Creating the RPy-Rover body

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

Rover body

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.

Container drilling

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.

GPS dome
GPS dome


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).

All exposed surfaces were sanded
All exposed surfaces were sanded

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.

Chassis interior paint protection
Chassis interior paint protection

We started painting with the lighter of the two colors (fluorescent orange).

Spray painting the third orange coat
Spray painting the third orange coat
Rover chassis after two orange coats
Rover chassis after two orange coats

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.

Rover with tape
Rover with tape

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.

Tape removal
Tape removal

Internal structure

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.

Widening the RPi's mounting holes
Widening the RPi’s mounting holes
Attaching the RPi to the expansion plate
Attaching the RPi to the wide expansion plate

The battery holder and the USB battery pack were later  attached to the expansion plates with isolation tape, for easy replacement when required.

All components were mounted onto the top expansion plate
All components were mounted onto the top expansion plate

When everything was finally assembled, we were really pleased with the final result.

Euro RPY-Rover
Euro RPY-Rover

Previous tutorial: The RPy-Rover’s GPS module

First tutorial: Meet the Raspberry Pi

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