Design Your Own Joints

We kicked off today with a presentation about how to design simple hydraulic lever joints in a quantitative way. If you’ve ever wanted to design simple pivots powered by hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic cylinders, or any other type of linear actuator, check out this presentation for a solid introduction and no-nonsense design methodology.

How to design simple hydraulic joints

Other than that, today’s class was a huge work session. The controls team brainstormed about how to structure the code going forward before it became unmanageable, the electrical team debugged some gremlins that have been plaguing our Leg Cart encoders, and the mechanical team focused on laying out the components of the final chassis and designing a full-scale leg.

We’ve decided as a team that we need to build a full-scale prototype leg (and bolt it to a structural column for support…) to test both (a) our control of full-size pistons and (b) our manufacturing methodology at scale. We’ll be waterjet cutting a series of plates and welding the pieces together into box tubing like a giant jigsaw puzzle, and we want to make sure that we can pull that particular set of operations off at the Asylum in an efficient manner. We’ll still be using the Leg Cart powerplant to run it through its paces. Look forward to some views of a full scale leg by next week!

That’s all for tonight! Off to dream about terrifyingly large robots.


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Gui Cavalcanti received a General Engineering degree with a Robotics concentration from the Olin College of Engineering. He worked as a robotics engineer and systems integrator at Boston Dynamics, working on cutting edge mechanical design and systems integration for highly dynamic legged robots like BigDog, AlphaDog, and PETMAN. He was the Systems Integrator for the LS3 project, coordinating the joint engineering and development of multiple subcontractors and engineers. Over the course of his career he has also developed the mechanical systems for a robotic tuna, several robotic snakes, an ornithopter, and several other robotic animals. In his spare time he builds ridiculous things with ridiculous people, like a flotilla of SUV-sized rubber duck boats to take on the water on the 4th of July.

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