First off, let me say this—using real steam power is dangerous, and heavy, and just generally not worth it when you have modern alternatives. Except, you know, if you're a Steampunk. Or this guy:
The guy in the above video makes some awesome gadgets, which are unfortunately out of my range of ability. At least, until I get a laser cutter.
Well, I need a laser cutter. You might not, if you have the required precision. Whenever you make gearworks, axles, belts, or any other mechanical methods of delivering power from one place to another, the specifications need to be very precise in order to limit vibration, wobbling, noise, etc. Trust me, you don't want your machines to wobble.
But before you even get to that stage, let me tell you the single most important thing you need to know about working with steam power:
Don't do it. It's so dangerous that I don't even want to think about how badly you could kill or injure yourself trying to do it.
If you're a trained professional, sure, go for it. But if you're a trained professional, why are you reading this article? You already know how to make steam-powered robots, silly!
Anyway, don't fret too badly: there are a number of small-scale, fully-functioning steam engines available for sale. Which, coincidentally, is what the man in the above video is using.
The above engine, which is used in the video, is available for sale on Amazon for $140. A bit expensive, sure, but far less expensive than losing fingers, or your face.
If you're really cool, you could maybe even use a badass Stirling engine like the one below:
The one above is $120 on Amazon, but it's really pretty, isn't it?
Well, it's simple. Engines effectively turn one type of power into another. A steam engine turns the pressure of steam into the turning of a turbine. That turbine either turns an axle, or a wheel, or something else. Either way, you have a turning motion.
Once you have something that turns, you have a motor! You can do any number of things with that, and here's a short list!
- Turn wheels
- Move legs
- Power clockworks
- Spin drills
- Rotate propellers
- Do things with doodads
Especially that last one.
Honestly, there's no set way to do this, so you should let your imagination lead the way!