Mech-Spider Fail (ARRRGH!)
I got interested in the Klann linkage when I stumbled across MechanicalSpider.com, so I decided to play with it to see what would come of it. After designing the first leg mechanism in AutoDesk Inventor 9, I thought it would be fun to build a robot spider to hand out treats on Halloween. This is the process I used to develop this robot. I wanted to use materials I had on hand and make most of the parts myself. I started with the leg-driving mechanism shown below.
I cut the gears from 1/4-inch polypropylene sheet. I got the gear patterns from the CAD library at www.hobbing.com. After I ran the exe file from the library, I ended up with 573 gear drawings of gears with 10 to 200 teeth. The drawings were DWG files, which is a format for AutoCAD. I used a free CAD package called DraftSight (a nice 2D CAD application from www.3ds.com) to scale the gears to a size I could work with, imported the DWG drawings into Inventor, printed them out as a pattern, tacked them to the plastic sheet, and cut them out with a band saw outfitted with a metal-cutting blade.
I downloaded the enable text for the Klann linkage from www.mechanicalspider.com. The text outlines the design method to get the linkage sizes and pivot points. I used DraftSight to draw the lines for the design. I tried a 6-in step at first, but the robot would have been too big, so I went down to a 4-inch step and everything was reasonably sized. The design drawing is shown below.
The next step was to import this drawing into Inventor, isolate the pivot points, draw the linkages around the pivot points, and produce the patterns. I tacked the patterns to some 1/4-inch black polyethylene I had stockpiled and cut the linkages out on the band saw as well. I managed to put most of the first set of legs together this weekend (9/24-25/2011). So far, everything is working well. I just have to build one more set of legs and figure out how to bind them together. I'm thinking PVC so far...
Update 10/23/2011: The picture at top shows my progress so far. I should be able to get motors installed this week (hopefully). I tried to hand-hold the motor and first set of legs for testing, but all hell broke loose because the motors have too much torque. That was quite interesting. Don't do that! I had to scrap the arm for now because of time constraints. I'll make that my project for next year. I still have to make it look all spidery, so I've got some artsy work to do.
Update 11/4/2011: Well, I finished but lo, it doesn't work. Maybe the motors are too small. Maybe there is just something jamming the mechanism. I don't know. Right now I'm too frustrated to mess with it. I'll have to strip it down and start putting things back on slowly to see what the problem is.