Fun Personal Project

I apologize if this is in the wrong section. I’ve done a search to see if I could find something of the sort, and did, but it was FIRST related and this isn’t.

I’m currently going to the University of Washington, where I have access to a very nice shop with mills/lathes/cncs/welding/etc.

I just can’t come up with something to make. I’ve looked online for project plans and it seems that you need to pay for a lot of them and none really seem to interest me.

Do any of you have a suggestion of what I could make? I want something in the low end for costs, but I want it to have low tolerances (as in requiring precision machining) as well, so I’m forced to put effort into it and learn something.

I don’t exactly want anything FIRST related, like a chassis or robot to complete this years challenge. Its kind of hard to explain what I’m looking for <_< sorry… but if you have any ideas offer them up please! My fingers are itching to use that shop.

Thanks in advance!


(I just realized that sounds a lot like an e-mail… oh well)

How low end of costs?

I personally think it would be awesome to build a 4wd bot with a 3 ft arm and a 2’x2’ foot print that can pick up pop cans and stuff like that.

what kind of thing exactly do you want to build? something that is inanimate or something like a robot that moves (autonomous or teleo?)


I’d be interested in something that moves, preferably controlled (go to Goodwill and buy a cheap RC car and takes its radio)

I’m really open to anything right now. I designed a robot that would pick up tennis balls (with a little forklift) but idk, I guess I was looking for something different than that…

maybe an all terrain RC car… like a big one :stuck_out_tongue:

That sounds like it’d be a good project, maybe give it an all-independent multi-link suspension, and run the wheels off of one or two two-stroke chainsaw motors in a four-wheel drive system… That would probably be more of a design challenge than a machining one (well, I think it’d be both, but the design would be harder), but it would both sound and look really cool. Cost wouldn’t be too bad, I’d think. The steel/aluminum rods for the suspension could be probably be found in a junkyard or manufacturer’s scrap bin. If you found a lot of it, you could make the frame out of the same material as the suspension. You could also probably get the chainsaw(s) cheaply off of Craigslist or something similar. I suspect the differentials and control system would be the most expensive parts.

hmmm… that could very well work.

I honestly didn’t know what a differential was, then I looked on howstuffworks :stuck_out_tongue: thats really interesting, but I’m wondering if its really necessary. I’m not thinking of building something I can personally write in, but drive around… like a little bigger than a FRC bot… would you need a differential for that?

rail gun? :stuck_out_tongue:

I did not know what a differential was either. you wouldnt need one if you had tank steer and not skid steer.

true, and with all things considered, wouldn’t a tank drive be better for an all terrain vehicle? So you don’t have to keep backing up and all…

oh well, I’ll start designing one and depending on how I feel I’ll either make it ackermann steering or tank… we’ll see :slight_smile:

and since i live off campus, it’d be interesting to have me carry home my rail gun on the bus <_< I smell criminal charges all over that…

Dude, make a longboard. Like, from the ground up. I’m talking designing your own trucks, deck, and so on. It’d be a fun build, and would also be very fun to ride. The trucks would need tight tolerances if you build precision ones (trucks with a spherical bearing), so that would satisfy one of your requirements…

Here’s a picture of an aluminum longboard that’s already on the market:

Also, feel free to PM me if you have any questions about what goes into one of those boards, as I make similar ones as a hobby/ side job.

Build a custom NERF gun, completely from scratch. It can be done really low cost (almost entirely from PVC) or a much more precisely/advanced from a variety of other materials. I even know where you can find plans for one if you aren’t comfortable making them yourself or wish to try a proven method first.

Build a 15lb Mini Class BattleBot.

Build something that may come in use for yourself. Like the tennis ball thing you mentioned, if you’re a tennis player, that will come in handy.

So I would find something that gives you grief everytime you have to do it…then build a robot that does it for you instead.

A steam engine is always a fascinating machining project. Or a small gasoline engine.

Or, maybe solve a problem with a robot and unintentionally get yourself rich. Like a Roomba - oh, that’s already taken.

How about a robot that autonomously screws down Trex-like deck boards? A contractor would happily pay $1500 for such an item - dump in a pile of screws, set out the boards, plug it in and walk away… It could be plenty slow.

A robot that installs asphalt roof shingles? Autonomously?

A snow plowing robot? Even R/C, but from the comfort of a warm, dry house.

A fully autonomous dog for the yard?


I have actually thought about that before, when I had to replace a roof in the middle of the summer…In SOUTH CAROLINA!

On another note, I have always had the fascination with mowing bots, just how the software would work.

Thanks for all the replies guys. I’m really excited about working on the all-terrain vehicle since it’d be a good challenge. The long board also seems like a really good idea.

Again, thanks for the suggestions and I’ll see if when I’m done with this project I’ll work on something else using the tips you guys suggested (of finding something I’m too lazy to do, then building a robot to do it)


One last thought: A juggling robot.