I want to make a tracked robot with a paintball gun. The robot and gun will be controllable from a distance. The gun will have elevation- the ability to tilt up and down. The tracked base should be able to rotate in place and climb stairs. By rotating in place I should have the inherent ability to pan- rotate the gun horizontally without adding a separate, expensive and heavy pan mechanism. I want to make something light enough so that one person can carry it.
I have been working on this project for a while, and I have several models, which come close but don't do everything I am visualizing. I started out a few years ago working with what I knew: cameras and RC cars. My background in RC gave me experience with servos, transmitters, motor controllers, receivers, etc. My career as a professional photographer gave me experience with cameras and video equipment. My background in industrial design allowed me to turn an idea, in my head, into concept sketches, study models, computer renderings and eventually full-scale working prototypes.
About 10 years ago I had a “eureka moment” I was playing with my son, who was about 10 years old at the time. Also at that time, these little inexpensive wireless security cameras were popular. We realized RC cars were also “wireless”. So we married the two ideas. By mounting a wireless camera on our RC car we could then play a game where I would hide an object in another room and he would drive this bot by looking at a computer screen, where the image from the camera was displayed. We called it “Hunt for Red October”.
I then started modifying RC trucks so they could carry more gear, like bigger cameras and parabolic microphones for listening. What came out of that process was called R.O.M.P. or Remotely Operated Mobile Platform. http://www.inspectorbots.com/ROMP.html Basically a removable aluminum plate mounted to an RC monster truck with upgrades to handle an 8 lb. payload. The plate allowed us to quickly drill holes and mount a variety of equipment or experiments. One thing led to another. We said: “Wouldn’t it be cool to mount a paintball gun on the ROMP"… So I built the WROMP or Weaponized Remotely Operated Mobile Platform. http://www.inspectorbots.com/Bot_Photos/Pages/ROMP.html#6 This one had an automatic paintball gun capable of firing 13 rounds per second and a barrel mounted camera but no elevation or panning. "What if we could add elevation?"- the ability to tilt the gun up and down. "OMG!” So I built the "Robotic Weapon" and learned a lot about paintball guns. I cleaned up a lot of paint. http://www.inspectorbots.com/Robotic_Weapon.html
The vehicle was a fully upgraded E-Maxx RC Truck. The vehicle had hundreds of beautiful, anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum parts. It could go 50 MPH! but it was very complex and very expensive. I then built the "Mega Hurtz" http://www.coroflot.com/twilight/mega-hurtz/6 which had 4-wheel-drive, a welded steel chassis, armor plating and a pan/tilt mil-sim paintball gun on a rotating turret. It was powerful enough to pull a man or a Hum-vee, but it was a 280 pound monster! http://www.inspectorbots.com/Mega_Hurtz.html
My process is simple. I imagine a part or product in my head and then methodically take the sometimes hundreds of steps necessary to achieve that goal.
The Next Step
None of these creations could climb stairs very well. Ascending stairs is something we, as humans, take for granted. Stairs are everywhere in the urban environment. Building a robot, which can climb and descend stairs has always been an engineering challenge. My current goal with this Paintball Robot is to find or build a rugged tracked platform, or possibly a multi-wheeled platform, which can handle a wide range of obstacles, including stairs. http://osbots.com/blog/2010/apr/20/ranger-project-robot/ It will also be lightweight enough that one person can lift it. It will be simpler than my previous attempts. Keeping the number of moving parts to a minimum should simplify production and minimize breakdowns. It will have a non-lethal, reconfigurable weapon mounted to some sort of Pan/tilt assembly. http://www.inspectorbots.com/Bot_Photos/Pages/Mega_Hurtz.html#16
If the project is fully funded, I would probably buy a vertical mill to cut out the parts. I have been making all the parts by hand, using modified woodworking tools and a home-made vacuum former. It is very labor intensive and time consuming. I would also acquire a shop space, which is wider than 7ft, my current shop size, (in my basement) to accommodate the new equipment and project. I would also buy a 3D computer program, which will allow me to design the parts on a computer and send them to the mill for fabrication. I also need money to buy the materials, parts for the project, prizes and fees.
This project has some real world applications. It may sound menacing or threatening or just plain silly, but I think there may be applications, not only for scenario games in the paintball industry, but in law enforcement and in the military. I think the project could actually help save lives…
"As global terrorism begins to take a foothold and we witness a proliferation of brutal demonstrations, urban conflict, close-quarter battles and general escalation of violence, this robot could reduce the casualty rate and save lives. The operator could disarm or disable an assailant with rubber rounds, pepper spray, or other non-lethal rounds- instead of killing them! In addition to increasing the safety and lifespan of the assailant, the robot takes the war- fighter, or law-enforcement officer out of the danger zone. In volatile and potentially lethal law-enforcement or military situations, by placing the operator in a safe and protected location, and operating the robot remotely, the danger to the operator is greatly reduced, thus improving and saving lives. If a member of your team is wounded and unable to retreat, the Robot could be sent in to extract the wounded person, without having to put other members of your team or medics into danger-into harm’s way."
This is an ambitious project. It may sound simple, but it is actually quite a complex task. Several skills are needed including: Concept sketching, welding, soldering, electronics, programming, experience with RC technology, wireless technology, video transmission, fabrication, computer modeling, rapid prototyping, engineering and a knowledge of paintball technology. Luckily, I have all of this. But mostly what’s needed is vision, passion, creativity and motivation. I have all of this too. I am passionate about this project. I am driven forward by my passion. I can’t stop. I am obsessed, Please help me. Help me fuel the fire of my passion. Help me to achieve my vision.
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