Since our last blog post our test chassis has transitioned from the CAD world into the real world. This chassis incorporates loads of experimental features:
- It is all 3D printed. Last year’s robot (“P19”) was mainly laser cut acrylic which turns out to be quite brittle. So we’ll see if PLA can stand Nathan (who is an enthusiastic driver) at the helm any better than acrylic.
- The chassis uses four independent motor drivers so that we can use the big balloon tyres for the obstacle course and mecanum wheels for PiNoon. There might even be a third set of wheels that permit rapid and accurate skid-steer turns for the autonomous challenges.
- Actually the motor drivers are also experimental. At the moment P20 is equipped with (rather old fashioned) L298N drivers. But we are going to try some MosFET replacements soon which shouldn’t need such large heat sinks.
- We bought new motors. These are about 50% quicker than last year’s and they’re quieter too because there’s less gearbox.
- We’re also playing with a Teensy 4.0 to replace P19’s (much larger) Arduino Due peripheral controller. This provides a USB interface which the Pi will use to control the motors and to get measurements from three time-of-flight sensors. At the moment it is also interfacing to the radio receiver so that we can drive it around.
So the plan now is to drive it around a lot to see what breaks. And we need to print some hubs so that we can try out the mecanum wheels.
Finally it feels like we have some progress!