Clockwork Autoxylotron

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The goal is to make a xylophone-playing robot that is so cool.

Initial design

Randy is compelling everyone to follow a formalized design process for this project. Here is what we've concocted:

Requirements

What any design must satisfy in order to be acceptable.

  • Hits keys
  • Able to play at least 3 keys simultaneously
  • Microcontroller-driven (i.e. does not require full computer)
  • At least as cool as something made 90% out of wood

Selection criteria

Things that a design should do. This will aid in selecting which concept to build. In order of importance:

  • As cool as possible
    • Preferrably makes a tukkatukkatukka sound as it runs
  • Many simultaneous notes
  • Buildability
  • Fast time between notes, different or repeated
  • Ability to control a wide volume range
  • Cost

Function decomposition and concept ideation

Based on the requirements, the problem is broken into a few abstract functions that it must perform. For each function, many means of performing that function are suggested.

Hits keys Hammers, Rocks, Linear drive
Drives key hitter Clutch, Motor, Gravity, Springs, Electromagnet, Solenoid, Explosive, Rocket, Ion propulsion, Railgun, Coilgun
Returns key hitter Springs/elastics, Motor, Electromagnet, Ion propulsion, most anything that could also be a driver

Concepts

By combining one option for each function, concepts are created.

Hitter Driver Return
Hammer Clutch Springs Mechanism would be similar to a Selectric typewriter: drive would be running constantly, each hammer would clutch onto the drive in order to hit the key.
Hammer Spring Motor Spring would allow for a fast but uncontrolled strike, then motor would return it.
Rock Gravity Motor Drop something on the keys, then pull it back up.
Linear Gravity Railgun Drop onto the key, then shoot it back up in the air!

Next Steps

  • All concepts need a little bit of fleshing-out; a quick sketch of the mechanism will do.
    • We might want more concepts than just those listed above.
  • Concepts are scored in how well they meet the selection criteria.
    • Typically, one concept is chosen as the "reference"; other concepts are ranked as better (+1) similar (0) worse(-1) in each criterion.
  • Take rank times importance, sum for each design; higher is better.
    • Exact score is not important - this is in inexact process - but the top ranked designs are the ones worth pursing.