Instructables

Walking on water: start building a StriderBot

Featured
Picture of Walking on water: start building a StriderBot
This experiment was inspired by the "robots walking on water" from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
CMU's robots are called STRIDE, for Surface Tension based Robotic Insect Dynamic Explorer. They mimic the way water strider insects "walk" on water.

I wanted to see how difficult it is to make a "robot" that moves on top of the water surface, purely based on surface tension. I found out that recreating the principle is not hard at all.

When carefully putting the construction on the water, the surface tension keeps it on top. When disturbed, the construction sinks, proving it is really the surface tension that does the trick.

The vibration of pager motor gives it some rudimentary propulsion (both on land and on water actually).



I hope this experiment inspires you and I look forward to hear what you can do with it. And of course, your vote is welcome.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You need a material that is light and stiff, somewhat hydrophobic and available in shapes giving a lot of "contact edge".
A test showed that the small diameter carbon fiber reinforced rods work fine. You can find these "carbon" rods at modeling shops stocking indoor flying materials. I used two 0.8mm diameter rods, about 1 m in length. The more commonly available 1 mm diameter rods are probably also worth a try.

The other materials used are:
A small a pager motor
A small 1.5V button cell battery
Some scotch tape
A tiny piece of double sided tape

Step 2: Basic construction

Picture of Basic construction
DSC06377.JPG
DSC06374.JPG
The rods are bent and kept in shape by attaching them to each other with ordinary scotch tape. At the center "node" I made support with some more scotch tape, keeping motor and battery out of the water. The motor was fixed with a tiny piece double side tape, making sure the excenter weight turns freely. The motor leads had their electric insulation removed over a couple of mm and each one is taped to one pole of the battery. I learned this method from the "Evil Mad Scientist BristleBot".
jcksparr0w2 years ago
I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! must make it sometime. Keep it up!!!!!1
Emsaid2 years ago
Sweet ive gotta try this!
Random user3 years ago
Rather than using cellotape to secure the joints, can I use solder instead?
masynmachien (author)  Random user3 years ago
Not unless you use metal rods instead of carbon rods. Carbon (carbon fibre reinforced epoxy that is) can not be soldered. You might use glue, but as there is not much surface to glue, a cellotape joint will be more resilient.

As for metal rods, these will be rather heavy, and solder will be heavier than tape. You can try, but I really recommend carbon rods of maximum 1mm diameter, available at hobby shops selling RC airplane kits and probably at kite shops to. if you can get 0.8 or 0.6 mm, this will be even better.
Thanks for the fast reply, helps a lot. Haven't actually started this project though, but hoping to soon :)
imrobot3 years ago
amazing!!! however, does the motor short out after it sinks?
masynmachien (author)  imrobot3 years ago
No it doesn't, some current leaks through the water, but that is far from shorting out 

for mor info on low voltage motors and water, see:  http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-solar-powered-pocket-submarine-with-depth-c/
ahhh... thank you!
macrumpton3 years ago
I wonder if having the motor hooked up to a small air propeller might be more propulsive without disturbing the water and sinking it?
masynmachien (author)  macrumpton3 years ago
It might be tricky, but it could work.
The motor would need to be mounted on some pillar and a problem might be the pillar acting as a lever and the propulsion force pushing the front of the construction down.
fwjs284 years ago
you can do the exact same thing with a paperclip, much harder to get it to stay on top, but once it does its really cool
masynmachien (author)  fwjs284 years ago
Indeed you can with thin paperclips, and the effect is cool indeed. However as it is hard to get it to stat on top, it is clear there is no room for any propulsion. The flat metal/plastic strips used to close garbage bags or to keep electronics cables together when you by them are easier to get to stay on top. But you can not upscale it to be able to cary any propulsion. Even if you have longer strips, they are not stiff enough.
astrong04 years ago
can thin silver metal wire work? its 26 gauge wire
masynmachien (author)  astrong04 years ago
I doubt it. Silver does not really have an interesting stiffness/weight ratio, but you can easily test it by trying if it stays on the surface of the water. First just by itself, then with a tiny extra weight.
well its not really silver par say its silver coloured steel wire, or ... what if i were to heat it up till it glows then plunge it into cold water to make it stiff?
masynmachien (author)  astrong04 years ago
Steel has a better stiffness/weight ratio than silver, but still worse than carbon fibre composite. Heating and quenching can increase hardness and to some extent strength, but it will not change the stiffness (elastic modulus). The alloy determines the stiffness.
dang...how bout fibre glass strips impregnated with resin then formed to the shape
masynmachien (author)  astrong04 years ago
That would probably work. But if you go into that effort it would be better to use carbon fibre.
hammer98764 years ago
Brilliant!
ReCreate4 years ago
Uhm...I am Having Trouble Figuring out what this is. What does this do?
masynmachien (author)  ReCreate4 years ago
Well, it stays on top of the water surface purely based on surface tension, not buoyancy, like a water strider insect. It moves based on vibration.
The Vibration keeps it up? Wow,thats neat.
masynmachien (author)  ReCreate4 years ago
No, as I said, it stays on top of the water surface based on surface tension. It moves forward based on vibration (comparable to a bristle bot).
Ah,I got it now, I think...
awesome!
shiboohi4 years ago
thats pretty nifty! i saw those on the science channel a couple times. what size pager motor do you use?
masynmachien (author)  shiboohi4 years ago
I got it from www.bgmicro.com years ago. It is about 2cm total length. You can get smaller/lighter these days and the lighter, the better.
Kiteman6 years ago
That is fascinating - I have never seen any mechanical device use surface tension in that way. This may be an utterly unique vehicle (at least, until people start following your lead!). Bravo.
I agree. It is quite unique. Also quite smart. The idea of using surface tension rather than buoyancy is amazing.
agis68 Kiteman5 years ago
I agree its prototype and excellent paradigm of taking advantage 2 principles of simple Physics. 1. the Surface tense (iam Greek iam not sure the terminology) but it means the force of the water molecules and how an insect for example can walk on the surface just has more thin and expended legs on the surface like this instructable 2. The mechanical movement that is used by many plangton organisms. Vibration Here is electric in insects is biomechanical....but the principal of movement as i said is exact the same.... Bravo 5/5
Kiteman agis685 years ago
It's surface tension.

According to this website, it translates as ένταση, υπερένταση (I have no idea if that is correct!).
agis68 Kiteman5 years ago
thanx for the correction....:)))
Kiteman agis685 years ago
Any time.
Kiteman Kiteman6 years ago
Doh, I should have read your link! OK, so it's not exactly unique, but it is probably far cheaper than the original STRIDE project beasties.
BIGBUG5 years ago
Here I am, late again. Cool bity little water strider though! Here is an idea for propulsion. Using the attached picture, notice the red line between the long arms? This line is very small dia. filament or thread and is looped over the motor counter weight via the shown brass guide. As the motor rotates, if the thread is properly tightened, the two long arms will pull slightly toward each other and then spring apart. Nearly no weight added and the pull and spring action would be close enough to horizontal that it should not cause a loss of surface tension... One idea anyhow, who know maybe I could be a closet genius...
INSTR1.jpg
masynmachien (author)  BIGBUG5 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion. It will a.o. depend on the motor delivering enough torque, which is far from sure as it is ungeared. I will however have to wait for the pool season for more experiments.
lycoris35 years ago
If only i could hear what you were saying (if at all) it would make a beautiful science project.
masynmachien (author)  lycoris35 years ago
I did not make much spoken comments and it was in Dutch anyway. All the explanation is written.
i'm doing this with my vibrobot
awoodcarver5 years ago
Very Cool !!! seems easy enough to make ...Have you made them larger or smaller ? If so did they work as well as the one shown?
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!