Tag Archives: 3dprint

Final lower leg assembly

After casting the feet, the final step was to join the lower leg with the 3d printed foot bracket.  This I just did with some slow cure epoxy.


It seems strong enough for now, I was able to manually apply 10kg of load to a single leg while perfectly horizontal with no signs of stress, which should be good enough for a 4g 4 legged jump.

All the legs (and a spare) are now assembled with belts and a lower pulley ready to go on a robot!


Casting feet

Previously, I described the overall plan for my improved foot.  To make that work, I needed to cast a 3d printed part into the squash ball such that it would likely stay attached during operation, be suitable rigid and yet damped, and do so repeatably.

To start with, I used a random single yellow dot squash ball with a hole cut in one side using a pair of side cutters.  For the casting foam, I just used Smooth-On Flex Foam-IT 17, which is what Ben Katz originally used at least.  Initially I just mixed up a batch, poured it in to a random level, stuck my bracket in and hoped for the best.


Well, something sure happened!  But not exactly what I wanted.  The foam didn’t fill in the interior cavity, nor make a great connection overall with the bracket.  On top of that, the process wouldn’t exactly be described as “repeatable”.  Since I just eyeballed the level of foam, there was no way to get the same amount in.

For my next runs, I decided to do everything by weight.  I tried a few different foam masses, curing orientations, and venting strategies.  Eventually, I got something that seems to look pretty good.  We’ll see how well it works on the actual machine shortly!

Here’s a bunch of different intermediate attempts:

And here’s a cutaway of the process I’ve settled on for now.  This particular one has a slight bit of overfill on one edge that is more than is typical, but the inside fill is pretty good:




quad A0 – Improved foot design

As mentioned long ago in my post on failing more gracefully, it was obvious I wanted to strengthen the lower leg and foot mechanism to remove the point of failure observed there.  For now, I’m attempting to basically copy the original Mini-Cheetah foot principle, although with more 3d printing and less machining.


The basic idea is to print the entire lower leg in a single go laying on its side, so that delamination is unlikely.  The foot bracket will be cast into a squash ball, then epoxied onto the lower leg.

Next up, we’ll see my experiments in casting!

mk2 leg knee stud

One of the parts on the original quad A0’s leg that was prone to failure was the “knee stud”, a little cylinder that acted as the mating interface between the upper leg and the lower leg.  It directly attaches to the upper leg, and has bearings that ride between it and the lower leg.  The entire tension of the leg belt is born in shear by this part.


In the mk1 leg, this part was 3d printed with heat set inserts used to form the threaded holes.  This mostly worked, although occasionally the stud could shear along the 3d printed lamination lines.  Thus, for the mk2 leg, I’m making this part out of 6061.


The first op takes a 0.875 inch cylinder, and does all the work on one of the sides.  That includes roughing it down to length, getting the outer diameter that the bearing rests on accurate, and drilling and threading the holes.

5x knee studs with the first op done

At that point, the part is turned over and bolted into a 3d printed fixture.


Then, all the tool paths are repeated on the other side, as well as the middle being cut away.  I didn’t really worry about surface finish on the middle section, since it will never be seen.  This of course would be much easier on a CNC lathe with live tooling, but hey, you use what you’ve got!

All 5 that I made

fdcanusb enclosure

To get ready for initial limited production of the fdcanusb I wanted to make some kind of enclosure so that you didn’t have to just grab the raw PCB and risk ESD failures.  I also wanted to be able to expose the status LEDs without having to do a window or anything else with multiple materials.

So for now, I just used a translucent PETG print, with light pipes and a thin wall above each of the LEDs.  The result isn’t too bad, you can clearly see the status LEDs and it feels plenty rugged for desk work.

dsc_0183 dsc_0182

quad A0 chassis v2 – final assembly

In the last post in this series, I conducted a fit test on the new chassis.  After my ignominious belly-flop, I now had a more urgent need to complete the switch.

A busted robot
An even bigger close-up

The chassis cracked in the corner, completely separating.  Doing anything more with this chassis was likely to result in many more things breaking very quickly.

Build process

So, here are the photos as I put everything together.

Raspberry pi attached
All the wiring extracted
Half the legs off the old chassis
Legs re-attached to new chassis!
Battery stud and wiring re-installed
The power board installed
Bottom plates installed
Upright with untidy wires
All set for testing!

Next up is continuing to try and get pronking working!


quad A0 chassis v2 – construction

After CADing up the second revision of the chassis, I set to work with the 3d printer and printed up all the pieces.


There were a few minor post-modifications I had to make, which were all much faster than printing the pieces again.  All the holes for M3 bolts were slightly undersized, so I drilled them out.  The battery holder had a channel to let the power wires out, which inexplicably terminated before reaching the edge of the holder.  I also had to install all the heat set inserts.

Mostly assembled
All put together, with a snazzy new sticker

I did attempt something new, which was to post-process the printing by smoothing out a corner by sanding.  An experiment it was.  I spent about 2 hours on it, of which 45 minutes was on the coarsest paper I had, about 80 grit.  I eventually gave up on that coarsest grit and started moving on, so there are still a few blemishes in the final result.

Smoothed out corner

Needless to say, until I get really bored, I probably won’t spend the full day required to do the other 3 corners of the chassis using this method.

There are a few other minor changes I’ll make before installing legs, which will be the next step!

quad A0 chassis v2 – design

As described in my roadmap, the chassis for the quad A0 was on the verge of failing, or causing the shoulder motors themselves to fail, after only a few hours of walking around.  Also, it was nigh impossible to assemble, disassemble, or change anything about it.  Thus, the chassis v2!


More than one piece

The old chassis was a single monolithic print that took about 35 hours of print time.  Because of its monolithic nature, there were lots of interference problems during assembly.  For instance, the shoulder motors could only have 4 of the 6 possible bolts installed, and 2 more of the bolts extended beyond the chassis entirely.  I decided to break it up into multiple pieces, which uses a lot more inserts and bolts, but should allow for a feasible order of assembly and manageable repair.

Now there are separate front and back plates, to which the shoulders can be attached in isolation.  Then the top plate can attach to that, followed by the side plates, the battery holder, and eventually the bottom plates.

Enclosing the electronics

V1 had the primary computer sitting on top of the chassis.  That was a legacy from the first Mech Warfare configuration, where the primary computer sat in the turret.  I’ve decided that for Mech Warfare, I’ll just put a second independent computer in the turret, which frees the robot computer to be placed inside the chassis where it is much less likely to get mangled.


The power distribution board is now mounted to the other side opposite the computer, instead of on the now top-plate.

Power switch and strap

I’ve left room for a recessed top mounted power switch on the top plate.  This should remove the need to unplug and re-plug the battery any time that power needs to be cycled.  That hole is marked in red below.


Also, while I’m at it, I left holes in the top through which a carrying strap can be threaded (marked in blue above).  The old chassis had some M3 inserts that I screwed eye bolts in and then threaded some cord through.  That didn’t work terribly well and was unsightly.


As mentioned in the roadmap, I was going to try and replace the battery with something with a smaller form factor.  I looked through a number of batteries, and got a Milwaukee M18 as the best of the options, but ultimately decided that the Ryobi style was the best compromise for now despite the wasted space.  All the lower profile ones required insertion sliding in from the side, which would have required that the chassis be much longer than it was already.


Thus, I still have the 3D printed Ryobi battery holder, only now it attaches to the top plate with just some bolts instead of a complicated dovetail arrangement I had previously.



Since this is being printed in multiple pieces, I wanted a separate piece to increase the longitudinal stiffness.  That is now just two plates which bolt to the front and back plate, and to the battery holder.


Next steps

Next up is printing and assembling this chassis!

New machine day: A second MK3S

As you may have noticed, I’ve been 3d printing a lot!

A stack of empty filament rolls
A stack of empty filament rolls
2 kilometers of filament!

Moving up to the gearbox motors for my quadruped has only made that problem worse, as all the parts are a bit bigger and heavier.  My first Prusa MK3S has been printing almost non-stop since I got it, so I figured it was time to increase my bandwidth more permanently.  Thus, a second MK3S!


This one I got from a kit so that I wouldn’t pay the 4 week lead time penalty of getting it pre-assembled.  I would have certainly preferred that, but I’m not sure I’ll be available to receive a shipment in 4 weeks, and I also could use the extra print bandwidth now.  Assembly was largely a breeze, although as predicted it did take a good 6 hours or so in total.

In any event, it looks like it is going strong right out of the box:



Full rotation leg design

Another of the failure modes observed during the 2019 Maker Faire was in my quickly slapped together leg design.  The shoulder joint was required to squeeze two motors together against a strongly tensioned belt, using nothing but a relatively thin section of printed plastic.  This caused it to deform, leading to belt tooth skipping, and then eventually to fail, leading to delamination of the shoulder joint.

My plan to resolve this is to switch to a leg design where the upper and lower leg are in series rather than opposing one another.  This is more like the Mini-Cheetah design from Ben Katz.  This has the benefit of getting the leg out to the side, so the upper leg is free to rotate 360 degrees, only limited by cable harnessing.  As seems to be my pattern, I’ll try making something out of 3d printed PETG first, optimize it some, and if I fail there, switch to metal.  Here’s a render of the current CAD:



Eric from CireRobotics helpfully pointed out that I’m way over the design limit for the 6mm Gates belt I was using, so I’ll also be trying to bump up to a beefier belt in this iteration.