In 2012 I set out to design and build a mobile scenery platform that could move freely on stage overcoming the limitations of a traditional track and winch system. The drawbacks of a traditional winch and track system are; limited travel pattern, set up time, and cost. A winch can only move in a predetermined path and has difficulty making sharp turns. Set up time for a winch and track system is considerable, the track and sub floor must be installed as well as running aircraft cable and installing turn around pulleys.
What I came up with was a compact platform that could fit under a stock 4’ x 4’ or 4’ x 8’ platform. The overall height of the robot with a platform installed is only 9 inches; making it possible for an actor to easily interact with the platform.
Since the initial unit was built I have continued improving the design. To date a total of four separate versions have been made, each solving issues of the last generation. The current version utilizes a Raspberry Pi 4 as the main processor. While the hardware and mechanical design are my own I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with various students over the years to create much of the firmware and software in the latest versions. The project is ongoing, but is available on GitHub.