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11.1 A VARIETY OF CONSTRUCTION SETS
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FIGURE 11-1 Constructing the motorized base for a robot using Erector set (Meccano) parts. a. Attaching the motor and drive roller over the wheel; b. Drive wheel-caster arrangement.
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Similarly, today s Meccano sets are only passably compatible with the English-made Meccano sets sold decades ago. Hole spacing and sizes have varied over the years, and mixing and matching is neither practical nor desirable.
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11.1.2 ROBOTIX
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The Robotix kits, originally manufactured by Milton-Bradley and now sold by Learning Curve, are specially designed to make snap-together walking and rolling robots. Various kits are available, and many of them include at least one motor (additional motors are available separately). You control the motors using a central switch pad. Pushing the switch forward turns the motor in one direction; pushing the switch back turns the motor in the other direc-
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tion. The output speed of the motors is about 6 r/min, which makes them a bit slow for moving a robot across the room but perfect for arm-gripper designs. The structural components in the Robotix kits are molded from high-impact plastic. You can connect pieces together to form just about anything. One useful project is to build a robotic arm using several of the motors and structural components. The arm can be used by itself as a robotic trainer or attached to a larger robot. It can lift a reasonable 8 oz or so, and its pincher claw is strong enough to firmly grasp most small objects. While the Robotix kit allows you to snap the pieces apart when you re experimenting, the design presented here is meant to be permanent. Glue the pieces together using plastic model cement or contact cement. Cementing is optional, of course, and you re free to try other, less permanent methods to secure the parts together, such as small nuts and bolts, screws, or Allen setscrews. When cemented, the pieces hold together much better, and the arm is considerably stronger. Remember that, once cemented, the parts cannot be easily disassembled, so make sure that your design works properly before you commit to it. When used as a stand-alone arm, you can plug the shoulder motor into the battery holder or base. You don t need to cement this joint. Refer to Fig. 11-2 as you build the arm. Temporarily attach a motor (call it motor 1) to the Robotix battery holder base plate. Position the motor so that the drive spindle points straight up. Attach a double plug to the drive spindle and the end connector of another motor (motor 2). Position this motor so that the drive spindle is on one side. Next, attach another double plug and an elbow to the drive spindle of motor 2. Attach the other end of the elbow connector to a beam arm.
FIGURE 11-2 The robot arm constructed with parts from a Robotix construction kit.
11.1 A VARIETY OF CONSTRUCTION SETS
Connect a third motor (motor 3) to the large connector on the opposite end of the beam arm. Position this motor so the drive spindle is on the other end of the beam arm. Attach a double plug and an elbow between the drive spindle of motor 3 and the connector opposite the drive spindle of the fourth motor (motor 4). The two claw levers directly attach to the drive spindle of motor 4. Motorize the joints by plugging in the yellow power cables between the power switch box and the motor connectors. Try each joint, and note the various degrees of freedom. Experiment with picking up various objects with the claw. Make changes now before disassembling the arm and cementing the pieces together. After the arm is assembled, route the wires around the components, making sure there is sufficient slack to permit free movement. Attach the wires to the arm using nylon wire ties.
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