Scratch Built Tracked Robot Reporting For Duty

Inspired by battle-hardened military robots, [Engineering Juice] wanted to build his own remote controlled rover that could deliver live video from the front lines. But rather than use an off-the-shelf tracked robot chassis, he decided to design and 3D print the whole thing from scratch. While the final product might not be bullet proof, it certainly doesn’t seem to have any trouble traveling through sand and other rough terrain.

Certainly the most impressive aspect of this project is the roller chain track and suspension system, which consists of more than 200 individual printed parts, fasteners, bearings, and linkages. Initially, [Engineering Juice] came up with a less complex suspension system for the robot, but unfortunately it had a tendency to bind up during testing. However the new and improved design, which uses four articulated wheels on each side, provides an impressive balance between speed and off-road capability.

Internally there’s a Raspberry Pi 4 paired with an L298 dual H-bridge controller board to drive the heavy duty gear motors. While the Pi is running off of a standard USB power bank, the drive motors are supplied by a custom 18650 battery pack utilizing a 3D printed frame to protect and secure the cells. A commercial night vision camera solution that connects to the Pi’s CSI header is mounted in the front, with live video being broadcast back to the operator over WiFi.

To actually control the bot, [Engineering Juice] has come up with a Node-RED GUI that’s well suited to a smartphone’s touch screen. Of course with all the power and flexibility of the Raspberry Pi, you could come up with whatever sort of control scheme you wanted. Or perhaps even go all in and make it autonomous. It looks like there’s still plenty of space inside the robot for additional hardware and sensors, so we’re interested to see where things go from here.

Got a rover project in mind that doesn’t need the all-terrain capability offered by tracks? A couple of used “hoverboards” can easily be commandeered to create a surprisingly powerful wheeled platform to use as a base.

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RC Starship Perfects Its Skydiving Routine

There’s a good chance you already saw SpaceX’s towering Starship prototype make its impressive twelve kilometer test flight. While the attempt ended with a spectacular fireball, it was still a phenomenal success as it demonstrated a number of concepts that to this point had never been attempted in the real world. Most importantly, the “Belly Flop” maneuver which sees the 50 meter (160 foot) long rocket transition from vertical flight to a horizontal semi-glide using electrically actuated flight surfaces.

Finding himself inspired by this futuristic spacecraft, [Nicholas Rehm] has designed his own radio controlled Starship that’s capable of all the same aerobatic tricks as the real-thing. It swaps the rocket engines for a pair of electric brushless motors, but otherwise, it’s a fairly accurate recreation of SpaceX’s current test program vehicle. As you can see in the video after the break, it’s even able to stick the landing. Well, sometimes anyway.

Just like the real Starship, vectored thrust is used to both stabilize the vehicle during vertical ascent and help transition it into and out of horizontal flight. Of course, there are no rocket nozzles to slew around, so [Nicholas] is using servo-controlled vanes in the bottom of the rocket to divert the airflow from the motors. Servos are also used to control the external control surfaces, which provide stability and a bit of control authority as the vehicle is falling.

As an interesting aside, Internet sleuths looking through pictures of the Starship’s wreckage have noted that SpaceX appears to be actuating the flaps with gearboxes driven by Tesla motors. The vehicle is reportedly using Tesla battery packs as well. So while moving the control surfaces on model aircraft with battery-powered servos might historically have been a compromise to minimize internal complexity, here it’s actually quite close to the real thing.

Unfortunately, the RC Starship made a hard landing of its own on a recent test flight, so [Nicholas] currently has to rebuild the craft before he can continue with further development. We’re confident he’ll get it back in the air, though it will be interesting to see whether or not he’s flying before SpaceX fires off their next prototype.

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RC Lawn Mower Keeps The Grass Greener On Your Side Of The Fence

For some people, mowing the lawn is a dreaded chore that leads to thoughts of pouring a concrete slab over the yard and painting it green. Others see it as the perfect occasion to spend a sunny afternoon outside. And then there are those without the luxury of having a preference on the subject in the first place. [elliotmade] for example has a friend who’s sitting in a wheelchair, and would normally have to rely on others to maintain his lawn and form an opinion on the enjoyability of the task. So to retain his friend’s independence, he decided to build him a remote-controlled lawn mower.

After putting together an initial proof of concept that’s been successfully in use for a few years now, [elliotmade] saw some room for improvement and thought it was time for an upgrade. Liberating the drive section of an electric wheelchair, he welded a frame around it to house the battery and the mower itself, and added an alternator to charge the battery directly from the mower’s engine. An RC receiver that connects to the motor driver is controlled by an Arduino, as well as a pair of relays to switch both the ignition and an electric starter that eliminates the need for cord pulling. Topping it off with a camera, the garden chores are now comfortably tackled from a distance, without any issues of depth perception.

Remote-controlling a sharp-bladed machine most certainly requires a few additional safety considerations, and it seems that [elliotmade] thought this out pretty well, so failure on any of the involved parts won’t have fatal consequences. However, judging from the demo video embedded after break, the garden in question might not be the best environment to turn this into a GPS-assisted, autonomous mower in the future. But then again, RC vehicles are fun as they are, regardless of their shape or size.

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The Evolution Of A 3D Printed Off-Road R/C Car

For about as long as hackers and makers have been using desktop 3D printers, there have been critics that say the plastic parts they produce aren’t good for much else than toys and decorative pieces. They claim that printed parts are far too fragile to be of any practical use, and are better suited as prototype placeholders until the real parts can be injection molded or milled. Sure. Try telling that to [Engineering Nonsense].

He recently wrote in (as did a few other people, incidentally) to share the latest version of his incredible 3D printed remote control car, and seeing it tearing around in the video after the break, “fragile” certainly isn’t a word we’d use to describe it. Though it didn’t get that way overnight. The Tarmo4 represents a year of development, and as the name suggests, is the fourth version of the design.

We know the purists out there will complain that the car isn’t entirely 3D printed, but honestly, it’s hard to imagine you could get much closer than this. Outside of the electronics, fasteners, tires, and shocks, the Tarmo4 is all plastic. That includes the gearbox and drive shafts. [Engineering Nonsense] even mentions in the video that he’s not happy with the tires he’s found on the market, and that they too will likely get replaced with printed versions in the future.

While the car is certainly an incredible technical achievement, what’s perhaps just as impressive is the community that’s developed around it in such a relatively short time. Towards the end of the video he shows off a number of custom builds based on previous iterations of the Tarmo. We’re sure that interest from the community has played a part in pushing the design forward, and it’s always good to see a one-off project become something bigger. Hopefully we’ll be seeing even more from this passionate community in the near future.

Just like the Open R/C Project, Tarmo proves that 3D printed parts are more than a novelty. If these diminutive powerhouses can run with printed gears and drive shafts, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about when you run off the parts for your next project.

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The Crustacean Battle Bot Of Your Nightmares

We’ve all seen a movie or TV show that got our imagination going, and the more studious of us might get fired up over a good book (one without pictures, even). You never know were inspiration might come from, which is why it’s so hard to track down in the first place. But one place we don’t often hear about providing many hackers with project ideas is the grocery store. But of course the more we learn about [Michael Kohn], the more we realize he’s got a very unique vision.

On a recent trip to the grocery store, [Michael] saw a two pack of frozen lobsters and thought they would make fine battling robots. You know, as one does. Unfortunately the process of taking a frozen lobster and turning it into a combat droid (which incidentally does include eating the thing at some point in the timeline) ended up being so disgusting that he only finished one of them. Whether that makes this poor fellow the winner or loser though…that’s a question that will require some contemplation.

The first step was cooking and eating the beast, and after that came cleaning the shell of as much remaining meat and innards as possible. He then baked it in a toaster oven for 40 minutes and let it sit for a couple of days to make sure it didn’t have any residual smell. Once he confirmed the shell was clean, he glued it back together and got started on mounting it to his hardware.

A wooden frame under the lobster holds the dual HD-1711MG mini servos that power the karate chop action of the claws, as well as the electronics. [Michael] used a ATtiny85 and NTD4963N MOSFETs to make a basic RC platform which responds to IR from a Syma S107 toy helicopter controller. He tried to power everything with AAA and then AA batteries, but found they just didn’t give him the juice he needed once the bot got going. So the final version utilizes a 5 V regulator and a standard RC 7.2v LiPO battery pack.

If you’re not big on shellfish, never fear. He’s created similar roving contraptions based around sausages and carrots too. One could say he’s truly a man of refined…taste.

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Hackaday Links: February 4th, 2018

Here’s something remarkably displeasant. Can you cook a steak with glue? [Dom] and [Chris] from ExplosiveDischarge have cooked a steak using a huge, huge amount of two-part epoxy. The chemistry behind this is just the exothermic reaction when two-part epoxy kicks off, and yes, the steak (a very thin cut) was sufficiently wrapped and protected from the hot sticky goo. What were the results? An overcooked steak, actually. This isn’t a sous vide setup where the temperature ramps up to 50°C and stays there — the temperature actually hit 80°C at its peak. There are a few ways to fix this, either by getting a thicker cut of steak, adding some bizarre water cooling setup to keep the temperature plateaued at a reasonable temperature.

This is your weekly reminder for the Repairs You Can Print contest.

We’ve got a twofer for awesome remote-controlled hovering stuff. The first is a 1:8 scale Harrier. This plane designed and built by [Joel Vlashof] will be a reasonably accurate model of a Harrier, capable of VTOL. It’s built around a huge 130mm EDF, powered by 2x6s lipos, and stabilized with a kk2.1 flight controller with VTOL software. This is as accurate a Harrier that you’re going to get in such a small format, and has the cool little spinny vanes that allow the beast to transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

Want some more cool hovering things? [Tom Stanton] is building a remote controlled Chinook. Yes, that helicopter with two main rotors. The usual way of doing this is with proper helicopter control systems like collectives and Jesus nuts. [Tom]’s building this version with standard quadcopter technology, mounting a motor to a servo, and doubling it up, and mounting it on a frame. In effect, this RC Chinook is the tail boom of a tricopter doubled up on a single frame. It does fly, and he’s even built a neat foamboard body for it.

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is going to do something next Tuesday, sometime in the afternoon, east coast time. Whatever happens, it’s going to be spectacular.

Hey, it’s time for a poll. I need to decide between ‘tide pod’ and ‘solo jazz’. For what I’m doing, the cost and effort are the same, I just need to know which is more aesthetic, cool, or whatever. Right now it’s 50:50. One must be crowned victorious!

Here’s the stupidest thing you’re going to see all year. That’s someone looping a quadcopter in front of a Frontier A320 (Probably. Seems too big for a 319 and too small for a 321) on approach. This guy is 3.6 miles East of runway 25L at McCarran Internation in Las Vegas, at an altitude far above the 400-foot limit. Judging from the video and the wingspan, this quad came within 200 feet of a plane carrying at least 150 people. It’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen, so don’t do it. It’ll be great to see the guy responsible for this in jail.

Half Baked IoT Stove Could Be Used As A Remote Controlled Arson Device

[Pen Test Partners] have found some really scary vulnerabilities in AGA range cookers. They are connected by SMS by which a mobile app sends an unauthenticated SMS to the AGA to give it commands for instance preheat the oven, You can also just tell your AGA to turn everything on at once.

The problem is with the web interface; it allows an attacker to check if a user’s cell phone is already registered, allowing for a slow but effective enumeration attack. Once the attacker finds a registered device, all they need to do is send an SMS, as messages are not authenticated by the cooker, neither is the SIM card set up to send the messages validated when registered.

This is quite disturbing, What if someone left a tea towel on the hob or some other flammable material before leaving for work, only to come back to a pile of ashes?  This is a six-gazillion BTU stove and oven, after all. It just seems the more connected we are in this digital age the more we end up vulnerable to attacks, companies seem too busy trying to push their products out the door to do simple security checks.

Before disclosing the vulnerability, [Pen Test Partners] tried to contact AGA through Twitter and ended up being blocked. They phoned around trying to get in contact with someone who even knew what IoT or security meant. This took some time but finally they managed to get through to someone from the technical support. Hopefully AGA will roll out some updates soon. The company’s reluctance to do something about this security issue does highlight how sometimes disclosure may not be enough.

[Via Pen Test Partners]