Henry’s Design – Day 10

1.31.2009 (Saturday) –  Day 10 –

I can’t think of a better reason for building the Science City Labyrinth Project than this. I received an email today with a design for a pneumatic actuated game platform design by Henry. He is 12 years old and was listening as we discussed the project at Thursday’s Cowtown Computer Congress (CCCKC) meeting.

Henrys Design

Henry's Design

John, Henry’s dad, sent me this email:

Hi Vince,

Just wanted to let you know Henry has had a great time thinking about your giant Labyrinth project. On the way home after the CCCKC meeting we had some fun conversation imagining the project and problem-solving different parts of it. Thought I’d share his idea with you — I know you’re well down the design path, I just thought you’d get a kick out it.

He was mostly thinking about how you can get a board that huge to move fast enough to respond to the Wii commands without stripping gears or fouling a servo’s rotation sensors. His solution was pneumatics (he had just seen the virtual waterslide episode of Prototype This! — so he had pneumatics and hydraulics on his mind). And rather than have a motor turn the board (that’s a lot of torque), he thought balancing the board on a single point would allow gravity to do some of the work, so the pneumatics would only have to do up/down — and with a solenoid valve the pneumatics could power on the push up as well as the pull down or hold in position.

Here’s a sketch….  actually, maybe that balance point in the middle wouldn’t even be necessary if the pneumatics were strong enough.

Anyway…. Enjoy the workings of a young hacker’s mind:

Henry and his dad have an important project of their own. They are making plans to build a drum-bot exhibit at Kansas City’s Kaleidoscope. He also noticed we were talking about vacuum forming some parts for our labyrinth game and sent along a link to the vacuum forming machine he built from plans in Make Magazine.

What About Using Pneumatics?

Vex Pneumatics Kit

Vex Pneumatics Kit

Over the last few years the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) has included pneumatics in their kit of parts. This kit is available for the Vex Robotics Design System too. My experience with pneumatics is based on this kit of parts for the FRC robots.

Some issues when using this kit are the cylinders don’t give us precision movement. When activated they are either full on or off, making it difficult to go to specific locations along the way. Pneumatics also require an air supply which can be noisy while compressors are running and the constant movement could overpower an air compressor. The amount of time playing the game and moving the platform would need to be considered when determining the size of an air compressor. Our greatest concern for using pneumatics though was its precision control issue. I like Henry’s idea and encourage others to keep those ideas coming.

Oh No, He’s Got The Knack

I learned about this video on YouTube. Seems like this might be an appropriate time to include it here:

Read on, check out: Day[11] = 2.01.2009
Yesterday, check out: Day[9] = 1.30.2009
Or start from the beginning: Day[0] = 1.21.2009

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4 Responses

  1. […] on, check out: Day[10] = 1.31.2009 Yesterday, check out: Day[8] = 1.29.2009 Or start from the beginning: Day[0] = […]

  2. […] on, check out: Day[12] = 2.01.2009 Yesterday, check out: Day[10] = 1.31.2009 Or start from the beginning: Day[0] = […]

  3. […] of the best examples of why we’re doing this comes from 12 year old Henry who submitted ideas on how we can put the table into motion using pneumatic cylinders. Hopefully […]

  4. […] A couple of months ago I taught a Lego Robotics workshop at the HMS Beagle Science Store. This was a half day session during the week between Christmas and New Year holidays. I am always encouraging kids to create their own robotics lab at home and part of my discussion is to encourage a partnership with their parents. It helps to keep parents involved particularly when you may need a credit card for robot parts or tools and things like that. I like to invite parents to stay and participate in the workshops so several parents stayed as we built robots, had fun, and learned some programming. That was the first time I met John Bergin and his son Henry. You may remember Henry from my blog post on Day 10 as “Henry’s Design“. […]

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