Let's Make Robots!

Fordson V8 cog - Snow Machine

Travels with ease over snow

I present a novel locomotion system which comes into its own when there is snow around.

I was inspired by a couple of videos of a Fordson tractor & Chevrolet car.... circa 1929 and it showed a spiral track system which could just be bolted onto virtual any chassis that had an engine......allowing the "Vehicle" to traverse snow/marsh/water with ease.

My original project started a year ago..... Swiss snows vanished (so patience ensued)... (during the wait ....youtubies made my original probe video (see last video below) my most Favorited Video ... i knew then that i could not drop the project)...

Update 20140105:- NB... due to a 15 second music copyright issue (from a 1957 b&w film) i had to delete my most liked video mentioned above..may the youtube "sound hounds" bark up thier own bottoms.......BTW slowing or speeding up audio content lets the dog out....if you know what i mean.... ;-)

SNOW ARRIVES :- With already too many projects underway the Snows came again and -13°C temperatures .....YAY Priority Interrupt plan "C" was instigated.

So enough Ramble here is the system :-

Warning ....if you suffer from Cryo-phobia then close your eyes duing the snowman scenes.

System Breakdown (Priority first) :-

  1. Fanta drink bottles 0.5 liters ....... can be scaled up to 2 litres if someone will sponsor me the bits
  2. Coloured Spiral PolyMorph Tracks
  3. GM yellow elbowed motors with unused (at momo) encoders
  4. Parallax Propeller MCU (M44D40+)
  5. Xbee RX & TX
  6. Atmel MCU and hacked radio control for TX unit
  7. L293D H-Bridge motor driver controlled with PWM signals
  8. 2 cell Lipo battery - regulated to 5V of motors and 3.3V for propeller and XBEE
  9. 2 cell Lipo battery as counter-balance (its all i had to hand for the video and photo shoot)
  10. Various bits of wood and dowel rod
  11. 3 clothes pegs
  12. 5 velcro cable tidy_ers
  13. 1 Evil not to be trusted looking snowman
  14. 1 selfmade Igloo

The secret fastening devises revealed (could be LMR first) :-

Best to stay in Deep freeze Garage !!

@ -13°c i had a problem with the sealed bottles contracting with the cold (once even discombooberating the polymorph spiral off the plastic bottle wall)..... To run the system i have to bring the whole robot out into the cold with bottle tops open to atmosphere .... then when the temperature of the air inside and outside the bottles equalize ....seal the tops back on again......not your general run of the mill Omni-wheel problem..

Tracks are as-symmentrical :-

Attempt to climb the Matterhorn failed ....... not due to traction .... but pilot error (see out-takes in Video)

In conclusion :- Its real fun to drive on the Piste

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There has to be a way to rig a dozen or so of these with mini-plows to clear the drive way.

This is so cool!!!  

Yes i have seen these tycos a while back, they are indeed pretty neat....and v.neat price eekk

Seasonal robots, I understand :) Great revisitation of old but interesting tech, A+.

brilliant! brilliant as a diamond!

You are the man Gareth, well done. 

For the spirals I would suggest something with a sharp edge like copper or aluminium sheets (I know it's hard to bedn around the bottles) or even a plastic hose pierced with nails to get more grip.

Also you could fill the bottles with something (oil, dry sand etc.) to increase the pressure to the snow.

Tnx lumi......

I am stuck 2 ways here ..... for powder snow it needs to be light, and ice and compact snow it need to be heavy.

I have thought about Antifreeze.......or some kind of moonshine/alcohol

  1. It stays fluid (unless some Swiss Appenzeller dog straps it around its neck - for rescue or snowmobile )
  2. The motors dont have to turn the fluid (just carry it) so takes rotational strain off motors (this concept intrigues me )


Saw the videos after i wrote my comment. Yes, antifreeze is good. You just have to find the balance for to light and to heavy...find the middle ;-)


... as always great work Gareth!

The polismurf skills are outstanding as always ;)