Twin Tweaks ...
but the small gauge just ensured
that soldering them would be all
the more fun.
then the gauge becomes an issue.
Our Micro AS connectors could handle
a maximum wire gauge of 22, so
we thought we would be fine with
whatever wires the V-Bot might throw
To our mild surprise, the V-Bot
had very fine gauge wires, probably
about 26 or even 28. Thankfully our
plan was to extend the wires anyway,
FUN WITH V-BOT.
Now that we had the necessary tools, connectors, and wires,
we were ready to start the real
surgery. The first order of business
was to completely separate the
V-Bot’s arm from its body, which
was achieved by simply cutting
the wires. We cut the wires in
the middle to make the next step
as easy as possible — extending
We extended the arm wires
with 22 gauge wire. First, we
carefully tinned both tips and then
soldered them together. The small
gauge of the V-Bot’s wires
demanded caution while soldering
— if we weren’t careful, the insulation
might creep back irretrievably.
Thankfully the insulation decided to
tough it out, and we were ready to
attach the AS connectors.
As most good robot building
bits, our connectors were scavenged.
Scavenged connectors are likely to
already be outfitted with pins and
sockets, so we busted out an
extraction tool to take care of the
stragglers. In many situations,
you might actually want to leave
extra pins and sockets because
only when all five holes are
filled will the connector truly be
environmentally sealed, but we
wanted to conserve pins and sockets.
To use the extraction tool, all
you have to do is dip it in some
lubricant and then pull the offending
pin or socket. The other end of the
extraction tool is actually an insertion
tool, but inserting the pins and
sockets is usually easy enough to do
without any help. Just press in until
you hear the click and presto — you
have a connector eager for something
to connect to.
There is actually one more piece of
business to be taken care of before the
connection can be made — crimping.
The pins and sockets must be
crimped onto the wires, and mil-spec
connectors require a mil-spec crimper.
Our fancy crimper precisely crimps
the barrel in eight places — when done
correctly, those pins and sockets aren’t
Once the extended wires were
outfitted with the connectors, all that
was left to do to give the V-Bot back its
arm was to connect them. That being
done, we turned on the bot to see that
our surgery didn’t have any unexpectedly fatal side effects, and we were
relieved to find that the V-Bot woke up
with just a little bit of soreness.
The real test, though, was to see if
the arm would function when it was
reconnected. We had to notch the
shoulder a bit to give the extended
wires room to escape, but other than
that the V-Bot emerged relatively
unscathed (with the exception of the
We turned the bot on for the
moment of truth, and we were excited
to see that the arm was working just
fine. The V-Bot may not have been
better, faster, or stronger, but it was at
least somewhat modularized.
While the modified V-Bot may not
have been the best example of a
modular robot, real modular robots are
out there doing great things (or at
least they’re in the lab getting ready to
do great things). In the summer of
2004, we had the opportunity to be a
part of an apprenticeship program at
the Palo Alto Research Center, and we
64 SERVO 01.2008