Watch James Bruton Design an Oddball Rotaped Robot

The YouTuber likes to build strange robots and in his newest video he gave Rotaped tracks a try on a bot.

Cameron Coward
12 days agoRobotics / 3D Printing

Experimentation is an important part of innovation, and humanity sure loves to experiment with vehicular drive systems. Wheels are obvious, because rolling is very efficient. But wheels don't work well on rough or muddy terrain, even with serious tread. Screw drives were one novel alternative that could overcome almost obstacle, but they were horribly inefficient. Tank tracks tend to be the go-to solution, because they're capable and also somewhat efficient. But tank tracks have an oddball cousin that you haven't heard of: Fordson Rotaped tracks. James Bruton likes to build strange robots and in his newest video he gave Rotaped tracks a try on a robot.

Rotaped tracks seem to have only been attached to some mid-20th century tractors. They're similar to tank tracks, but with only a single wheel and six track segments. Like tank tracks, Rotaped tracks are great for mud. That's because it lays a segment of track down and then drives over that, so there is a massive amount of contact surface area. The benefit over tank tracks is that Rotaped tracks have relatively few moving parts. That reduces the upfront cost, maintenance requirements, and maybe even reliability problems. The downside is that they don't perform as well.

Bruton's robot utilizes Rotaped-style tracks in a strange way that seems appropriate. This is a self-balancing robot, but with a Rotaped track in place of each of the two wheels. The tracks, along with the rest of the robot, are 3D-printed. Two large brushless DC motors turn the tracks. An ODrive 3.6 board drives those motors. The robot's tilt, yaw, and pitch, which are important for a self-balancing robot, get checked by an Arduino Pro Mini through an MPU6050 IMU. An Arduino Mega handles the balancing calculations and tells the ODrive how to spin the motors. Bruton can pilot the robot using his "everything" remote that we previously covered.

If you have an interest in unusual drive systems or just want to watch Bruton build another cool robot, you should check out this video.

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