Lego’s programmable robotics set Mindstorms is a fun toy for computing enthusiasts but if you really want to take it to the next level, check out Mark Weller’s project.
Weller, a machinist and technician at the McCoy School of Engineering at Midwestern State University, combined milled plastic pieces with the basic Lego Mindstorms set to create a robotic spider that can crawl and turn.
“I wanted to open students’ minds to go beyond ‘let’s put the parts together and program the robot,’” he says. “This project is more than sticking the wheels on a Lego set.” The school uses Lego Mindstorms to introduce freshman students to robotics.
The spider robot’s legs are based on a concept called the Klann linkage. A single leg has a six-bar linkage with a frame, crank, two rockers and two couplers connected with pivot joints. This transforms rotating motion into linear motion.
Weller says he created the spider’s legs from 3/8-inch plastic sheet stock on a 3-axis CNC mill. But it can also be made by a 3-D printer such as Makerbot and RepRap.
As the video shows, the robotic spider moves with grace and turns around with flair, even on a smooth surface. Weller has posted the details of his Lego spider project and says he hopes 3-D printing enthusiasts will try it out.