June 22nd, 2021—
If there is one thing for which babies are infamous, it is their complete inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Rocking cradles can help them drift off, but they require a parent’s attention. Modern motorized rockers solve that issue, but they can be expensive. That’s why Peter Turczak used an Arduino to build an electromechanical rocker mechanism for cribs.
Turczak kept the costs down on this project by using 3D printer parts. The frame, which attaches beneath an existing crib, was constructed from aluminum extrusion. The frame is in two parts and the top half slides on linear rails with bearings. A NEMA 23 stepper motor pushes the top half of the frame back and forth using a ball screw. Two reed switches act as end stops so that the motor doesn’t grind.
An Arduino Nano board controls the motor through a TMC5160 stepper driver module. The code is still in progress, but Turczak plans to program the machine to mimic a conventional rocker. It will start by sliding the crib side to side at the full range and then reduce the speed over time until it comes to a stop. This project may have taken a lot of work, but hopefully it will help Turczak’s baby nod off to sleep so that he can get his own sleep.