We've spent a lot of time and effort learning the fundamentals behind hobby humanoid robots, but with RoboGames just a month away we thought it's definitely time to devote more time to the FUN-damentals. More specifically, we want to improve the way our two robots appear. We want to give them more of a distinctive, and hopefully recognizable, character of their own.
To do that, we're taking two very different approaches. For Mondai-Noid, our MANOI AT01 robot, his familiar orange pumpkin head is about to be retired, and will be replaced with a much more animalistic design that we will cover later. In contrast, Gulliver, our KHR-1 robot, is destined to take on more of a mechanical, even alien android, appearance.
The design of Gulliver's torso and legs is pretty straight forward, especially since time is short and our mechanical and craft skills are pretty limited.
The big challenges are the head and the hands. We felt that if we get those right then the rest of the robots character will automatically follow.
Luckily for us, there's a company in the Western part of Tokyo - Poseidon - that has designed a number of stock robot shells for use with the KHR-1, including one really awesome design they call "Formula":
We didn't want to tackle a complete body shell kit involving a large number of individual parts. But, as it turns out, after a little poking around their website we discovered that Poseidon sells a sub-kit that just contains a set of the Formula hands and head shells. Perfect for our purposes. We placed our order, got email confirmation, and within a couple of days the kit showed up at our door.
We should point out that these kits assume that the customer is already familiar with standard hobby techniques like prep, mounting, painting, etc. The instructions are minimal and assume a certain level of skill and know-how on the part of the customer. Also, according to a note on their website, Poseidon isn't setup for international orders at this time, though interested distributors might be able to make some arrangements to source the kits.
The hands really look like high tech robot hands. Of course they will look a lot more realistic after we get done with the painting and preparation.
The hands replace the bent aluminum KHR-1 original hands. The fit is perfect, but it looks like we might have to drill a few holes to mount them.
Two thumbs (left and right) are provided, though we are considering not installing them. Our concern is that parts like this might be easily broken during a competitive match. They're great for display, but when two robots start battling it out in the ring they might get quickly damaged.
The left and right head shells are basically mirror images with the exception of a mating set of channels on the backside to assure proper alignment. We can't imagine how much time, and skill, it took to originally design them.
Poseidon has gone to great lengths to make sure the shells are well designed and durable.
Looks kind of like an alien, doesn't it? We may take some liberties with the original color scheme and painting to create more of a unique character for Gulliver. Who knows, we might even add some hair or other decoration.
The head shells have mating channels to make sure that they align properly.
The two head shells are designed to slip perfectly over the KHR-1 head servo. We know, from past experience, that we'll have to come up with some way to secure the head so that it doesn't accidentally slip off right in the middle of a demonstration or competition. It would be quite embarrassing to suddenly find your robots head rolling around the ring loose.
Poseidon Formula Website (Japanese)
Poseidon Formula Robot Body Shells (Japanese)
Poseidon Website (Japanese)