The Feel Three *is* more than just renders :)

We have a working prototype…. we’re just not ready to show it to anyone yet, but it exists. Right now we’re only showing it to potential investors and people working on the project… so if you want a look, become one of these people 🙂

The rest of the world has to wait… a little longer.

folding base8 2015-07-04 21.32.22

how many parts???

So I had another look at the design and also played around with a simple triangle idea to create the chair base and arm rests inside the sphere.

Its probably not necessary to try to cut the part list to the bare bones but still a good exercise. One of the major mistakes I think a lot of Kickstarted projects make is to start thinking that since they raised 500% of their goal they should now start to redesign the whole project with all this extra capital. It’s far better to deliver what they promised first with some minor improvements and use the extra cash towards the next version, rather than fail to deliver anything. The Oculus Rift DK1 was not what they really promised, but they at least delivered something pretty close and that moved the company forward. Imagine if they had tried to create the DK2 instead…. they would probably have just failed completely.

So the major components now number just 10…. this doesn’t include nuts, bolts and other off the shelf items such as motors,   omniwheels or a seat. Two required small metal parts could probably be found in mcmaster-carr, I just haven’t looked. The rim is matter of bending two aluminium extrusions, cutting to length and drilling in the right places. The base triangles can be laser cut or made quite simply in a carpentry place (assuming they’re made from wood). I’m not sure the turnbuckles are classed as manufactured components either since I could probably order 100k of them from Alibaba quite simply….. 9 parts then? :p

So, pentagon, half hexagon, the connector to hold them all together and the base panel…. 4 tricky parts…. plus the electronics and code.

Remember what I said about designing vs building….?

Well it doesn’t seem to apply here 🙂 I printed two of just the longest sections to make sure it would fit together and it works beautifully. Of course the next step is to print 4 (or at least the connection parts) to make sure they don’t interfere with each other and then all 24 parts to be sure but so far it looks great. The user would connect a top and bottom parts together with a long rod pushed in to hold them together. This doesn’t need to be locked in place since its impossible to remove when the ring is complete. The user makes another top/bottom part and now pushes in two more rods from the top and bottom. One in held in place with gravity and the other can’t come out since the weight of the simulator is over it. Super simple!

This is a huge win for the design and manufacturing if we can get it to work. The only downside is that the previous design could be adapted to accommodate larger or smaller spheres, plus it would be possible to only need 3 or so wedges, but this version should be so much easier to use.

Simplification pt 2

The motor needs a place to be mounted and the wheel ideally would be supported on both sides of the axle…. but with a little tweaking it’s perfectly possible to use the same flat base part as the internal support (the wooden part in the picture). Depending on materials it might not be strong enough ‘as is’ but it should be fairly easy to add some simple steel support rods inside.

This is very cool, we went from 5 different parts that would need to be bolted together (making them still very large for storage, 72 parts in total) to 27 identical components… plus some simple (and cheap) connecting rods. It can also (hopefully) be set up in a few minutes and would lay flat under a bed. Nice.

The simplification continues

Considering how large the simulator will be most people will probably think it consists of hundreds of different components but nothing could be further from the truth. At last count we had the total down to 24, this doesn’t count all the nuts, bolts and other readily available parts (of which there are a LOT) but these are solved problems which only need money to source. After reducing the manufactured sphere parts to as low as just two we took another look at the base.

undercut

 

The design as it stands uses five strong panels and two shiny ones to cover them, these repeat 12 times allowing us to use 3,4 or 6 wheels for movement. It is perhaps possible to reduce these to just two or three.

Using the same interlocking idea for the panels should create a very rigid structure that is also very easy to assemble and disassemble. Both panels could have ‘teeth’ with a hole to allow insertion of a metal rod to hold everything together. Initial tests of this idea for the panels proves it works really well. Another idea is to reuse the internal panel connectors to work as the external safety rim, if this works there would be another saving of two extra components.

All these ideas need to be tested but any chance to combine manufactured components needs to be seized….

 

edit: While I have some concerns about the strength and rigidity of the following idea it seems like it might be possible to create the base from just ONE manufactured component! Of course this assumes that the motor and wheel are connected by *magic* but I would guess there would be some off the shelf components to easily solve that problem… the top and bottom sections would also interlock (not shown)….

Screenshot 2015-06-23 02.35.28

Designing a better omniwheel

I spent the last few days building omniwheels… although hopefully this is a part we can just use off the shelf its still nice to make your own for a scale prototype.

new omniwheel

Much better than the ones they replaced, with a lot better grip too. O-rings seemed like a good idea, but they’re not high friction so not a great choice.

omniwheel

One thing is clear though, the amount of moving parts for all of them might make them noisy… and unreliable.

So it got me thinking about whether there is a better way and I might have found one. I’m not going to give away my secrets but if it works then we might have a silent omniwheel with just THREE parts… this could be pretty useful for the future but of course the question is ‘will it work’…. well, I’ll find that out, apply for my patent and you’ll see 🙂