Background 1

A project log for ICARUS Scout

The Scout is a tank-style robot.

david-gitzDavid Gitz 10/12/2017 at 03:100 Comments

I thought for the first few logs I would just give an overview of the system I have in mind.  I have already done quite a bit of work in the design and build process for this project, so these logs are going to be catching up to reality for a while.  Forward then.

I started working on the Scout about 6 months ago.  I had just finished up working on my Thesis Rover (repo) and had found that the drive system for that rover was not doing so well.  I haven't built a robot from scratch in a while so I thought now would be a good time.  However, I don't have a lot of machining tools, I have a drill press and recently purchased a 3D printer but no lathe or CNC tools.  Making robots from scratch can be a bit challenging, especially with the drive systems.  It can be a daunting task to build a robot that isn't too expensive and that has a decent amount of power.

One thing that had always bothered me with robot building was that there isn't a lot of COTS drive system products that one can find locally, and even for the large electronic supply stores (Like Fry's) which does have some of this stuff, it can be very expensive and you are more or less locking yourself into their build system.  What's worse is that for most people I would think the actual frame building process wouldn't be very challenging, Aluminum isn't too hard to work on with hand tools.  It's the drive components that are a killer.  The question, "How do you mount a wheel to a motor?" quickly evolves to: "How do you mount a wheel to a motor with a different gear ratio on a suspension that can pivot?"  

I realized that the answer to this question was staring at me in the face.  RC hobby stores are pretty common, and they make a living on selling drive components (motors, servo's, linkages, suspensions, gearing, etc) for applications that are approximately the right scale, weight and price for the average robot hobbyist.  But the people who usually go into these stores and buy individual parts already have a large amount of experience in the RC field.  Indeed these parts (online or in a brick & mortar store) are going to have very few (if any) dimensions and be marketed solely as replacement/upgrade parts for specific vehicles.  This is not what we want, we are building something from scratch!

So I decided I was going to learn.  I would design a frame based on common material (Aluminum), brackets from hardware stores and 3d printed options, and drive components from RC parts.  Additionally I would design the Scout around a toy Caterpillar 992C Wheel Loader that I had, and the Tracks from an old H2 Hummer (RadioShack) just to make it a little more aggressive.

Next time I will talk about my current Inventory System.