Designing robots in sketchup

My education in sketchup continues.

1. If you’re going to replicate a shape a hundred times, make sure that it has a low polygon count. Hence I redesigned the prong component from a cylinder to a rectangular profile and got the ‘entity’ count down appreciably. Sketchup was starting to get slow and jerky until I did that.

2. Don’t mess around with styles. You’ll spend hours tinkering away your life and you’ll realize in the end that default is best. The same goes with colors. When it comes to robots, anodized aluminum is best where realism is concerned. I’ve shown the parts in different colors here because I wanted to hilight them.

3. It’s always a good idea to check the size of the goose. I discovered that my goose was eight feet tall, so I shrunk it by half and then I felt safer. I know my robot did too.

4. Sometimes it is good to re-invent the wheel. I tried to base the design for this ‘bot on my old shovelbot design, and there was no end to trouble. Shovelbot dated back to my pre-component days, and there were lots of flaws. One thing that really drove me nuts was that I couldn’t get the drawer to align with the face of the robot. I thought I was doing something wrong with the drawer, but it turned out that shovelbot had become slightly misaligned over the course of its short life. And that was only one problem among many. In the end, I probably could have saved a lot more time just by building a robot from scratch. Except the tires. Those are good.

5. See those little red wedges along the side of the lifter tower? When you’re working with something like a robot that has multiple configurations, you need some kind of reference mark for each pose.

6. I exported virtually all the images and then realized that the scene didn’t include the maximum lower extent of the prongs. So I had to reposition for another scene, and export all the images again. So it’s good to think about the degree of movement of your ‘bot before exporting.

7. Paper is not obsolete, even with pad computers. I found that the time came when I had to sketch out what I wanted to do on paper before I could do so on the computer. Is it because I’m a child of the twentieth century and my brain is not fully wired for the computer age, or is it because paper doth have its charms? I prefer to think the latter. At any rate, I probably could save myself some trouble by making a rough drawing on paper before I start moving the mouse. But . . . must . . . click . . . push/pull . . . the urge is strong. I will try to resist. No guarantees.

8. Finally, the design evolved as I built it, and it evolved because I built it. You can either see that as frustrating, or as a blessing. For once you can see how the robot’s parts interact in ‘3D,’ you realize both the design flaws and the possibilities for building a better design. And yes, thanks to this exercise in sketchup, it has occured to me how to make this a better bot. But I think I’ve spent enough time on goose poop for now . . . .

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About engineerzero

Once and future engineer.
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