Build Yourself A Screw Propelled Robot To Tackle The Dirt

Wheels and tracks are common choices for robot propulsion, but they’re not the only game in town. You can do some nifty things with long extruded screws , and they work pretty well in soft terrain. [gokux] set about building a small robot using this propulsion method using 3D printed parts.

The build uses a Seeed Studio XIAO ESP32S3 as the brains of the operation. This provides wireless connectivity for remote control, as well as a way to get a low-latency video feed out of the robot from the OV2640 camera. The ESP32 controls a pair of brushed DC gearmotors via a DRV8833 motor driver. Each drives one of the two screws on the robot. By driving the two screws separately, the robot has simple skid steering. Two 18650 lithium-ion cells provide power for the robot, and are charged via a TP4056 battery charger module.

If you want to build a small robot that can handle soft terrain well, screw drives could be just the solution you’re looking for. They’re usually a bit slow, though, especially for human-scale conveyances, so don’t write off wheels or tracks if you don’t have to. And, of course, when your build is done, don’t forget to put it online and tell us all about it!

A Non-Infinite But Arbitrariliy Large Number Of Video Feeds

It’s pretty common to grab a USB webcam when you need something monitored. They’re quick and easy now, most are plug-and-play on almost every modern OS, and they’re cheap. But what happens when you need to monitor more than a few things? Often this means lots of cameras and additional expensive hardware to support the powerful software needed, but [moritz simon geist] and his group’s Madcam software can now do the same thing inexpensively and simply.

Many approaches were considered before the group settled on using PCI to handle the video feeds. Obviously using just USB would cause a bottleneck, but they also found that Ethernet had a very high latency as well. They also tried mixing the video feeds from Raspberry Pis, without much success either. Their computer is a pretty standard AMD with 4 GB of RAM running Xubuntu as well, so as long as you have the PCI slots needed there’s pretty much no limit to what you could do with this software.

At first we scoffed at the price tag of around $500 (including the computer that runs the software) but apparently the sky’s the limit for how much you could spend on a commercial system, so this is actually quite the reduction in cost. Odds are you have a desktop computer anyway, and once you get the software from their Github repository you’re pretty much on your way.┬áSo far the creators have tested the software with 10 cameras, but it could be expanded to handle more. It would be even cooler if you could somehow incorporate video feeds from radio sources!

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