Team Vortex Robots - Vortex
Progress Report - March 4th, 2001


Warning: This page may take a long time to load, as I am summing up all my work since November on here which amounts to almost 700k worth of pictures!

Workshop view 1: This is our old work bench. We mostly used this area for storage of parts while we weren't using them.
Workshop view 2: This is our good workbench, and our table saw. We used this area almost the entire time, as it is a much larger and higher quality workbench, plus there is much more room around it to work.
The first step in building Vortex was designing it. I don't have any money to waste, so I wanted to have it built on the computer so that I wouldn't make any really expensive mistakes while putting it together.
This is Vortex's weapon - a 5lb trench digging tool we found on a rack at Lowes
Next, we had to figure out how to attach the wheels to the drive shaft. I spent two weeks trying to find a good way to do this, until I started reading through Team Delta's site. The second I saw Evil Fish Tank's page, I know that the custom hubs they made were exactly what I needed. An e-mail later, I found out they had already made up the exact thing I was looking for for another bot, but never ended up using them, so they sold the parts to me! This picture is of the inside of the wheel and hub they sold me - It's on of the very grippy Colson Thermocushion caster wheels (Also available from Team Delta)
The next trick was getting the wheel to stay put on the shaft. We ended up deciding to just thread the end of the shaft and bolt it on, plus put a pin in so that the nut couldn't come loose. The first part of this was the most annoying - Threading 3 1/2 inches of the end of each hardened stainless steel shaft.
This shows a good view of the outside of the finished wheel mount. There's only a pin on the outside, as we put the inside bolt on until it ran out of threads, so there's no chance of it coming loose anyway.
Next, we started laying out the frame, to make sure everything fit. However, I forgot to take pictures of this step :(  
Next, we started bolting everything together so that it would stay put when we drove it to Hobart to get it welded together. This is part of the internal frame - Two pillow blocks, and the electronics are also going to be attached to the center of this.
Head-on view of the pillow block/ electronics subframe.
This is our little $30 Chinese drill press. It had been working fairly well... until right around this point. While using it to drill the holes for the subframe above, the chuck came out, and we couldn't get it to stay in for more than a little while - Any actual drilling knocked it loose.
We had finally had enough of that drill press. My dad and I got in our van, and drove down to Sears Hardware, where we picked up a monster 13" floor stand drill press, and spent about an hour assembling it.


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Action shot of drill press :)
It was defiantly worth the investment - Here a picture of us assembling the frame using it. It's cool that the press is actually big enough that we can put the entire frame on there, and drill almost any part without having to dismantle anything :)
Next step: Motor Mounts. We had 4 Dewalt 24v Hammerdrill motors to attach, and we had to figure out how to do it. This is the first version - It didn't work especially well. We ended up having to bold a couple of pieces of aluminum angle together, use several space, and position the ridge down the center in just a certain position in a notch we cut in the angle, but we developed the mounts to the point that they were rock-solid, and only cost about $5 per mount in parts :)
I clamped up the frame next, so that I could see that everything fit.
Laying out the bottom frame. This will hold almost all of Vortex's parts, so it's important that it be strong :)
Next, we started assembling the frame. Here's the top surface. The reason we did the motor mounts first is that the two pairs of bars at the bottom actually have mounts built into them, so that the motors could be mounted more rigidly.
Taking a break from the frame, I decided I needed to lighten up the pillow blocks that go on the outside part of Vortex's frame. Here's the old one...
...And here's the modified one. You can't really tell from the picture, but the modification (drilling 8 holes in an unnecessary part of the pillow block) saved a couple ounces. Even through that's a small amount, every little bit counts when you're running as close to the limit as we are. Also, you can get a good view of our motor mounts - It doesn't look like much, but add a motor and two hose clamps and it works great.
At this point, we had the frame almost totally bolted together, and you can begin to see everything take shape.
My dad, inserting the wheel shaft so that we could cut it to length and line up the pillow blocks.
We then bolted the modified flat pillow blocks into place (Gotta love Grade 8 hardened steel bolts :) ), grabbed some sprockets, and put it all together. The motors will each have one sprocket, and we'll run one motor to each sprocket on the shaft.
Vortex, with its frame totally bolted together. We're going to remove all the pillow blocks, sprockets, etc. and bring it over to Hobart Monday to be welded.

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