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Alumini (Baby Aluminalis)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

We had good success with our 16-legged walking creature Aluminalis, so we decided to use what we learned and build a new walking creature. We plan for this to be a much smaller, faster, and more agile little beastie. We call her Alumini (Ah-lu-min-ee). Instead of 22″ wide, she’ll be just 10″ wide. Instead of using bulky rectangular segments, we’ve designed much finer segments, like bones in a spine, with built-in pockets for ball bearings to hold the all-important crankshafts. We’ve also designed a custom motor-and-gear mount for each end that holds everything together. Alumini will have twelve legs instead of sixteen. And instead of having a large visible thorax (body), all the electronics will be integrated within and beneath the legs of the robot, so she’ll appear to be nothing but legs. Here are some pictures of our work-in-progress. The crankshaft and legs are not shown. We’re just working on the skeleton and overall structure at this point.

PARTIALLY-CONSTRUCTED SKELETON
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MOTOR AND GEARS MOUNTED ON CUSTOM END PIECE
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GENEVIEVE ASSEMBLING ONE OF THE MOTORS ONTO THE SKELETON
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SKELETON TOP VIEW
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GENEVIEVE ASSEMBLING THE SKELETON WHILE ALUMINI’S BIG SISTER (ALUMINALIS) LOOKS ON
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BONE-LIKE SPINE SEGMENTS MACHINED ON CNC
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SPINE SEGMENT WITH BALL BEARINGS (TO HOLD CRANKSHAFT) INSTALLED IN SPINE
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CLOSE-UP OF MOTOR-AND-GEAR MOUNT
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CNC COVERED IN CHIPS AFTER MACHINING THE PARTS FROM A 12″ x 12″ SHEET OF 1/4″ THICK 6061 ALUMINUM
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CNC-MACHINED CRANKSHAFT ARMS ALONG WITH BALL BEARINGS AND SHAFTS
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Comments (8)

  1. Todd S.
    July 14th, 2014

    I am a Software Engineer (senior), but as far as machining goes, Genevieve is my idol and source of inspiration.

  2. jake
    July 14th, 2014

    what is involved in setting up the cnc for a new peice? how do you design it?

  3. Camille
    July 14th, 2014

    Jake: We design the part in the SolidWorks CAD package. We then use the HSMWorks Express CAM-package to plan out the CNC cutting operations (indicating what tool to use, which contours to cut, how much material to take off in each pass, the speed and feed rate, and so on). The CAM package automatically produces the the g-code file, which is the detailed instructions to the CNC. We then boot up the CNC and load the g-code file. To setup the CNC, we clamp down the material, zero the tool (http://beatty-robotics.com/zeroing-a-cnc/), and then tell the CNC to go. Please note that we machined each of these parts individually, one at a time. We didn’t machine them all at once (although we theoretically could the next time). We’ve done our best to streamline the process, so it takes about 20 minutes to clamp down the material and get set up. Then it takes the CNC about 7 minutes to cut the motor mount, 5 minutes to cut one of the segments, and 2.5 minutes to cut one of the crankshaft arms. It’s .250″ thick material, which is quite thick (for us), so we do it at 0.040″ or 0.025″ per pass with a .125″ flat end mill.

  4. Susan Jankowski
    July 14th, 2014

    Beautiful machine and beautiful machinist. Love the name Alumini.

  5. Camille
    July 14th, 2014

    Susan: Thank you. 🙂 Jennifer was actually the one who came up with the name. She heard the girls and I brainstorming different ideas and then she just threw that out there. We knew instantly that was it! And the other day Jennifer was in the workshop installing solar panels on two Mini Mars Rovers. So, I think it’s fair to say that this has indeed become a full-family effort. 🙂

  6. Apostolos
    August 1st, 2014

    Boy, you are doing wonders with that CNC machine. Fabulous work.

  7. Lorin
    August 15th, 2014

    Camille,

    I do not know how you do it, that is, get the girls excited in manufacturing, inventing and design. When most kids today are not involved in any kind of science, they would rather play games, spend way to much in social media and what not. I once tried to teach a group of cubscouts about hamradio. Almost everyone except one, eventually bailed. I think the one who was really interested, was a MyersBriggs INTJ type personality like me. Tell the girls, in the 1950s and 1960s, kids wanted to grow up to be a scientist. in the 1980s or 1990s, they wanted to be a sports star. Today, who knows! keep up the good work.

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