Somehow I managed to find the time to create something new this year! It's been one hell of a year. Failed two driving tests, successfully got 2 rabbits to be friends with each other, borrowed both a cat and a dog, AND got my original robot working again.
At one point in 2022, while playing with Snapper (this robot's name) outside, I kinda broke it. >.>
The entire thing needed to be reassembled and re-wired.
Took a while, and I killed an expensive speed controller in the process. But hey, I got it all working fine in the end.
A quick movement test confirmed it was working well. I also had a little ride because why not. :)
Now I needed to add a new box on the top. My mum had the idea of sorting the treats to make them easier to find, and also adding some vegan options. So into Fusion360 I went.
I'm confined by what my printer is able to make, seeing as it a relatively small desktop printer. But i think I made something that will work alright.
I also printed the lid, of course. But that has to be done separately.
I went through some revisions but was eventually able to come up with one I liked.
It worked well, aside from some warping on the corners. This made it difficult to attach later, but I was able to do it with plenty of hot glue.
I really like having the lid open and close remotely. So that means I need to install a servo motor that can move an arm between 2 positions to push the lid open when I turn a dial on my transmitter.
Here's the servo installed.
I actually made the hole too small, so I had to bust out the rotary tool and expand it, which is why you can see a strange edge on the far edge.
My original plan was to install two of these. It's a larger lid, so I thought I would need two servos. But as you can see in the following video, getting both of them to move together was very difficult. And it also wasn't needed. So I later removed the other one.
As you saw, I also printed some extensions for the servos so they could actually reach the lid to push it open.
The next thing I set my sights on was an FPV system.
FPV (First Person View) is a video system that allows you to see what your radio-controlled vehicle sees as if you were inside it, almost like a virtual cockpit. There's a little camera on the vehicle that sends live video footage to a screen or goggles that you can wear, and there is no latency at all. Unlike a home security system where there may be a few seconds between the camera seeing something and it appearing on your phone, FPV is completely instant as it uses an antenna (or aerial) to send airwaves. The same technology that radio controlled vehicles use to be controlled remotely. But instead of movement commands, it sends you a video-feed.
This feature can be really exciting and immersive because it gives you a whole new perspective. Instead of just watching your vehicle from the outside, you get to experience the thrill of driving or flying it from a first-person point of view.
I've wanted to do this for a while, as the view from my bedroom window is quite limited.
I bought a cheap FPV camera set and soldered some wires so I could power it from the robot's batteries.
The other thing I wanted to add, as an extra challenge, is to create a way of moving the camera remotely. Those are fortunately pretty easy to get on eBay. So that's what I did. I also 3D printed a housing for my camera, as it was literally just a circuit board with a lens on arrival.
But then I came across another problem. These cameras are usually not waterproof in the slightest. And knowing this country, it was probably going to rain on the night. So I needed to make some sort of housing to protect the camera.
Once again, eBay was my friend. I found an acrylic dome available that was the right size. It was quite expensive for just a plastic dome, but it was perfectly clear and had a rim that was easy to attach.
This will stop the rain from falling on the camera, but there's another problem - condensation.
If moisture gets inside this dome, it will condensate on the inside and fog up the view.
The solution? Silica gel! I have loads of it because it comes with all 3D printer filament to keep it all dry! I duct-taped some inside the dome and hoped that it will absorb any moisture that gets inside.
And a quick systems check proved that it was working well!
I made some very drastic changes on the final night, however.
After an outdoors test, I discovered a problem with the FPV system. The lighting was so poor that I couldn't see anything. My solution for this was to get a spare under-stairs light and drill a hole into the back to make it compatible with GoPro mounts. Then I could stick it on the robot, and it would be the light source!
Redneck solutions are my favourite solutions.
And with that, we have a fully functioning trick-or-treat bot! Time to go play!