Since I’m finished with my Gravity Gun I’m starting a new project because it feels it would be the right time to try out some new things I learned in the near past. And by that I mean motorizing stuff using stepper motors, servos, drivers and all of the controlling which comes with it.
I haven’t done anything like this in any of my projects before so to start off I ordered myself some stepper motors and started reading and watching tutorials on how to control them.
Fun fact: During my school time I always have been interested in programming but unfortunately I never got a hang of it and was the worst by far in my class : ) Even for my final exam before finishing college I had to program some dancemoves for a Hexapod (basically a spider-like robot) which ended up failing horribly and I had to repeat the exam a few months later.
Back when I worked on the Gravity Gun I already started drawing all kinds of sketches to give me an idea how I could tackle the project at best. Wheatley isn’t a quite difficult character to construct when it comes to his overall shape but the challenge definitely lies in working out his internal mechanics.
So I have studied Wheatley’s behavior quite a bit and came to the conclusion that a few of his moves are impossible to recreate while keeping the inside clean and not having it stuffed with mechanical parts, gimbals, gears and motors.
Luckily there were few members on TheRPF forum which contributed so much help to the overall project by providing me with detailed views of Wheatley’s model from the game. Thanks you ever so much to every single one of you! : )
Then, after weeks of thinking, trying and fooling around I came up with a mechanism which will hopefully fit perfectly inside Wheatley without compromising in variety of his movements too much.
At this point I was sure a few things will change while working on it, but I couldn’t wait any longer to get it started. Basically the main stuff is done already, it’s just the devil in the details that awaits me ; )
Here’s the first sketch I came up with using AutoCAD’s 123D Design. It’s like SketchUp, but just so much inferior.
What will be possible when it comes to controlling Wheatley is covered in the following list:
- Moving the eye-corpus 25° in every angle possible from its original position.
- Moving the eye-pupil 15° in every angle possible from its original position.
- Moving Wheatleys eye-lids independently from fully open to nearly fully closed.
- I can’t make them shut completely due to the lack of space inside the corpus.
- There will be a gap of around 8mm left.
- Rotating the “bucket” in Wheatleys backside around 40° to the left and right.
- Moving Wheatleys front bars on the top and bottom independently to get even more expression.
- Having a proper sound module embedded to bring Wheatley to life and add personality.
- Controlling Wheatley via a remote app.
- Voice regonition
- Using Wheatleys “flashlight”-function as seen in-game.
Now to the compromises I had to take due to stability issues:
The inner sphere won’t move back and forth as it does in the game since I would need a fixed anchor point to rotate the sphere around. I could use the outer shells for that but the reason they aren’t really strong nor do they connect to form a robust volume I scrapped this idea (for now).
However, let’s get started with the project!
I started with the idea of roto-casting both of Wheatley’s spheres from Smooth-On 65D but scrapped the idea fairly quickly as I started working on the 3D model. Reason behind that is simply the amount of additional detail and functionality I need to build up within the spheres themselves; be it channels to route and hide cables, have certain holes and flanges integrated in them to fit several bearings, you name it!
As 3D printing is a thing now I decided to have the spheres printed in their full glory!
At this point I haven’t had any experience with 3D printing but I got a hold of things quite quickly and so I started working on a much more detailed 3D model of Wheatley which came out pretty well for my first try on 123D design *pats myself on shoulder*
The printers I used is in my case are two Wanhao Duplicator i3’s, some pretty low-priced yet awesome quality printers which got an 200x200x180mm build volume. Was going for a Lulzbot TAZ5 first, but the price wasn’t justified in my opinion as it’s five times as expensive as the Wanhao.
Let’s continue. Here are the finished outer shells which are going to get attached by magnets and hold onto the inner, thicker sphere. The magnets are seated inside the pockets along the mounting rail. So it’s quite easy to remove if some work on the inside needs to be done.
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