The ARMadeus Project is a series of large scale robots designed for experimenting with electrical and mechanical components. As an engineering mentor since 1995 with a local FIRST team (FRC Team 58), I’ve been conditioned to building big bots. This conditioning has heavily influenced my
personal robot projects, as well. Those familiar with FRC
robots will recognize many of the parts I use.
Previous ARMadeus versions were dedicated robots
with various configurations of articulated arms; hence, the
inspiration for the project name. With this iteration, I took a
different approach. The current ARMadeus Mk. 11 model
consists of a universal mobile base with interchangeable
Main drive, power distribution, pneumatics, and
actuator control electronics are housed in the base. The
personality module (which easily attaches to the base)
defines the primary operation of the robot, so it contains
the hardware for a particular function, torso, arms, head,
Not every model in the series was a roaring success.
The Mk. 1 used high traction wheels in a 4WD
configuration with a relatively short wheel base. It ran
smoothly while moving in a straight line, but not so well
when turning. Nearly every model since then now uses
front wheel drive with non-powered rear wheels.
I’ve also learned the importance of managing the
center of mass. Another early version weighed 165 lbs with
arms reaching seven feet in the air. Unfortunately, it was
prone to face-planting when its direction was changed
abruptly. Newton’s first law wins every time.
I strive to build with off-the-shelf components
whenever possible. When necessary, I’ll modify an
existing part with the tools I have available. The only large
power tools I use are a drill press and a band saw. You
don’t need full machine shop capability to construct large
scale, high quality robots.
I also find a cordless drill, a decent selection of hand
tools, some intelligent planning, and careful
measurements to be equally useful. I use ExpressPCB
design software for creating low cost custom printed
circuit boards (PCBs).
ARMadeus Mk. 11 uses three custom boards, a
compressor control board, a level translator for shifting
5V analog sensor signals to 3.3V levels, and a four-channel 12V switch.
Since my background is electrical not mechanical, I
tend to think in terms of simple mechanical components.
I like to break the design process down into modular
subsystems. I divide and conquer, paying particular
Figure 1. Pneumatic hexapod circa 2000.
36 SERVO 11.2017