Robot vehicle to climb I-beam

Hey guys, this isn’t really about combat, but I’ve been researching this for a week now and can’t find anything that would meet my needs, and robotic vehicles are the closest thing to accomplishing my goal.

I need a vehicle/device that will climb a vertical Ibeam with a camera system attached (only about 400grams) to about 15-20 feet, be able to park it there so it won’t slide or move, then drive it back down when I’m done. I film hockey games and it’s difficult to find a good vantage point most of the time. BUT, the one thing almost all rinks have in common are metal I-beams for building support. I’ve looked at electric I-beam trolleys, but they all run horizontal and are made to haul tons. I’ve seen 6 wheel vehicles like this HERE, but modifying the center wheels to extend and grip the back side of the I-beam I don’t think is feasible. THIS one might possible if I was able to modify if I knew how. THIS one might work if I could attach another set of spring loaded tracks opposite those to clamp the I-beam

Point is, I don’t have the knowledge of skills to put something like this together, but I discuss a fee to someone that could help me, or even build it. Mine is a startup business, so I don’t have a big budget, and I have no clue what all these little parts cost for an RC vehicle like this. If people see this and want one for themselves, and this takes off, I’m sure I’ll need someone to build these if I get lots of orders for these camera systems.

If this isn’t the place to ask about this, or I’m not supposed to offer paid project help, just delete my post and my apologies. Thanks for reading!

Throw out and idea: If there could be a wedge shaped device that can sits behind a couple of wheels that slightly drag behind them. When it gets to where you want, back up a bit and it will “climb” the wedge as act as a tightening device. When you want to come down, go forward a bit and retract the wedge enough so the wheel can’t climb it again.

Or if you want make it so you can tell it to deploy and then retract.

Wedge would have rough surface, may sandpaper, on the side that makes contact with the I-beam so it grips better. Advantage is wedge would accommodate multiple thicknesses of metal up to thickness of wedge - if you need tighter, just back up some more to tighten.

This idea is probably worth what was paid for it.

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in all seriousness, I’m really interested in this. It seems like a great idea, fraught with obstacles. I’m curious to see you over come them, and wish I could help. Unfortunately, I have zero abilities with robotic and/or R/C stuff…

However, if I were looking into this, I’d think the most stable way to do what I percieve you want is with a 3-wheeler, with 2 adjustable width behind the beam on the upside, and 1 below, on the top of the beam. I imagine a single drive supplied to the down wheel would do the job. I also imagine that a brake mechanism on that device would suffice to hold in place when powered down. Testing should prove fairly easy.

My opinion is probably worth less than David’s. He has much broader knowledge and experience…

We’re talking pieces of a penny for mine at best! LOL!

But as I think about it a bit more, even the wheels should probably have a grit like surface (sandpaper like) because the beams will be smooth from paint.

This creeping beam crawler/climber is a very novel idea and I think very doable. Hope it come to fruition.

Could magnets be incorporated in anyway?

If you created an RC that had wheels to tension on both sides of the beam with those respective wheels providing driven power. It could be done. Perhaps 6 wheeled. 4 on one side & 2 on the other. Think kinda the way steel roller coasters are but having driven wheels.

I am thinking more like gum rubber, which I think was once used on sumobots. Now I think they use other stuff, like oogoo (an “open source alternative to sugru”).

Problem with magnets is turning them on or off and/or the power they consume (if they’re electromagnets), but still doable.

My thinking is that a single driven wheel on the downside should be able to provide enough driven force and less complication than trying to power multiple wheels. With the payload hanging off the cantilever, I think it’d work. If I sucked less at drawing, I’d draw it up for scrutiny, and if I REALLY sucked less at engineering, I’d CAD it and FAE it and totally show you. But I lack ability, knowledge, and motivation on those fronts, so instead, I speculate. :slight_smile:
Also, I could be very, very wrong… :frowning:

Any specs on the general configuration of these I-beams?
e.g. size of flange (thickness and width), size of web, usually truly vertical or at angles, height generally desired, etc.

No fun I know, but what about just putting a magnet on the camera and using a long extendable pole to stick it wherever however high you want. Then use a grabby hook to pull it off. You could use it on other iron structures besides i beams that way, or just use it as a huge selfie stick. For the ibeam idea i was getting ideas of climbing arms like a praying mantis, with squeezers that would hold the flanges.

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Thanks for all the ideas. I’ve been away from the computer for a few days, but I’ve been reading it. Can I reply from emails and it posts here? Anyway, I’m having difficulty picturing what your thinking David. What is on the inside of the Ibeam holding the device to beam, the wedge? Jast, I was thinking like you and TBJK, but my thinking would have 4 wheels on one side against the outside, then one wheel on each side of the Ibeam on the inside holding the vehicle. Tension would have to be strong, and the wheels would have to be able to spring out to attach, or remove and click back together. Not sure how strong the motor would have to be. I also forgot about the weight of the battery, or pulling a power cord up with it if I use electricity.

I’m definitely not a physics or engineering guy, or I’d be on CAD also. I used to muddle around with Sketchup, I’ll try to get in installed and see if I can draw something up. THIS device with two tracks on outside and two tracks on inside seemed the most feasible to me. It provided grip and stability for the camera. Turning it off remotely would seem to keep it in place also. I don’t know how the underside would be powered or torque applied though.

I’ll go visit a couple of the rinks and look and measure the Ibeams to see if they’re similar. My guess I’ll have to make it adjustable to stretch the wheel base a few inches to accomodate every rink.

Thanks for the thoughts!! I hope there’s something out there that can be modified to work, but I’m also betting not, it’ll have to be scratch built.

I was originally thinking the same, but wanted to avoid having to carry a long pole if I take the camera travelling. And your right, I wanted the cool factor. If I could come up with something to motivate it up as high as a team wanted for a great NHL style view, the camera would sell like hotcakes

I figure this thing is driving up the outside of the I-Beam. There would be at least one wheel on either side of web that is on the “inside” or opposite the outside you’re crawling up. The wheel(s) on the outside of the beam would have some adjustment mechanism that pulls the crawler tight against the beam so the inside and outside wheels are in firm contact with the beam.

Picture the wedges you put behind tires when jacking up a car or trailer so it can roll. Same type of wedges would be behind a wheel(s) so that as gravity moves the crawler down ward it would “climb up” the wedge thus making the grip tighter between the inside and outside wheels. Drive forward (up) to release and the wedge. The wedge would then be moved out of the way so it can crawl backwards.

Does that make sense?

Those are wheel chocks.

One of the downfalls is if it they have items mounted on the I beam. Also another thought it magnets in the wheels/track

we use magnet wheels to create downforce on steel floors, you could just get some hubs and some round rare earth magnets, boom magnet wheels.
usually you can access those steel crossbeams so i think you’d be set.

There are normally no items mounted. I looked for that. There may be a fire alarm up high, but not within 15’ of the floor. I can imagine needing the bot to climb any higher than 20’. I would position it behind the scorekeeper at most rinks because there’s no netting or anything in the way. I would sit in the stands (or as close as I need to for wireless gimbal control and picture transmission) and film the game. It will be the best view in most houses. I also have goalie cams I use currently anyway I could incorporate in the video later.

What is the weight of those? I have no idea what a weight limit for this will be, but I imagine it can’t be much. I also need to keep the cost reasonable. Keep in mind safety also. The rink won’t let me put it up if there’s even a chance it’s going to fall and hit someone.

If I am going to produce this camera system for organizations (some have as many as 10 teams each) to give them an inexpensive filming solution, it’s best if it’s made out of pre-existing manufactured parts, or modified existing RC vehicle. That way it’s quick and easy to put together.

I see electropermanent magnets being used here. Essentially they’re permanent magnets that can be turned on and off as needed.

Sorry took so long, been traveling and filming season has started. I like that idea, but I still have to get the platform up the Ibeam. Also, how big would they have to be, and would their power source be the battery running the camera? Battery would be getting bigger I guess. I could use a power cord and let it hang down and plug the whole thing in I guess.

Rare earth magnets will hold A LOT of weight depending on how big you go.
Russ could drive his 1lb and 3lb bots upside down on a piece of steel. you can get them in a wheel shape, so all you have to do is put a hub on it and you’re good to go.

Here’s an answer from the robot shop I received. I’m not real familiar with
this subject, maybe this is doable?

Hi Roger,

Thank you for contacting RobotShop. The torque needed by the motors to
travel on a flat surface is an order of magnitude less than what is
required to climb a vertical surface. The second issue is the grip needed.
The Bogie Runt Rover is designed for bumpy, yet relatively flat terrain,
and the wheels, although rubber, do not provide significant grip. None of
the robots we offer can climb a surface vertically - you would need to
design one from scratch, and ensure it is as lightweight as possible, has
as much grip as possible (rubber surface with a force pressing it against
the I-beam), and the motors need to be slow and powerful. Some quick ideas:
(lightweight worm gearbox, so it’s self-locking) (consider
tracks which will provide a much larger contact area; perhaps even add
sticky tape. This is directly compatible with the motor above)
You would need to design a mechanism to have the track wrap around the
I-beam; one track on the rear of each side, and perhaps two tracks on the
Other parts which might help:
Adding batteries onboard would greatly increase the weight, unless you
choose a 3.7V LiPo.

Hope this gives you some ideas,

What if it was completely mechanical?
You’d still use wheels and it would clamp on the I-beam like a roller coaster, except you’d use a rope or beaded string in a loop to “pull” the whole device up and down the beam. Pull the rope one way to raise - the other to lower. Gearing would turn the wheels slowly. If the gearing/friction is right, it might not even roll back down unless the rope is pulled the other way. You could possibly have another couple strings to pull to activate or release a brake.

Only issue with this might be some kid pulling the ropes and bringing it down, but, you could put the remaining rope in a cloth drawstring bag and use a magnet hook to hang it high enough up out of the way during the game.

no batteries - no electronics - way cheaper.

That sounds like the plan. So the rope would attach to a manual motor
mechanism, and turn the wheels the way your pulling the rope?