This one has been great fun! We spent a lot of time pushing the driving capabilities of this vehicle to see what it can do. In a general sense… it’s too fast for some robotics applications as-is but has great potential so we got started.
First, we needed a platform to mount any electronics we might want to add to the vehicle like a microcontroller and/or sensors. We picked up a piece of Lexan at the local home improvement store and cut a piece to fit over the Body Mount pegs while allowing for the body to be re-installed after mounting the Lexan.
With a mounting platform in place, we were able to mount the base and tube for our FPV setup so that it protrudes from the bed of the pickup body alongside the receiver antenna.
We also went ahead and mounted the Arduino UNO microcontroller, from Robotshop.com, in position where the cab of the pickup is located, allowing for room above the microcontroller for connections.
This vehicle comes with 7.4V 2S LiPOs but will run on 11.1V 3S LiPOs (since its ESC is equipped with a fan to keep temperatures down) so the power issues we encountered with the projects running on 7.2V NiMH batteries did not cause an issue here. The FPV camera can simply be plugged in to the 11.1V LiPO balancing port for direct power and the Arduino UNO handles power inputs up to 12V and so can be directly powered as well.
One consideration started to become clear as I completed a test drive down the road from the comfort of the couch… This truck is really fast so careful control of the throttle and steering is more important than ever since we have added electronics to the vehicle. Flipping the vehicle over on the street would not have a welcome impact on the FPV Camera and Transmitter since they stick up above the roof line on the vehicle.
Once the test drive was successful, we thought it might be time for a makeover of our new “robot” so… we pulled the body and did some work. First, we painted the entire body flat black to give a stealthy and menacing look and then added some Robot Magazine logos to the body. We made sure add a hole in the truck bed so the body could be mounted over the top of the camera mounting tube.
Next we will be looking into, like we are with our other projects, creating full RC capabilities via microcontroller… stay tuned.
Project Plan: Full RC & Autonomous Rover Build with FPV and Telemetry Status: Full RC Control & FPV Achieved. Arduino UNO mounted. Next Steps: Analyze the control components to evaluate how to achieve connections of the vehicle controls to the Arduino UNO. This is an interesting piece of the puzzle because the Bullet components are sealed for resistance to moisture and we want to maintain as much of that resistance as possible and also come up with protection for the Arduino.
Full RC & Autonomous Rover Build with FPV and Telemetry
Full RC Control & FPV Achieved. Arduino UNO mounted.
Power distribution solution: Motors, RC Receiver, Microcontroller, FPV Camera.
I will do my utmost to make progress on this project by next issue and report on what’s going on with it… the successes and failures. I sometimes learn more from a failure than from a success so let’s see how much of each we find. If something strikes you about this project… please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with what you think. I look forward to hearing from you!