With or entry now set in stone, it was time to start planning our entry in detail, and outlining our key goals. We decided we wanted to set ourselves the following challenges:

  • Build robot so that it is modular and can be interchanged to suit challenges
  • To be controlled via Windows IOT core (an alternative to the standard Raspbian operating system, something we believe has never been done)
  • To be fully designed and printed ourselves

Splitting the tasks

Initially, myself and Aaron have decided to split the roles, with myself focusing on the design and purchasing components and Aaron focusing on getting the Windows IOT project setup, and making classes for all the components we require.

Previously, I have always lived and breathed SketchUp for my CAD design, however having recently taken up a degree with the Open University, I decided i would attempt to use my student licence of fusion 360… Who doesn’t love software when it’s free! Initially this was a bit of a learning curve, but agter watching a few video tutorials, i soon started to pick it up.

If you’re also thinking of venturing into the world of fusion 360, I would highly recommend the getting started tutorials by, Lars Christensen, I found them to be nicely paced and very informative! The playlist can which can be found here!

Modularity

My initial focus was on the modular aspect of the design, looking at the best way to secure removable parts to build a rugged structure. I looked at various different clips and locking mechanisms, however it wasn’t until I started hopping round on crutches that Aaron pointed out the small spring loaded clips. They were easy to move, but also provided a great deal of strength. It was at this point I had to guard my crutches with my life, in the fear that might go missing in the name of testing! It took a little bit of googling, but after searching for the term ‘crutch locking clips‘ I came across the real name… Spring Clips!

They seemed very readily available in small sizes, so these seemed ideal for the task at hand! I ordered a pack of 5 off ebay, to start having a play with, to see how well they can fit into a 3D printed enclosure, and the tolerances required.

Another key part of the modular design, was the ability to plug in components, without having to go through the hassle off wiring them up. In my inventory of maker goodness, I dug out a terminal crimping set, with the ability to make both male and female connectors, making it ideal to connect the modular parts to the Raspberry Pi.

What’s next?

Now that we’ve come to an agreement to the way forward in achieving our brief, the next major step of the design journey will be to come up with the outline of each component and it’s function. My next key objectives from a design point of view are:

  • Outline all the components needed to complete the challenges
  • Work out an initial component list
  • Work out the best form of drive (somewhat important 😋)

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