higher fidelity prototype & mechanics issue #1

We cut the black satiny fabric into a shape that would do away with all the extra fabric to help with the weight of the skirt. The hoops were loosely sewn to the skirt. We fond that the hardest part of the twist ties was to find something strong enough to get rid of the locking part of it. It made a tear drop shape more than a circle. After some digging in the engineering lab we found some sheers and used those.

For the motors, we had to create the means of powering them. They spun insanely fast but they were having a hard time pulling up the lightest loads. What was more disconcerting was the issue of the pulley mechanism. The system we have figured out is one where the skirt hoops are threaded through with string and the string is attached to a a spool which is attached to a motor. Once the motor is started in a direction, the string will wrap around the spool, pulling the hoops and skirt up. If we wanted to drop the skirt, we’d just need to reverse the motor’s direction.

The issue was that the DC motors did not work with the Lego pieces we had so we would need to custom make the spool if we were to use the DC motors. In addition, we would lose the up and down functionality for the most part because we had not figured out how to program the DC motors.

So it was back to the drawing board.

new materials

In the spirit of super hero transformations, we got a shiny black fabric for this prototype, similar to Batman’s cape. That was the most creative material acquired. The rest were purely about logistics. We found extra large twist ties and are going to try those out for the hoop support system. We also have the DC motors to try out for this task. They are surprisingly small! I suppose we shall see how the actual skirt work now. We need to sew the fabric on before we can test the mechanics this time.

Higher fidelity prototype: the belt-skirt

For the past week, we have been toiling to find the right mechanics and set up for the mechanical skirt-belt. The concept is that a skirt can be pulled up to a ruffled belt and a belt can be extended into a skirt, mechanically.

We chose this to be our fully developed prototype because the rest of our outfit follows the same mechanics, if we can master it for a short bit of cloth, the others should be relatively easy. Unfortunately, we’ve found this to be false. The mechanics of the skirt proved to be a challenge due to our materials at hand. We were initially going to use phidget servo motors, but found that the motors we had did not complete a full rotation. Because of this, we moved on to the next motors we had available, Lego MindstormsNXT motors. Although powerful, these are very bulky. In addition to the bulk of the motor, we have had to construct a gear train for the wheels that we attached the skirt pulleys to. This added to the bulk of it all so that the skirt currently has a 6 inch gear train coming out from the back of the user’s skirt.

Back view of skirt-belt with NXT brick and wheels

Back view of skirt-belt with NXT brick & pulley wheels

In addition to the bulk, we have found that the angle of the motors and the gears now make it such that the pulleys do not wind about the wheel, but get tangled. This basically means that we need another motor for our current design.