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The weakness of machines

All of the robots I have built have failed in fights, and usually at the axles/wheels, it's like a running joke. So why should it be any different with this featherweight? Meathammer was designed back in 2005/06 when using 4 drill motors was a bit of a novelty... it was made more novel still by mounting the epicyclic gear cages directly to the chassis, which unfortunately sends all the drive shocks back through the gearbox. The original version ran for a number of fights at modelworld 2006? and even won some, especially the sumo, which favoured its very low profile. I've just rebuilt the gearboxes with all metal gears, and tested it, and it seems it should last for at least one fight… but as I put it in the car after testing, I noted one of the wheels had nearly fallen off. Mark that bolt for Lockthreading! All this got me thinking if I could make something less likely to lose a wheel, break a gearbox etc I have a huge pile of bits and bobs that were destined for heavie
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robot rebuilds

For two years in a row I've missed out joining in with Ian Watts robot bash at the Uni. So I'm making sure I've got something running before it swings around again. So I welded a couple of new gearbox cages into the 4 wheel push bot, and dug out a set of Electronize speed controllers. I fitted the titanium plate that has been cluttering the basement for a decade and have been doing some testing with a set of LiON batteries that used to belong to a cordless strimmer, which fell apart from overuse. I've run it up and the battery doesn't really have enough life to power 4 motors, but is useful for testing. I've stuck some old NiMH units on a charge cycle to see if they have enough life for a bout or two. The only things I actually need to "buy" are a 2.4GHz radio set, as the old 40MHz stuff is against the rules these days, so I've ordered a Hobby King 4 channel set for £20 off ebay. Strangely yesterday Mentorn emailed a bunch of robot folk to

Jansen Arduino

I bought two Gakken walker kits from ebay last Christmas, and finally got round to doing something with them. I disconnected the propellors, and the reduction gears and fixed the couplings to a couple of rotation hacked servos. I laser cut some servo mounts and hung them on some brass tubing to join the two sets together.

#BuildBrighton - Printing in 3D

I've been pretty dismissive of 3D printers, chiefly because I view them as complex, fiddly, erratic, temperamental and inelegant machines. If you want a lumpy thimble made very, very... very slowly they are perfect. If you want anything even moderately useful, then you probably need a machine bigger than you can afford, and it will still be slow... and probably breakdown... or print 80% of the thimble then suddenly have a funny turn and stop, or bung up or something. They are a bit like "classic" cars, where "classic" means poorly designed, 1970's British monstrosity. However the #BuildBrighton folk organised a 3D group, so  I thought I'd rock up and see if they couldn't dispel my negativity now I actually have a part I need to make  (a collet for the "gun" on my Dalek.) The #BuildBrighton 3D printer group started with a talk from Alex about OpenSCAD , which is a simple scripting language that allows geometric primitives to be comb

One-Direction bot

Build Brighton is a top place, full of electric lasers and 3D, but it's an absolute sod to find. So I decided to add a little bit of trim ( or flare as they might say in "Office space" ) to the inconspicuous BB doorbell. A quick measure, and a few minutes with the #BuildBrighton jigsaw on some scrap mdf left over from the Dalek, and I had a some shapes. I sanded them down, and primered them up, then gave a quick splash of the ever useful "Plastikote" enamel paint. Final job was to stick the blocks to the wall using a couple of dobs of Gripfill, that way if we want to get rid of them, it's a ten minute job with a crowbar. So that's Donation bot's cousin, Welcome/Direction Bot... I guess we could tap the power to the doorbell to run a couple of LEDs but for the minute, job done.

Fake Plastic Trees...

So, for a bit of light relief I bought a few of Justin's LED Christmas tree kits. I think the original idea was to have a relatively easy kit to put together on Saturday workshops in the run up to Christmas, but they seem to have become quite popular with all manner of folk. Anyway, the kit is based around a couple of well made pcbs, a bag full of components, and the simple instruction that +ve is UP. It took about 10 mins to solder all the bits together, and with a huge amount of satisfaction over the end result. Justin and his Christmas tree kits can be found here: The Build Brighton Christmas workshops will be running each Saturday from 30th November to 21st December from 10am – 2pm. Entrance is completely free. Kits are priced between £2 and £5. #BuildBrighton can be found here:


The Strandebeest model I ordered on ebay arrived, and I've put it together. Great value for just £7.98. I reckon they must have lots of surplus stock as these kits usually cost about £40. I put it together this morning, and am delighted.