• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint

Safety First

Okay, so we’re actually talking about it last, but in your work habits, safety should always be uppermost in your mind. Building robots involves power tools, caustic chemicals, high heat, and large, stubborn and sharp-edged components and tools flying across the room (that latter one’s only for those of us with anger management “issues”). Besides the recommendations elsewhere in this chapter of good lighting, adequate ventilation, and use of safety goggles, you should also consider the following:

  • Use disposable gloves whenever handling any caustic chemicals.

  • Make sure to have a paper dust mask and use it whenever doing anything that generates tiny particles of anything (wood, plastic, metal, and so forth).

  • Always have a fire extinguisher nearby if using anything potentially flammable.

  • Have a first aid kit in the house and know how to use it. Also, have an eyecup in your kit that you can use to flush out your eye if you get something in it.

  • Read the labels and instructions on chemicals or on anything else that might be harmful. This might seem obvious, but lots of gadget geeks pride themselves on not reading instructions. This is fine if you’re talking about a digital camera or your new TiVo, but not if you’re talking about your micro-torch and a tube of two-part epoxy. As the Web admonishment goes: RTFM! (Read The Freakin’ Manual!)

  • There are certain items of techno-junk you want to avoid taking apart. TVs can store dangerous amounts of electricity in their circuits, even a long time after you’ve unplugged them. They are best left to TV technicians. Computer monitors can also bite you and should be avoided.

  • Capacitors in any piece of electronics equipment can hold a charge for a long time and are best handled carefully. Never touch both of the leads of a capacitor that’s been in a powered circuit until you’ve “discharged” it (dissipated the stored current). This can be done simply by laying a screwdriver with an insulated rubber handle across the capacitor’s leads.

  • Safety goggles/glasses don’t do much good if you can’t see out of them. Always hang your goggles up. Don’t lay them face down because they can get scratched. Hanging them up also prevents them from getting misshapen. Store safety glasses on their sides or in a case.

  • Obviously, always keep any tools, supplies, materials, or robots that could be harmful out of the reach of children.

  • Be a physics paranoid! Before you undertake anything involving physical motion, think through the physics of what’s happening. What’s going to be moving? What could move that shouldn’t? What could fly off and where would its momentum take it? This is not only a good safety precaution, it’s actually a way of better understanding the physical science of the world around you. Bonus, dude!



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint