Few things build excitement like going to space. It captures the imagination of young and old alike. Teachers love to leverage the latest space news to raise interest in their students, and space agencies are happy to provide resources to help. The latest in a long line of educator resources released by NASA is an Open Source Rover designed at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
JPL is the birthplace of Mars rovers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. They’ve been researching robotic explorers for decades, so it’s no surprise they have many rovers running around. The open source rover’s direct predecessor is ROV-E, whose construction process closely followed procedures for engineering space flight hardware. This gave a team of early career engineers experience in the process before they built equipment destined for space. In addition to learning various roles within a team, they also learned to work with JPL resources like submitting orders to the machine shop to make ROV-E parts.
Once completed, ROV-E became a fixture at JPL public events and occasionally visits nearby schools as part of educational outreach programs. And inevitably a teacher at the school would ask “The kids love ROV-E! Can we make our own rover?” Since most schools don’t have 5-axis CNC machines or autoclaves to cure carbon fiber composites, the answer used to be “No.”
Continue reading “Six Wheels (En)rolling: Mars Rovers Going To School”
[Navin Khambhala] is a master at making simple what most would expect to be a complex build. Now he’s done it again with a remote controlled robot that can easily climb steps and role over rough terrain. The parts count is small and many of them are commonly available.
The suspension that makes it all possible is the rocker-bogie. It’s the same suspension we’ve all seen used by the various rovers ambling around on Mars. The whole frame is made of PVC pipes with some connecting metal bars, and each wheel has its own twelve-volt DC motor. Motor control is done simply with a module that combines the 2.4 GHz receiver with motor controllers. When you watch the video below, note where only one hole is drilled through the PVC for making connections instead of two holes. Where there’s only one hole, the two sections of PVC are free to rotate independently of each other. Turning the robot is done by rotating the wheels on one side in one direction and the wheels on the other side in the opposite direction. This is called a differential drive or tank drive, and we’ve highlighted it before for use in making hamster-drive type BB-8 droids.
Continue reading “Simple Step-Climbing Robot Climbs Like It’s On Mars”
Yep, we have a Sci-Fi contest on our hands, with a week to go until entries are due. There are amazing prizes for the best Sci-Fi build, but in the spirit of the Internet, a few teams have elected to put together a science nonfiction project. We won’t hold that against them, because these builds are really, really cool.
Rockin’ bogie, man
First up in the ‘real life science fiction’ category is an adorable little rocker bogie robot designed and built by a team at MADspace, the Eindhoven Hackerspace.
A rocker bogie suspension is rather unique in that it can be used to drive over obstacles twice the size of the wheels, has a zero turning radius, and is found on every rover that has ever gone to Mars. The suspension system has articulated rockers on each side of the chassis , with pivoting wheels at each of the four corners of the robot. While this type of suspension can’t go very fast, it can go just about anywhere.
The team loaded up their bot with a Raspberry Pi, a pair of webcams, 20Ah of batteries, gyro, and a web interface. The suspension works beautifully, and most of the parts are 3D printable. Very cool. There’s a pair of videos with this bot in action below.
Spider bot. Just add two more legs.
Continuing on with the science nonfiction theme of this post is a cute little hexapod walker reminiscent of designs that have been proposed to visit the moon and asteroids.
This is a rather unique hexapod, controlled entirely with 12 PWM channels on an ATMega1284. Although each leg only has two degrees of freedom (the software has support for 3 DOF, though) the movement is surprisingly smooth. It’s an inexpensive build, too, with 5 gram servos providing all the power to the legs. Video below.
Continue reading “Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Science Nonfiction”
Open-source Mars rover
[Seth King] wasn’t satisfied with current robotics platforms that don’t work well outdoors. He started the Open Rover Kickstarter with the end goal of having a 6-wheel robot with a rocker-bogie suspension just like the Mars landers. We’re sure it’ll be an interesting platform.
Adding a Flash to a key fob video camera
[doctormord] picked up a key fob “spycam” and was surprised that there wasn’t any onboard illumination. Then again, that would probably defeat the purpose of the “spycam.” A transistor, LED and resistor later (translation), he had a camera with a light. Pics here.
Automated WEP cracking
This is a video of [Elliott] using his autocrack script to crack a WEP wi-fi network. It took [Elliott] less than a minute to crack a network he set up. Lesson: don’t use WEP.
Adding wi-fi to a laptop the fast way
This laptop used to have a broken Mini-PCIe wi-fi adapter. [Mikko] fixed the wireless by taking out the old card and hooking up a USB wi-fi adapter. He soldered the USB leads directly to the back of an internal USB port and used hot glue “to prevent bad things from happening.” A very easy, fast, and cheap way of fixing a broken wireless adapter.
Han Solo’s soldering iron
When [Craig] was 15, he broke the Bakelite casing of his father’s soldering iron. Being a good son, he fixed it by gutting his original Star Wars Han Solo blaster. Nice, but not as great as Starsong from My Little Pony.
This little rover gets around on rough terrain pretty well. [Dean Segovis] built it using parts from a Roomba. The Roomba uses wheels in conjunction with gearboxes that handle a lot of the dirty work in getting this prototype going. [Dean] grabbed four of them, as well as the motor controller board and batter, and installed them on this Rocker-bogie suspension. In the video after the break he mentions that this would be quite a good climber if the batter were relocated to the center of the body. An ultrasonic sensor adds obstacle avoidance with and Arduino taking care of the processing. We can’t wait to see future versions of the Roomba’s rough-and-tumble outdoor cousin.
Continue reading “All terrain Roomba”