John Saunders’ YouTube videos helped him build a global network
ZANESVILLE – A local machine shop will soon have its footprint in one of the nation’s most prestigious science museums.
While they cannot release the name of the museum, Saunders Machine Works has been working with Beatty Robotics on a replica of the NASA Curiosity Mars Rover that will be on display.
The robot is a highly-interactive, one-tenth scale, functional replica of the Curiosity Mars Rover.
John Saunders, owner of Saunders Machine Works, said the robot is 17 inches long, 20 inches wide and 12 inches high.
“The Curiosity on Mars is about the size of a car, so much bigger than the one we are building parts for,” Saunders said.
NASA’s Curiosity is designed to explore Gale Crater on Mars as part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on Nov. 26, 2011, aboard the MSL spacecraft and landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012.
The replica includes a Six Wheel Drive System, a fully-functional Rocker-Bogie Suspension System, servo steering, a functional differential bar, a 360-degree camera turret, 3D LIDAR sensing, autonomous behavior, radio data transmission – all as per the real Curiosity.
“We are machining the wheels as well as several other parts,” Saunders said.
Four years ago Saunders, a YouTube star and Zanesville native, returned to his hometown from Manhattan to raise his family.
While working a desk job in Manhattan, Saunders wanted to build a better rifle target. Not knowing where to start, he dived into training videos, absorbing as much information as possible, until he was well-versed in the machining process.
Saunders said YouTube was a great source of information when he started machining.
After filming a few promotional videos to spotlight some of the products produced in his machine shop, Saunders decided to do a tutorial on machine operation.
The video was so well received that Saunders continued to produce regular YouTube videos. He has now built a fan base of more than 230,000 subscribers.
“I love metalworking, and this channel serves as a way to ‘pay it forward’ to all those who have helped me learn,” Saunders said.
It is through his YouTube tutorials that Saunders has built a network of business associates expanding the globe, including his relationship with Beatty Robotics.
Beatty Robotics builds custom robots for museums, science centers, and aerospace companies around the world. Interestingly, the company is owned by North Carolina teenage sisters, Camille and Genevieve Beatty, who started the company when they were 11 and 9 years old.
Two of the NASA-style Mars Rovers, on display at the New York Hall of Science, are named in their honor.
Thursday NASA announced that the Curiosity rover, that has been on Mars for eight years, discovered organic matter in soil samples taken from three billion-year-old mudstone in the Gale crater. The rover has also detected methane in the Martian atmosphere.
The evidence, according to a NASA press conference, suggests that Mars could have supported ancient life.
Saunders said the capabilities of the rover, as well as robotics in general, are amazing.
“I’m really excited to be a part of this project,” Saunders said.
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