Charlie the turbine robot

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Presented By:
Justin Gray
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Tell us briefly about your project. Is it a work of art or does it serve another function?

Charlie the turbine robot (or Charlie for short) is a concept I came up with a few years ago to attempt at rattling the cages of the EV (electric vehicle) community and the art world simultaneously. The goal was to defy the definition of function and form and give life to a machine that not only can be a beautiful sculpture but it can do work, real work, like plowing a field or clearing mines or cutting fire lines in forest fires etc. What was produced is a fully functional radio controlled electric track drive vehicle built around a 1946 Agricat crawler that I salvaged from the scrap yard. With a large battery pack and an on-board turbine engine this machine is only limited by its 10 gallon liquid fuel tanks and the 4kwhr battery pack. This is true attempt to merge art with ultra high tech.

When did you start working on this project and how long did it take you to complete?

I started this build in june of 2008. I got the robot running right as the event was starting that I had a small grant from to do the initial build on the robot. The very first build phase of Charlie was just over one month, roughly 300 hours. Since then, I have rebuilt several parts of the machine, including the battery pack, the electric drive systems and the hardest the entire under carriage of the 1946 Agricat crawler. Adding to the hour count by over 400 hours.

What was your goal in building this project?

The goal was to test the limits of my own ability to merge my EV work with my sculptures, to produce an art piece that could be in a gallery or in a field plowing.

Does your project help to solve a problem? If so what problem?

I am confident that giving proper funding my robot could in fact be real tool in industry. Hybrid drive crawlers that are totally self contained and remote operated allow the machine to go places unsafe for man or beast.

What makes your idea unique?

My grandfather never really got the chance to merge art with technology in an obvious way. I want to honor him and others like us by building something that is beautifully functional, and both equally.

In what capacity are you using bearings and what type of bearings?

The drive train in the robot was completely rebuilt using several different kinds of bearings, in fact the conversion from a simple clutch and belt system to a direct EV drive system involved using a modern flange bearing with a machined adapter sprocket.

What is the most important thing you want people to know about your project?

That with imagination you can do anything,even without money. I want kids to be respected when they just want to build things and be creative.

How will you use the $5,000 prize?

Charlie needs extensive work on several aspects of his systems, first off I will upgrade his battery pack to a modern NiMi or LiFe battery pack with better charge management,the tracks need a total rebuild including all new rollers and pins(about 80 of each),his turbine engine management systems need update and last but not least he needs extensive body work around his drive train. the list is a lot longer.

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