Look Ma, No Wheels!
By Paul Verhage
What wears a skirt and floats on a cushion of air? The HoverBot, of course! Last
month, we discussed how to build the airframe and nozzle of a floating robot.
This month, we’ll dress the HoverBot in a skirt and add its drive fans. When you
finish next month, your HoverBot will behave a lot like a two-dimensional
satellite in weightlessness. So, here’s that chance to test those satellite control
procedures you’ve been talking about.
The HoverBot’s skirt is a plastic bag mounted beneath the robot. It forms a seal with the ground that forces air from the lift fan to create a uniform, low friction cushion of air beneath the HoverBot. If, however, the skirt’s seal isn’t
uniform all the way around the HoverBot, air jets out one
side and the robot crashes to the ground. This can be a
significant problem when the ground is not uniformly
smooth. Therefore, in order for the HoverBot’s skirt to
adapt to variations in the terrain, the skirt is made from a
flexible material. In this case, 0.7 mil thick plastic sheet.
Inexpensive drop cloth uses plastic sheeting this thick and
it’s available wherever household painting supplies are sold,
including big box retailers. While you’re picking up your
plastic drop cloth, also get a Sharpie pen, a metal straight
edge, clear packaging tape (the two inch wide clear tape
used for sealing packages before they can be mailed), and
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