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Could i have assistance on how to obtain material for my robot please?

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Hello everyone!  I'm new to the site and have been using The society of robots site heavily to try and learn how to build a robotic arm for my senior project.  My group decided on a challenging project and we have an idea on how we're going to build it, but material is a big problem we've run into.  I can't determine how much torque is needed per joint if I don't know the actual weight.  In order to account for weight I have to add up the weight of the servos, wires, material, etc.  Weight of the material is something I can't figure out, especially when I have no idea on how to obtain.  Could I get guidance on this issue?  The material we want to use is aluminum, but shaping it is also confusing..

First you make a scope for the project what does it need to do, what does it need to be capable of....
Then you go measure and calculate the forces, which is directly related to the materials and solutions.
Select the right materials, size and shape. Sensors etc etc...Check for electronics that is supported by libraries under Arduino or C.
Then you need to seek some knowledge of manufacturing, some you can do yourself, some by more experienced hands.
Check, soldere the electronics, wire and connect, double check and measure with a multimeter if all is decently connected.
Then you going to program or code (this is the fun stuff), fix the mistakes and troubleshoot until quirks and bugs are gone.

Take pictures of the process and make a nice report, blog some here...

Happy roboteering.....nobody said it would be easy :-)

You can use Lego, like I did or Meccano. Old radio's, tv's , old toy cars with RF transmitters, basically old electronic stuff or buy new....
Search Ebay where I found some great stuff, some send for free, very low prices.
If it is for a school project may be you can get some sponsers, write to Mouser, Farnell, Digikey, Element14, RS-Electronics, Sparkfun etc...
Hobbyking is a good place for servo's.

There are some basic controllers you can use like an Arduino Series, Axon (much better ofcourse).

For my first arm I used clipboards. Just remove the clip and you have a nice board, not sure if they are mdf or hdf, but they worked good are light weight, cut easily. Just make sure after you get all the holes cut that you give them a coat of good quality spray paint because if you get any moisture on the boards they can warp.
 I also used some of those aluminum pieces you can get at hardware stores.
Also just learn to look at the way things around you can be used to make things other than there intended purpose.
Aluminum can be shaped cheaply with jigsaw, hacksaw, dremel with a metal cutting router bit, and a file. You just have have patience.

The weight per unit volume of almost any material is readily available using Google.

A reasonable source of small quantities of structural materials is available from McMaster-Carr (Google them).

You are probably going to need to 'prototype' the structural members of your robot to determine what will be strong enough but also light enough (this will be where you make trade-offs in the design).

Does your team have any access to a metal working shop?
What tools are available would determine which materials should be considered.


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