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.


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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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