I don't know why, but I seem to get many of my ideas at inconvenient times - half way through a lesson, walking home in the dark, or, frequently, I wake up at three or for in the morning and go Wow, that's a good idea.
By the time I get near a computer, it's gone.
So, I have started keeping a notebook with me, and a little LED booklight beside my bed, so that I can record my ideas as and when I have them.
This little robot sculpture occurred to me in bed at around 4am. Or, his arm did. I quickly sketched the idea and went back to bed. When I woke up, I drew his whole body.
Originally, my idea was for him to be made of copper tubing and wood, but then I acquired a bunch of glass tubes...
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Tubing - As I mentioned, I originally intended to use copper microbore tube. Instead, I used glass tubes acquired from school in a clear-out.
- Beads - The robot's joints. Again, the original plan was to use wooden beads to c-ordinate with the copper and be easy to modify. I ended up using 10mm wooden beads from the local sewing shop.
- Elastic - the sinews of the beast. Thin elastic pulls all the joints together, proving friction to hold it in position.
- Hands - I used crocodile clips (I wonder where I got them from?)
- Head - Again, a matter of taste. I used another, lerger bead that happened to be on the next shelf to the beads i used for the joints.
- Cutting tubes - Saw, pipe-cutter or file, choose whatever is appropriate for your material.
- Modifying beads - Drill or rotary tool and appropriate bits to pierce and shape the bead material.
- Cutting elastic - Scissors are your best bet.
- Threading - you will need to get elastic through tubes and beads. Depending on the relative dimensions of your beads, tube and elastic, you may be able to thread them by hand. Or you may need a needle or straightened paperclip.
Be careful with power tools and sharp things, and always wear eye-protection when using a grinding tool or when working with glass. I mean it. I heard quite a few splinters of glass hit my goggles whilst grinding the glass. Have a dustpan or vacuum cleaner available to deal with shards of glass or metal filings (copper filings will do as much damage to eyes and skin as iron, but they can't be removed from your body so easily because they aren't magnetic).
Step 2: Measurements
I haven't got any. I decided to go with gut feelings the whole way in this Instructable (hey, this is art), so I went with what seemed "right".
I took one of my glass tubes with me when I bought the beads and just found some that looked, as I said, "right". They turned out to be wooden beads, 10mm across. There were a selection of colours in the pack, but I chose the plain beads for this project.
When cut to length, the three pieces that make up the chest section turned out to be about 45mm long, and the limbs were made of pieces about 35mm long.
Step 3: Cutting the Tubes.
Lay the tubes flat on the bench and scribe carefully around the tube with the edge of a triangular file. Make a notch around about one third of the circumference of the tube.
I laid the tube across a pen, with the notch directly above the pen, and pressed down on either side.
The tubes, on the whole, snapped quite cleanly. A grinding head on my rotary tool made short work of the occasional jagged edge.
The tube that formed the shoulders of the robot needed a hole pierced half way along. My plan was for the elastic to somehow hold the head in place. A pointed grinding head, running at about half speed, made quite a reasonable hole. Unfortunately, I chickened out at a diameter of about 2mm - the edges of the hole were starting to flake. Since the elastic is about 2mm in diameter, this entailed a different approach, of which more later.
Step 4: Laying Out the Corpse...
As you can see in the original sketches, the sides of the torso joined directly to the shoulder-tube. I couldn't think of a neat way to do this, so they joined at the shoulder-joint instead.
I drilled a third hole into four of the beads, at ninety degrees to the existing hole.
The two beads that make up the hip/pelvis area were joined together by gluing a short piece of matchstick into the extra holes I drilled. The glue I used was "Serious Glue", which is strong and fills gaps.
I could not thread two pieces of elastic through the beads, so I also glued the ends of the pieces of elastic that run from shoulder to feet into the extra holes I had drilled in the shoulder beads.
Step 5: Attaching the Head.
Instead, I took a few inches of multi-strand wire and twisted them to form a small loop with a long "tail".
I thread the elastic through the loop, them through the tube that forms the shoulders. I then threaded the tail of the wire through the tube and out of the hole drilled half way down. Note that a small curve added to the end of the tail made it much easier to get it through the drilled hole.
Pulling the wire and the elastic, I ended up with a convenient spike onto which to glue the bead that forms the head. I cut the wire of flush at the top of the bead and wedged and glued a piece of matchstick into the hole to disguise the wire slightly.
Step 6: The Feet.
Whilst this is a relatively easy option with the originally-planned copper, with glass tubes and my skill-level, it's an impossibility.
Instead, I cut two more lengths of tube and drilled holes about one third of the way along them. I threaded the elastic through these and out the short ends (the heels).
Step 7: Threading Up
The first went from hand-to-hand, though the shoulders as previously described. A knot in one end stopped the elastic being pulled right through, I then pulled the elastic tight with a pair of locking forceps before knotting the other end, thus keeping the elastic in tension when finished.
The sides and legs were threaded onto the elastic I had previously glued into the beads that make the shoulders. The end of the elastic went into the feet and out the heel, before being pulled tight and knotted again.
Unfortunately, the whole thing proved too weak to hold the weight of the crocodile clips I had planned to use as hands, so it's handless.
Step 8: Success?
He doesn't look quite as I envisaged, and doesn't have the mobility I had hoped for, but he's certainly different. I like him, so I'll count it as success. He's going to live on the bookshelves (if he was strong enough, he'd have been holding a photo), but he may visit me in the shed occasionally, just to check up on what I'm doing without him.
Are you inspired?
Are you going to make a glass robot? A copper robot? A bamboo robot? Or are you going to use pieces of old biros as the tubes? Will it be a man-shape? Or will you make something more fantastic?
Whatever you do, take a photo and add it to the comments. Let's have an army of 4am robots, marching across the desktops of the world...