Introduction: Cheap Tires for Robot Wheels

Robot builders are always looking for inexpensive ways to make wheels for their robots. You often see homemade wheels made of Plexiglas or Masonite. These homemade wheels typically look unfinished and have poor traction.

This instructible describes two ways to add a tire to a homemade robot wheel using window screen spline. Window screen spline tires are inexpensive and very easy to make. This technique also improves the wheel's performance and looks good.

Step 1: Materials

You will need:

1.   Window Screen Spline (obtain from home supply or hardware store)
       The spline comes in a variety of diameters. Robots wheels can usually
       be handled with either 0.125 inch or 0.175 inch diameter spline.

2.   Super glue

3.   Scissors (small)

4.   Ruler

5.  Small piece of fine or extra fine sand paper

6.   Piece of cardboard or a paper plate

7.   A wheel (0.175 inch spline can handle a 1/8 inch thick wheel)

Step 2: Over Edge Tires

Over the Edge tires work best when trying to add a tire to a Plexiglas or Masonite wheel. The video details how to make this type of tire. A key point when making an Over the Edge tire is that the starting screen spline piece should be a length equal to 85% of the wheel's circumference.

Step 3: O-Ring Tires

O-Ring tires work best on wheels that have a wide flat rim, or a rim defined by ridges on each side of the rim. For this type of tire the length of the screen spline should be approximately 95% of the circumference

They are much simpler to make than Over the Edge tires. You simply cut the screen spline to length and glue the ends together. It looks better if the ridges of the window spline are not twisted. The procedure is similar to the one shown in the video, without the cutting of the spline. The alignment of the ends can be aided by inserting a very short piece of wire into the end of the spline. The piece of wire should not be any longer than 1/4 inch. It will be permanently embedded in the tire.

The pictures show an o-ring style screen spline tire on a wheel that is a plastic milk jug top. For this particular wheel, which measured about 1.4 inches in diameter, the spline length was 4 1/8 inches. The size of spline used was 0.125 inch.

When sanding the seam, do it very lightly. You only want to knock off any ridge formed by glue squeeze out.

National Robotics Week Robot Contest

Third Prize in the
National Robotics Week Robot Contest