I decided I had to write this after I came across this photo of an RC robot base we built at school several years ago. We had very little money to spend on this project so we bought two cordless drills, on sale at Canadian Tire. We cut the handles off of them and mounted them as seen above to power the bot. We extracted the motors and removed the chucks. We machined custom hubs to attach the motors to the 2 dolly cart wheels. The other 2 wheels are old swivel castors from a derelict cart. The dual DC motor controller was switched to multiplexed mode with 2 channels from the RC receiver. We could make this monster fly around the school with just one stick on the RC remote. It could turn on a dime and by giving it a little reverse from high speed you could stop on a dime. The two black decks were 1/4 inch PVC. The emergency stop button was useful more than once! With 2 sets of NiCd batteries and external chargers we could drive it all day.
I liked the picture above all the more because it stands in such stark contrast to our current First Robotics base which my team just completed last week.
The 2014 Kit Bot pictured here is the standard kit distributed to every team competing in the First Robotics league this year. 200 watt DC motors, gearboxes, belts and pulleys drive all six wheels with both speed and the ability to turn on the spot. Control is established from a driver station laptop via a local network to the onboard bridge and computer. The robot can operate autonimously or via driver input from the laptop using a joystick or game controller. The entrance fee to our first regional competition includes the Kit Bot. It took the students just a few days, following the included instructions, to assemble the base unit and get it running. They will have just 6 weeks to design, build, test and practice with a mechanism to complete this years challenge.
Just a few years ago, working on the Skills Canada challenge, we worked on our robot once or twice a week building the base from scratch and building a mechanism on top. We started in September and worked until just after March break. This year, starting on January 4 we have until Feb 17. So today we are about half way done. Six years ago 1/2 way done meant a working base and some ideas and plans for the rest. This year we have a working base, plans and a start on the rest so we're doing OK.
More to come.