Update: 3/27/2013

Man, what a week! After much toil and effort, the Torchmate 2 computer-controlled plasma cutter is up and running. We’re now putting it through its paces, setting accelerations correctly, tuning cutting power, and figuring out how to transfer files through the two or three pieces of software that control the unit. In the next week, we’ll be adding water to our home-built water table in order to reduce the smoke and particulates and give us cleaner cuts.

We also continued working on the control systems for the leg and the hydraulic power unit. In order to develop code faster, we went ahead and concentrated on updating our simulation to reflect the mechanical realities of the leg – specifically, we added backlash and quirky valve response to the simulation, in the hopes that we can iterate much faster on the control system at home (instead of on-robot). James will have a long, in-depth control systems update soon about this.

The hydraulic power unit is coming along – we’ve mounted all our components, and we’re now working on connecting them together. This week, we’ll show you some of the mounting and fitting assembly work we’ve been doing, and we’re going to take the time to step you all through how the hydraulic power unit works. Let us know if anything was unclear!

Tune in next week for more work on the power unit, and updates on some interesting control systems we’ve been working on to address our mechanical and hydraulic issues on the prototype leg.


Update: 3/20/2013

This update took us a little longer to get out than usual. We had hoped to finish building a computer-controlled plasma cutter and present it to you all in one update but unfortunately, the manufacturer didn’t ship us all the parts we needed to finish the thing. Oops. We’ll now be getting back to our regularly-scheduled once-a-week updates.

In this update, we cover the building of a Torchmate 2 computer-controlled plasma cutter with a custom-built water table, the continuing development of the hydraulic power unit, and continued testing and debugging of the prototype leg. Check it all out here:

This coming week we’ll be working a lot more on the powerplant – we have a hydraulic heat exchanger coming in that we need to mount (and that we’ll talk more about), and we’ll be starting work on connecting all of our components hydraulically. We’ll also continue development work on the leg, and figure out what courses of action (both mechanically and in control system development) we need to take to reduce the leg judder that you see in many of our videos.