Curiosity rover garage build

I thought it would be fun to build a rover for myself. Naturally there are significant limitations on what I have the time and resources to build, so it will have to be a bit smaller.

I’ve learned over the years that planning ahead is the best path to getting results. Whether it’s taking 10 minutes to draw a sketch on a napkin, or a complete 3D cad prototype, you can solve some problems pretty quickly in the virtual space that you would have run into later. A good example of that is the “knees” on the real curiosty rover. You can see there is what appears to be a motor and a large-diameter joint.

curiosity 3d

After mocking up my planned rover I couldn’t find an effective way to put an actual motor inside something that looked similar, at the scale I would be building. So I decided that wasn’t going to be part of my rover. Here’s a draft of the rover I made before I did anything:

3D Curiosity draft

At this point I’ve put together a basic prototype, written a primitive python application to control the rover from the command line. Here are some pics of the current progress to the rover.

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Axles articulate independently so the rover can drive in parallel, sideways, or crab-walk mode.

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I may have gone too large with the 6v battery, but I loath short battery life.

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The brains are a simple Raspberry Pi 3, a 16-servo Adafruit hat drives the servos, and the wheels are powered by the motor driver.

Stay tuned for updates. I plan to add walk-through’s showing how to spin-up a quick HTTP server for the rover, and how I wrote the python libraries to easily control the rover.

Please leave any comments or questions below. I’d love to hear what you’re interested in learning more about.

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