Let's Make Robots!

Building the perfect Beast (robot chassis)

2012 may be the year of the Dragon for China but it is the year of the robot chassis for me. I am trying to create a new range of robot chassis's and I'd like to know what features my robot building friends would like to see in a chassis. Obviously low cost and high quality are preferable but what else?

For example size? As far as I can see there is already a range of sizes on the market. Is there a size that's missing? I was looking at some cool wheels that were about 250mm (10 inch). Would you want a huge chassis and for what purpose?

Features? Is there a feature that you want but can never find on a chassis? More mounting holes, built in battery charger or motor driver?

Clutches? many gearboxes, even with metal gears can be damaged through accidental collisions or child abuse (the child abuses the robot).

Encoders? single pulse, quadrature, what is the minimum resolution?

Wheels? big, small, thick thin, mecanum, omni, wheels with retractable claws, what is missing from the online range?


To give you some idea of projects I am working on so far:

  • Low cost, miniature 6WD Wild Thumper.
  • New improved QuadBot chassis with clutches on all servos to protect the gear trains.
  • Robot hand/wrist with full range of movement (13 DOF).
  • An advanced balancing chassis with sensors.

Tell me what you want in a robot chassis.


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My new "Micro Magician Controller" is much cheaper, can drive two motors with a maximum current of 900mA continuous and has two external interrupt pins available for the encoders. You can program it to drive the motors any way you want and then your "master brain" can control it using I2C, Serial or even Infra Red.

I'd wager his English is better than your Portuguese as well.  ; j

I think some of DAGU's existing products fit your needs pretty well. Combine the WT Controller OddBot mentions above with one of their chassis. You could start with the Dagu 2WD Beginner Robot Chassis V2, and upgrade from there if you need to. That gives you a very expandable controller to work with, and a basic platform that is cheap and flexible. 

Good luck!

yes I know there are some options.

Probably i will try the magician chassi from DAGU because is the cheaper chassi that i can buy not going to international orders and fits perfectly in my budget, it have the chassi, motors with gearbox and capability to add encoders in a cheap package.

Having modular parts is pretty cool idea.  This can be done both mechanically and electrically.  For a mechanical example, motor mounts can be used to swap a different wheel/encoder/motor combination.  A mounting mechanism on top of a rover could also quickly accomodate a robotic arm, pan and tilt camera setup, trebuchet, or some other really cool sensor/actuator addon.  For mechanics a dovetail is a quick, easy, and stable way to lock two parts together.

I see this cool for a couple of reasons:

  1. Easy customization with a large selection of compatible parts to choose from
  2. Enables quick modifications

Of course engineering a proprietary modular system takes a lot of planning (if you want a flexible system) and cannot be "one size fits all."

When I was 9 I got a Capsela kit. it was all modular mechanics and electronics. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, modular kits cost a fortune in molds and development.

You are better off buying some meccano kits and breakout boards from SparkFun.

Granted.  One size can't fit all, but that being said, typical servos generally seem to come in a small handful of standard sizes.  If I could take a servo, mount it to one end of a girder, add another one at a 90 degree angle and properly support the assemblies that attach to those servos, much of the frustration and aggravation I experienced cutting and shaping parts to fit the servos in my current project would have been eliminated.

Make it easy to use the parts that do come in standard sizes, then we have fewer things to stress over.

Wild Thumper.  I think that would be pretty cool.  I can't wait to see it.  Also I love your Rover 5 chassis.  I currently have 2 of them and they're awsome.

We are currently developing an improved encoder for the Rover 5. The new encoder does not need calibration and works on any voltage from 3V to 24V with reverse polarity protection. It should not affect the price but the wider voltage range and reverse polarity protection should prove a bonus for many.

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but what something I've always had trouble with is practical/interesting ways to mount servos.  I mean, you have the Lynxmotion servo erector "set." (Actually, a series of individual components, and, IMHO, overpriced.) And a smattering of generic pan/tilt mechanisms.

I can't possibly be the only one who's looked for, (and generally failed at finding) servo brackets, extensions, hubs, etc. that can be combined to make interesting mechanisms.  Why is it virtually everything humanoid robot, robotic arm, and multilegged robot I've ever seen made up of custom cut parts?

Sorry.  This is turning into a rant.  But I think you get what I mean.

The problem is you end up with a set that looks like lego, meccano or Vexx to name a few. For a company like Dagu to develop such a set would cost tens of thousands of dollars in mold and dies. To re-coupe the cost alone would mean selling 1000's of kits. Considering the wide range of kits available and their clones this is not practical.

For robot builders like yourself I suggest either you buy meccano or go into the laser cutting / 3D printing option. Before I worked at DAGU I found meccano was the best for my robots. You will see it being used in many of my early robots.

The fact is, using any sort of kit such as you suggest tends to make your robot look more like a kids toy. When you make all custom parts then it looks like a serious robot IMHO.