Manipulator Maladys

We came up with a possible design for a manipulator, but we seem to have hit a wall. I’m posting for some help.

We’ve come up with a combination between an arm and a forklift. We were thinking of having a “tower”, which is basically telescoping alumnium tube. We aren’t quite sure how to drive it up. Options are :worm gear, a cable system (which is really hard to explain without drawing) and something with pneumatics (which is what our main mentor wants, but we’re clueless on how to do that).

For a grasping device, we would just use two pincers that apply pressure to the ball and release to drop it over the overpass. We’re not totally sure how to do this, but probably pneumatics.

The problem is the design requires the tower to be in the front of the robot. We’re worried that the weight of the ball and the height when the tower is extended to put the ball on the overpass could make us fall over. I thought that the weight of the motors, the battery, and other internals would act as a counter weight, but we aren’t sure.

I’d appreciate input! Thanks in advance!

We’ve been facing some similar problems and I have a few suggestions.

Put weight in the back, such as the battery and compressor, to balance the weight.

If you guys are worried about gripping the ball, pneumatics are useful. We’ve been able to grab the ball and hold it as low as 20 psi, with 2 freshman beating on it. Getting the necessary force to squeeze the ball is no problem, even with 1/2 inch pistons, however creating the friction to hold the ball is the question. The covering on the ball is incredibly slick and you’ll need a good surface to your pinchers in order to lift the ball.

Good Luck with your bot.


Keep the tower & gripper as light as possible, for a low center of gravity.

Wow, that is almost exactly like our plan, and we have had some trouble with it also, but I think we might have gotten it down. It should work if all of the weight that doesn’t need to be in the front is in the back, but I haven’t any problems. Also for your pincers you might use rubber with that looks like the opposite of a tire wheel. So hope yours works because that will mean that ours should work.