My name is Josh and I have been building weird things for as long as I can remember. The first thing I can remember building is a cardboard car. Not a small toy car, but a car that a six year old could drive. I was never able to try it because my dad burnt it, but it was a car made out of cardboard. I strongly doubt it would have worked. Another thing that I tried to build was an air piston engine out of a cardboard tube. That was also a failure.
I would take VCR tapes and build buildings out of them. Then I found Legos. I loved Legos. I would buy a kit, build the kit, and then I would tear it down and see what I could build out of the parts I got. I had thousands of Legos at the peak. I started to turn away from Legos when they couldn’t support two drill motors. Go figure.
Throughout this time I tore apart anything I could. I had an unquenchable thirst to find out how everything worked. In fact, this is one thing that has stayed with me since my childhood. This obsession allows me to now look at an object, and I can usually figure out how it works.
When I was about 12 years old I started to get serious about building a robot. I bought two tracks that were originally designed for a snow blower. I then got two motors that were for a subway door. I used handy iron to make the frame. Handy iron is angle iron with a bunch of holes in it. Any way, if I remember correctly, my first try was a success, except for the fact that there wasn’t any room for my batteries. 🙁 My next attempt was a very tall box. It was about three feet tall. The problem with that version was the fact that I wasn’t too familiar with a tape measure. The motors output sprocket didn’t align to the tracks input sprocket. This caused the chain to repeatedly jump off.
The next version was made out of industrial shelving rails. This stuff was similar to what Home Depot uses. The problem with that was similar to my last problem. The chain jumped off because of alignment issues. This problem was compounded by the fact that I was using bolts. The frame had a lot of wobble in it. The version after this one will fix this issue with the help of something special.
When I was around 16, something special came into my life. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s something that I longed for but seldom thought I would have. A welder! Once I started using a welder, I was able to build the frame of my robot much quicker and make it square. I also had new motors for this version. I got the motors on Ebay. They came out of a wheel chair and they were much more powerful then my previous motors. I was able to bypass the chain with a shaft coupler, and I even had room for my batteries. The problem with this version was the center of gravity. Every time the robot started, stopped, or hit a bump, it tipped over. This is when I decided to build a new version; which just so happens to be the version I am working on.
This time I threw out the tracks. I used six wheels. Instead of having a shaft that turns, I used a stationary shaft with a sprocket attached to the wheel. I did it this way so that the robot would still move, even when an axle bends. The first set of wheels was for hand trucks. These seemed perfect since they had bearings preinstalled. Unfortunately, the bearings weren’t strong enough. I then went with taper bearing welded to wheels I got from the surplus center. And when I say welded, I mean I welded some pipe to the rim. I then inserted the bearing cup into this cup. The drive train was the first of the wheelchair motors, but then I received some hydraulics and converted the drive train to that, but I had problems with that. Which bring me up to the article Tale of Two Troubles.
When I’m not in the garage working on my robot, I am at my computer working on its controls. I am using a ps2 controller and the lpc1769 microcontroller. The unit will also talk to my phone so that I can get telemetry.
I am fairly good with a MIG welder. I have also used a stick and TIG welder, but it was only for a brief time. I have also been getting much better with my fabrication skills. On the completely opposite side of the spectrum, I know several different computer languages. I know C, Java, AS3, Arduino, and Processing. I have also played with LUA, PHP, XML, and of course HTML. I know A little electronics, but I am still trying to learn more.
I currently work part time for my Dad. I started out handing him tools. Now I wear many hats. My main duty is still helping my dad in the field of HVAC. However, I am also the IT department, web admin, R&D department, forklift operator, and fabricator. I am also currently enrolled at Reading Area Community College. I am going there to get a degree in technology. I hope this will help me get into the robotics field. My dream job is designing and building military robots and vehicles.
If you have any questions, comments, or a job opportunity for me,
email me at:
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