Project Hexapod in build mode, now accepting new team members!
It's been a long time since our last update, and we wanted to let you all know what's been going on. To make a long story short, we've moved out of our design and prototyping phase and into our build phase! Now that we're fabricating, we've decided to expand the team to include new skilled steel fabricators; if you're in the Boston area and are interested in joining us, check out the call for new members at the bottom of this update, or check out the application survey here. Now, on to updates!
At the start of the year, we worked pretty hard to build out both the hydraulic powerplant for the final robot and a CNC Plasma Cutter (that would then be used to cut parts out for the robot's legs and chassis). Both items took us awhile to complete, and took more energy than we were hoping, but we wrapped them up around May. Since then, we've been working hard to finalize our leg design, get the links analyzed for overall strength and manufacturability, and create manufacturing and quality control processes from scratch to ensure that we build as robust a robot as we can. If you're interested, you can check out an example of the kinds of work instructions and processes we're creating here.
We're happy to announce that we've taken on two new sponsors recently, which have drastically helped our design and process; the first was Tompkins Industries, a global hydraulic fitting and hose supplier. We worked with them to design and supply custom hose assemblies and hydraulic fittings for all of the parts in the hydraulic powerplant, and will soon be working with them again to design the hose runs and fittings for the legs of the robot. The second sponsor was AST Bearings, a global supplier of bearings and bushings of all different shapes and sizes. We were having a lot of trouble coming up with cost-effective ways of designing and fabricating joints with rigid bushing assemblies that had to be concentric across big weldments made up of a lot of individual thin plates; in order to solve that fabrication problem, we worked with AST Bearings to source low-cost spherical plain bushings for all of our joints, meaning that Stompy will be much easier to weld together (for both us and any novice fabricators that follow in our footsteps), will be much easier to assemble in the short term, and will require less maintenance in the long run.
As we mentioned above, we're now solidly in the build phase of the project. We've decided to start by building the lowest-stress parts of the leg first in order to get all of our fabricators on the same page; we're building the "calf" link, as we call it. This is the link that touches the ground, and is suspended from the rest of the leg via a four-bar linkage and shock absorber. This is what 8 calves (one to screw up, one for a 'spare' leg, and 6 to put on the robot) worth of parts look like when the parts come out of the CNC Plasma Cutter:
All 184 of those calf parts have to have dross removed from them, and they have to be ground down and cleaned wherever we plan on welding so that we don't get contaminated welds. We expect that the legs represent at least 1,100 person-hours worth of fabrication, all told, without including assembly onto the robot itself or building the chassis. Needless to say, there's a tremendous amount of work ahead of us, and we've decided to ask for help to get it all done in a reasonable amount of time.
If you're in the Boston area, have experience with steel fabrication, and would like to join Project Hexapod, we'd love to hear from you! We're looking for somewhere between 4 and 8 new team members who can step up and help us build this giant robot over the coming months. If you're interested in learning more, please check out our application for new team members here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/W23NKBD .
That's about it for now! We'll be posting lots of pictures of our build process to our Facebook page if you want to follow us there, and we'll be updating our blog soon with discoveries we've made during the build process.