MINIMAX - Ryan decided that he liked the look of the 1/20th scale proof of concept model AmphiMax, but it was a teensy bit big for him to store at home. So, he opted to build his own version at 1/40th scale - exactly half the size of the model being made on this page. Why not follow Ryan as he builds his MiniMax robot model. Copyright photograph November 18 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
This page is dedicated to the making of Ryan's half size version of the AmphiMax amphibious vehicle, including the background research and what inspired the production of such a working model. Ryan had seen the AmphiMax taking shape in the Bluebird Marine workshops as the SeaVax team brought the concept to life - and decided that he would like to build one for himself - even if not an exact copy.
Before anyone could stop him, he had set up a workbench of his own and began cutting wooden batten off-cuts to length. Chris (our project manager) saw this and showed Ryan how to cut square using an ordinary wood saw and a workmate. Ryan had seen the scale drawings of the AmphiMax in the canteen and used these to get the basic dimensions.
Before long Ryan had cut all the pieces of the frame and wanted to screw them together. He used a pencil to mark where the wooden sections should go and set them out. Whenever Ryan got stuck on a construction problem he asked one of the adults for advice. He got permission to help himself to production paper and adhesives, and the tools that he might need.
Pretty soon Ryan's version of the AmphiMax, that he calls the MiniMax, was taking shape. He wanted his MiniMax to be painted machine yellow like the real one. The SeaVax team had some small undercarriages they had been experimenting with spare, and gave those to Ryan for his project. Wheels might be an option to explore in the future.
Armed with 8 caterpillar type model tank track units of the type used by robot makers, Ryan was enthused to see his machine working. But, did not at first realise how much work this would mean.
The real AmphiMax is designed to launch SeaVax machines into our polluted oceans. When Ryan was making this model he learned a great many DIY skills/ These included:
1. That a sharp pencil is the most important tool in the workshop.
2. That a good ruler or tape measure is vital equipment.
3. That using a workshop is a good idea, though it is possible to use your bedroom,
except for spray painting that should be done in a well ventilated area.
4. How to cut wood square.
5, How to use a drill and pick the correct size screws and drill bits for a job.
6. Drilling wood and using a battery drill to screw parts together.
7. How to use glue and a set-square to make sure that your model is accurate.
8. How to sand wood smooth.
9. How to use polyester paste to fill imperfections in your wood.
10. How to prime wood to protect it from water and prepare for a topcoat of paint.
11. How to spray paint a gloss topcoat.
12. How to fix a number of tracked undercarriages to a wooden frame.
14. How to connect a radio receiver to control electronic speed controllers to drive the
OCEAN BUSINESS - Opening doors; the entrance to the NOC welcomes you in many languages. This is the place to be if you are interested in a career in marine science. The National Oceanography Center in Southampton hosted the Ocean Business event in April 2017 where you can see the latest underwater measurement and robotics technology, aerial drones, cameras and other marine equipment - and attend the Ocean Careers lectures and advice clinics. As a potential student candidate and end user of the technology, Ryan soaked up the atmosphere that has inspired so many great advances in marine science. Copyright photograph April 6 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of the Cleaner Oceans Foundation to reproduce this picture.
PREPARATION - Painting is all about preparation. There is no point even shaking the primer can if you have not sanded your wooden work piece to get rid of any loose splinters. Spend as much time as you can afford to get your model looking good. Once sanded to get rid of all the obvious rough edges and milling lines, it is time to get out the polyester filler paste. When working with wood, you mostly sand along the grain. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
INSPIRATION - MiniMax V AmphiMax. Ryan prefers his robot to the one in the lab, because he can carry it complete with caterpillar tracks and batteries. The 1/20th scale version that is to be used to launch the SeaVax model is just that bit too big for a Year 4 student. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd and Ryan Dusart to reproduce this picture except for private study and research.
APPLICATION - Having dusted off the model, Ryan applied filler paste to the flaws in the battens. Batten is used to make roofs for houses. It is pressure treated so that it will not rot. It is also relatively cheap to buy from your local timber merchants. This batten came from Stamco in Eastbourne. Ryan learned how to mix polyester paste and clean the plastic spatulas to get a smooth fill. Polyester filler is commonly used to repair car bodywork, but Ronseal do a version that is wood coloured. Next time you are in Halfords, go to the paint section and you will see large tubs of it next to the sandpaper. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
SHAPING - Filler paste is not only used to fill knots and gauges in the wood, but can repair chipped edges and seal the grain. Ryan used 40 grit on a very small block of wood, working his way to 120 grit before applying a good coat of primer. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
MOUNTING BLOCKS - While waiting for the filler paste to harden, the next job was to work out how to fix the plastic undercarriages to the wooden frame. With a little help, Ryan solved this by using wooden blacks made from more batten off cuts and some scrap plywood. The undercarriages had to be drilled to screw the blocks to the plastic chassis, then the blocks bonded together with waterproof PVA wood glue from Toolstation just off Lottbridge Drive in Eastbourne. Most workshops have a variety of glues on the shelves that you can use a bit of - but be sure to ask the proprietor for permission. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd and Ryan Dusart to reproduce these pictures.
REPETITION - The bad news is having to repeat a task several times, because it can get boring. That is why we use factories to mass produce goods for us using robots that don't get tired. When Ryan was bored he tended a bonfire and cut up some logs outside, then after warming up, came back to his project. It was a cold day so he had to keep on the move. The workshop he was using was open to the elements. The woolen hat he is wearing is necessary in these conditions. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd and Ryan Dusart to reproduce these pictures.
TEST FIT - With the blocks fixed to the tracked tank units using two start-drive screws, it was time to make sure there was enough clearance - and to number each track and the position that it would be in when fixed to the wooden frame. After that the frame was marked out and drilled through with a 1.5mm drill to create a pilot hole. The frame is also numbered underneath to make sure that each track is fitted to the corresponding drill holes. That way if there is any slight variation in marking out and drilling (by hand) the tracks will fit. Once the pilot holes were drilled, the wooden frame was taken off the undercarriages and the pilot holes on the wooden chassis were run through with a 4.5mm drill. Two 40 millimeter long wood screws were used to fix each undercarriage to the main frame. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd and Ryan Dusart to reproduce these pictures.
MODIFICATION - To be sure the wooden blocks would sit as square as possible some of the plastic parts had to be removed from the inside of the undercarriages. The holes drilled in the main frame were then countersunk on the advice of an elder. This is so that the wood does not split when a screw is tightened. It only takes a few seconds longer for each hole and it also looks nicer. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
ASSEMBLED - Here you see a picture of Ryan taking his MiniMax home. The motorised undercarriages are firmly screwed to the main frame. Ryan will be wiring up this model the next time he visits the workshop facilities. The MiniMax will be battery powered and eventually radio controlled. Ryan has also done some shaping work on a giant animatronic robot ant called a DinoBot. But that is only ever worked on at Christmas time because it is traditionally a holiday project. Many museums now have large displays of dinosaurs that move and scientific researchers use robot fish and dolphins to film wildlife. Copyright photograph, 19 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd and Ryan Dusart to reproduce this picture except for private study or educational purposes such as in schools and colleges.
TRAILER LAUNCH - This picture is of a radio controlled Traxxas 4x4 launching a model hydroplane (catamaran) and then recovering the same model. The Youtube video of this sequence is seen below where you can see for yourself how difficult it is to reverse a model toting a trailer rig. It must have taken two drivers to perfect this sequence, or one driver hopping from one radio set to another. However it was achieved, it is a good job.
SCHOOL HOMEWORK - Honing up his woodworking skills in a cold workshop in winter, Ryan helped to sculpt this scale model of a Viking longboat using scraps of wood he scavenged from the off-cuts pile. He was carefully supervised throughout the two hours it took to research the subject and then to carve this model. He was given tuition as to how to cut wood safely using a vice and other equipment. Copyright photographs, 22 January 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
As a junior member, Ryan will help his team-mates to carry out experiments with the AmphiMax, as it carries the SeaVax into water and launches the ocean cleaning vessel. In helping with the project he is likely to learn about:
15. How solar cells go together to form a solar panel.
16. How wind turbines produce electricity.
17. Automation and robotics.
18. Boat and transporter design principles.
19. Electric motors.
SeaVax is not just about cleaning plastic from our oceans, it is about providing food security in a world with a growing population and reducing land mass to cultivate.
LINKS & REFERENCE
ANIMATRONICS - Ryan keeps sneaking into another part of the complex where a large hexapod robot is in store. Once he has completed his AmphiMax, he wants to learn how to program computers like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi micros to help get this formidable robot interacting with its environment. Ryan is seen here holding one of the two motors to power the animatronic that is based on a real life bulldog ant all the way from Australia. One motor is needed for each side of the giant insectoid. This will allow the programmers to steer the DinoBot. Slowing down one set of legs will cause 'Dino' to turn in the direction of the legs working the slowest. The motor and gearbox is a 500 watt unit more commonly used to propel electric cycles. You can see a 2kW lithium battery pack on the left and the chain driven main frame in the background. A 500 watt motor is a teensy bit more powerful than a Lego or other VEX, STEM plug and play systems - and way too expensive to learn with, but once beginners have mastered the basics using low powered robots, they may want to stretch their imaginations even further with projects that can do useful things in the real world. The giant hexapod that this motor drives provides a development platform that could lift heavy objects that are potentially dangerous, rescue humans from crash sites and more .....
ROBOTICS - Ryan earned himself this Arduino Uno starter kit, and a few books on the subject that you can purchase quite reasonably from Amazon. When he is ready to progress, he'll probably move up to the Makeblock kit to master robotic movement and control and from there who knows .....
OCEAN CAREERS - The facilities at the NOC are owned by the National Environment Research Council, an organization that exists, as the name implies, to conduct ocean research for conservation purposes and to better understand the natural world. Copyright photograph April 6 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of the Cleaner Oceans Foundation to reproduce this picture.
OTHER PRACTICAL SKILLS - Ryan uses a spray can of line marking paint to outline the position of a drain so that later a section of weed control barrier can be removed to allow the drain to work. Ryan is learning construction skills while he helps his team mates improve the robot making facilities that he is allowed to use for his MiniMax. This photograph is Copyright © March 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to be able to copy, save or reproduce it.
ANTICS - ARDUINO - ARMOUR - ARTWORK - BIOLOGY - BLACK BOX - COMPUTERS - ELECTRONICS - ENERGY - FRAME - HEAD - JAWS - JIMMY WATSON - KITS - LEGS - MECHANICS - MOTORS - MOVIE - PHOTOGRAPHY - RASPBERRY Pi - R/C DRONE - SENTRY - SOFTWARE - SOUND PROOFING - SPEED - SUSPENSION - TAIL - WEAPONS - WARGAMING