About a year ago (ish, maybe longer) I bought myself a Makerbot 5th Gen 3D printer with one goal in mind, design and implement a 3D printable robotics platform.
No biggie, right? I mean this is basically the task of inventing a VEX or LEGO platform.
Oh and I wanted it to be cross compatible with VEX. In part because I intend to use some VEX parts in this kit of parts, like the motors and electronics that would be impossible to develop myself, and in part because it would make this kit useful to existing VEX teams.
Early concepts were pretty simple…
But quickly evolved…
And like most of the things I do, some limited success was achieved.
But alas, the Makerbot really wasn’t up for the task, and so the project was shelved, which is sadly the usual fate of most of my projects.
I reenvisioned the project with a new sort of take or idea with this:
But quickly realized that these parts were going to be very hard to print. There was actually an entire other design iteration that I don’t seem to have any pictures of, and don’t feel like digging up the CAD for that was even harder to print. But anyway…
I sold the Makerbot, and eventually bought myself an Ultimaker 2, oh and I’ve become a member of a makerspace at my university that has a Form 2, Markforce and Taz, so I have four printers and two CNC’s at my disposal.
But the goal is still to produce a robotics platform that is 100% 3D printable (minus basic hardware and electronics of course). So ideally the kit should be printable on my UM2 without jumping through crazy hoops.
Anyway, I’ve been working very diligently on a new iteration of this concept, and this is what I have…
Whereas all the other concepts had serious printability issues and usually broke down in one way or another, this concept is actually pretty well thought out and robust. And for those of you wondering, no it’s not just a holonomic drive. I’ll obviously expand the kit to be more, but for now this is my test case.
Initial test prints aren’t quite there, but almost, which is awesome!
I don’t want to over promise here but in the highly unlikely to happen, wishful thinking, long term, I’d like to refine this and create an open source community around it. A low cost, extendable, open platform could do a lot of good. And I don’t want to brag too much, but I’ve designed this to be 100% VEX U legal, which is pretty cool.
In the much more likely to happen short term, this will be my next robot and will give me the means to produce more advanced content for YouTube, which I’m sure is going to make a lot of people around here happy.
The holonomic base pictured is 17.5" x 17.5" and sits roughly 2.5" off the ground (ground to top of plane).
So I wanted to include you guys in this and get some feedback. I’ll use this post as a Q&A / buildlog.
I may also need to test these parts on an array of different 3D printers, so if you have access to a printer and want to help me out, posting below what printer you have access to would be great. No commitment or anything, it’d just be nice to get a general idea.