05 July 2012

Electronics - Building a Robotic platform for my show! - Part 1

This post has a lot of "tech-talk". If you're not into electronics/robotics then you can skip this post! This is my contribution to the robotics community..

I started the idea of building a robotic platform for my EFX show. The big idea is to have a platform that I can put props or set on, and it will move to position on stage automatically! The final product should be a platform that is strong enough to have someone stand on (me). But that is further ahead... I should first start small.

The inspiration came when I first set my eyes on these!
Omni-directional wheels!

I was thinking of something easy to build, and strong enough to move at least a 10kg load. So I started this project using servos and some simple controllers.

I bought bunch of controllers and drivers from Pololu to experiment! (And a Wii Controller to mod! ;-)

Figuring out a way to attach the wheels to my servos

 The wheels weren't designed to be driven by servos, so I had to make some modifications. I'm not exactly proud of this solution.. :-P
 Servo horns held together with cable ties >.<

 Looks ugly, but hey it works!

I modified these servos for continuous rotation, see my previous post HERE

Mounting them directly to a cabinet... ?

Maybe not.. I've decided to build them on an acrylic board in case I change my mind, also makes it easy to do experiments on my desk..

Figuring a way to mount the servos... 

Not bad...


Testing it out!

I've decided to use a "Pololu servo controller" for this project. Not only is it tiny for its function, it is easy to use and you can expand it by adding your own codings! It also provides digital outputs to all its channels, which will come in useful in later parts of the project!

Connecting the servos and power supply to the board! I'm using a 3s Lipo battery and a voltage regulator UBEC 6V 3Amp to drive these.. 

Finally... Compiling the codes and getting it to work!


Lastest update: This project ended up in my trash bin! Because of the frustration trying to get the servos to sync at the exact same speed, it is almost impossible to get it to run at a precise straight-line. Bad idea to drive this project using self-modified continuous servo. I've since figured out a new method... Look out for my next post!

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