Small-scale prototype coming along

Here’s how things are coming along so far. I’d originally imagined that I’d create the whole chassis setup out of soldered brass tubing in an effort to simulate as much of the full-scale structure as possible. I’ll probably still do that, but for this prototype I realized that I still need to evaluate a lot of the big-picture stuff. I need to verify that counter-steer leaning actually works. I need to see what effect rake angle has on the handling and stability. I also need to build these trickier components — like the steering knuckles — so that I better understand them. It isn’t that the full-size pieces will be exactly the same, but by building them at all, I’ll understand them better.

In the past, I’ve also written about the concept of a treadmill prototype. The idea was to go dead simple and just knock something up to demonstrate the front suspension. That would then have some sort of cable-driven steering input and the idea was to tether that model to a treadmill and see how it behaved. Now that I’ve got it knocked up to an extent, I’ve realized that I won’t be able to do that to the level of precision I’d need to in order to have something useful. So I’m going to do it as a radio controlled prototype so that I’ll have adjustability and precision inputs. I’ll be able to actually drive the thing around. My construction style for now is mostly 1/4″ ply, brass tubing, #6-32 hardware, and then miscellaneous pieces of brass hardware. The body will be in profile and should allow me to mount all the servos, batteries, and other gear needed to turn this into a real test platform.

The most fun I’ve been having with this is not even in the actual build, but in the days on end spent thinking through how to execute some of the precision mechanical pieces needed to do this. What I’ve arrived at is a combination of brass tubing, brass hardware and then soldering everything together with as much precision as I can. Brass is soft enough that I can sand it to precision, and the soldering lets me build surprisingly complex joints that are tough enough to stay together without being sloppy like wood or plastic. In time, I probably will do a true miniature Streetliner made out of brass tubing and even with a scale body in place. But first things first — have to prove that it works first.

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