.

motor alignment locking tab

One more addition to the motor mounting hardware.

The motor pulley also needed to be locked down, since it is able to steer left of right by rotating on the steel rod that fits into the square tube. I welded this small piece of flat bar to the existing mount so that one more lag bolt could be installed that would lock the motor and wheel once aligned correctly.

wire rope connecting clips

Wire rope clips to join the cable together.

The clothesline splicing kits available at the hardware store looked so fragile made of thin cast parts with tiny bolts holding them together. I opted for these heavier wire rope clips that include a steel wrap around clip and two large “c” clamps to stop the cable from slipping back out. The cable would probably fail before the clips would.

wire rope joint

The open ends of the cables joined.

Here are the wire rope clips shown installed, joining the two open ends of the line together. To tension the line, I left a decent amount of excess cable at one end and just pulled it like I was tightening a belt. Once the line seemed tight enough, I finished tightening the bolts on the c clamps.

painted motor mount hardware

Painting the motor mounting hardware.

The old clothesline made itself useful one last time. It’s a useful space to hang the components that I painted in the sun. It has been raining lot here, so I took the opportunity to paint while I could.

testing cable alignment

The painted motor mounting hardware installed and aligned.

With the painted motor mounting hardware installed and aligned, I was able to tension the line and then run a few tests to be sure everything was going to work as expected. Originally, I had planned to wrap the cable around the drive pulley more than once for traction, but as I found out, that was totally unnecessary once the line was tight. With the line at the desired tension, the grip between the plastic shield on the cable and the nylon wheel was very good.

running some laundy down the line

Running some old sheets back and forth as a test.

With a car battery and a length of wire, I was able to send this old bed sheet up and down the 75 foot distance, proving that the robot laundry line would work correctly. The speed was a bit too fast; I will add some resistance between the motor and the power source to slow it down a bit more. So far, everything has worked out very well. It’s just a matter of adding switches now.

forward and reverse motor wiring

Wiring to allow forward and reverse of the motor.

To allow the launderer to move the line in either direction with the push of a button, a set of relays will be needed in order to swap the polarity of the motor. I drew this basic wiring diagram that will be used. As you can see, there will be two automotive relays that are activated by two pushbutton switches.

This circuit provides polarity reversal without risk of a short circuit. Just using pushbuttons alone would work, but a melt-down would happen if you press both at once. This circuit prevents a short circuit and overloading of the small pushbutton switches.

tubing for square frame

Galvanized tubing to make a laundry table frame.

It is early October here in The Great White North and there has already been snow on the ground. In order to keep ahead of the weather, I am working on the hardware on nice days, leaving the electrical work for indoor rainy or snowy days. Today was partially sunny, so I decided to make the laundry table that will conveniently place the laundry basket up to a comfortable height on the stairwell next to the line.






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