Cubebot to TARDIS

Minibot.22In late March Ashebots began developing Cubebot,  a basic platform for team members to practice designing, building, and programming a robot during our spring/summer season.

The team is slated to participate in the Technology Track and is listed in the lineup for KidzCon@Geekout at Asheville GeekOut, on June 7 & 8, 2014 . In addition to taking Ashebots’ existing robots to the event, we wanted to develop an all new robot with which we could creatively express ourselves with a pop culture tie in.

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Cubebot was the perfect way to meet our needs for practice building and programming, while making an engaging robot to take to GeekOut.

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Basic stucture: simple Tetrix cube, with motors independently driving each of the rear wheels.

Many of us are Doctor Who fans and we’d given a nod to the sci-fi series with a decal of the TARDIS on our 2014 FTC Block Party competition robot. We decided to take things a step further and create a TARDIS skin for our Cubebot.

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We began developing a prototype for our TARDIS skin using cardboard and duct tape.

Meanwhile, we were further developing the internal robot structure and deciding how the robot could interact with GeekOut participants.

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We decided to add a height extension on one side of Cubebot, so we could add a decent sized door, allowing us to roll out some type of extension arm from within the robot. As we extended the height of our robot, we further stabilized the structure with additional bracing.

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Using Tetrix and LEGOs, we developed prototypes for our extension arm.

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We finished the cardboard mock up for our TARDIS skin.

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We began developing the mechanism for our extension arm, which we had decided would also be the mechanism for opening the door.

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We used cardboard to prototype the door and the basket, to be rolled out with the extension arm.

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We tested our extension arm and door opening mechanism with simple wire connections to a battery.

Our next steps were to begin refining everything.

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We used Coroplast to develop a refined upper TARDIS roof structure.

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We continued refining our door and its relation to the TARDIS skin prototype.

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We greatly improved our extension mechanism and traded out the prototype cardboard basket for a donation can.

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We used the TARDIS mockup as the pattern for creating the simplified inner structure of our final TARDIS skin, using cardboard, duct tape, and hot glue. We utilized the previously refined Coroplast roof in the final skin.

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We covered the entire TARDIS cardboard substructure with 2mm crafting foam, keeping our robot skin as lightweight as possible, to avoid overstressing our motors.

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The thin foam was easy to work with, using craft blades, scissors, and hot glue.

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We used 6 mm and 2 mm crafting foam to build up call box outer structural details.

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The crafting foam proved an excellent surface for applying paint and final detail work.

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We added call box signage, dummy door handles, and a light fixture. Our light fixture is a plastic jar with screw on lid, trimmed with crafting foam. The lid is hot glued to the roof over a hole for running wire to the robot power. The jar screws off for access to the light.

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Initially, our TARDIS skin fit a little too tightly; so we trimmed out some areas of our double thick inner cardboard to ease the way for some bolts. We also adjusted the placement of our door hinge to align better with our fully trimmed out TARDIS skin.

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Once we had a final TARDIS skin with which to work, we moved on to getting our robot fully functional.

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We added a flashing light to our fixture.

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We replaced our prototype cardboard door with a final door to match the rest of our TARDIS.

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We finished permanent wiring.

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We programmed Cubebot to perform its functions.

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Our Cubebot to TARDIS project was a satisfying exercise in team work and was a great way for team members to practice a variety of skills while producing a fun, visually appealing robot to share with the community at GeekOut.

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Purchase tickets now to get in on all the amazing GeekOut programs, June 6 – 8 at the Sherrill Center at UNCA.  Stop by and see Ashebots while you’re there; we’ll even let you take our TARDIS for a spin. Allons-y!

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