made completely from scratch with items such as 99-cent
flashlights; he used soup cans for the eyes.
Dave told me, “I am always on the lookout for useful
interesting things that I can use in my robots. The shoulders
of Loki are made from carpet protectors that go under a
couch’s legs. Loki’s drive wheels are lawnmower wheels I
picked up at the hardware store. His tail-wheel is made from
two inline skate wheels I caught on sale from a sporting
good store. Trim around the robot is mostly door-edge
molding from an auto parts store, as well as the decorative
lighting on the sides of the robot. There are lots of
interesting decorative lights at auto parts stores.”
“I also scrounge the local surplus stores. Loki’s elbow
rotation is supported by high quality bearing joints I picked
up for $1 each. The shoulder motors use an expensive Kerr
motor controller which I got surplus for $5, then learned
how to program the thing from the company’s website.
Loki’s blue shoulder brackets are also from the surplus store.
Loki’s left hand was a gripper for picking up things I got
from a drug store. His voice comes from an iPod dock
speaker mounted just below the head. The grills on the side
of the robot are florescent light cover panels from Home
Depot, painted black. The grill on the font of the robot’s
stomach is made from a bathroom vent cover (also painted
Dave uses a laptop computer as the brains for Loki, and
also as a chest-mounted display. The PC uses Visual C++ and
an onboard PIC relies on the CCS C compiler. Two Logitech
laptop cameras serve as eyes for his stereo vision system.
Typical of most robot builders, projects never end as
improvements are always envisioned and added. Figure 2
shows Loki's newer drive assembly using reliable Pittman
gearmotors and a toothed belt to drive the wheels instead of
the previous stepper motors.
There was a bit of machining required on the two 1/4”
aluminum plates, but Dave used a heavy aluminum L
extrusion to mount the plates. Iron angles would have
interfered with the robot's compass.
That is the advantage of building your own robot from
scratch — you can always change the structure and
components as you locate better parts.
Dave has dramatically changed Loki from its birth in
2006 until now. Dave is a prime example of a robot builder
who took common objects and made them fit into one of
the finest robots that I have ever seen. Johnny Five from the
film, Short Circuit was personable; however, I do believe
Loki has far more actual personality than the movie action
Dave and his daughter are 'Team Crash,' competing in
the new SyFy series, Robot Combat League. For more
information on Dave's many robotic creations, go to
Kenneth Maxon’s NeRP
I first met Ken at one of the Seattle Robotics Society's
Robothons. He had a most amazing creation which is
FIGURE 2. New wheels and motors for Loki.
shown in Figure 3. His large bot, Max, had 12 stepper
motors for motion and over 4,600 screws to hold it together.
Figure 4 shows another remarkable robot that he has built.
Ken had a functional robot in mind when he designed it;
one that could navigate around his block. Moreover,
precision machining of the 6061-T6 aluminum stock into the
shiny parts (shown in the figure) was critical to his design
and to his desire for a truly beautiful work of art.
Figure 5 is a close-up of the robot's upper suspension. I
could just stare at the robot for hours. Figure 6 shows four
views of the robot’s
ability to traverse
obstructions using a
system, similar to those
used on the Mars
Figure 7 is a
partial view of Ken’s
shop showing a metal
shear, large drill press,
CNC milling machine, a
large lathe, and other
FIGURE 3. Kenneth Maxon's Max
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