An awesome, futuristic, all-in-one robot chassis


No matter how many advances in electronics we find, we’re constantly surprised at the lack of progress in robot chassis. Sure, it should be a simple task to make a capable robot that looks cool, but aside from the Veter project team, no one else seems to be advancing the state of robot mechanics.

We’ve seen robotic chassis and hardware from the Veter team before, and this new version brings a whole lot more to the table. While the camera. GPS, compass, and ultrasonic sensors are the same from the previous build, there’s a whole lot more software inspired by [Sebastian Thrun]’s autonomous car class to make this build a little more capable.

While the Veter team is using a Beagleboard for their on-board computer, it should be possible to change the hardware over to a more economical Raspberry Pi. Even then, it won’t be a cheap build, but we doubt you’ll find a better robotics platform for less.

[Dino] upgrades his robot chassis

This is the fourth iteration that [Dino] has produced for his all-terrain robot. Just before this it was more of a turtle, with an aluminum pan shell. We think his upgrade to MicroRAX frame parts makes it look a lot better, and lightens the load so it can get around better as well.

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but many of the components are from a Roomba robot. The four motors, and the mainboard are all from units he picked up on eBay. To drive the motors he tapped into the H-bridge signals on the control board using a Seeeduino. His write-up (linked above) shares some of the details regarding the electronics, but the video after the break shows the development and assembly of the new chassis. It’s made from extruded aluminum bars which easily connect to each other with the system’s brackets. To interface with the non-standard parts he makes his own brackets from some aluminum sheet stock. It’s similar to other modular building materials, but the MicroRAX is a great size/weight for a small design like this one.

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Copper-clad enclosures

Building a great looking box for your projects can be a challenge. [Ken] boils down his process of building enclosures out of copper clad (PDF) circuit board material into an illustrated guide in case you want to try this for yourself. Why would you want to use PC board? The fiberglass substrate makes for a strong and lightweight material. Also, [Ken] is a ham radio operator and the copper coating acts as an electrical shield for delicate components inside.

As you can see above he uses solder to tack the pieces together. There’s some important considerations that go along with this method. First, he cuts the pieces just a bit oversized and then sands them flat and square before assembly. Next, he uses some 20 gauge wire as a shim between a ninety-degree joint and a right angle jig. This shim compensates for the shrinking that occurs as the solder cools, making sure the joint gets pulled to a right angle. He even solders nuts in place so that screws can be used to attach the case cover to the chassis.

Yesterday we saw toner transfer used to make labels on an ABS case. If you make your enclosure out of copper clad, using toner transfer for panel labels will be a snap!

Amazing chassis hacks

[Crabfu] pulled off some great chassis work on top of a remote control drivetrain. His most recent build turns the tiny traveler into a lunar rover complete with passenger and a communications array. For this he’s sourced the parts from a toy but boosted the realism with hand-painted details that leave us in awe. His previous project sourced the body from a model truck kit. Once again, it’s the paint work that makes us envious of his skills.

Both projects conceal a Losi 1/24 scale micro rock crawler that provides for some incredible locomotion. See video of both builds after the break.

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