14 SERVO 07.2014
I have some very different questions that I’m going to
get to this month. Hopefully, they will hold relevance to
more than one of my readers out there!
(I read this first question and deleted it accidentally
from my iPhone; I hope the originator will forgive me for
the paraphrase and inability to remember his name!)
Q. I have a set of tool steel rods that I want to sharpen and use as a weapon on my battle-bot. I’ve tried sand paper and files to no avail. What is
the best way to sharpen these rods?
— Not anonymous, but misplaced
A. Tool steel means that your rods are as tough as the tools you are trying to use to sharpen them! You won’t get much joy — as you’ve found — trying to
sharpen them in that way. There is a possibility that you can
get a grinding stone wheel that is tough enough to file
away the metal to a point, but in the process you are very
likely to destroy the grinding wheel and heat the steel to
the point that it loses its temper and is ruined as a “pointy”
I recommend that you find a local machine shop and
have them “turn” the rods on a lathe to create their points.
A machinist will have the tools and knowledge to do this
job correctly without ruining your investment.
by Dennis Clark
Our resident expert on all things robotic is merely an email away.
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Ask Mr. roboto
y, how time flies. It seems like only yesterday I was planning all the grand
things that I wanted to accomplish with my Bioloid Premium for a
RoboOne challenger. Then, there are the vision upgrades for my Critter,
Silver Surfer (and my son's critter, Chomp.) Here it is July already, and
most of these dreams are still ... plans. Sigh. All you robot builders out
there, take heed! Someone once gave me great advice that I only sometimes follow.
His cosmic words were: "If it ain't written down, it won't happen." Truer words have
never been spoken. When you decide on a direction to take with your robot, write it
down! Create a checklist of tasks that need to be done to move your project towards
completion. Nothing motivates like a list! The list also grounds you and prevents you
from being paralyzed by the apparent massiveness of the job. As you tick off each
task, the joy of seeing accomplishments starts to steamroller your project along until
it takes on a sort of momentum of its own! Then suddenly, your project is done, and
the testing and tweaking begins.
All of my larger projects have been done like this, and since I build embedded
systems as my "day job," this process is well understood. If you want to know how to
succeed in any complex project, you can take a leaf from Roald Amundson, who
successfully reached the South Pole in 1911. He got his team there by careful
planning and setting realistic goals every day. In short, Amundson's plan was to get
20 miles every day — no more on good days, no less on bad. He held to his plan and
stayed on schedule. Never tempted to do too much and tried his best to never do too
little. We can learn from that kind of discipline. I'm now sitting down to plan out my
critter and my (weekly) 20 mile marches. Wish me good fortune!