Mechanical Hopper Design - Biomimicry
(Olin College of Engineering 2014)
I created a mechanical design for a device that would hop, by drawing insight from nature about how to use energy effectively and wisely. I studied nature through in-person observation, research articles and high speed camera footage to learn the mechanics and physics of how animals hop. The hopper had an entrepreneurial application, as a toy for young children. To discover flaws as early in the process as possible, I iterated through my design many times through sketches, sketch models and computer aided simulations, before building the final prototype. The end result was the laser cut hopper seen below.
Hop multiple times without user input.
The hopper will have to align its center of gravity parallel to the center of mass to be able to hop a second time. By looking at the frog hopper and the click beetle, I noticed that the force needs to go through the center of gravity to achieve zero rotation and spin. This design makes for a more entertaining toy, because the delay before the second hop, which adds suspense for the child playing with it. Children could use it to play with a dog or cat, since the hopper will seem to move on its own during the second hop and tantalize a curious pet.
To get the hopper to jump twice, was an interesting challenge, because I did not have access to a motor. I created 5 designs, 4 of which employed two separate mechanisms. The one I chose utilized mechanics similar to a motor, train wheel and power arm. This design enabled the hopper to jump twice with only one mechanism.
The completed motion visualization showed me where the hoppers arms and legs would collide. I discovered that my original leg design did not provide enough down force, so I was able to alter my design prior to laser cutting my parts.
In this project I learned how to create digital simulations for movement and how to laser cut parts by using SolidWorks CAD Software. I systematically stepped through the design process to complete the project as efficiently and effectively as possible.