Personal Robot Building

OK, so last year in august i decided after seeing what FIRST was all about after my rookie year i would make a robot of my own, and it is coming along great i have 2 3/8" drill motors and the gearboxes converted to 1 speed transmissions(if that counts as a transmission) and just last night i ordered some skyway wheel hubs and some sprockets that have the hubs’ hole pattern and i have a frame made, but i dont wanna just have a rinky dink robot that just drives around like a remote control car, i want one that will make people go “wow, you made that your self?!?!?!?!?!?!” but i dont know what to do for the upper mechanical portion i dont kno if i should have an arm or what i need your ideas!

it doesnt matter what it is because i can make it even if it takes a while, because the whole point of me doing this is to make something that is awesome and so i can learn alot more, though people say i kno way too much already so tell me what you would like to see on a student built bot

I would say try to build something that can do something around the school that not only provides some kind of service but also gets that wow factor. Me and some of my friends always joked that we should build a bot that would go get the tee off the football field after kickoff. :smiley:

that would be cool but it wud get crushed, since i dont currently hav a tig welder and i only have a mig i had to do the frame from steeel :frowning: so my frame is only 1/2" square steel tubing with a 1/16" wall

How to successfully weld aluminum with a compact MIG welder

Welding aluminum tubing should be done with a TIG welder. MIG is OK for thick aluminum (something more like 1/2"). Plus, the cost of everything to make a mmig welder suitable for aluminum might not be worth the cost (shielding gas+tank, wire, feeder kit, etc.). but, i guess you could possibly do it. If you do decide to purchase everything to weld aluminum with your mig, make sure to go very very slow and move around, so as not to warp it.

the original concepts of a robot, like B9 on lost in space back in the 60s, has been lost in the technolgy race

instead of one robot that can do lots of things in a human-like manner, we now have lots of little robots that do one thing

answering machines
PDAs that act as schedulers and play cards with us
cruise controls on our cars
GPS that tell us where we are and how to get places
cell phones that take messages and communicate with text, or photos
Dish washers, clothes washers, garbage disposals, auto coffee makers
computers that play chess and collect email for us all day

so whats left for a robot to do?

not much really. Deliver mail at school? pick up trays in the cafeteria?

I would like to see a good lawn-mowing robot, which would be cool because it could be slow and take all day, and be really quiet

a robot that walks the dog? Extra points if it comes with an auto pooperscooper :^)

You could make it balance on two wheels with a gyro (much like the segway does). There are probably several threads on here about that. It is something I am working on right now. I am curious what you are using as a control system, or are you that far along yet? Good luck :slight_smile:

for the control system i may buy a robot controller operator interface and the radios and motor controllers from my robotics club because they r the first ones we had and we have no use for them

the RC and OI are both the ones from 2000 i think and they are programmed in BASIC which is perfect for me so i can learn to program easily with out jump right into a language like C

the motor controllers are just the old 883’s that first doesnt allow any more, we have like 20-30 of them just laying around and our techer that deals with all robotics stuff says he may strike a deal with me since a single student building their own robot is not that common and he wants everyone to succeed to their fullest so it will be a bit of money but it is worth it because the possibilities for this are endless

and about the gyro, it is possible it is just hard because like in the segway the gyros i think use the peltier effect with a sensor that measures the movement of the electrons and to use conventional spinning gyros requires some major motor speeds and stabilizors to control it easily

Building your own robot can be fun. Trust me, even a drive base will be impressive to those not in robotics. I built one over spring break. It’s about 2ft wide and 20in long, wood frame. It uses the 2001 control system, and 2 Fisher Price motors (each one’s hub is directly attached to an 8in skyway wheel) for it’s drive. It’s designed to carry a folding chair on top. No, not for carrying a person, but a full size toy skeleton my college roommate owns. The skeleton has a wireless mic reciever in the back of it’s head, so when you talk into the wireless mic, the jaw moves and the eyes flash. It’s pretty fun to play with.

Maybe at somepoint I’ll add an arm if I can get my pneumatics working.

Always remember the key factor, SAFETY! If you plan to use your robot around people, make sure you have a remote disable switch (look in the whitepapers for instructions on how to build a yellow dongle for the control system, make sure you use the one by Joe Johnson, it’s made for the older systems). Add foam bumpers around the frame and file down anything sharp. Don’t forget to be careful with any arms or other mechanisms that move; you dont want to hit anyone.

My robot has foam PVC pipe insulation around the perimiter of it’s frame, so that if it hits someone’s leg it won’t hurt.

A cool device for the top?? I’d go with an arm with a few degrees of freedom (whatever you can pull off.)

Endless possiblities:

Move stuff around
Flip light switches
Deliver can’s of pop or krispy kremes
Or… the ultimate. Put IR sensors on the arm (hand), and then put IR beacons into objects. Then let the arm run around and puck up the objects. It would be cool.

you know what would be great, a robot that can play golf.

Not because it would have any usefull purpose (except maybe testing golf clubs)

but just to be there on the golf course and see the looks on the golfers faces, when it hits a hole in one on from all 18 tees!

I would pay money to see that!

While we are considering it for a team project, this could be a personal project as well–we are looking at making a pneumatic cannon for launching tshirts into the crowd at football games. The idea has grown from a simple fixed barrel to using pneumatics to lift the barrel from 0 to 90 degrees with position feedback, using an electro-pneumatic proportional valve control to remotely change the system pressure, and a wind speed/direction sensor. We’d also like to include a custom Dashboard interface to take all of our sensor information and calculate the speed and distance of our t-shirt projectile. It seems like every day we have more ideas being added. There have even been suggestions on how to make “magazine” for launching multiple shirts.

Our purpose for this is to try do something makes our program more visible to the rest of the school while letting us explore the engineering and physics involved with the problem.

I have an idea. Make a telepresence robot.

It would be something that you can drive around remotely, or program to goto a certain place, and it would have stereoscopic video cameras and microphones, with an RF link, so the operator can see what the robot sees

it would be like you are where the robot is, instead of where you are.

the operator would wear a headset, and 3d vision glasses, like the V920 on this website :

you could also have a speaker on the robot, so the operator can talk to people through the bot. If you make the bot somewhat humaniod in apperance, people would be more likely to interact with it as if they were talking to a real person.

I can think of lots of applications for this. People who are shut-ins or bedridden could send the bot out - it would be their eyes and ears and feet.

to make it easy, the drivetrain could be like a wheel chair, which would look familar to people, and allow it to go most places that anyone else could go.

To extend the range you might be able to operate it though a cell phone link.

I think this would be an excellent platform for experimentation and learning.

In fact, I would like to have one myself :^)

if it worked over a cell phone link, you could have remote meetings through these - you could be in NY and the tele-you could be moving around a factory or lab in LA, and it would be like you were there.

if you are going to build something like this, let me know. I might be able to help you out with the video stuff. If so, email me at work: [email protected]

how about Somthing with no wheeles, anphibous cababilty and a Skirt?

Build your computer onto your robot, so you can drive it to lan parties. Get one of those soda dispensers for a refrigerator on top, and have your arm lift up a can and bring it to waste height.

Ken, that would be really, really cool, and very practical! I would love to help on something like this (inbetween the SATs, ACTs, APs, and travel) during the offseason. I don’t know much about building robots (just extruding, revolving, and constraining using Inventor), but it would still be “an excellent platform for experimentation and learning” as you said.


We were considering building a robotic button maker after the ordeal we went through trying to make buttons. Wouldn’t be that hard really and it would be really cool and :ahh: useful.

Tytus, you just love those hovercrafts. You should make a trip up here to MI and ride ours. Those things are fun on ice!

Here’s another idea. Make a good base for outdoors, and load it with sensors. See if you can stage your own “Grand Challange” in the bacl yard on in a park.

I also started thinking it would be cool to have a robot that could run a dog’s aglity course. (Maybe skip the platform section cuz it would be too hard.)

JUst more ideas… My “personal” robots are never that cool… yet.

There was a story on the news about these very things. Detroit Medical Center just started using these to help doc’s visit patents in other buildings. Kinda, no, really cool.

Newspaper version