Preliminary Design of a Robot


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Preliminary Design
Though my prototype serves the same function as the production version will, the
production version will visually be a totally different robot. While testing my robot, I identified
numerous problems the design of my prototype that could not easily have been fixed. To fix
these problems, completely new materials will be required as well. Since it is likely that my
robot would be used by disabled people(most probably with poor motor control), it is necessary
that the robot is durable, and safe to use. The outer shell will be made out of aluminum, since it
is a relatively light and cheap metal. It is important that the robot weighs as little as possible, so
it does not require large motors, which will increase the cost and overall size of the robot. Since
aluminum often has sharp edges, the robot will be covered in padding to reduce the risk of injury
from operation, and act as a shock absorber if the robot is struck by an object or dropped.
The other, more obvious difference will be that the real version of my robot will
be controlled by a circuit board, instead of an RCX control brick. This will allow the use of
many different sensors and motors, and surprisingly will also be considerably cheaper. The other
important difference is that the real version of my robot will write using a robotic arm instead of
moving as whole. However, the robot will still be able to move for convenience. Just like the
RCX, it will have computer connectivity, except that it will have a wired connection for higher
speed and lower cost.

Materials and Prototype Design
Parts List:
Many standard Lego parts
3 Motors
8, 16, 24, and 40-tooth gears
One Touch Sensor
1 RCX
1 Black Crayola Marker

My robot is divided into 3 basic parts (not including the RCX brick). Below the RCX,
brick, I have the standard wheel structure with the standard gear configuration. There are eighttooth
gears on both motors, connected to the wheels with forty-tooth gears for maximum torque.
I have also used the standard medium-sized, flat tires in the front since they perform well.
However, there are no rear wheels; Instead, the back of my robot is supported by bare forty-tooth
gears, which has caused no problems. The reason why I have this odd wheel setup is because I
originally built legs for my robot, but switched to wheels after finding that the legs had
extremely little traction.
The second, and most complicated part of my robot is the marker-lowering mechanism.
This mechanism is comprised of a motor, a very large set of gears, and a platform that slides on

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two long sticks. On this platform, there is a knobbed flat Lego piece, which is grabbed by a gear.
On the far side of the mechanism, the motor turns a twenty-four-tooth gear, which moves a very
large series of gears on both sides of a panel that considerably lowers speed and increases torque
on the moving platform.The pen is attached to the platform with a rubber band, which goes
around the pen and two long Lego pieces. This whole mechanism is intentionally attached
loosely to the RCX since it blocks the Infrared port.
The third and last large part of my robot is the handle/frame above the RCX. It is
attached to the side of the RCX, making it secure, so it can be used to pick up the RCX. Also, the
marker-lowering mechanism is attached to the RCX within the frame, so it does not become
completely loose if it is detached from the front of the RCX. Also, the touch sensor is attached to
the frame, making it easily accessible and secure. This frame is comprised of the long, thin, and
tall black pieces stacked above each other, with long sticks connecting the sides of the RCX to
make a handle.
Results
When I built the first version of my prototype, I believed that I was finished with
building, and that all I had to do was program my robot. However, my robot was altered nearly
everyday I programmed. The first change was switching the short axles for longer ones, to
shorten turning distance. Shortly after, I discovered that the entire marker-lowering mechanism
was blocking the IR sensor. Because of this, I had to weaken the frame to allow for quick
removal of the mechanism. Later, while testing one of my programs, I needed to display a
variable on the screen. However, the screen was barely visible due to the jumble of wires and
parts of the frame. Once again, I removed many parts from the frame, and rerouted many wires.
After removing so many parts, the marker mechanism became slightly loose, but was attached
strong enough that it would stay on the RCX. Relative to other people, I spent very little time
working on the structure of my robot, since my project is far more programming-intensive.
Conclusions
Though my robot currently functions at a satisfactory level, if it was to be mass-produced
I would need to subject my prototype to further testing. In addition, I would need to program
numbers and punctuation marks into my program to give my robot full Morse Code
functionality. After further testing of the programming, my robot would also need to be redesigned
to create a more durable structure. Also, I would need to separately develop a versatile
robotic arm and test it before adding it to the robot. The real unit will also be twice as large as
the prototype, making it more user-friendly. After the experience of building the prototype, I will
experiment more with different designs to find the strongest and most user-friendly design before
programming. I still believe that the main users of this robot will be doctors, but it may also be
used for encrypted information since it is fully programmable.


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