So close...

posted May 15, 2011, 1:09 AM by Lutz Latta   [ updated May 15, 2011, 1:55 AM ]

Saturday, May 15, 2011:

Maker Faire is next week. The pressure is on. We had an afternoon to late night build session, including a pizza and ice cream break.
The fantastic brake mechanism, designed by James, is complete. Including an authentic "brake shoe". This brake is so strong, even 2.5 man-power cannot push the car when the brake is engaged. The steering has been slightly re-engineered to reduce friction and increase stability in the ball bearings. The electronics are mounted, the dog bark playback circuit still works.
Unfortunately one small detail has a set back, and our engine does not start any more... We'll fix that...

Make sure to visit us at Maker Faire in the outside Young Makers area, on the "West Lot", Sunday May 22nd from 10am till 2pm.

It is a car!

posted Apr 30, 2011, 9:01 PM by Lutz Latta

Saturday, April 30, 2011:
It all coming together now. The engine runs again, and is mounted to the frame. A clutch pedal allows engaging the pulley mechanism to transfer the engine's power to the rear wheels. That together with the steering makes for a functional car!

Today was our "first drive"! Forward down the driveway and back in reverse gear.

The next steps will be some reinforcement of the steering mechanism, a brake pedal to make it a little bit safer, and some extra seat(s) in the back. After that it'll be mainly just "cosmetics", like a floor, sides, fenders and all that.

Drive Train

posted Apr 10, 2011, 7:59 AM by Chad Lester   [ updated Apr 10, 2011, 8:40 AM ]

Saturday, April 9, 2011:
Today James (left) and Jason (right) finished mounting the rear wheel and differential assembly into it's new position.  The v-belt now connects the engine and the drive gears directly and the idler pulley was relocated to where the clutch pulley used to be.   This allows the clutch to tighten the v-belt to engage the rear wheels rather than release tension from v-belt.    When this was done, they lifted the completed drive train into position and began planning how to mount it to the vehicle frame! 

Meanwhile, Nicky finished his steering mechanism.   He found a geometry that seems to give a good amount of leverage to the driver and made a clever use of drilled strapping to tie it all together.   Strapping has great tensile strength, but not a lot of compression strength... but by putting strapping on either side, one side is always under tension.   And because the steering wheel and front wheel linkage are not in the same plane, the strapping seems to provide just the right amount of flex to allow the connection to work well.  Tie rod ends?   Who needs them?  Way to go Nicky!Nicky had to weld together two pieces of the 1 1/2 inch square tubing to get a beam long enough for them to support the engine and then James and Jason took over and cut this long piece to the correct size.

We have a steerable vehicle!

posted Apr 2, 2011, 10:17 PM by Lutz Latta

Saturday, April 2, 2011:
Shortly before the end of today's build session, under the leadership of Nicky we managed to setup a functional steering system! It's not fully welded together yet, but with the help of some locking pliers we could play with a lot of setup options, and found a simple working one.
Another major milestone today was the setup of the engine and rear axle connections, mainly driven by James and Will. The full engine mount is almost complete!
And on the electronics front Gianluca has started the assembly of the lighting connections to a programmable micro controller.
Awesome progress by Nicky, James, Will, and Gianluca!

Steering and Barking

posted Feb 27, 2011, 7:27 AM by Chad Lester   [ updated Feb 27, 2011, 7:33 AM ]

Saturday, Feburary 27, 2011:
Today, Gianluca, Will, Nicky and James came to today's build session with much enthusiasm.

Will and Nicky hit the ground running, ready to build the second steering wheel after the success of their first. Within minutes, they had measured and cut the steel tubing and had drilled pilot holes to guide the big 5/8" bit needed to finish the job. The 5/8" bit needs a 1/2 chuck, and unfortunately the large drill press still needs some work, so Chad drilled these with a big hand drill.

Meanwhile Gianluca continued to work on the delicate electronics work for the horn with mentor Lutz. He pulled a circuit board out of a "build a bear" sound maker and began to investigate how it worked. He discovered flexible buttons with conductive backing that complete a circuit on the back and reasoned where to get the audio signal that will eventually go to our guitar amp for a loud "bark".

James, who was out of town last week for ski-week came ready to work. Will and Nicky quickly showed him the ropes - teaching him the ins and outs of the cutoff saw and setting him up to learn to weld. James was laying a nice bead within minutes and by the end of the day they had him doing real structural welds, reinforcing joints on the frame.

There was enough time to begin planning the steering linkage. Will Nicky and James were ready to jump right in and start building it - but this is a case where a little knowledge might have saved us from going in the wrong direction. Gianluca's father, Steven designs amazing non-conventional bicycles and had some good advice for how important the geometry of a steering linkage can be. We want to make sure that the left and right wheels are circling the same point as the vehicle turns so the wheels do not end up fighting each other.

So by next week, the group will have figured out the geometry of the linkage and they're going to have a plan to build it!

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