Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tankbot Prototype

So I think this year is going to be more of a hardware year for me.  I had a lot of fun with software and I'm still working on AstroMiner (made some good multiplayer updates this week), but this hardware stuff is really fun as well.

I've been slowly learning different things with the Arduino.  Ping sensor.  Controlling servos.  Controlling motors. Building an opamp.  My big end goal is to make some kind of UAV, but I need to take baby steps to get there too.

I posted about my little robot last week.  He's neat, but he doesn't have much traction and that box is super heavy.  It's also put together with an Erector set.  I wanted to see if I could go to the next stage with him.  First thing I did was order tank treads and a dual motor gearbox.  That allows me to control each side independently, much like I do with the current bot.  Motors are a lot faster than servos though.

Next step was to build a better base.  I saw this awesome moldable plastic on Inventables and ordered that.  I've been toying around with it tonight.  You basically heat this stuff up to 140 degrees in water.  When you take it out, you can mold it almost instantly.  You can continue to mold it until it cools down to ~70 degrees.  As it cools off, it gets harder and harder.  If you don't like what you've molded, simply reheat and start over.

The down side is that if it gets too hot, the stuff will remelt.  When it comes to prototyping, though, it's pretty hard to beat.  That is, unless you have some cardboard.

So that's the basic shape that I'm thinking (minus the obvious lean).  The Arduino and motor drivers will fit inside of the bot itself and the batteries can sit up front or along the back.  I can throw a little ping sensor on the top with a servo that rotates around.

I'm going to start off with a generic object avoider like the last bot.  Once that's done, I'm going to hook him up to a remote control and make it so I can control him with that.  After that, who knows.  GPS waypoints?

So that's what I'm working on for the next couple weeks.  Next step is to finalize the actual body of the little dude and then make it using the plastic.  Once I have a design I like, I'll reinforce it with aluminum or something and go forward from there.

Family Photo :]
Until next time ~