One of the sub-projects of the Euro RPy-Rover Project dealt with the construction of the rover’s structure, that holds and protects all the rover’s electronic systems. On this post we’ll describe how we did it.
To build and paint the rover body we used:
- Dagu Rover 5 tracked chassis
- Pololu RP5/Rover 5 Expansion Plates (wide + narrow)
- 4-40 thread screws, nuts and F-F standoffs
- Spray cans
- Sand paper
- Plastic containers and tube
- Multitool power tool (with drilling and sanding accessories)
- Isolation tape
- Epoxy glue
The look we wanted for the RPy-Rover was that of a rescue vehicle, a concept that revolved around fluorescent orange and black. We played around with different different possibilities for the rover body shape: domes, rectangular shapes, etc. Once we identified the shape we wanted, we searched different shops to find a container with the right shape and dimensions. We ended up acquiring a container at IKEA, which we adapted to our specification by sanding and drilling, creating the openings for the camera, distance sensor, laser and LED headlights.
We also bought a small flattened plastic christmas ball like container in an art supplies shop in Brussels, to create a dome to house the GPS antenna. This GPS dome was connected to the rest of the body with a section of plastic tube, cut and sanded to the right angle, and then attached with epoxy glue.
To prepare the surfaces for painting we sanded every surface that would be visible after assembly. To do this we disassembled the Dagu Rover treads and wheels, and then proceeded to sand the wheels, chassis, the container, plastic tube and the dome (which were sanded before gluing).
The interior of the chassis was then protected with plastic, to prevent contaminating the cabling contacts while painting. The metal wheel spokes, protruding from the chassis, where also protected, in order to retain their metallic finish.
We started painting with the lighter of the two colors (fluorescent orange).
After the last of the three paint coats had dried we applied isolation tape to the rover, to cover the areas we wanted to remain orange in the final design. At this stage the rover colors were an exact negative of the final result, as by chance the tape used for masking was black.
To conclude painting we sprayed on the second color (black), which only required one coat, and when dry proceeded to remove the tape, uncovering the final pattern.
Once all surfaces were well dried we assembled the internal structure and proceeded to mount and connect all the system components onto it. We used 1-1/4″ female-female standoffs to create a separation between the two plates. We then screwed the Raspberry Pi to the underside of the wide plate and glued the breadboard to the other side, using the adhesive strip on the underside of the breadboard. To be able to attach the RPi with the 4-40 screws, we widened the RPi’s mounting holes with the electric multitool.
The battery holder and the USB battery pack were later attached to the expansion plates with isolation tape, for easy replacement when required.
When everything was finally assembled, we were really pleased with the final result.
Previous tutorial: The RPy-Rover’s GPS module
First tutorial: Meet the Raspberry Pi