All prototypes completed, on to construction

A project log for Love Elemental

A fuzzy, glowing, touch-responsive serpent using ROS + SOTA machine learning to make lifelike behavior.

David GreenbergDavid Greenberg 10/26/2021 at 17:430 Comments

I've spent the past many months designing and building the PCBs and mechanics of the Love Elemental. Now, this log will include a few teasers of things that are being included in the build as I put it together over the next couple months. The boards have nearly all the functionality I hoped for: automatic charging for Lipos, 10A+ discharge from integrated 3S Lipos, DMA-based control for LED strips for animation, connections to the servo motors, and a fan driver (if the board needs extra cooling help). The capactive touch sensors work, but don't have the range/proximity that I wanted to achieve when combined with the actively shielded cables I'm using. The battery protection & charge management IC circuit doesn't work, so that'll need to be remade at some point. All but one circuit working on the first spin, for my first PCB in over 10 years? I'll take it!

The body has also undergone many iterations & improvements, to make it easier to assemble, iterate on, and to give it capacity to mount everything needed. Most excitingly, the Love Elemental now has ribs that are attached to the inner skeleton. These ribs use 3D printed flexures to constrain their movement, so that although it'll only have 7 segments, it will have 28 individually passively articulated ribs, which I think will give it a very nice aesthetic. The design of the ribs, flexures, and mates will have to come in another post, as there are a lot of tricks I used to ensure they're easy to print, assemble, and replace, while also being strong.

Lastly, I imported all the mechanical designs into solidworks, so that I can iterate faster than my custom CAD environment allows me to. As it turns out, even I like the real CAD tools :)