improvised a device with
the materials they had on
board. The result was what
they termed the Mailbox.
Using materials from a
space suit and various other
fittings, they crafted a way
to mate the square canisters
to the round sockets. The
junkyard wars moment was
re-created in the 1995 film,
Apollo 13 (which also
contains the now
“Houston, we have a
The teams in Junkyard
Wars competed for
bragging rights and a
trophy made of junk — not quite the prize of not
suffocating/freezing to death in space, but still plenty cool
to inspire a generation of builders — ourselves included.
Nuts and Volts and Bolts
We admit that Robot Central isn’t just your everyday
garage. It’s seen over 15 years of competitive robot
building and many more years than that of car building.
We’ve got an unusual assortment of parts, but not
necessarily that unusual an assortment of tools. We have a
drill press that came to us during our FIRST days as a
donation from an awesome team member (thanks Evan
Heid!), a hydraulic press, and a chop saw, but other than
that it’s pretty much hand tools. So, don’t worry if you
don’t have your own CNC machine capable of turning a
billet into a shiny smooth unibody frame. We don’t either,
and we get by just fine.
The first step in a weekend warrior scrapheap challenge
type build is to find your inspiration. Unfortunately, we
didn’t have Robert Llewellyn and Cathy Rogers to announce
a challenge for us, or an exploded oxygen tank and the
necessity of not suffocating on carbon dioxide to direct us.
We had to come up with something on our own.
Protobot is our
platform, and we
have it hanging up in
hooks in the ceiling
like how many normal folks would store a bike. We pulled
down the bot and determined that whatever mechanism
we came up with could easily find a home on Protobot’s
We began scrounging around for parts to see what
inspiration would strike. We first unearthed an old
Magmotor from our solar boat days. Our local water district
sponsored a competition for high school students where we
built solar powered boats to run in sprints and endurance
style races, and the Magmotor was used to power the
propeller one year. Unfortunately, when we popped off the
gearbox, we were greeted with a kind of wet time capsule,
as lake water picked up from the competition over a decade
ago came pouring out. Perhaps the motor could be revived,
but that would be a project in and of itself that our self-imposed time limit of a weekend would not allow.
We also had a fan motor from Bryce’s BMW 540i. The
Twin brothers hack whatever’s put in front of them, then tell you about it.
SERVO 02.2017 55
SCAVENGED MOTORS IN ROBOT CENTRAL.
PREPARING THE PROD. EYEBALLING THE MOUNT.
A HISTORIC PIECE OF SPRING STEEL.