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Build Your Own Combat Robot
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You can acquire electric motors in two ways: you can purchase them from a motor manufacturer or retail store, or you can salvage them from other pieces of equipment Many robot builders use salvaged motors because they usually cost less than 20 percent of the original cost of buying a brand new motor Appendix B in this book lists sources for obtaining robot motors Robotics companies are starting to sell motors that are specifically designed for combat robots For example the 39-horsepower Magmotor sold by http:// wwwRobotBookscom has become the standard motor used in several champion BattleBots Figure 4-6 shows a photograph of the motor Because electric motors are so common, they can be found easily Some of the best places to get good electric motors are from electric bicycles, electric scooters and mopeds, electric children s cars where the kids ride and drive, electric model cars and planes, trolling motors, windshield wiper motors, power window motors, power door locks, and even powered automobile seat motors can be used Some people have even used automotive and motorcycle starter motors and electric winches from the front of a pickup truck or from a boat trailer Probably the two best places to get electric motors are from electric wheelchairs and high-powered cordless drill/drivers The advantages to the electric wheelchair motors are that they already come with a high-quality gearbox, and the output shaft has a good set of support bearings Depending on which type of motor you get, you could directly attach the wheels of the robot to the output shaft of these motors Several companies sell refurbished wheelchair motors One of the best places to get these motors is from National Power Chair (http:// www npcinccom) Figure 4-7 shows a wheelchair motor
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24-volt, 39-horsepower electric motor (courtesy of Carlo Bertocchini)
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24-volt, 185 rpm, 896 in-lb stall torque wheelchair motor (courtesy of National Power Chair)
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Cordless drill motors are excellent motors for driving small- to medium-sized robots Some heavyweight robots have successfully used cordless drill motors, which are small and compact, and can deliver a lot of torque and speed for their size by using planetary gears One of the other advantages to using cordless drill motors is that they already come with a set of high-capacity batteries and battery chargers This almost becomes an all-in-one package for building combat robots The drawbacks to using cordless drill motors are that there is no simple way to mount the motors in the robot; they don t have output shaft bearings to support side loads; and the output shaft is threaded, which makes it difficult to attach anything to it The best way to use them is to make a coupling and pin it directly to the threaded output shaft The coupling then attaches directly to a bearing-supported shaft or axle Figure 4-8 shows the electric motor, gearbox, and clutch from a Bosch 18-volt cordless drill reconfigured into a robot gearbox to drive two sprockets
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FIGURE 4-8
Bosch 18-volt cordless drill motor converted into a robot drive motor
Build Your Own Combat Robot
nternal Combustion Engines
Not all robots use electric motors to drive and power the weapons Some robots use internal combustion engines to perform this important task These engines are much smaller than those found in automobiles and are usually obtained from gasoline-powered lawnmowers, rototillers, or even weed whackers The energy density of gasoline is about 100 times greater than that of batteries, and this makes gasoline an attractive source for powering large combat robots Conversely, gasoline is also the main factor in not selecting this method of power it is flammable and dangerous Figure 4-9 shows a 119 cc air-cooled, two-cycle, gasoline-powered cut-off saw by Partner Industrial Products This saw, equipped with a 14-inch diameter saw blade, was used as the primary weapon in Coolrobots super heavyweight champion Minion Because most combat robots use electric motors, this book will not go into details of how to use internal combustion engines in combat robots By reading the rules and regulations of the BattleBots competition, you will get a good understanding of what is allowed and not allowed with gasoline engines The key elements for a gasoline-powered robot is to be able to control the engine if it is upside down, making sure that the fuel does not leak and that fuel flow remains constant in the rough jarring environment, and that you can throttle the speed up and down as you need to A lot of the gasoline safety and performance schematics will be similar to those of high-powered gasoline-powered model aircraft Good candidate gasoline engines for combat robots are chainsaw engines, because they have a carburetor that can operate in all positions Since internal combustion engines operate in one direction only, a transmission that has a reverse gear must be used if the gas-powered engines are used to drive
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