Posted by Wade Vagle
Just like how we appreciate Nike's when running on concrete, large scale walkers benefit from shock-absorbing feet. By increasing the spring's travel, shock-absorbing feet can also increase the percentage of ground-contact of each leg, which can smooth the gaits of high-stepping walkers like TrotBot and Strider. And of course, this can create new problems to be solved!
First, here's the Mondo Spider's feet in action, which provide some shock absorption, and they also slide on the smooth concrete, which helps with turning and with smoothing Klann's speed:
It walks amazingly fluidly considering how Klann's foot-path comes to a stop at each end, and the springs probably smooth the transition between feet somewhat:
Watching the video raises some questions, like:
Implementing Klann's linkage without shock-absorbing feet that slide results in a more halting gait, as can be seen in this version of the Walking Beast:
Next, here are some shock-absorbing feet ideas from Mechanical Walker pioneer, Professor Joseph Shigley:
Feet with such springs extend the feet toward the ground. So, in addition to absorbing shocks, the springs also increase the percentage of ground contact of each leg. For example, feet with very long springs could theoretically increase a 12-legged Strider's ground-contact of each leg to 50% of the crank's rotation, like is required by 8-legged Striders graphed in red below, but do so without causing the robot to drop at the two ends of the foot-path (where the red dots curl up).
However, a few of the (probably numerous) issues of long-spring feet are:
Michael Frey, an enthusiast who makes technical animations of mechanisms, has created some wonderful animations of TrotBot's Linkage.
We've already used one of Michael's Klann GIFs on the site, so we're very honored that he's directed his considerable talents towards animating TrotBot!
Some of his work is shown below:
You can see more of Michael's creations here, like his animations of engines - so cool!
TrotBots with 8 legs balance by having 4 feet in contact with the ground, one at each corner of the robot. If one of these feet were removed, then TrotBot would tip, similar to what would happen if you took one wheel off of a car.
For a tripod gait to be balanced, the feet need to be arranged like an equilateral triangle, so we removed the two outer pairs of legs, and added a pair of legs to the center of TrotBot, inside the frame:
Also, we needed to adjust the timing of TrotBot's front and rear feet. As shown in the image below, hexapod robots with tripod gaits transition from one tripod to another as they walk, which requires TrotBot's front and rear feet to be 180 degrees out of phase:
However, orienting TrotBot's front and rear cranks 180 degrees out of phase won't put the feet 180 degrees out of phase, because the location of the two leg's upper frame connections relative to the cranks is in the opposite direction. Looking from the side of the robot, the left leg's upper frame connection is 49.4 degrees to the left, and the right leg's is 49.4 degrees to the right. Here's a diagram of the left leg's frame connection relative to the crank:
So, in order to have the left and right feet touching the ground at the same time the right crank would need to be rotated clockwise by 49.4 degrees x 2, or 98.8 degrees. For the foot contact to be 180 degrees out of phase, the right crank would need to be rotated a further 180 degrees, or 278.8 degrees in total, as shown in the image below.
Here's a simulation of TrotBot's legs with this 278.8 degree phase shift of the right crank:
Also, I added 10 pounds to a toe-less TrotBot that used LEGO's plastic axles, but its bumpier gait required more torque than the plastic axles could handle. Those axles twisted so much that TrotBot could barely walk, so I replaced them with steel axles before filming this test. I should have included a clip of the plastic axle version to better show how heavy walkers with bumpy gaits may need LEGO's plastic axles replaced with steel axles to handle the torque.
TrotBot's lower leg pins tend to come out when the legs experience sideways forces, as can happen when turning TrotBot on terrain with a lot of friction (like on thick carpeting).
If the legs aren't snapped back in place, then friction on the pin's lips will wear them down, and the pins will no longer join with a sharp "snap", causing them to pull out more easily. Ideally, joints should be 3 beams wide and symmetrical like the red chain of beams below, which prevents pins from pulling out or bending sideways when bearing weight:
However, using LEGO's parts to sandwich TrotBot's leg joints inline like the red beams above would add a lot of width to the robot. Instead, I sandwiched the leg joints by attaching an additional 3x5 L-shaped beam to the outside of the legs, which is a bit off center but still works well with LEGO's high strength-to-weight ratios. I tested these new attachments by turning TrotBot on some thick carpeting, which would usually cause a few of the leg's pins to pull out. Below the video are some pictures of how I added the parts, and I used these attachments in my TrotBot version 3 builds.
I've got a few other ideas to test over the next few weeks, and then I'll post some new TrotBot instructions with the improvements. UPDATE: Here are the new instructions with a part list.
Recently I’ve been working on getting TrotBot to climb 1/3-scale stairs. The first video below shows TrotBot climbing stairs at the standard 32 degree angle of life-size stairs, both with and without wheelie bars. The second video shows TrotBot attempting steeper 38 degree angle stairs without wheelie bars, and required a bit of expert driving to avoid flipping backwards!
In this process, I found that TrotBot’s center of gravity needed to be lowered to prevent it from flipping backwards, so I lowered the battery box.
In general, vehicles handle better with a lower center of gravity, so I should have mounted the battery box lower in my original instructions.
Instructions to modify TrotBot to lower its battery box:
These instructions require the vertically oriented 7 hole beams that mount the battery box to the frame be replaced by 11 hole beams. Using 11 hole beams allows the battery box to be mounted a half dozen holes lower than it would be otherwise.
Start by removing the battery box and vertical 7 hole beams from the TrotBot frame, and get four 11 hole beams to replace the 7 hole beams. NOTE: it's easier to pull the two sides of TrotBot apart incrementally while rotating each metal support rod between pulls so that the LEGO beams can slide along the rods.
The following photo shows the attachment of two 11 hole beams to the battery box along with the 9 hole beams that attaches to them to the metal support rods to form the hypotenuse of the frame triangle. The 9 hole beams that are used as the hypotenuse will remain on the metal support rods and are only in the pictures to provide context.
Attach the 11 and 9 hole beams together to form the basis for the frame triangle. The 9 hole beams must be mounted on the 5th hole from the top of the 11 hole beam.
Mount these parts onto the battery box. Notice that the 9 hole beams are mounted on the outside of the 11 hole beams, that they are facing away from the battery box.
Repeat this process for the other side of the battery box.
Next mount this structure back into the TrotBot frame.
And that's it, TrotBot with a lowered center of gravity!
I had a great time sharing TrotBot with this amazing group of students and teachers - thank you so much for inviting me! Ben
No TrotBots were harmed nor fell off cliffs during the making of this film in Moab, UT
Scott Anderson has taken TrotBot to a new level. In addition to using modern Maker tools and gear, Scott reduced TrotBot's width by printing leg parts that link in-line, strengthened the upper leg parts by printing them as bend-resistant triangles, and added those cool hinged feet!
Scott's shares how he created his TrotBot here.
I rushed my Klann Ver 2 build and didn't build the outer frames in an optimal way:
The only thing keeping this frame's corners at right angles are the two 3x5 L-shaped LEGO parts. If this frame were put under a lot of force, like would happen at a larger scale, the corners would be subjected to torque that could easily cause the rectangle to collapse. To avoid this diagonals need to be added, which will convert the rectangles into triangles and lock the corner's angles.
The challenge with walkers in LEGO is we often need diagonals for rectangles that define the linkage's parameters. In other words, these diagonals often need to be the hypotenuses of right triangles. As you can see below, my Klann's upper support rods are 7 holes above the motor's axle, and the lower support rods are 2 holes below the motor's axle. Neither of these lengths work with a 3-4-5 or 6-8-10 right triangle with LEGO parts for hypotenuses. What can we do using the integer lengths of LEGO's beams?
NOTE: When determining the length of LEGO beams the first hole is always counted as 0! If you don't measure LEGO beam lengths in this way you won't be able to use the Pythagorean theorem to calculate which beams to use as hypotenuses.
Fortunately, with LEGO we don't have to be at precise integer numbers, and we can use hypotenuses that are close enough.
1. Hypotenuses for rectangles of height 7.
Plugging in a 90 degree angle with a side length of 7, plus a few other whole number sides into the Pythagorean theorem yields this near integer number triangle:
I used this triangle for Klann's inner frame where two 9 hole beams create hypotenuses of length 8:
I also used this triangle for TrotBot's frame:
2. Hypotenuses for rectangles of height 9.
We can also connect the top and bottom beams of Klann's frame with a hypotenuse:
Plugging a 90 degree angle with a side length of 9, plus a few other whole number sides into the Pythagorean theorem yields another near integer number triangle:
So, 13 hole LEGO beams can be used to lock Klann's outer frames into triangles, like this:
Here are a few other useful triangles for LEGO frames:
Also, the below 5-3 bent beam can be used as a hypotenuse.
You can create more triangles by lengthening a side of the above parts by attaching a LEGO beam to it.
Welcome to DIYWalkers! My name is Ben Vagle, I'm 18 years old and I've been building mechanical walkers since I was 11. I started this blog to share what I've learned, and to collaborate with you. Let's see if we can take walkers to the next level!