Started to get some nibbles from the local high school industrial arts program and the local college instructors that are somehow involved with local economic development regarding my ideas for some local prototyping of transparent entrepreneurialism and engineering combined with some skills seminars and open access to the publicly owned machine tools in the local schools. Pretty traditional standoff actually, before the instructors and schools make any committments about availibility of machine tools they want a large student list and guarantees of benefits they can show school boards. Typical professional cover your ass behavior ..... unfortunately the local unemployed millwrights and machinists are very familiar with this type of behavior from the plants they used to work at which are now shutdown and out of business. They are reluctant to invest their precious time until someone proves they have gotten past the monkey motion phases in which most of these efforts get bogged down in. Further there seem to be large uncertainties in insurance issues and legalities and qualified security monitoring etc. etc.
I shall have to reconsider this a bit. It may be better to work strictly on the private side and lobby the local school board to reduce taxes by shutting down all ineffective activities which are better taught elsewhere or on the job. Perhaps high school should consist of a half day of reading, writing and arithmetic with work study activities in the afternoon where the students can learn real business and industry skills while putting some money away for either college or their initial toolkits.
On a more positive note ..... a friend of mine is setting up an industrial grade wood shop so he can get into cabinet building. I salvaged an old PC power supply from a local civil defense exercise (somebody planted it as a simulated explosive package in a garbage can at the local high school to see how long it would take chaotic but alert defensive citizens to spot it and have it removed) that has some of the capacitors I need to build him a capacitor network for a wood working tool he is refurbishing. Now all I have to do is find an electrical fundamentals book or see if I can derive the proper kirchoff laws from one of the other electronics and engineering handbooks I have lying around. I got rid of many of them on last summers book bombing raids into the heart of local tree age country so I may have to figure out how to use the local shuttle system to go to SWOCC (South Western Oregon Community College) library to look up the proper design methods.
Perhaps I should use mostly wood in my initial ESM prototypes. It is certainly the most prevalent local resource although I have found some supplies of steel in locally polluted ditches and creeks. Myrtlewood nuts would appear to make decent ball bearings for joints that experience only low dynamic or quasi static loads. There are some interesting examples of ball bearing use scattered around various local parks where volunteers have used scrap parts to assemble high quality teeter totters for the kiddies and their accompanying adults. Careful study of how the wobbling binds various types of installations might help me avoid initial problems with pivot joints.
Cool looking articles here on hydraulics and other stuff. I am way behind on my reading. I may take a few days off soon from civil defense preparations and spend them reading the articles that are posted here. I think they will provide a pretty good overview of the state of the art of robotics application as well as some very innovative ideas and technology approaches to robot specific design issues.