We have been hard at work on our latest project called Mechatron. To control our Mechatron robot as well as our Mars Rover, we designed and built our own remote control box. We developed our own communication protocol for transmitting commands from the remote control to the robot. On other projects we used iPhones and Playstation remote controllers, but in this case we wanted to build a large, metal box with lots of retro-switches and joysticks.

Remote Control Box for our Mechatron Robot

Inside wiring for the Mechatron Remote Control

 

Technical Details

  • Microcontroller: Arduino Mega 2560
  • Remote Control Software: ¬†Beatty Robotics
  • Design and Construction: Beatty Robotics
  • Box: Aluminum sheet and metal screws
  • Radio: ¬†xBee Radio module
  • Joysticks: Digikey x-y-z-axis, hall-effect, 1 button joysticks
  • Rotary LED Encoder Ring: Mayhew Labs
  • Battery: 12v LIPO
Notes:
1. Although it wasn’t cheap, the hall-effect 3-axis joystick was critical for controlling the function of Mechatron’s specialized drive system. We originally tried a traditional analog/resistive/potentiometer-style joystick and it did not work well at all. We thought our whole project was going to fail until we realized that not all joysticks are created equal. The joystick based on the “hall-effect” principle worked perfectly for us.
2. You can’t see it in these photos, but this controller can be charged via banana jacks and re-programmed via a USB jack without having to unscrew and remove the case. The same is true for the Mechatron robot itself.