vb.net barcode scanner programming First Things First: Weight in Software

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First Things First: Weight
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He ain t heavy; he s my robot. Okay, so the old song lyrics don t quite apply to robots, but the sentiment has some merit. Most personal robots weight under 20 pounds, and a high percentage of those weigh under 10 pounds. Weight is one of the most important factors affecting the mobility of a robot. A heavy robot requires larger motors and highercapacity batteries both of which add even more pounds to the machine. At some point, the robot becomes too heavy to even move. On the other hand, robots designed for heavy-duty work often need some girth and weight. Your own design may call for a robot that needs to weigh a particular amount in
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218 ROBOT LOCOMOTION PRINCIPLES
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order for it to do the work you have envisioned. The parts of a robot that contribute the most to its weight are the following, in (typical) descending order:
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I Batteries I Drive motors I Frame
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A 12-volt battery pack can weigh one pound; larger-capacity sealed lead-acid batteries can weigh five to eight pounds. Heavier-duty motors will be needed to move that battery ballast. But bigger and stronger motors weigh more because they must be made of metal and use heavier-duty bushings. And they cost more. Suddenly, your little robot is not so little anymore; it has become overweight and expensive.
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TIPS FOR REDUCING WEIGHT
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If you find that your robot is becoming too heavy, consider putting it on a diet, starting with the batteries. Nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries weigh less, volt for volt, than their lead-acid counterparts. While nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries may not deliver the amp-hour capacity that a large sealed lead-acid battery will, your robot will weigh less and therefore may not require the same stringent battery ratings as you had originally thought. If your robot must use a lead-acid battery, consider carefully whether you truly need the capacity of the battery or batteries you have chosen. You may be able to install a smaller battery with a lower amp-hour rating. The battery will weigh less, but, understandably, it will need to be recharged more often. An in-use time of 60 to 120 minutes is reasonable (that is, the robot s batteries must be recharged after an hour or two of continual use). If you require longer operational times but still need to keep the weight down, consider a replaceable battery system. Mount the battery where it can be easily removed. When the charge on the battery goes down, take it out and replace it with a fully charged one. Place the previously used battery in the recharger. The good news is that smaller, lowercapacity batteries tend to be significantly less expensive than their larger cousins, so you can probably buy two or three smaller batteries for the price of a single big one. Drive motors are most often selected because of their availability and cost, not because of their weight or construction. In fact, many robots are designed around the requirements of the drive motor. The motors are selected (often they re purchased surplus), and from these the frame of the robot is designed and appropriate batteries are added. Still, it s important to give more thought to the selection of the motors for the robot that you have in mind. Avoid motors that are obviously overpowered in relation to the robot in which they are being used. Motors that are grossly oversized will add unnecessary weight, and they will require larger (and therefore heavier and more expensive) batteries to operate.
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BEWARE OF THE HEAVY FRAME
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The frame of the robot can add a surprising amount of weight. An 18-inch square, 2-foot high robot constructed from extruded aluminum and plastic panels might weigh in excess of 20 or 30 pounds, without motors and batteries. The same robot in wood (of sufficient strength and quality) could weigh even more.
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