Picture of Tree Climbing Robot
After I got comfortable programming and building with an Arduino, I decided to build a robot.  I did not have any particular type in mind, so I wracked my brain (and the internet) for cool robot ideas.  Eventually, somehow the idea popped into my head to build a robot that could climb trees.  At first I dismissed the idea as beyond my skill level, but after further thought, and some time in Sketchup, I decided to take a shot at the challenge.  This is the result of my efforts.

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Step 1: Design

I started out by creating a basic design in Sketchup.  The robot was to consist of two segments, joined by a spine which could be extended or retracted.  Each segment would have four legs with very sharp points as feet.  To climb, the legs on the top segment would pinch together and the sharp feet would dig into the bark, securing the robot.  Then the spine would be retracted, pulling up the bottom segment.  The legs on the bottom segment would then grip the tree, and the top segment would release.  Finally, the spine would extend, pushing the top segment upwards, and the process would repeat.  The climbing sequence is somewhat similar to the way an inchworm climbs.

In my original design (show in the images above), all four legs in each segment were controlled by one highly geared down motor.  I decided to ditch this idea for a few reasons.  Firstly, I could not find the type of spur gear needed to mesh the legs together.  Also, with all the legs linked together, the robot would have a hard time gripping uneven surfaces.  Finally, I decided that the robot would be much easier to build if the motors drove the legs directly.

The other significant change I made from my original design was the way the spine worked.  In my model, I used a rack and pinion type gearing system to extend and contract the spine.  However, I could not find the necessary parts to build such a system, so I ended up using a threaded rod  coupled to a motor to actuate the spine.
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das123344410 months ago
wow!!!!!!!!!!!nice job dude......i need one help!!!i cannot understand from where the wires connected to the sensors linked???and how the wires from the motor driver is connecting another h-bridge??and how the motor driver and motor controller is connected to the battery???please help me........sir
arduino uno is very popular among students and hobbyist from robotics and it's very clear why this little board is used in so many applications. It can be connected to the internet as we can see in this arduino uno tutorials or it can be used to interface a lot of electronic parts 
Lostworld81 year ago
hello ben..can u share to me the arduino coding about the threaded rod?=)
nraj41 year ago
nice concept
amp6251 year ago
Why not go with servos?
Handy if you have to get a cat down. :)
Ok this is the most amazing thing! Great Job!
epierce2 years ago
It nearly has potential for a tree stand for hunting! Or a real wild Sci-fi spider!!
raykholo2 years ago
I'm going to build a much larger scale version of this to climb a tree of much bigger diameter. I will have it haul up a throw line [pun intended] as it goes, have a servo arm deploy it in a crotch (where branch meets trunk), and then the robot can lower it (and possibly self-rappel down that line). I will then use the throw line to anchor a friction saver so that I climb the tree myself.  

At least, so I plan.  I'll CAD it in Autodesk Inventor and see where that goes.

Great Instructable! 
if anyone wants 2 sell; I will buy a pre-programmed PIC that controls 3 servo's giving them random or psuedo-random movement. speed can be slow since i am planning to use it in a prop. if anyone willing to sell this i need 5 pcs of the same. i will pay thru paypal. some people do not trust overseas buyes, so 2 make u feel safe, u can list it on EBAY and I will buy it thru EBAY, which will guaratntee u get payed. More orders I would place if 1st order went well...I am a serious prop maker and look forward to source my needs thru this website while I concentrate on the mechanical aspects of my props. I m not offering to sell my props or anythng on the website, just buy parts.....please advise if anyone interested to sell. Thanks
u can use transistors to control the L298HN like the L293D ?
ben_k (author)  GENERALCHAOS2 years ago
You can control the L298 directly from the arduino, without extra transistors.
i was asking can it work im making a EAGLE PCB atm i have it done on the proto but i messed it up wired it wrong i have 3 and 1 is im use to control two Honda AC cooler door servos for a solar sun tracking
ben_k (author)  GENERALCHAOS2 years ago
I'm not sure why you would want to use a transistor to drive it. Rather than using a transistor, why not drive the l298 with whatever source you were going to use to drive the transistor? If it can output enough current to drive a transistor, it can definitely directly drive the signal for the l298. I suppose it would work though (although I am not sure what part you want to control with the transistors)
it feels saver with the resistor controlling the 5 volts to CHIP KIT MAX32 the 5 volt gonna be regulated to power the chip kit and the transistor im just wanted to set it up like it make me feel saver theres another 1 to it a 2 pin and leave me with extra pin to control more stuff if u nee to
well done good innovation
Karan.Shah3 years ago
beautiful robot !! I and one of my friend had made a similar project using helical climb mechanism !! it is much easier bt bulkier ......... one recommendation those legs could be attched to the body using brake wire which could be spring loaded such that it can each stay in itz place when no movement is taking place
ben_k (author)  Karan.Shah3 years ago
I'm not sure what you mean about the brake wire. The legs already do stay in place by themselves.

Your robot sounds really interesting. Do you have any pictures of it?
Bicycle brake wire...I think...
marc.cryan2 years ago
Really well done - Can it climb back down?
ben_k (author)  marc.cryan2 years ago
Yes, it can. Basically, to go down it reverses the cycle of lifting and pushing it uses to go up.
blazinEagle3 years ago
epic!! nice work man!
leea93 years ago
It seemed like you were waiting for it to fall and catch it.
I wonder if you could test the grip by doing a tug on the just clamped section and measure the current draw or force or something to be sure it is tightly attached. Then you would know it is safe to release the other half and climb.
ben_k (author)  leea93 years ago
The software on the Arduino figures out how hard it is clamped much more simply using potentiometers. The process is described in the last step.
Way to cool man
That's a pretty clever setup-- the long pen allows some side-to-side movement during rotation, so the mounting doesn't have to be perfect.
Rudo3 years ago
What a fantastic project! Perhaps way down the road to extend the idea to a tree trimmer that could trim tree branches at the tops of trees in urban areas to reduce the amount of 'sail' to prevent trees from falling and prevent considerable property damage? Keep honing your considerable skills.
Excellent project indeed. As an engineer myself, I can appreciate the not only the project you tackled, but also how comprehensively you documented the build process. Keep doing what you’re doing, I have a feeling that one day engineering might be paying your bills, if it isn’t already.
ben_k (author)  Mikey_Likes_It3 years ago
Thanks! It's not paying my bills yet, but I'll be heading off to college next year, definitely to study engineering.
drhulsey3 years ago
Don't forget McMaster-Carr for gears, including rack and pinion:
ben_k (author)  drhulsey3 years ago
I looked at those, but found that it would be too expensive to get the parts I needed.
Honus3 years ago
That's really cool! If you do ever want to do a rack and pinion setup Servocity sells cheap nylon gear racks and servo mount gears- I use a similar setup with a low profile linear slide for making animatronic Predator gauntlet blades.
rimar20003 years ago
Re-design3 years ago
A most excellent project. Great design, implementation and documentation.
Lorddrake3 years ago
AWESOME JOB!! ... now i just need to talk you into making one strong enough to attach a tree stand to :)
rofl why, is a climber stand too much for you?
naaaah ... i just wanna be the first kid on my block with the tree stand that climbs up the tree for me hehehe

on top of that i get to pretend i'm running my own elevator ...

first floor rabbits and chipmunks *ding*

second floor squirrels and the neighbor's cat *ding*

top floor deer and moose and bears oh my *ding*
0087adam3 years ago
This is the most epic robot ever! Perfect for getting cats out of trees!
lazerus3 years ago
Great Job dude, what a great first robot, very impressive.
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