Open Source Rover Gets An Update For Easier Building

Once upon a time, NASA-JPL put out a design for an open-source rocker-bogie rover. It was an impressive and capable thing, albeit a little expensive and difficult to build. Now, the open source community has dived in and refreshed the design, making it cheaper and more accessible than ever before.

Many parts of the original design have either become prohibitively expensive, gone out of stock, or been discontinued entirely. The new version, developed by the community that formed around the project, focuses on using off-the-shelf parts to bring costs down. Where the original design could cost as much as $3000 to build, the new model slashes that bill almost in half. It also eliminates any need for anything custom fabricated, with no machined or 3D printed parts required.

Other optimizations include cutting the rover’s head out from the basic model, as it’s not necessary for a great deal of applications. There is also better fluid and dust ingress protection, and improved serviceability. The entire rover model can also be loaded in OnShape for those desiring to inspect it or make their own modifications.

Parts lists are on GitHub for those desiring to build their own. Alternatively, check out the original design to learn more. Video after the break.

9 thoughts on “Open Source Rover Gets An Update For Easier Building

  1. My kids and I built an equally capable one for ~$100. I bought a few broken used hover boards for $50. Most broken hoverboards are just cracked at the plastic central pivot or charger port connection. Electrically they’re pretty robust. The motors can be controlled by just removing the in-line I2C resistors between the accelerometer and controller. We wrote code that pretends to be the accelerometer. You could use the solid hoverboard tires, but we replaced them with some $8 pneumatic hand-truck tires (no air or tube since the rover weight is low). No rocker goofy, just a pivot between the left and right side. It patrols our 20 acres with a webcam. Auto-home wireless charging RTK, etc. Been running non-stop for a couple years now.

    1. looks wonderful I have been stymied because I cant get the RioRand 350W 6-60V PWM DC to work on a project to build a platform that i can mount a basket on to deliver small stuff Welded a steel frame out 1″ square tube. Can you share code? Seriously, your work is beautiful. I’ll put a small trailer behind mine that will be able drop off

    2. So, $100 for the Hoverboard motors, how much were the rest of the parts ? :)

      I built the SAWPPY rover a few years ago and also spent $100(vs. the $500 BOM), but that was because I was only missing the OpenBeam and had all the wiring, 3D-printing filament, Arduino, motor drivers and everything else(save for some screws) on-hand.

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