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Competition #1: The Making Of Zorgotron

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Project: The Making Of Zorgotron

Welcome to “the making of Zorgotron” where you will find all the details In the construction and function of Zorgotron, the other axe wielding robot. Contained within is all the documentation, schematics and pictures of the different stages of construction.

Building the Robot

When I heard about the electronics contest on electro-tech-online I was enthusiastic to participate. I wanted to build a robot of some sorts however with collage I didn't have allot of money to contribute to an entry. It was this that led me to the idea to make it entirely out of used/recovered components and materials as a theme for the project. Now what you have been waiting for, the fine details of it's construction.

The Parts List
  • 1 2ftx3ft steel sheet (found at automotive body shop dumpster)
  • 2x TNA-2C-1205L relays (found in trash some years back from computer engineering class)
  • 2 unlabeled gear motors (from roomba discovery that looks like it killed it's self down some stairs)
  • assorted wires (from power supply and ide cable as well as an old monitor extension cable)
  • weapon's pie motor (from old cd drive)
  • switches (3 buttons from a mouse, 2 switches from power supplies)
  • project case and board (sealed in package with a bunch of other components in school dumpster!)
  • led strip (that same fine dumpster)
  • battery cable (from old call display)
  • serial port (from old motherboard. For first version that used an atari controller.)
  • hard drive platters for the axe and shiny bits (from a hard drive obviously!)
  • battery pack (already owned the batteries and the pack was hidden in my pile... you know the pile. We all have one )
total build cost: $0.00

The First Attempt

My first attempt went as many prototypes do. Without the use of any IC's I decided to make it tethered and originally I intended to use an atari controller as it uses simple switches for it's controls. This however lead to poor maneuverability and a need to lower the voltage to 5vdc in order to preserve the controller. No schematics were used to create this mess and I probably couldn't repair it if I wanted to. Somehow it actually managed to work by some miracle. If I recall it was somewhat similar to the final version however it was hopelessly filled with rewired and diverted connections making the simplest repairs require going through a maze of redundant wiring. it had this odd quirk where it would trigger both motors to move endlessly in reverse when the battery was low. (which, oddly enough, required the relays to be powered and was theoretically impossible)

Meanwhile During the Body Construction

I had a few ideas on how I wanted the body to look and they ranged from the standard 2 wheeled platform to an R2D2 like thing. After a while I settled on the horned (sort of) axe wielding chassis that you will see soon enough. The body was cut from a sheet of metal I got from an automotive body shop's dumpster. It took a bit of practice to cut the steel with my tin snips accurately. The first thing I made was the torso and weapon arm. I used some pop rivets to keep it good and sturdy.

The weapon arm its' self was made from a pie motor and some pvc tubing. I made a sort of linear actuator by bending solid core wire into a sort of pusher and connecting it into a hole on a piece of a cog as well as on the axe arm.

At this point I sort of halted on the construction of the body as I realized that I needed a better circuit to make it functional enough to use. For now let us go back to the final circuit and how it was constructed and we will get back to the body later.

More on the Circuit

The limitations of an atari controller became clear as I tried to make a system to allow it to rotate on the spot and have independent backwards/forward control on each motor. The solution was to scrap the atari controller and use my own homebrew controller. At this point I also decided to remake my board on a much simpler yet at the same time more effective system. I did the little doodle above to get the basic way it works set out. Believe me it makes sense... but in case it's a bit confusing I made one a bit more descriptive.

This circuit separates both motors into their own set of controls. Both are connected to the same power source but other then that they are unrelated. Though very simple all it needs in order to be made into the perfect motor control system would be 4 mosfets making it into a sort of H bridge. Here is a picture of the circuit.

And the top

And finally the controller. I found it easier to flip one of the switches for comfert. A friend of mine found it awkward but I think it works great. The controller is merely a box of switches. Perhaps later I'll add a microcontroller in since there are plenty of extra leads from the cord I used.

That's all for the electronics side of this project. Now I will show you the rest of the chassis.

The Body (continued)

After the construction of the electronics I continued on with the body. I started by attaching the motors. Since the board already had the motors attached when I was testing it I saw no reason to remove them. I glued them to the sides using hot glue and then fitted the board into the center of the chassis.

After that I fitted the battery pack onto the back of it which gives it a bit of counterbalance as well as power. I added a shield somewhere in between and it really looks awesome. I also made a head using an LED strip as the “eyes”

Now for the Finished Robot

Say domo arigato to MR. ROBOTO!

(obscene headed scholar tries to turn zorgotron from evil human killing ways... zorgotron gets angry)

(ET phone life insurance)

Final note

And so this concludes “The Making of Zorgotron”. I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed building him. Who knows what the future may hold in regards to upgrades for this fine robot so vote well and may the best project win!
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