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tools that are not visible. Do you need all these machine
tools to build a robot like the ones shown in Figures 3 and
4 In a word — yes — plus, many more precision
metalworking and electronic measurement tools and
instruments. More importantly, you need to know good
machining techniques, along with electro-mechanical systems
knowledge. Do you need these types of tools to build a
great robot? No. Dave built Loki with just a small drill press
and other hand tools. Be sure and visit Max’s Little Robot
Shop at http://nikita.argia.net/kmaxon.
Robot Design Driven by the
Parts That You Find
FIGURE 5. NeRP's upper suspension.
FIGURE 6. NeRP's rocker-bogey wheel system for uneven ground.
Designing your robot around parts that you find is the
fastest and easiest way to build your
robot. Designing a robot on paper or
CAD drawings, and then going out
and trying to find uniquely shaped
parts that exactly or closely match
your specs will do nothing but
frustrate you. You can certainly
machine or fabricate the parts just
like Ken did, but a little flexibility can
save you a lot of money and time.
Plus, you just might end up liking
what you find more than a custom-built part.
If you stubbornly insist on 3-
53/64” diameter wheels for your
robot, you might be ignoring some
great wheels at a far cheaper price.
With today’s microcontrollers and
good encoders, you can easily
compensate for any wheel’s diameter
in the program. This is just one
example of how flexibility in your
design requirements can save you a
lot of frustration and money.
Start at the
for Robot Parts
76 SERVO 04.2013
FIGURE 7. Part of Ken Maxon's machine shop.
Over the years, I have assisted
many people in building their first
robot. As the years have gone by, I
have found more people to be more
talented in the use of
microcontrollers and associated
programming than in the mechanical
aspects of robot building.
Microcontrollers and a good sensor
suite is quite often the basis for a
good robot, but mechanics must