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Solar Powered Watchdog Camera Robot

Solar charges, Open build, affordable, watch and report or community presence robot.

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Watchdog Advanced Security Project . If it were any Acronym it would be W.A.S.P. and that was completely coincidental. My project uses a mash-up of Raspberry Pi, EZ-Robot, and Panda Latte boards. The sensor disk and switching module is my own. I started this project a couple months ago with certain goals in mind.

- The project is open sourced and repeatable
- Inexpensive in comparison to industrial priced robotics
- Record continuously and have a backup remotely located
- Two way communication through remote SSH /Remote Desktop
- long runtimes
- Gps tracking

I imagine a community thriving to build their own machines that make their communities and properties safer. I want to make kits that can be installed into custom or turn key bodies anywhere in the world.

So far this project has gained the attention of Raspberry Pi magazine called the Magpi. It is in this months issue!

Equipment currently integrated

4 x Raspberry pi 3

Ez- Robot EZB V4

4 x 8 mp csi cameras

8 x IR illuminators

Sabertooth 2 x 12 dc motor controller

310 GPS tracking and alarm module

12v 340ca Lawn and Garden battery

12v > 5v @10 ah switching power supply

4 x Pyro type motion sensors

To be added:

Power Sonic 12350 35 ah 12v battery

Panda Latte micro win 10 Atom 8350 pc board

12v> 5v power supply ( second one)

kangaroo encoder board

df robot compass and accelerometer module

15 watt white LED spotlights

9 watt white led spotlights

optical encoder sensors, x 2 for feedback to the sabertooth







  • Going Solar

    Josh Starnes6 days ago 0 comments

    These are 1.5 watt solar panels ,  and I have two for daytime charging. Much better than having to unplug the batteries to bring them in all day to charge then carrying them back out, very practical.

    I picked up a couple solar panels to use in charging during the day. Watchdog is low power during the day and shouldn't take much to charge the batteries. 18 watts charge the batteries up from a night of use after about 3-4 hours. So solar charging is within the realm of practically achievable. 

  • recycled cable box for a panda latte/ pi case

    Josh Starnes03/23/2018 at 17:24 0 comments

    I have a Latte Panda I am using to dedicate the remote management link to the EZ-Robot micro controller. These use to be discontinued comcast cable boxes. I opened them up using the appropriate star bit screw driver and pulled out the electronics. The logos and such are easy to cover with a simple sharpie and then it is all blacked out but lights like status leds still shine through :)

    There should be plenty of room for a raspberry pi board, ac adapter and a hard drive or any memory sticks I would like to use.  Stay tunes as I mod it more to have a stylish case for the remote management system.

  • Cooling the Raspberry PI 3 's

    Josh Starnes03/22/2018 at 20:03 1 comment

    The Pi Board before the heat sinks

    After applying 5 aluminum heat sinks. I used thermal pad that is similar to a putty to stick them on. the main processor has 4 of the 10 x 10mm heat sinks. the smaller chip which I believe is the ram only has one.

  • Stormy night runtime test Success!.. Sorta

    Josh Starnes03/22/2018 at 19:57 0 comments

    Watchdog will need to run in all weather so I need to know if I can get this guy out in the rain and if there are any significant leaks that I will need to combat. The head is almost sealed and no heat sinks on the raspberry pi so i will check their temps after a night of running without clean airflow. the only additional sealing is a piece of tape around the front hood. I will have a rubber weather seal later when I get a chance and the funds. believe it or not this is a low budget project for what I am making, and that it should be as one of the project goals is sub 1000 dollar build. The second picture is the rear camera on the  robot. the raspberry pi that is connected to the front cam keeps failing after a few minutes. I ordered a replacement and in the future I will get heat sinks to make sure 24 hour run time is not a heat issue, after all summer is just around the corner. I may need a fan in there. :\  The Ir leds are running as you can see a purple hue to the white door but otherwise looks ok. You can see that the batteries cause the deck lid to stick up because the head is tilted forward a bit. Maybe I can modify how the body panels mount to compensate for the higher battery type.

  • Battery Upgrade to Sealed Lead Acid 35 ah

    Josh Starnes03/22/2018 at 19:46 0 comments

    Like the title says I am upgrading the batteries. The lawn and garden batteries were actually for my lawn mower robot, because they needed to be charged and discharged quickly and I needed 4 to swap out half way through mowing the lawn. So swapping to the 35 ah batteries would be better, I will start at two batteries but it is looking like they are too tall for the deck lid to go down all the way.. hmmm I will only know after testing that a single 12v battery will be sufficient for a 24 hour tour around the yard recording. At this time in the picture they are wired in 24 volt configuration, but I don't think I need this much voltage.  I chose Power Sonic 12 volt 12350 35 ah sealed lead acid batteries. 

  • Testing battery longevity, Lawn and Garden U1-3

    Josh Starnes03/22/2018 at 19:40 0 comments

    So one of my goals is for the robot to operate for 24 hours straight. I started out with cheap 30 dollar Lawn and Garden batteries. U1-3 Advanced auto 340 ca lead acid batteries.  Starting voltage is 25.2 in this case for the first test.

    End of the test 24 hours later..  Success !! looks like it is totally possible.

    Finishing voltage , the gauge still shows all green !

  • Recycling caster wheels and Hubcaps

    Josh Starnes03/22/2018 at 19:19 0 comments

    The rear wheels are 6 inch casters that have seen better days and are heavily stained. I cleaned them and coated them several times with black rubber to give them a renewed life and also painted the hubs to prevent rusting and remounted them.

    I recycled these 4 inch wheel hubcaps from a different wheelchair, whoo I have Rims ! I will spray them to match the body.

    Here everything has been assembled again. The rear casters look much better now and have much more grip instead of sliding. The front hubcaps now match like they belong there. :)

  • Replace velcro mounting with Quick Fasteners

    Josh Starnes03/22/2018 at 19:14 0 comments

    For obvious reasons I removed the Velcro dots and put in some quick fasteners on the mounting tabs. I drilled holes and not I can screw down the deck lid so that someone cannot just pick it up and see the electronics inside. As of now they are Phillips , but I will swap to a security key bolt once things are running smooth.

  • Gps, Alarm and Power Monitor installation

    Josh Starnes03/22/2018 at 19:10 0 comments

    All I need to do to find the robots location is a phone call, text or download a app that keeps track of the location. also the gps is an alarm that can sound a siren exactly like a car alarm and even has a keyfob that I can use to arm or disarm the alarm before I touch the robot.. Also the robot alarms me if the battery is low or disconnected as well. The unit is GPS 303D

    I mentioned earlier I wanted to put in GPS to monitor the robots location, setup a GPS fence and also track it in the event that it is stolen. it has a built in battery and keeps working even after battery is disconnected just like a cell phone. As a matter of fact I can call or text my robot and it will respond and I can hear audio as well!

    I took the GPS case apart and installed it upside down so that the connection status lights are not visible, so if it is stolen, the thief wouldn't realize something is still on when the battery is disconnected.

  • Water resistant battery plugs

    Josh Starnes03/22/2018 at 19:00 0 comments

    I am trying out some quick disconnect what are water resistant for the batteries. These are trailer plugs, they have four connections, but I only need two. perhaps I will use the second as a charging circuit? who knows. I will experiment to determine if I like using 24 volts or 12 volts better and then revisit this.

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Josh Starnes wrote 03/30/2018 at 19:20 point

Thanks !

  Are you sure? yes | no

Vittorio Loschiavo wrote 03/28/2018 at 04:53 point

I like very much your robot ! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

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