Scrap Wood and Metal Combined for DIY Mecanum Wheels

Some scrap wood, a few pieces of sheet metal, a quartet of old gear motors, and a few basic hand tools. That’s all it takes to build an omni-bot with Mecanum wheels, if you’ve got a little know-how too.

For the uninitiated, Mecanum wheels can rotate in any direction thanks to a series of tapered rollers around the circumference that are canted 45° relative to the main axle.  [Navin Khambhala]’s approach to Mecanum wheel construction is decidedly low tech and very labor intensive, but results in working wheels and a pretty agile bot. The supports for the rollers are cut from sheet steel and bent manually to hold the wooden rollers, each cut with a hole saw and tapered to a barrel shape on a makeshift lathe. Each wheel is connected directly to a gear motor shaft, and everything is mounted to a sheet steel chassis. The controls are as rudimentary as the construction methods, but the video below shows what a Mecanum-wheeled bot can do.

There’s a lot of room here for improvement, but mainly in the manufacturing methods. The entire wheel could be 3D printed, for instance, or even laser cut from MDF with a few design changes. But [Navin] scores a win for making a working wheel and a working bot from almost nothing.

Thanks for the tips, [Karl Rosenqvist]!

24 thoughts on “Scrap Wood and Metal Combined for DIY Mecanum Wheels

  1. I’m impressed with all of the stuff he has made, and to do that sheet-metal work without a single cut on his hands too! I’ve seen some dirty, ugly and banged up paws on DIY videos but this guy seems to have the dexterity of a surgeon.

  2. Amazing result from low-tech tools (no 3D printers or laser cutters). Sure, one could optimize and polish many things, but right now the robot is doing what is was supposed to do.

      1. All Mecanum wheels are omni-wheels but not all omni-wheels are Mecanum wheels. Omni-wheels were patented in early 1900s. Mecanum came in the 70s and was a brand name. The critical design element is that the rollers are set at 45degrees. 45 makes it a Mecanum specifically. >45< makes an ordinary omni-wheel.

  3. Mecanum wheels are great and we’ll done for making a simple chassis and drive.

    But the nut and screw axles on the mecanum rollers made no sense to me.
    A screw rotating in a larger nut.
    So easy to just use a small shanked bolt screwed into the inset nuts and let it rotate on the shank in the metal holder rather than letting it rotate thread on thread.
    Or simpler and more in keeping with the design.
    Just a simple wood screw through the metal into the roller.

  4. It’s looking like Home Depot (or large hardware store chain of choice) is the new Radio Shack for bot builders! there’s nothing he used that couldn’t be found in the right aisles or parts of products sold there.

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