Tower Crane; the next phase

I have been building a model tower crane over a few years using a laser cutter to construct the tower, booms and boom head. I have also designed parts in Fusion 360 and printed them in my 3d printer. Most of the engineering is now done. The model is being built purely for the challenges it presents as I am now retired but still fill the need to meet and overcome problems. I plan to use Arduino to make it all happen but am very new to that subject. Presently, with a lot of help, I am able to rotate the boom head in either direction at a speed that I can change and to any of 360 degrees that I choose. There are two booms; a crane boom that has a little trolley on it which will be driven in, out and to a nominated distance from the tower. There is a weight boom opposite that which also has a trolley which has weight in it and will also be driven in, out and to a nominated spot. I am very close to being able to do this.
My problem is that I am not a coder although I am learning. At the moment I can get code and alter it slightly to make my object function. But the functions I ultimately want the crane to be able to do are way above my pay grade so I am looking for a person or persons who may be interested in joining me with the future of this project.
For example; I would like to tell the crane trolley to go out a stated distance, lower the hook, wat until an object is hooked up and then lift it.
I have the bits to make an electronic weight scale that will be placed at the spot where loads are picked up. It will tell the crane a) what the weight is and b) when it has left the scales. This information will be used to get the weight trolley to move away from the boom head to correctly counter balance the weight picked up before the crane trolley moves and will move at a speed in ratio to the speed the crane trolley moves and in the opposite direction to maintain balance.
Hopefully, by now, somebody will be interested. I have videos which document the build and the efforts needed to get to where I am now and can post links to them if required. Here is a short I made a week ago so is not a true indication of where I am now but will give an indication of the process.

If you read this far, thank you very much.


Which Arduino do you have running all this?

”” I am now retired but still fill the need to meet and overcome problems””

I know exactly where you’re coming from…
You’re obviously an Aussie. Where are you?
I’m in Melb SE.. happy to help.

Arduino uno but happy to purchase whatever it takes.

Melb South East awesome. I'm South East of Melbourne too, about three hours though (g) .Happy to have you aboard. When this covid thing is over you can come and have a look. Mostly I need help with coding, understanding it and writing it. I am learning Arduino with Peter Dalmaris, reading about it and experimenting with other projects when this one falters. The first piece of code is to deal with the turntable. There are three vids that cover where I am now and how I got there, should I post them here or tell you where they are. I guess posting them here would be alright as they take up no room and people don't have to look if they don't want to but I'm a newbie and don't know the protocols here yet.

Posting videos/links here is good unless it’s proprietary content.
Most punters like to see how things are built.
Many won’t download odd file formats, or login to sites to see stuff,

If you’re a coding newcomer, there a few software ground rules that very few books can address, because they’re organic, real-time concepts.

A bit like simply blinking a LED, or doing it without using delay() !
They both work, but one has a lot of benefits !

If you have multiple activities running at the same time, these ideas are worth understanding.

Most of my learning is hands on but I back it up with whatever I can get. Here are the vids outlining most of the Arduino journey so far.

Apparently I can only post two at a time

I am printing a new motor mount which gives clearance on the sides of the motor and "should" help to quieten it. I also hope to quieten it with possibly multi-stepping or more boards.

Hope these help.


I'll guess you'll need at least four stepper motors that need step and direction pins. Also a switch each that lets you home them at startup. Then there's the weighing. I'd consider adding something that can detect lean on the tower and shut the motors down.

You will probably need more pins than the Uno has available. Fine for early testing though.

Really a fine hobby being retired. I selected model railroading and veteran train driving.
Did CNC an micro mill, a German MF70.
Steppers are not difficult to manage.
I live in Europe but I can think of assisting You in this project using PM or Email. As long as U have experience.....

Would a little very light grease or oil make the turntable quieter ?
There’s a few things that are helping make that noise…

Thanks Wildbill, whatever it takes.

I don't have a lot of experience, hardly any in fact but am learning everyday.

Yes, in the next video, which you haven't seen, it is much quieter after the application of some grease on the balls.

If You manage conFusion360 steppers is a piece if cake. I tried fusion360, and still try Freecad without progress...

Goodonya mate thanks.

That always works for me.


You probably have already learned this and the two guys offering to help you are certainly aware: it's really easy to add bugs to your code and wiring.

Is there any possibility of damaging your crane if, for example, the object being lifted is pulled off the ground before the counterweight has moved into place?

I suggest that you need to think carefully about how you can test thoroughly and safely. Using an epically boring stepping rate might help to start with. I'd add a manual e-stop button too.

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Yeah, goodonya mate, thanks for the thoughts. The Crane is an exercise in learning, thinking and practising engineering skills and won't be used to lift heavy weights. The use of different weight loads is only to learn how to control the balance. I have already done the calculations regarding the distance from the fulcrum and the increase in weight per mm over the length of the long boom. I know what counterweight I need to keep it in balance. However, both of your suggestions are good ones and will be well considered.