DualGrip-NXT Rover

Sometimes I build robots that attempt to solve real world challenges.  Other times, robots are built based on random ideas. This robot is a case of solving a LEGO challenge – specifically, with their Technic tracks/treads #575518.  At no fault of theirs, these plastic tracks are slippery on many surfaces.  Great for carpets, flat areas, dirt (if you dare) – and great for turning as well.  However, when you try to climb with them, they are as slick as ice.


If you Google them, you will find some great ideas on making these treads more ‘sticky’.  Some have used 1/2 Technic pins (which fit nicely into the supplied holes), others have used elastics wrapped around them – all great ideas that work fine.  I attacked the challenge from a different angle.  The result is DG – or Dual Grip (yes, the name is somewhat plain).  DG went through numerous revisions as I worked out kinks related to weight, stability, traction, sensors, flex etc.  At the bottom I have included some pictures on previous versions of DG – some changes significant, others subtle.



The idea was to have a treaded robot that could navigate varying terrain, turn quickly and of course, climb.  Based on my experience with my other robots using the same tracks (eg UNV and DynaTrax), I found that they were not very good when it came to inclines.  I figured that the LEGO rubber wheels have great traction on most surfaces, so why not slap a set of them along with the treads.  However, this posed another challenge.  I did not want both wheel systems in contact with the ground at all times as this would make turning tougher and be redundant.

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WiFiCamBot

Jan 2008:

WifiCamBot was one of my adventures in building a robot that could be remotely driven around while transmitting video via a live feed through an IP-based network camera wirelessly.

WiFiCamBot_Side

The idea came from my wanting to do something simple. Survey underneath my deck to see what sort of critters etc were making a home there. The deck was high enough for a rover-like vehicle to fit and drive around. I did not want to have wires tethered to the system, so I used a Panasonic BL-C30 WiFi camera with a built-in webservr to transmit live video via the web.

In this case, I have a webserver where I created a subdomain specifically for the camera to broadcast its info to. Loaded the Java components to receive the streaming video and render it on the site. The site also allows for remote control of the camera via WiFi. So, the entire robot, power and electronics are all onboard. There were a few challenges with this approach. 1) Power – The Wifi camera required 12 volts dedicated power. I did this by wiring 2 battery packs together in series (required a custom modified motor wire). This also added a fair bit of weight to the robot. In total there are 2 battery packs for the WifiCam and 1 for the PowerFunctions motors. That is 18 AA batteries. No worries though – the PF motors still have lots of torque.

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