Mechanical Engineering Hack Chat

Do you think the bolt is big enough, or do you know?

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
Similar projects worth following

Adam Zeloof will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, September 30, 2020 at noon Pacific Time.

Time zones got you down? Here's a handy time converter!

Join Hack Chat

Almost every non-trivial project involves some level of cross-discipline work. If you build a robot, for instance, you need to worry not just about the electronics but also the mechanical design. You need to make sure that the parts you use will be strong enough to deal with the forces that it'll face, you have to know how much power it'll take to move your bot, and you have to deal with a thousand details, from heat flow to frictional losses to keeping things moving with bearing and seals.

Unfortunately for many of us, the mechanical engineering aspects of a project are foreign territory. We lack the skills to properly design mechanical systems, and so resort to seat-of-the-pants decisions on materials and fasteners, or over-engineering in the extreme -- the bigger the bolt, the better. Right?

Some of us, though, like Adam Zeloof, actually know a thing or two about proper mechanical engineering. Strength of materials, finite element analysis, thermodynamics -- all that stuff that most of us just wing are Adam's stock in trade. Adam brings a trained mechanical engineer's skill set to his multi-discipline projects, like the Rotomill or his reverse-engineered ride-share scooter. And many of you will have been lucky enough to see Adam's excellent 2019 Superconference talk on thermal design for PCBs.

Adam joins us on the Hack Chat to talk about anything and everything to do with mechanical engineering. Join us with your burning -- sometimes literally -- questions on how to make your designs survive the real world, where things break and air resistance can't be ignored.

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney09/30/2020 at 20:15 0 comments

    Hi everyone, welcome to Hack Chat. I'm Dan, I'll be moderating today for Adam Zeloof as we talk all about mechanical engineering. Is @Adam Zeloof logged in yet?

    Adam Zeloof12:01 PM
    I'm here!

    There we go. Hi Adam, welcome to the chat. And welcome to the writing crew -- for those who don't know, Adam started writing for Hackaday this week.

    Can you kick us off with a little bit about your background, Adam?

    Adam Zeloof12:04 PM
    Thanks Dan!

    Hi everybody, I'm Adam. I grew up in my family's machine shop, which probably had something to do with me deciding to go to Carnegie Mellon for school. After getting my bachelor's, I worked at SpaceX for a few months before returning to CMU for my master's. Now I'm a mechanical engineer at Boston Dynamics.

    sara.adkins65 joined the room.12:04 PM

    I have a question for you: When I was doing my undergrad, it seemed like every ME student I knew was a gearhead as a teenager. Loved to play with cars. This was back in the muscle car era, mind you. Is it still kinda the same today, that gearheads go into ME to kind of validate and monetize their passion?

    Adam Zeloof12:09 PM
    That's pretty bang-on for me! I definitely knew a few other gearheads in school, but I would say most my my ME classmates came into college with fairly little hands-on expierence

    Adam Zeloof12:09 PM
    They got lots of it in school, though!

    Adam Zeloof12:13 PM
    I do remember a few classmates going into ME because of robotics competitions they were part of in high school, that was probably more common than car interests.

    Also, as I sort of alluded to in the event page for this, most of us just kind of guess at the structural aspects of our builds. I assume that's not where you as an an ME, but are there rules of thumb that non-MEs can use for deciding on things like which fasteners to use, etc?

    Nyles12:14 PM
    Boston Dynamics - I'm so impressed by the stuff I see from there. What's it like working for them?

    Adam Zeloof12:17 PM
    Ha- I guess about things all the time! Most fasteners usually have a load rating that you can check on, and a good guess for the load it'll see is often sufficient. Aside from that, always good to make sure to have at least three threads of engagement, and watch out for incompatible metals!

    alexwhittemore12:17 PM
    You're writing for HaD now?! Congrats! That's dope

    vaworej360 joined the room.12:18 PM

    Adam Zeloof12:18 PM
    Nyles- I love it there! Playing with robots is the best perk (when I can be in the office, at least)

    alexwhittemore12:18 PM
    Your parents owning a machine shop explains... quite a bit.

    Adam Zeloof12:19 PM
    Hey Alex! Thanks, Just wrote my first article the other day :)

    And oh yeah it does, I basically grew up there

    Adam Zeloof12:19 PM
    Early memories include banding random bits of metal, then covering them with packing stickers

    Adam Zeloof12:20 PM

    alexwhittemore12:20 PM
    that makes a lot more sense.

    alexwhittemore12:21 PM
    What is your actual day to day like at boston dynamics? Like, new project: how does your involvment start? Do mechanical designs start with sketching? sketching in CAD? Do you have some sort of industrial design to go on ahead of time and then your job is to make sure it can be manufactured and won't break in half, or what?

    Adam Zeloof12:21 PM
    Oh @Dan Maloney - whenever I need to think about fasteners I take a look at this. Most useful tool on my desk:

    Oh, sweet! Thanks!

    Adam Zeloof12:22 PM
    Alex- probably shouldn't talk about that too much honestly. Will say I do lots of design and testing though.

    Adam Zeloof12:22 PM
    And I break lots of stuff

    Sky12:24 PM
    Hey Adam,

    Adam Zeloof12:24 PM
    Wish I could talk more about it, but I'm not here to represent the company, only myself!

    vaworej36012:25 PM
    How is working at boston dynamics after coming from spacex, the two highest tier ME jobs you can think of...

    alexwhittemore12:25 PM
    I mean even from the perspective of other companies?

    alexwhittemore12:26 PM...

    Read more »

View event log

Enjoy this event?



Interested in attending?

Become a member to follow this event or host your own