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.


Update: 2/27/2013

It’s time for the weekly update! The big news this week is that we finally got the prototype leg under closed-loop control – woohoo! We also continued work on the hydraulic power unit frame, made spacers for the powertrain, and started the final round of design on the chassis and leg based on lessons learned from the prototype leg. Check it all out in the video below:

In this coming week, we’ll be doing a lot of tuning of the control loops that govern the leg’s motion, continuing the final design process for the legs, and pushing ahead with the hydraulic power unit integration. Stay tuned – we’re starting to pick up some serious speed!


Update: 2/19/2013

Hello everyone!

We have come to realize that a) we are bad at this continuing-to-write-blog-posts thing, and b) even so, we really need to be documenting this process for the world to see. Thus, we’ve decided to change gears a bit and offer weekly video updates instead of blog posts. Check out our first update below!

Let us know what you think, and if you have anything you’d like to learn more about!


Swag Shipping


Just a quick update to announce that all swag (t-shirts, bumper stickers, wrist bands) bound for US addresses has shipped or will ship by end of today. For US supporters – your shirts and bumper stickers should arrive before Christmas.

Here are a few pictures of the team packing up the thousand+ orders. Our deal with the shipping company fell through, so we finally just decided to get everything done the old fashioned way…


International swag has not yet shipped and we’ll let you know when that goes out. We will definitely be shipping international orders before Christmas, but I wouldn’t count on them arriving before Christmas.

Thanks again for your support!

Hydraulic routing, valve mounting, hoop jumping and SWAG

Hello all!

It’s been too long since our last update, and for that we apologize. We’ve gotten a ton done. Most of it has been the not-so-glamorous support work that needs to happen. Since our last post, we’ve:

  • Acquired insurance for prototype leg and robot operations
  • Worked out a safety agreement with the Artisan’s Asylum
  • Received all of our swag!
  • 800+ T-shirts of many sizes
  • 1500+ bumper stickers
  • 1500+ wrist bands
  • Negotiated a deal with a shipping company to ship all our Kickstarter backers their rewards (without breaking the bank)
  • The T shirts arrived on Friday and are looking great:

    So to all our Kickstarter backers, your stuff should be arriving in the next month.  It’s taken us longer than we expected, and for that we apologize.  We still need to pack and address over a thousand packages, but we have all the equipment in place to do it.

    On the robot side of things we’ve also hit a few milestones.

    Continue reading Hydraulic routing, valve mounting, hoop jumping and SWAG

    Full scale leg rough fitup

    Hello again everyone!

    First of all, we owe everyone a huge thank you – your response has been tremendous through this entire Kickstarter campaign. We hit our goal, and we’re only $2,500 away from our Performance Upgrade – woohoo! We wanted to take a minute and show you the progress we’ve made over the past month while the Kickstarter was up, and ask you to help spread the word (or perhaps up your pledge!) to help us achieve our $95,000 stretch goal.

    We’ve spent the past month taking refresher welding classes at Artisan’s Asylum and getting our technique down, and then welding each of the links together. MIG welding all of the plates together to form the shapes of the links went very quickly, but we hit a snag when we started to weld on the hollow cylinders required to hold the shafts and pins necessary to tie the legs together. Our initial welding and jigging techniques resulted in misalignment of the cylinders, and we had to cut them out and try again. We now have a controlled 12 step process for carefully TIG welding the cylinders to the link bodies, and we’ve started slowly welding the final pieces on to each link. Check our progress out so far:

    Continue reading Full scale leg rough fitup