Friday, December 19, 2014

Robotic Desk Racers - Part One

Up in a forgotten storage loft the custodians were able to dredge up a few of these 1970s vintage arm desks. Light weight compared to more recent fiberglass versions.  And they have a certain...character to them.

They have some nice features for our project.  The metal tray under the seat was designed for books, but should be an ideal place to put our electronics boards.  The feet of the desk are more or less at right angles to the ground, making the process of mounting them to a drive platform appear straightforward.

Great work space for this class.  It is a tech ed room right next to the school shop.  Lots of space so when we have all three of the planned racers up for work we will not run into each other.

Here is Racer A under construction.

This one was pretty easy as we only had to reuse bits and pieces from earlier projects.  The base here was from the Lunchroom Robot of a few years back.  The gearboxes and wheels have been through a number of lives including Borg Queen Barby and the Barby Jeep Grand Prix race.

It is always the pesky little jobs that slow you down.  One of the kids had the idea, and it was a good one, of just removing the little metal discs that were on the feet of the desk.  That would leave nice holes in the metal, perfect for dropping a bolt or lag screw down into the wood platform.  Twenty minutes and a few skinned knuckles later they did get the darned things off.  We built things better in times past.....

Behold, Racer A on its shakedown cruise of the hallways:

It was a lot faster than I had expected it to be at 12 volts.  I had the kids park the battery up top because I was pretty sure we would be swapping out for 24 volts.  But they could barely control it at 12.  We had just enough time at the end of class to clean up and review the test drive.  They correctly concluded that the battery needs to go down below....when you stop this monster abruptly it tips over on its nose.  When you jack rabbit start it pops a wheelie!  Anti tip springers fore and aft seem prudent.

It was kind of cheating to take on a very easy task for our first full work session, but the lads were pretty excited by the outcome.  I sent them home to enjoy Christmas and to come back with ideas for silly stuff to mount on this machine and on B and C which will follow on.  They have some......interesting preliminary thoughts.

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