(A robot by Barry Dufour)

This is the robot I built using a MAX99 platform. ROVER is an outdoor robot and is designed to explore my yard as well as my neighbor’s yards. This little guy has a radio range of about 500 feet. ROVER is operated by a laptop computer (an old P120) and is driven by the numeric keyboard. The radio link to ROVER is RS232 at 9600 baud. There is a video display with audio to drive the vehicle with. The entire electronics module connects to the platform with a single stereo phone plug and battery connection.

ROVER has a cold cathode lamp for a driving light and a horn to ward off cats and dogs. In addition to this, the platform constantly sends back microcontroller status and compass headings. A hardware watchdog will stop the motors if it goes out of range or coherent data is lost between the platform and the laptop computer. The system temperature and the main battery voltage can be read at any time also.

There is no decision making software onboard ROVER. All intelligence comes from the laptop computer including the microcontroller bootup and configuration. The path ROVER takes may be recorded to disk and played back to recreate the “flight”. The software allows manual takeover when off course to correct or the computer will do the correction for me. The ROVER software is written in National Instruments LabVIEW.

Here is a picture of ROVER II

Here is a picture of the laptop control station.

Here is the main control panel. The compass also displays the direction in text when the system is operating.

Here is the playback menu. The compasses display the direction in text as well when the system is operating. When playback is stopped, full manual control is available.

Well, that’s it for ROVER II for now. I will be adding more features as the need arises since I have a full telemetry link back to the laptop. I still have 15 data bits left and 7 A/D channels. I also have onboard PWM and timer functions available. For now, ROVER has too much exploring to do, no time to worry about extra features………and there’s that cat I have to follow, he

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