Support for our Project has been Overwhelming

Last week, when the new motor controller arrived, I managed to get the larger prototype up and running again. On Thursday evening I took it out for its first test drive and it was a huge success. This gave me Friday to prepare a table for Saturday’s Christmas fair.

The night before I’d had grandiose plans of constructing a floor standing metal frame for the larger prototype, which would be complete with cool lighting and a built in flat screen monitor to show footage of our project. When it came to it, my arm was aching before I’d finished cutting the first mitre-joint and I realised it was never going to be done in time. Instead I quickly cobbled together some bits of wood and by the early hours of Saturday morning had prepared our “stall”.

The fair was busy and Ada did remarkably well answering people’s questions and selling raffle tickets. Although by the end of the day she was getting head-aches, I was surprised at how well she (and mum) had held up.

Even more surprising was the positive response we’d received. I’d half expected to spend the day sat staring at my phone and doing some research but in reality I didn’t even get a chance to see what else was going on at the fair because I was so busy chatting to people; people who wanted to put us in touch with the Robot Wars guys, people wanting to share their knowledge of motors and batteries and radio controls, people with experience of building custom wheelchairs, people who suffer with ME, people wanting to provide their welding/fabricating services, people who do injection moulding, and lots of people wanting to do some something to help gather more support.

Thank you to everybody who came and stopped for a chat, and to everybody who bought raffle tickets and made donations; we managed to raise £113 on the day. In particular, I’d also like to say a massive thankyou to the guys who have worked on the skid plate for the larger prototype. It was really nice of you guys to come down to the fair and it was great to meet you all.

All in all, the positive response we’ve received has been amazing and to be honest, I’ve found it quite overwhelming. By the time I got home from the fair I needed to sit and take stock for a moment. People are interested in our project and they actually want to help!

In other news, it was suggested that I visit a website where I can buy made-to-measure parts and this has lead to the development of the next prototype. It’s in a very early concept stage at the moment but being able to buy the components I need the next prototype might look something like this:

I haven’t fully committed myself to constructing this because I’m not sure how relevant it is to our rocker-bogie design and if it would be time or money well spent. For the moment I’ll keep working in the software environment and once the design is finished I’ll price everything up and then make a decision.

There’s still work to be done to the existing larger prototype and although it’s been a very useful learning tool in terms of construction, its purpose is to test how well my paper-based theory (in terms of motor power, battery capacity and discharge rates) translates to the real world.

I also want to return my attention to the little prototype for a while. It’s been neglected whilst the 3D printers were out of action, the radio controls I’d made out of cheap components weren’t working properly, and whilst I’ve been busy with the larger prototype. With the smaller model it’s really easy to test different ideas, can be done quickly, and costs little. To this end, I’ve stopped trying to make my own controllers and instead have purchased off-the-shelf solutions which in the end were less than £10 each. These should give the smaller prototype the ability to turn and reverse and will make testing more appropriate.

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