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...... Tread Section ......
Bought a set of Eric's steel tread sections, very happy with the quality, the only draw back is the scarcity of mounting holes. To get a drill on the inside you need to use a right angle adapter, which makes it difficult to put enough pressure on to drill through 1/8" steel, or you have to drill through from the outside. Using the wheel shaft holes is not ideal as to remove one component you have to loosen the other. It wouldn't matter where the mounting holes were, because you could extend a bracket from there, it just needs a few more IMHO.
They came ready to use, the only work needed was to paint them. Used a rattle can of grey acrylic primer/filler from AutoOne.
Top coat of "Aluminium" also from AutoOne.
The gaps for the wheels and tread belts are free to move at the bottom, so installed fixed width spacers rather than have pressure on the side of wheels. Drilled some more holes around the trapezoidal opening to match the spacing of those already there, and secured with M6 stainless steel bolts and nyloc nuts with aluminium tubing cut to length in the centre to hold the side plates a fixed distance apart.
The Drive motors came from a "Jiffy" powered wheelchair, they came complete with gearbox, wheel with white rubber tyre, and breaking mechanism. Separated the motor from the gearbox and rotated it 180 degrees so the red manual break release lever is on the same same side as the wheel so that it could be reached by taking off the side panel if necessary. (before on the left, after on the right)
The down position was intended for powered operation, a solenoid pulls the break off just before any movement, and releases it to go on when the drive motion has stopped, this stops the wheelchair (or robot) rolling away on a gradient. Thought this could be useful, but got tired of the loud click from the solenoid every time the robot started or stopped moving.
The up position manually releases the break, and was provided to allow someone to push the wheelchair. But although it allows the wheels to turn it does not disconnect them from the gearbox, so if you apply power to the motor it still works as normal. Hence i've been able to leave the break mechanism in place but in the "off" position and drive the robot as if it wasn't there. This way i can always switch it back in if decide to use it again at a later date.
Originally tried having the driving wheel in the centre with a small caster wheel in front and back (as shown above), but it was too easy to strand the driving wheel in mid air when going over bumps, so later switched to one larger caster wheel at the front and the driving wheel at the rear.
Plans for the Future
i am trying to get him ready for a show in April, but after that intend to try the following modifications:
Cut the trapezoidal opening in the centre plates the same as the others - too many times I've put one hand through the side to reach something and then tried to put the other hand through the other side, only to be blocked by solid steel!.
Find an easier way of joining the two sections together - with the motors, wheels, and belts in place it's hard to get to the bolts holding the sections together. Want to put a hook and slot arrangement near the bottom of the tread section, then two bolts near the top where they are easily reached.
Fill in the hole for the power socket - want to have the power sockets on the other tread section, by cutting a rectangular door the same as in the front but on the other side. The door would lift up to reveal the power socket at the rear, which would be out of site anyway while charging in a stationary position, but while mobile the tread section would look the same from the front or rear.
Remotely change the height off the floor - want to motorise the height adjustment for the caster wheels so the ground clearance can be changed when moving from carpet to smooth floor etc. If possible would like to keep the correct pressure on the tread belts to make them rotate as the robot moves.
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