My New jellyBot Prototype, Racky

 

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About a year ago I started building a robotic jellyfish inspired by Festo’s submergible AquaJelly. I was just beginning to figure out how to get the thing moving when I got sidetracked with the prospect of launching a Kickstarter campaign and dropped the project cold. During this whole long year while I’ve been fulfilling the said Kickstarter, this poor jelly prototype (“Boney”) has watched silently from a distant shelf in the workroom, begging me to pick it up again. Finally this weekend I was able to spend some time giving the old parts a makeover… in yellow.

I added a nice gentle curve to the moving pieces, taking after the design of its cousins, the delta robots :

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Last year I decided to use a rack and pinion to get the parts to move in leu of Festo’s fancy linear actuator that they showcase in their model. Never having used, let alone designed a working rack and pinion before, this took some fussing about to get just right. The two servo motors I chose to drive the jelly’s motion are attached to a fixed central core of steel rods which two separate radial disks glide up down upon. All of the jelly’s flowing arms will be attached to the elbow of the mechanical arms, and as the disks these arms are attached to move back and forth, towards and away from each other, a sort of circular pumping motion is made.

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The two rack and pinion sets are in place now, each on opposite sides from one another moving different pieces in opposite directions. The rack passes through a slot in the opposing central disk, allowing it a deeper breadth of motion as well as keeping it in place. The only thing I seem to be missing at this point is a tensioner to press the rack against the gear on the driveshaft of the motor, so I have plans to whip one up later tonight.

On my old prototype, I used plain long strips of sheet ABS as stand ins for the jelly’s long flowing arms. They worked more or less, but weren’t very nice to look at :

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For this rendition of the bot, Mark offered me some of his old shelf liners from the garage to use. These happened to be an awesome semitransparent gray that matches the printed parts of the jelly perfectly! I decided on an elongated spade shape for the tendrils this time :

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These pieces connect at one end to a small ring, creating the umbrella of the jelly (the delta robots watch from the side in aw…) :

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The center of the umbrella mounts to the top portion of the drive shaft with a fancy pants shape sandwiching it in place like so :

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Once I design my tensioner for the rack and pinion and finish printing and attaching the rest of the jelly’s small arms (all of this depending on whether or not my printer stops being a butt) I can then start working on some test code to get the thing moving! I have no idea really if my design will work at all… I’ll just have to wait and see. For now though, it’s getting acquainted with all of its brothers and sisters in the war room. =]

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My next post will likely be about whether or not I succeeded mechanically in getting the jelly to do what its supposed to. Cheers!

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SYN Shop Podcast Pilot

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Last weekend my friend and collaborator Mark Koch and I were asked by our wonderful PR team at SYN Shop to have our delta robot making ‘rivalry’ featured in the pilot episode of the hackerspace’s podcast.

Needless to say we were excited to help out and talk a little bit about our precious bots whom we’ve been building over the past five or so months. We each had goals to achieve before the episode was shot last Sunday, but both Mark and I had some complications that kept us from preparing anything epic quite yet. With the team’s deadline set before first friday, they needed to get things underway so they took what we had (even though we whined a little).

You see… I had a lot of motors scheduled to arrive earlier this week, which they did on time as expected… however I am an idiot and ordered the wrong size and had to return everything. This was a huge buzz kill. Mark on the other hand was hoping to have robotic fingers fixed to the effector of his delta, which would grip or release by means of electromagnet. He underestimated how tricky it would be to make your own home-brewed electromagnet or solenoid, so he too was SOL come Sunday.

Amber likes top :

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I hope I didn’t ramble too much during the interview. I will post the video here as soon as it’s done being edited. Thank goodness the thing wasn’t broadcast live. ::cringe:: and thank something we had beer left over in the fridge from Pawel’s birthday party to ease the process. =]

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Suz directing all of us silly drunks :

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Mark oogling over what real delta robots look like :

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Our directors and interviewers, Suz and Pawel :

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Thank you both so much for thinking of us while choosing your guinea pigs! It was truly a blast!