Monday, 05-01-2004

Happy New Year!

I've made no construction progress with J5...
I have been researching loads tho, with the purpose of designing a 5 way actuator that can run off an RCX.
Mostly, I've been looking into coils, magnets and electromagnetism... a very good site for help and info is
Along the way I've stumbled across all manner of inventions and devices that capture energy from our environment (solar,wind... rodents!) along with a whole load of other more unusual engines and power generating systems...
...In fact there's so much out there suitable for home engineering that I've decided to create a whole new section of with the theme of 'Homebrewed Science.'

Something that has taken my interest and would be suitable for J5, and alot of Lego robot designs are air muscles...

An air muscle is simply a rubber tube inside a braided sleeve... blow the tube up with compressed air and due to the braided sleeving, the length of the unit gets shorter, in the same manner as real muscles work.

Click on a piccy to open in new window.


The highlighted area in the left piccy shows a homemade latex tube (closed at one end) attached to the lego pneumatics. The tube was made by dipping a 4mm aluminium rod into a bottle of liqud latex (avialble from most hobby stores or candle making suppliers). The latex tube was surplus to a project some time ago, I think there's about 6 layers of latex. In the right piccy, the tube is expanded to its fullest extent.

The next step in making air muscles is to make some smaller latex tube to fit inside the braided sleeve.


These 2 tiny switch units are from a PC floppy drive, each switch has 2 contacts, each contact is normaly open and is closed by pressing a white button on top.

I hope to be able to use these switches to make the compressor fully automatic and independant of an RCX... some testing needs to be done first to see if they will take the load.

A handy tip for finding cheap Lego Technic 9v motors... check ebay for Lego Znap sets, some of the larger sets have a motor and the sets usually go quite cheap.

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This page is part of a diary of the design and build of my Lego Mindstorms robot J5 (based on Johnny Five from the film Short Circuit.)
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