Our First Remote Controller (Alpha V1's First Ancestor)

A project log for Alpha V1: Open-Source Remote Controller

An open-source Arduino compatible remote controller (transmitter) with many customization options for robots and drones.

alireza-safdarialireza safdari 03/23/2019 at 11:530 Comments
Alpha V1's first ancestor

In 2013, we were in our second year of university and we were building a robot for Robotcon 2013, Malaysia (not to be confused with the US Robocon). The robot had many moving parts and no RC remote controller could have handled all those movements. So, we had to build our own remote controller.

Back then our engineering knowledge was very limited, so we thought the easiest solution was to purchase an aluminum box and attach all the switches, joystick and LCD to the front face. Our fabrication knowledge and skills were very limited as well, so we ended up drilling holes and filing for many hours to get everything in place. 

Then we did the wiring for the remote, which took ages too. We did not have enough budget for PCB printing, so we made a PCB out of doughnut boards. It was a lot of wiring but eventually it was all done.

Our robot had 3 omnidirectional wheels so we could control its position and its orientation independently, The joystick was used to control the position and the knob on the top right was used to control the orientation of the robot. The knob was attached to a +4 rounds (+1440 degree) potentiometer that we managed to find in one of the local shops and it was their display unit. Took us a lot of negotiation to get the display unit but it was all worth it. 

The switches on the remote were controlling various pneumatic valves to move the cylinders used on the robot and also to switch the vacuum cups on and off. The vacuum cups were made by handheld vacuum cleaners and only activated when the vacuum cleaners were powered.

One of the main problems with this remote was its design, it was very hard to hold the remote and access the joystick, knob or the switches at the same time. Moreover it was pretty heavy. We learned our lessons for the next remote controller.

Robocon 2013 robot with Alpha V1's ancestor as remote controller