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Kuala Lumpur Mini Mars Rovers

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

We have just completed and shipped two new Mini Mars Rover exhibits to Petrosains, The Discovery Centre in Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

Although very small in size, these little robots pack some excellent features. They have a simplified, CNC-machined rocker-bogie suspension system, thin film solar panels, LED indicator lights, six small but powerful gear motors, an Arduino Nano microcontroller, front and rear sonars for object avoidance, a voltage sensor for battery charge monitoring, an audible battery alarm, an on-board battery charge jack, an Xbee radio, and a high-resolution infrared camera. They operate via real-time Remote Control and/or autonomously in conjunction with our “Mars Rover Controller” software. These two robots will be used as functional hands-on exhibits at two different locations. The exhibits are scheduled to open in November, 2014. So, the next time you’re in Malaysia, go check it out.

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With the top removed, you can see the inside of the robot. We crammed the camera and a sonar sensor at the front. The wifi module (not visible) is attached to the side. The Arduino microcontroller, rear sonar, voltage sensor, motor controller, fuse, battery alarm, xbee radio, two antennas, and power switch are all crammed in the back section. This leaves the center area for a huge 10,400 mAh 7.4V Lithium-Ion battery (black square in center), which will allow the robot to last a long time on one charge.

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This is the back of the robot, where you can see the sonar, battery alarm LED, battery alarm speaker, charge jack, main power switch, and fuse.

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We would like to thank our contacts in Malaysia for their excellent work on this project so far. They have been very good to work with. We look forward to helping them (from a distance) to get their robots setup and working at their location. We would also like to thank our part suppliers from servocity.com (hardware components), sparkfun.com (electronics), pololu.com (motors), dimensionengineering.com (motor controller), maxbotix.com (sonars), robotshop.com (electronics), all-battery.com, and mcmaster.com (metal and hardware), to name a few.

Comments (10)

  1. Andrew Harbert
    October 17th, 2014

    Hello,

    Those are awesome!

    Do you have, or plan to, put out any tutorial or training material for the projects you create? It would be amazing to be able to work through a similar project to see how it is all put together. I am personally having difficulty culling together what is needed to start my own project.

    Thanks!

  2. Robert
    October 18th, 2014

    Andrew: Thank you. We really appreciate it. We’ve thought about providing much more detail and how-to information in our posts, but we weren’t sure if people would be interested in that. The main problem we have is that we are so busy having fun building stuff that we don’t always slow down long enough to write detailed posts of everything we do.

  3. Andrew Harbert
    October 19th, 2014

    Rest assured people will be interested. To quote a movie, “If you build it they will come.”

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  4. Broiles Family
    October 20th, 2014

    Very cool builds! I know some of the engineers that have helped build and control Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity and the Phoenix Lander. They work for Planetary Resources (PRI) now. I think they would love to talk with you guys if you’re interested and if you’re in the Seattle area I’m sure they’ll give ya a tour of the facility where they’re building the Arkyd series of Space Telescopes for Asteroid Mining. Just shoot me an email and I’ll make the introductions. On a side note: you May want to consider switching your blog over to something HTML 5 compliant to make it more mobile friendly. Thanks again for sharing your great builds!

  5. Chris Beatty
    October 23rd, 2014

    Adorable bot! Great photos.

  6. arun
    December 30th, 2014

    What motors are you using for the wheel direct drive and what rpm are the motors?

  7. Robert
    January 1st, 2015

    Arun: These are 154:1 20Dx44L Polulo gearmotors, which are 90 RPM at 6V. We’re running them with a 7.4V 2S LIPO, so fully charged it’s actually about 8.3V. Here is a link to the motors. Here is the link: http://www.pololu.com/product/1109

  8. Michael Zanoff
    March 2nd, 2015

    This is a great robot and i was wandering if there is an estimated cost on the total amount of parts used for building it?
    Thx Alot

  9. Ryan Jako
    August 5th, 2015

    Can I buy a rover like the one you gave to The Hall Of Science in New York?

  10. Robert
    August 10th, 2015

    Ryan: Yes, we build Mars Rovers under contract, so we could build one of these for you. —Robert

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