Sunday, April 13, 2014

K9 Drive Base Demonstration

Things are progressing pretty well on the drive base. I have it configured to accept commands from both the on board Raspberry PI and an RC remote control. The remote control takes priority over any PI issued commands. This is useful if it should decide to do anything unexpected. When I first started testing it, I would put it up on blocks in case it decided to run away. Now I can flit the B switch on the remote control to stop it dead if this happens. Below is a picture of the current drive base with call outs that show what each component is.

It still looks like a bit of a rat's nest of wires but it is now capable of moving on its own and I can ssh over to the PI and give it commands like move forward or rotate around. Below is a video of my first tests. Excuse my weak voice, I have a bit of a cold.

As you can see it moves pretty fast. I have gone out of my way to restrict how fast it can go because when it is not carrying it external shell, it is far lighter than it will be when it is done. I already had one accident when my son was testing it out and he drove it hard into his own ankle and managed to hurt himself.

If you listen carefully you can also hear a high pitch noise whenever it moves. This is probably because the pulse width modulation frequency is too low and the motor itself is resonating in response to it. I will have to investigate changing that frequency to one outside the range of human hearing. Maybe, when I am done it will just annoy dogs.

Below is a head on shot. Here you can see the Parallax Ping))) sensor mounted on the front.

The speaker and microphone pair kind of look like eyes. If you look to the left you can see the RC receiver antenna which is being held on with a cable tie that looks a little like a sweat band. The ping sensor uses sound based radar to report obstacles up to 10 feet in front of it. These measurements are then passed on to the PI for further decision making.

At one point, I put the shell on and then got worried when the base refused to move forward. It would only go backward. Then I realized that when I had covered the Ping sensor, it was reporting that the shell was an obstruction in front of it and refused to move forward until the shell was removed.

Below is a shot of the two Razor scooters mounted to the bottom of the drive base. 

These scooter motors and rear wheels have been sawed off from the rest of the scooter. All that remains is the back 8 inches of the scooter. The rest was discarded. The frames are held to the mounting board with a U-bolt around the inner sides of the axels and three machine bolts that fit into the pre-drilled holes on the top of the frame and are very securely attached. There are also two wheels that spin freely and prevent the platform from tipping over.

You can also see that they are mounted in opposite directions. This is because the steel frames rapidly become wider than the base itself. If mounted in the same direction, they would be two wide to fit inside the shell. Having them face in opposite directions is not a problem because the DC motors can be rotated in either direction. If you look at the wiring diagram present in one of my previous posts, you will see that the left and right motors have their terminals reversed so as far as the controllers are concerned, they both move forward and backwards in unison.

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