A mid(ish) week update

We’re working hard now to finialise our track deployment system. Unfortunately the Mobile Robots Pioneer 3-AT we’re using isn’t too accustomed to being rejigged inside, so we now have a large Pioneer jigsaw puzzle!

Pioneer Jigsaw Puzzle

Pioneer Jigsaw Puzzle

This required some “delicate” modifications to achieve!

Gently does it...

Gently does it...

Now we have individual components we can look at how to rearrange them inside the Pioneer chassis. We’ve done plenty of modeling using CAD to give us some confidence that our modifications *can* fit inside, however it is extremely difficult to tell without trying it on the actual rover, those cables really take up a lot of space! We’re looking at replacing our big, heavy lead acid batteries with much smaller Li-Poly ones, but other than that we need to rearrange all of the existing rover equipment to a way that allows us to fit the track pitch control motors and gearing, a slightly difficult feat due to the requirement for an axle to pass across the entire width of the rover at both the front and back.

We’ve also started range testing the 802.11-based wireless equipment we plan on using to control Selene once its out in the field. This has started with the nanorover we want to use as a comms relay/video link. With some new, high-gain antennae attached to my laptop and the Surveyor SRV1 we managed to boost the link strength a significant distance over its poorly performing standard configuration. It’s difficult to see in the picture below but the tiny rover made it all the way to the bus and was still going strong, giving us a live video link.

Long distance shot

Long distance shot

Attaching a similar antenna to the Pioneer gave us a range of nearly 200m line of sight! Check out the pictures below.

A large chunk of our campus for reference

A large chunk of our campus for reference

The SRV1 nanorovers 70m range

The SRV1 nanorovers 70m range

The 180m the Pioneer got before we ran out of field!

The 180m the Pioneer got before we ran out of field!

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more updates soon!

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