How to Make Your Own Actobotics Catalog

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Before we can start building our leaf grinding robot entry in the Servo City #AHA, we have to discover what #Actobotics components are available. Naturally, the easiest and surest way to accomplish this task is by using the Servo City Web site. With 100s of parts, components, tools, and fasteners to choose from, wading through all of these aluminum baubles can be very challenging. Similarly, if your net connection speed is sporadic or your time connected to a WiFi pipe is limited, you aren’t going to get much meaningful work done.

Now throw in the requirement for downloading the 100s of Actobotics CAD STEP files for designing a robot in a computer-based design environment and you’ve got some real trouble trying to meet a deadline. As such, you’ll spend way too much time online rather than spending time on the job of building your project.

One answer to beating these connectivity issues is to make your own Actobotics catalog! Using a more conventional Adobe PDF digital version or, even, a pasted-up scrapbook analog version simply won’t give you all of the wealth of information that the online version gives you–for example, access to STEP files for easy insertion into your 3D design program. A much better alternative is to create an exact reproduction of the entire Servo City Web site that you can access and analyze offline to your heart’s content. And to achieve this desired goal, we need a Web site copier.

The Web site copier that I used for building my own offline Actobotics catalog is HTTrack. HTTrack is a free Windows or Linux utility that laboriously builds a complete and exact “mirror” of the entire Servo City Web site complete with all text, images, PDF manuals, and, most importantly, STEP files.

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The setup is fairly simple. Just pick the URL that you wish to copy (www.servocity.com), give it a name (Actobotics), catalog it (Work), and start the download process.

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HTTrack quickly downloads everything, converts all links into relative links, and builds a local set of directories matching the Web site. If your download is interrupted, HTTrack will pick up where it left off when a connection is reestablished. If Servo City adds some new products (and they do add new goodies all of the time), HTTrack can update your local offline site with these new items.

When all of the dust clears, HTTrack has built you a terrific offline Actobotics catalog that you can copy to other devices and access locally from any Web browser. Now when you need the specs on a piece of 18″ Aluminum Channel (#585462), you’ve got it. BAM! Oops, I need the STEP file for designing my project; it’s already on your computer ready to use. ZAP!

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There are a couple of caveats, however. First, no active content will be downloaded to your homebrew offline Actobotics catalog. As you can see in the above “Welcome” page, the Servo City “spinning” banner was not downloaded by HTTrack. Furthermore, you will need a big storage drive and a lot of time for grabbing a complete Actobotics catalog. For example, my offline catalog is over 500Mb worth of data, in excess of 7000 files, and took over 4 hours to download. And I still haven’t grabbed the entire Servo City Web site, either! Luckily, HTTrack allows me to resume my catalog building chore whenever I have some spare connection time. And spare time is becoming more scarce as this competition heats up.

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