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Robot Ardi

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Robot Ardi is my latest platform for playing with machine intelligence experiments. I have built it up to the point that you see here in the pictures. Unfortunately, I broke one of the motor mounts so it is benched until I have completed a fix for it. I am working on retrofitting the robot with a rocker-bogie style wheel arrangement at which time I will get back into active development of it. You can see the whole project log here: https://goo.gl/photos/xgBE1NQrABDhcQ5KA

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Well done on the build. Do I spot an old Tyco Fast Traxx in one of the photos?  Those were absolutely awesome! Nicely done using CircuitMaker as well.

Yes, I have a Fast Traxx. I started to convert it into a robot-- that's what I initiall bought it for-- but it sucks down way too much power, IMO-- so I put it aside to pursue slower projects ;-) Maybe one of the kids will enjoy playing with it. 

As far as using CircuitMaker-- I typically use EagleCAD or Altium PCB Designer, but I try out other products from time-to-time to see if there's anything I like better. I used to use ProCAD some years back, and I liked it pretty well. I've been looking for something similar to it (that I can actually afford as a hobbyist). I think-- but not totally sure-- that ProCAD changed its name some time back and became Altium, or maybe it was acquired or something..?? Maybe someone else knows for sure. So many of the electronics cad programs available in my price point are obtuse to use, or practically brain-dead (IMO). It's nice to see some of the larger companies starting to offer online access to their mainstream products for hobbyist use.

Wild Thumper spotted :) I'm using one as well, just 4wd..

Why have you turned the boxes between the wheels upside down? You could have used the space otherwise, maybe this even would make the robot a bit smaller? 

Because my batteries are very large, you can see them in the pictures, they take up the bulk of the space inside the chassis. I have a specific requirement for that much battery power in my design. When I set it all up, I considered it both ways and ultimately decided to rebuild the chassis so that all the boxes were flat-side up.

Also, since I'm using the T'Rex motor controller board, I saw that there were a number of failures due to shorting out against the frame (the interior of the box) and I definitely wanted to avoid that. When I get to the next step of building the rocker-bogie wheels / support framework, the robot is going to get a bit larger anyway. Also, there is nothing stopping me from using that space inside the boxes even upside down. But so far I haven't come up with anything that I really want to put in there. But I do know its there and it's on the consideration list for anything I mount to the frame. I will probably end up putting a thin sheet of aluminum along the bottom anyway to help protect the underside a bit.

There is another item that you can't really see in the pictures that adds to the height of the frame. I added hinged standoffs along one side for the top plate so that it can swing up and out of the way for working underneath. I plan on mounting the custom-built battery / power management (charging) board and all (or most) of the sensor-related electronics / controllers on the underside.

Eventually nearly all of the stuff along the top of the robot will disappear. The Odroid which is there now will soon be replaced with a 4GB Rock64 board (a very nice board btw). When it is time for cleaning up, it will get mounted along the underside of the top plate, directly over the motor controller board. I mounted it on top, along with the breadboards and stuff, just for ease of access while I'm designing / developing / tinkering with stuff. At some point it will also get a thin, lightweight covering of some sort to help keep moisture / dirt out of the electronics. And there is a head assembly in the works, which is still largely on the drawing board at this point, which will also get mounted on the top of the top plate. So I'll be needing that room.