Because my working environment is otherwise too idyllic and peaceful, I’ve been running the new moteus servo mk2 through its paces. All day long. 8 hours a day.
This is the same test I ran to verify the controller, only now I’ve done it several times longer to get a better feel for if there are any weak links. Somewhat surprisingly, the ball doesn’t drop all that often, only once an hour or two.
Earlier I described my design plan for reducing the overall mass of the moteus servo mk2. Constructing a prototype of this turned out to take many more iterations and time than I had expected! Along the way I produced and scrapped two front housings, two outer housings and a back housing.
I made one complete prototype which only had the weight reduction applied to some of the parts and lacked a back cover and any provision for a wire cover. It was the one from the moteus controller r4.1 juggling video:
I also had to get new workholding solutions for the PocketNC in the form of the wcubed vise.
Every one of the pieces got reworked in some manner or designed from scratch for the things that did not exist previously.
Front housing: Here I iterated on how much material to remove from the central cavity. Initially I removed more, but it gave the primary output bearing problems to be loaded intermittently. Also, I had adhesion problems with the ring gear when too little material was left there. I settled on a continuous ring for the output bearing and a decent amount of material for the internal gear.
Back housing: I tweaked the back housing mounting points so that the outer housing could be symmetric. Also, I added a facility for the wire cover to guard the phase wires entering the controller.
Outer housing: The outer housing was largely unchanged from my initial weight reduced design, although I produced one bad one due to a simple mistake locating the mounting hole, and a second because the stud lengths between the front and back were different in an earlier iteration.
Planet output: The planet output design changed only to add some weight reducing cutouts. This was the last part for which I was still using mk1 servo spare parts for, so now I actually manufactured a prototype in house.
Planet input: Here there are now weight reducing cutouts, and the mating studs use less material.
Back cover: The back cover design is basically unchanged, I just had to make one for the first time.
Wire cover: The wire cover is a part of the design I had deferred until now. It bolts to the back housing and shrouds the phase wires.
Update 2020-01-15: All the development kit slots are full. Thanks for your interest!
I’ve now received all the supplies I need to make up development kits for the moteus controller and to make a test quadruped!
I’m planning on making a few development kits from this production run so others can experiment with the moteus brushless controllers. Some people have already expressed interest in getting one — you have hopefully been contacted earlier. If you are interested in getting an opportunity to buy an early access kit and haven’t heard from me yet, fill out this form!
Just because I’m generally looking for workholding solutions for the Pocket NC, I recently picked up a vise designed for it from wcubed.co.
Unlike the stock vise that comes with the PNC, this has two movable aluminum jaws. It can probably hold with greater force than the stock vise, since there is a larger contact area, although the screw mechanism doesn’t necessarily apply the force all that uniformly. Also, since both jaws are movable, you have to take some care to either manually center things, or do some edgefinding, which isn’t terribly easy on a PNC.
What it does allow though, is clamping narrow things. The stock vise bottoms out at around 0.5″. This vise can go all the way down to 0.
That came in handy with some recent moteus servo parts that I wanted to do a “5-axis” style toolpath from 3/8″ thick bar stock.
The vise provided plenty of clamping power to hold and machine at the tip of this awkwardly long bar. This cut does chatter like crazy, but that’s about what you would expect.
As mentioned previously, I made up some soft jaws to hold 4in round stock in a 6″ vise. My goal was to prepare stock for workholding on the Pocket NC v2-50 to machine prototypes of the front and back housing for the reduced weight moteus servo mk2.
Now, I’ve used those soft jaws to trim down both pieces of stock to the correct length, bore a center hole, and in the case of the front housing, remove a bunch of additional material in a more expeditious manner. There’s not much more to it than that, so here’s the video:
While working to build the reduced weight moteus servo mk2, I got tired of hand machining the first operation on a manual mill and lathe for the front and back housings. It was necessary, primarily to enable workholding on the PocketNC v2-50, but also because it allowed me to remove much of the excess material more quickly than could be done on the PNC. So, I got trained up on the AA CNC Bridgeport and went to town.
The manual work I did on the mill used V blocks to hold the round stock, but for this I wanted something that was more repeatable and would offer more gripping power. Thus I decided to try my hand at soft jaws for the first time. I got some blanks from MonsterJaws which would fit the vise there and got started.
For the CAD/CAM, I grabbed a random 6″ Kurt vise model from the interwebs and stuck my part in it. Then I added the vise blanks and used a “combine” operation to subtract out the stock from the blanks.
Then, when doing the CAM, I just ran a 3d adaptive followed by a finishing contour pass:
When I ran the actual toolpath, I messed up and had the spindle running about 1/3 of the speed I wanted, which made for some nice chomping noises, but it did cut.
Before ordering a bigger batch of the new moteus r4.1 controller, I wanted some assurance that it would be able to run for an extended periods of time under representative loads while not breaking or having thermal issues.
When I did this for the r3.1 controller, I had 2 motor joints and a planar leg built and did a jumping endurance test. I could have done that now, but building up a leg fixture was more work than I wanted to mess with at the moment, so I went with a simpler approach:
I joined two of my fun past-times, robots and juggling! I printed up an arm with a pocket, stuck a 1lb (450g) juggling ball in it, and set the thing throwing. Mind you, this is probably one of the worst juggling robots in existence, I only built it to stress test the motor controller. I’ve had it throwing the ball now for several hours at 4Nm without dropping, here’s a video of some of the testing.
While working to build a weight reduced moteus servo mk2, I reworked my outer housing CAM to do all the machining on the Pocket NC v2-50. For this part I didn’t necessarily need any challenging workholding and since I could get the stock in tube form, there wasn’t an inordinate amount of material to remove either.
The one challenge is that when mounted in the Sherline Chuck, the mill can’t actually reach all the way to the edge of the part without hitting the X travel limit (which is why most of the other 100mm diameter parts I do are fixtured slightly off-center). In this case I tackled the problem in two iterations.
For the first iteration, I just used an adaptive clear from 8 different directions to get most of the material out of the way, then used a multi-axis “flow” to finish the outer diameter causing the B axis to rotate while the end-mill remained roughly in place. Then a subsequent pass came in from the top to clean up all the stuff that was left behind.
This worked, but had a couple of problems. First, it was slow. A full cycle time was something like 10 hours, largely because all the adaptive clears spent a lot of time not removing much material and rapiding around. Second, it left a non-ideal surface finish on the outer diameter. The “flow” toolpath for some reason seemed to jiggle the mill around in X and Y for no great reason, and occasionally sped the B axis up by like 3 times the normal rate for a quarter revolution for no apparent reason.
I figured this would be a lot easier if I could just have more control over the mill while spinning the B axis. I could take all the extra material off the top using the side of the cutter, and produce a nicer surface finish on the outside. Since that wasn’t possible within Fusion 360, I figured this wouldn’t be a terrible time to try doing some “manual” g-code for the first time. The “manual” is in quotes only because I ended up writing a python script to do the actual generation.
To begin with, I started with the g-code from a Fusion 360 generated toolpath so that I could get the tool setup, probing and such configured in a way that I knew the Pocket NC would accept. Then my python script had two options, the first generated the g-code to turn down all the material on the top of the stock to the final length. It moved the mill into position, spun the B axis by 340 degrees, then gradually moved down a Y step while moving 20 degrees, then spun another 340 again until reaching the end. This worked out just great, used much more of the cutting length of my Datron 4mm mill, and got done in something like 20 minutes.
The second option in the script was for turning down the OD to the final size. This used the same basic approach, but instead of setting the Z past the inside of the tube, set it to exactly the OD. The the Y stepped down in the same manner as before, just over a different range (the top of the finished part to slightly past the bottom).
This got me to where I could start on the internal features in only about 40 minutes of Pocket NC v2-50 time, which is a big improvement over a trip to Artisan’s Asylum and an hour on the lathe in order to get it set up, turning the part, and then cleaning up.