Thursday, November 22, 2007

Torso, Sound card and 12 CH RF relay remote

Here are a few additional shots of the Torso.
I am in the midst of making the teeth lights bezel and sub plate using the NKK switches (633-215kkw016b1jb-r0) from Mouser.com that rest behind the faux buttons. I will be using Craig's buttons and new laser cut bezel.. They are the best looking.
I took advantage of the down time this holiday(Thanksgiving) and wired up the CF3 sound card and Cold Fusion 12 relay Channel remote for remote control of sound and other functions. The beauty of this sound board is that I can change the SAN card for different situations or functions, have over 2000 sound files/phrases, etc per card and can execute macros and remote functions based on the push of 1 button or a series of buttons. This adds to the puppeteering necessary to simulate the on screen persona of our bubble headed booby!
What you see below is the Spektrum DX7 transmitter with the CF3 Sound card and (on top of it) is the Cold Fusion 12 Channel relay remote board. You can configure it and/or the CF3 to use NO or NC contacts switches . Latched or momentary.
The CF Sound card can take upto 49 contacts (which I updated mine to take). It is a very good system.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Torso, Vents and Microphone

Here is how the Replica torso is turning out so far. Note the Microphone in the Robot's claw. That Microphone is fully operational. I got it from Mike Joyce as he was cleaning out his old stuff. Apparently it was machined and made specifically for the B9 by a club member who is no longer active. It is beautiful and works great too!

Also ote the vents inside the torso. I used a combination of superglue on the bottom of the rail and plummers liquid steel epoxy putty on the top rail . The rails and vents are from Craig Reinbrecht. The vents move like glass!!!

What I need to figure out now is how to attach the metal vents and black cloth that goes behind the vents that will still allow me to open the vents fully for access to the various electronic boards and the torso attachments to the donut.

On a side note, please note the keying of the radar section below for the bubble lifter. This is essential for proper bubble lifter operation but more on that later...... (I have to keep you coming back for more) :)

Progress - Update Drive Section and Bubble Lifter

Well, its been a little while since I had some time to update this blog. So I thought I would start off with a few home movies. Enjoy.....
Look on You Tube for all of my videos for this build.

video video

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mods R US

I did some additional changes to the articulating hip and leg assembly. I made the back area narrower as well and I did a re-orientation of the base plate for better wire feeding throughout the endoskeleton. In addition, standoffs were drilled and tapped for controller placements and wire feeding. I used patterns for an insulated standoff for the Vantec Controllers I will be using. I also made some changes to the torso rotation motor and mount. I will be using the RDFR23 for the foot drives and 1 RET411P for the hip motor and 1 RET411H for the Torso rotation motor. Instead of the friction wheel rotation method used by Mike, I will be re-orienting the motor and installing a hub and extra large gear for a very fast rotation direct drive so I can more precisely control the speed and whip around as seen in the series when Bob May would spin the torso around quickly. Speaking of Torso's....... I also received the Replica Torso from Mike Joyce. I had purchased the club standard torso and had it professionally prepared by Richie. It was awesome but when I took it to be professionally painted the shop that did it used the wrong paint and solvent. The Torso started to melt. In their haste they tried to fix it but made it even worse so it was a total loss. A 2500 loss. Ouch!
So I am starting over again with a new torso and donut. As you can see to the left there is a side by side comparison of the club vs. the replica torso. This will present some new and additional challenges in that the replica torso is smaller so other items like the collar, vents, donut and neon base plate may require additional fitment. Only time will tell if I will need to make new components or if the smaller torso size will even be noticeable with existing parts. The Replica torso is the black one. The club standard is the gray one.
Also, here is the drive section that I created. This baby hauls a lot of weight (over 330 lbs) at parade speed with ease. It is smooth on acceleration and deceleration. For those who don’t know what that blue thing is on top of it, that is the infamous Mike Joyce Replica Soil Sampler (no longer available). All of this stuff fits inside of the tread sections.
I will be redesigning the soil sampler later on so members will have an option later on.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

It's in the Details

I dont know what people usually think about how much work should be done for items that are not usually seen by most people but I just had to do what I could to make my "Tin Platted Booby" as spiffy as possible. They say the suit makes the man but the shoes tell you were you have been and were your going!
With that thought, I got a nice set of aluminum wheels from Norm Sockwell (a previous vendor). They already had the lightening holes in them but they did not have any bearings in the wheels, nor were they even drilled for them. These were designed to use a Delrin rod and a 1/4 machine screw to hold the wheel on. For those who do not know, a Delrin rod is a nylon rod that serves as a self lubricating PTFE material (feels like a slippery plastic) axle for which the wheels would rotate. This works great if you are just manually pulling or pushing your robot short distances but is not good if you plan on motorizing your'e treadsection. So I chose a wheel bearing that had an inner diameter as close as I could get to the 1/4" machine screw. Then I drilled out the wheels on both sides to insert the bearings. I press fitted them in. I also had an inner sleeve (made from Delrin) that was press fitted into the tread section so I could keep the spacing correct inside the wheel wells.
Wow, what a difference in the resistance. It made the treadsection glide along like it was on a cloud. I did notice there was a little slippage on the inner bearing when it would go faster than 2 miles per hour because the machine screw wasn't the exact diameter needed to get a good grip on the inner sleeve of the bearing; so I made my own axles. Bytheway, the degree of polish/reflection of this wheel is demonstrated by viewing the ceiling's reflection and my picture photographing the wheel. The polishing was done by Hands off Polishing in Garland,TX. They did a great job!. They also just happened to get the NASA contract job for the Mars Lunar Rover. They did an outsatanding job!!!
The picture to the left is of a custom washer made out of delrin. This works perfectly with the sealed bearings in the wheels above. You have to drill out the opening in the tread section and press them in. This keeps the wheels in the correct position and ensures smooth rotation of the wheels. The delrin bushings press into the existing 5/16 holes in the tread sections. The axles are .249 precision ground stainless shafts. The bearings where 5/8 diameter and the holes where .624 diameter for a press fit.
Stay tuned for pictures and comments on my motor mount design that fits inside the tread section, the modification to the soil sampler as well as a bubble lifter that is servo controlled and more....

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Hip Bone is connected to the Tread Bone

Well, this is my first version of my moveable hip design. It is based on the design that is on the B9 website by Mike Joyce. The plans on the site did not have a lot of detail needed for a machinist to take it and run, so I had to modify it. My machinist did an outstanding job. His name is James VanReenen and he is the owner of the North Dallas CNC machine shop. He does outstanding work and he is a fan as well (which really helps in doing this stuff).
Most of the drill hole sizes were not listed so he had to figure them out. In addition, the existing plans do not work with the current tread section offered by Eric Johnson so I made the following modifications: Foot mounting side supports that fit inside the tread section to hold the legs had to be made shorter and the holes for the wheels were in different locations. The leg stance width had to be made narrower, and the original plans had wood as the top and bottom plates for the hip. I changed those to aluminum to make it a bit stronger to withstand impact of a mobile robot for RC use.
With these modifications, Mike's design now works with Eric Johnsons tread section and Will Huff's rubber pants, legs and knees. For specific details and new drawings just send me an email and I will forward them to you.
One additional safety note, my tread section is all Steel. I have a soil sampler, motor drive units and batteries and power supplies in and just above the tread section so my CG is kept very low.
If you have aluminum tread sections I would seriously look at getting steel ones. If you want to stick with aluminum then I would rethink my design and probably use reinforced or extruded pvc and wood for the hip plates and legs. Remember, you want to keep the CG low and that means keeping the weight down the higher you go.

My Progress - First decisions and First runs

Fade in to Jerry sitting at his table reading RC and sci-fi magazines with his robot parts in the background....with the Lost in Space narrator voice overhead saying..." Last time as you recall, Jerry was remarking about what he had learned while acquiring parts and why he was doing this blog to help his fellow members out...little did he know that a discovery of a disease he would soon make would have dramatic consequences to his robot build........a disease that has plagued more robot builders than people killed by Cecil B. Demille (in his movies)......... It was the aluminum sickness :)

I was wondering how I wanted to proceed. Did I want to do it in wood, plastic/fiberglass, metal or a combination? I wanted my robot to be able to roll around on his own, talk, wave his arms like a blithering idiot whenever danger reared its ugly head and he had to be able to move around quickly. I had a similar decision I had to make with the R2 Builders group when I was deciding how I was going to build my R2D2 and my R5D4 and then it hit me. A robot just doesn’t seem like a robot unless he is made out of some kind of space age material like Titanium or some new endopolymer. Since both are out of my price range the next best thing is Aluminum. Also, my robot must have lots of motors, electronics and power! Arhh Arhh Arhh (the Tim Allen from Tool Time grunt). I can't wait to re-wire this baby!!!

Well I finally decided on a aluminum endoskeleton with a fiberglass, acrylic and rubber external covering. When I made my decision I saw a logo from the B9 builders site (I kid you not) it said....."To Out Build, Out Buy and Out do" as the club cry!!!!! I thought that was funny but I found out how true that statement was...I got the Aluminum bug!!!!! In the background Dr. Smith can be heard yelling in fear " Oh Noooo!!!!!" ...oh wait a minute...that was my wife yelling!!

Jump to the 3rd season theme with the countdown sequence with the Jupiter 2 flashing on the screen in the opening credits.....and then dollar signs flying all over with little wings Ok, well it may not be THAT dramatic but the aluminum bug has hit me hard. But I also wanted my robot to be fully mobile and to perform as if Bob May & Richard Tufeld were actually inside my Robot. So where do you start?

**Disclaimer** I do want to make 1 thing very clear here...you do NOT need to make your robot out of metal of any kind. It is just a preference. The end result is what you want him to look like and what you are happy with. This is what I have learned with the R2 and the B9 groups. You can look at 2 droids/robots side by side. Both are RC'd, both look real, both do exactly the same thing. The only difference is what they look like INSIDE (and the cost and the weight). You are the only person that will know this. So with that in mind, here are the chronicles of my build (along with all of my mistakes, lessons learned and improvements. Comments and observations are welcomed so this will benefit all that are reading this.

The first thing I did was to pick a starting point. That is usually a point where you are the most knowledgeable or can get the most parts for first. I started from the ground and moved my way up. I remember reading in the archives that the center of gravity was a concern especially in dealing with a tall robot. Tread Sections. Steel tread Sections. You need weight down low to keep the CG (center of gravity) low so it won't topple over easily. Also I needed a strong platform for a drive section, battery storage, power supplies and the soil sampler.

In addition, steel can withstand impact better than aluminum. Aluminum may be lighter than steel for strength (pound for pound) but Aluminum will crack and break easier than steel. It is also easier to make repairs to steel than aluminum. Anyway, here is a picture of my tread section. I got these from Eric Johnson and then modified them to accept a special motor mount for the motors that will power my robot (NPC custom Motors (12 or 24v Heavy Motors). I then modified them to work with my leg/hip actuator for the B9. The outstanding paint job was done by B9 club vendor Richie Schiavello (that is his B9 in the background with my Treads on each side).

Parts Aquisition & Learn while you Burn

Whoever said "Patience is a virtue" and "All things come to he who waits" never tried to make a B9 Robot!
OMG, when they said this was a builders club they never said I had to become a designer too! In the process of building my "Tin Plated Booby" I had to learn how to weld, use bondo, learn electronics and how to solder, paint, bend plastic without breaking it while retaining its new shape and how to essentially draw in a CAD program.
What a trip!! I should get a degree for this!! Hey wait....some places actually DO grant degrees for making Robots (MIT)!! LOL
However, dont get the wrong idea, I didnt create my Robot from total scratch. I did take advantage of the skills of fellow club members but no matter what I purchased, assembeled or designed from scratch, you had to learn about it to understand it and figure out what needed to be done or what to expect to make sure what you are getting is correct and of good quality.

There are a few sellers in the group who make parts available for club members but there is no builders council or standard among them to ensure that what you get from 1 seller will fit with another vendors parts. So most of the time you are having to make your own stuff, either from scratch or modifying someone else's work.
This is something you learn very fast when plunking down your hard earned money for parts that you have never really seen in person. Pictures can be deceiving. BE VERY CAREFUL and ask lots of questions. Follow up every phone call with your vendor to ensure no misunderstanding. There are a lot of excellent people on the builders list but all it takes is 1 misunderstood communication or 1 "bad apple" and it can ruin your total experience. That happened to me!
The enthusiasm about building your favorite robot can be over powering and lead you to make rash choices. Be cautious who you send your money to and to make firm agreements up front on delivery times if the part is not ready to be shipped. Don't assume anything!! Make sure you deal with people who are in the approved vendor list. I (along with others) got burned by a few builders who never delivered what was paid for. For some, they havent received their items in years. Those people have been banned yet there are some that still try to make a deal with them and they are paying for that mistake today! Dont be one of them!
Also remember when money changes hands it becomes a business transaction legally. A lot of people do not understand that; thinking that because it is hobby that the rules dont apply. They are wrong, they do. I have proven that time and time again.

On a lighter side, let me just say this for those who are new to this hobby. Remember that this IS a hobby, so do not expect a vendor to have something on the shelf just waiting for you to purchase it. Most of these items are made when the demand is created or requested. Enjoy yourself. Take your time on him. Do your research! Have parties discussing him with like minded friends. In this process you will have to learn a lot of things that you may not have ever had any experience with. It is a great way to bring the family together for a common goal and for all to share in. I mean Really, how many people can actually say they made a full sized, animated (and possibly) fully mobile robot??!!! He is great at parties, conventions and especially around Holloween!!
Oh, 1 more thing, its OK to also make other things from the Lost in Space genre. I plan on making the evil blue female robot and some of the hand lasers once I finsh my B9! I have already drawn her up and have the big bubble she calls "a head" in my garage....

Why am I doing this?

Back in the 1960's I watched a lot of science fiction. It intriqued me. It fascinated me. How did they do that? Why did they do that? How can I do that?!
The wonderment of a child's eye is the birthplace of endless possibilities.
Remember. We humans have [with but a few exceptions] (relatively speaking) have taken the Science Fiction of yesterday and made it Science Fact today. Isn't that wonderful? This showed me that anything is possible.

Science Fiction was a lot of things for me. As a child it opened up my imagination to what might be. How to approach something new. It was instructional; a door way to looking out of the box. This was a technique that has served me well. And in tribute to that gift I am making my favorite robots now. Kind of like a lasting rememberence to my youth and what might be if we work hard enough after it.

All you have to do is try and never give up if it is something you want to do! My father taught me that. I do so terribly miss him.

Do not ever give up and you can make it so! And so it begins.....