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The hardware which needs to be built consists of:

In order to connect the motherboard of the 'Parlour Maid' you need to build the relay-interface.
The relay-interface is connected with the computer via the seriell printer port (IBM compatibles only - at least at the moment, sorry).

Fig. 1.: circuit board

The exits 1 to 9 are connected with the seriell printer port:

Fig. 2.: plug connection of relay-interface

Parlour Maid:

The essential parts which you need to buy are:

Let's go through it step by step...

1. Build the relay interface following the plans above. The relays need to have three poles, not only switching on and off but switching between two poles.
Once you have that set up you can download the software and follow the instructions in the 'read.me' file to see if the interface works properly.

If that is the case, proceed to step two.

2. Connect the engines to the relays, according to the following plan:

R1, R2, R3 are the first three relays, do the same with R4, R5, R6 and the other engine. You might have to change the poles depending on the motor, but you can check that later with the software. Now the engines should turn if you run the test software.

If everything has run smoothly so far (and I assume the last few lines went on for weeks - that's at least our experience) we can proceed to step three, the matrix board for the Parlour Maid.

3. Well, the theory is simple and it might be best if you follow your imagination, for there is no real right or wrong way of building it. Basically you need ... The system is simple: the smaller board needs to slide on two small metal bars up and down the bigger board. It is important, that the gap on the small board can go all the way from one end of the whole to the other end of the main board. It should look like this:

The even smaller one needs to slip along the small board in an orthogonal way. That way the machine can reach all points on the big hole of the main board.
We used a 6mm pole and small copper bearings attached to the boards to make them run smoothly. Make sure the wagons go easily across the boards, otherwise they might get stuck, and...

4. Now it gets a little tricky. You need to build a device which moves the wagons according to the spinning of the motors. The way we did it was using a 4mm threaded pin which is connected via the flexible power drill extensions with the motors. (Other systems might work better - check out your old 24 needle printer.)

The first one is held by two clamps on the top of the main board and screwed into a thread which is connected to the smaller board. The threaded pin needs to be turnable but held in position on the mother board. That way the smaller wagon will turn when the pin turns.

The same needs to be build with the smaller and the even smaller board. If you managed that the turning motors should move the two wagons orthogonaly.

It might be useful to built stopping devices (switches) at the end and connect them with the motors. That way the motors won't break the wagons (which happened to us once). We haven't done that, yet - but intend to do so, so if somebody is faster let us know how you did it.

If you managed so far - the rest is easy.

5. Take the bell apart and memorise how it works. The engraving pin is nothing but a needle attached to the end of the arm of the bell. That makes it go up and down and the needle runs through a tube which contains the ink.

The oscillating needle pushes the ink through a small hole on the bottom and pricks it under the skin. Use your imagination for this part, there is many ways of building it. (For example you can also use the engine of an oscillating shaving machine.)

Screw the engraving pin to the top wagon, connect it with relay 7 and you are finished...

What you will have to do now:

Read the 'read.me' text which comes with the software and follow the instructions to setup your Parlour Maid.

Check this page for changes and tips in the future.

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