Wednesday, March 19, 2008

BUILDING ROBOTS: Professional electronic Tools

Specialty tools that will make building robots a little bit smoother

Parts picker-upper— This gizmo is sometimes called a three-claw parts holder, but I've always called it a parts picker-upper ('cause that's what it does). Electronic and robot parts are often small, and inevitably, they fall into crevices and other hard-to-reach places. The parts picker-upper is a pen-sized device that has a plunger on one end of it. Press it, and three little metal claws come out of the other end and allow you to reach and grab onto your lost robotic part. It's a little robot end effector!

Miter box and hacksaw— A miter box is a cutting jig that allows you to accurately cut wood, plastics, and metal at precise angles (45 degrees left, 90 degrees, 45 degrees right, and so forth). If you're going to be doing any bot construction where precision angles are required, a miter box is a necessity.

Heat gun or micro-torch— In all of our robot-building projects, we'll be using an awesome material called heat-shrink tubing. This is a plastic material that shrinks when you apply heat to it. It's a perfect way of adding back the type of insulating wire jacket that you use wire strippers to remove. It's also a great way of adding traction to robo-critter wire legs and bump-sensing "whiskers." The heat to shrink the tubing can't effectively be supplied by most household hair dryers.

Bench vise— For bending parts, whacking parts, and holding parts in place while you work on them, nothing beats a bench vise. You can get an all-purpose one at your local hardware or home store for about $20–$30.

Magnifying glass (or magnifying lamp)— Trying to read the parts information on electronic components can be maddening. I find having a magnifying glass close by can be very helpful. If you really want to go all out, you can get a swivel-arm lamp with a magnifying lens built into it. Having one of these on your desk can be a great help when soldering robot circuits

Rotary tool— For multipurpose tools, nothing beats a rotary multitool (more commonly known by the brand name Dremel). This device serves as a drill, cutter, sander, buffer, grinder, and numerous other tools. Dremels come in several sizes. I don't recommend the cordless Mini-Mite. It is underpowered for many applications. Full-size Dremels, such as the 9.6-volt (V) MultiPro, have a speed dial with variable RPMs (revolutions per minute), making them versatile for different types of applications. The regular Dremels also have nifty accessories available (such as a drill press and a router attachment).




© | Irecipe