Orb Stands

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How to make an orbstand by Lisa

The Orb Stands are used to show off the orbs in places they can't be rolled (for floor protection or other reasons). The stands allow for free rotation in the drive plane (but not steering), and they are also a platform to showcase the light and sound abilities of the Orbs.

Orb Stands -- Construction

Parts list (for each stand)

  • 16 feet of 1-inch square aluminum stock, 1/16" wall thickness. Two 8-foot lengths are perfect and will fit in most cars. (Square stock is available at Alan Steel in Redwood City)
  • (2) Two-piece clamp-on aluminum shaft collars, 1" bore, 1/2" width. McMaster-Carr part number 6436K73
  • (2) 2-1/2 inch long 1/4-20 bolts
  • (2) 1/4-20 nylon lock nuts
  • (4) 1/4 inch washers
  • (4) triangular gussets from 1/8 aluminum sheet. Each is a right triangle 6 1/2 inches on the short sides, cut from Orb shell scrap.
  • (4) 1 1/2 inch rubber crutch tips
  • 6 feet 3/16 pin rod for cross braces


Cost: about $80. Rough breakdown: $50 for the aluminum, $10 for hardware, pin rod, and crutch tips, and $11 for two shaft collars, plus tax/shipping.

Building the stands

The stands operate like sawhorses, with two sets of H-shaped legs that fit inside each other.

  1. Each 8' length of square stock will make one set of legs. Cut three lengths from each: (2) 31-inch legs and a cross-piece that is 29 1/2 inches (for the inside set) or 31 5/8 inches (for the outside set). This will leave several inches of scrap that you can use for welding practice. Neatly deburr all cuts on each leg with a file or grinder. Note that the top cuts of the legs are exposed and deserve special deburring attention.
  2. Drill a 1/4 inch hinge hole through the inside legs 2 inches from the top, and the outside legs 1 inch from the top. Use a drill press to make sure the holes are at right angles to the stock, and a center punch to ensure they are centered.
  3. Butt-weld each cross-piece to two legs 7 inches from the bottom (that is the bottom edge of the cross-piece is 7 inces from the end). Make sure you weld them on the same side as (parallel with) the drill holes. Double-check you are welding the inside cross-piece to the inside legs, and ditto for the outside legs (the hole positions are different). Double-check that the cross-piece is at the bottom (check the holes are at the top).
  4. Cut triangular gussets from the Orb shell scrap (1/8 inch aluminum sheet) using the template. These are right triangles with short sides of 6 1/2 inches. Cut or grind a small bit from the 90-degree angle to allow clearance for the butt weld. Weld a gusset between each leg and the top of the cross-piece. The gusset should be centered on the stock.
  5. Weld the bottom half of a shaft collar to the inside top of each inside leg. Put the bolts into the collar (without the top) to keep the threaded holes clear of spatter and slag.
  6. Clean all welds with a wire brush.
  7. Assemble the two H-pieces by aligning the hinge holes. Bolt them together with the bolt heads pointing towards the inside. Put washers between the head of the bolt and the inside leg, as well as between the nut and the outside leg. Tighten the lock nut firmly but loosely enough so the legs can swing apart.
  8. Drill holes for the pin rod braces. Note that the gussets of the inside legs are closer than the outside legs so start with the insides. Cut and bend the pin rod using an existing leg brace as a template. Use a vise and hammer for a good tight bend.

If you are a superstar, drill one hole for each gusset all the way through. Stick the rod through so it protrudes 1/4 inch or so, then thread it with a die. Put a lock nut over it to capture it but still allow it to swing.

Using the Stands

Set up each stand by opening the legs and installing the cross-braces. Make sure they are on level ground; if they are tippy, shim a leg. (If you want to be anal about it, you can make the shims invisible by putting cardboard or whatever inside the rubber feet. Just remember to remove them again.)

Remove the tops of the shaft collars using a 3/16 hex wrench. The ball-ended ones work best for tightening again when the Orb is in place. DON'T LOSE THE HARDWARE: put it in a zip-lock bag or other safe container.

Using two people, lift an orb into the stand. Lift them by the inside rim of the shell near the axle so the axle is free to fit into the open shaft collars. This is really a two person job: recruit a friend or a bystander. Make sure Orbs are powered down when you do this. When Orbs are on the stands, it's a good idea to disable the steering in software or by unplugging the steering motor controller (beige mini-din connector).

Reinstall the tops of the shaft collars. The bolts should be snug but not tight. Don't overtighten one side: look at the side of the collar to make sure both bolts are tightened roughly equally.

Reverse this procedure to take down the stands. Again, removing the Orbs is a two-person job. Reinstall the shaft collar tops so they are not lost. Also don't lose the cross-braces.