I was wondering how I wanted to proceed. Did I want to do it in wood, plastic/fiberglass, metal or a combination? I wanted my robot to be able to roll around on his own, talk, wave his arms like a blithering idiot whenever danger reared its ugly head and he had to be able to move around quickly. I had a similar decision I had to make with the R2 Builders group when I was deciding how I was going to build my R2D2 and my R5D4 and then it hit me. A robot just doesn’t seem like a robot unless he is made out of some kind of space age material like Titanium or some new endopolymer. Since both are out of my price range the next best thing is Aluminum. Also, my robot must have lots of motors, electronics and power! Arhh Arhh Arhh (the Tim Allen from Tool Time grunt). I can’t wait to re-wire this baby!!!
Well I finally decided on a aluminum endoskeleton with a fiberglass, acrylic and rubber external covering. When I made my decision I saw a logo from the B9 builders site (I kid you not) it said…..”To Out Build, Out Buy and Out do” as the club cry!!!!! I thought that was funny but I found out how true that statement was…I got the Aluminum bug!!!!! In the background Dr. Smith can be heard yelling in fear ” Oh Noooo!!!!!” …oh wait a minute…that was my wife yelling!!
Jump to the 3rd season theme with the countdown sequence with the Jupiter 2 flashing on the screen in the opening credits…..and then dollar signs flying all over with little wings Ok, well it may not be THAT dramatic but the aluminum bug has hit me hard. But I also wanted my robot to be fully mobile and to perform as if Bob May & Richard Tufeld were actually inside my Robot. So where do you start?
**Disclaimer** I do want to make 1 thing very clear here…you do NOT need to make your robot out of metal of any kind. It is just a preference. The end result is what you want him to look like and what you are happy with. This is what I have learned with the R2 and the B9 groups. You can look at 2 droids/robots side by side. Both are RC’d, both look real, both do exactly the same thing. The only difference is what they look like INSIDE (and the cost and the weight). You are the only person that will know this. So with that in mind, here are the chronicles of my build (along with all of my mistakes, lessons learned and improvements. Comments and observations are welcomed so this will benefit all that are reading this.
The first thing I did was to pick a starting point. That is usually a point where you are the most knowledgeable or can get the most parts for first. I started from the ground and moved my way up. I remember reading in the archives that the center of gravity was a concern especially in dealing with a tall robot. Tread Sections. Steel tread Sections. You need weight down low to keep the CG (center of gravity) low so it won’t topple over easily. Also I needed a strong platform for a drive section, battery storage, power supplies and the soil sampler.
In addition, steel can withstand impact better than aluminum. Aluminum may be lighter than steel for strength (pound for pound) but Aluminum will crack and break easier than steel. It is also easier to make repairs to steel than aluminum. Anyway, here is a picture of my tread section. I got these from Eric Johnson and then modified them to accept a special motor mount for the motors that will power my robot (NPC custom Motors (12 or 24v Heavy Motors). I then modified them to work with my leg/hip actuator for the B9. The outstanding paint job was done by B9 club vendor Richie Schiavello (that is his B9 in the background with my Treads on each side).