My Robot

   This is a general purpose Robot that I am building in order to sharpen my programming skills and also to automate household tasks. The tasks I hope to accomplish include mowing the lawn, snow blowing the driveway, raking leaves, hosting a personal file server, home automation, security, human interaction, and artificial intelligence. I hope to incorporate voice and facial recognition and machine speech. Some of these goals will be very challenging to accomplish. I don’t expect to ever truly “finish” building this project. It is something that will continually evolve. It is a lifelong passion. I will continually update this page as the project progresses. I have not named it yet, but I am open to suggestions.

   The robot is powered by two MY1016Z3 electric scooter motors. They are rated for 350 watts each at no load when powered by 24 volts DC. Power is supplied by two 18Ah sealed lead acid batteries wired in series to produce approximately 24 volts. The wheels are chain driven with standard bicycle chains. The motor controller is a Sabertooth 2x32 manufactured by Dimension Engineering. The construction is mainly 1” T-slot aluminum extrusions fastened with anchor fasteners. It is very strong and the robot has proven the ability to carry me (~150Lb’s) and push a lawn mower at the same time! I have not yet measured its speed, but the speed I calculated based on motor RPM is between 8 and 10 MPH.

   The robot is currently controlled with an RC car transmitter. I was originally using a Raspberry Pi 3 as the brain, but this proved to be too weak for my purposes. The Pi was constantly lagging and would overheat frequently even with a heatsink. After much research I decided that I would hack a laptop motherboard with a Core M processor. These are both extremely power efficient and also powerful enough to run sophisticated software. I have not been able to find a suitable motherboard that I can afford yet, so in the meantime I will run the software from a laptop. I am also planning to get a Logitech C930E webcam. This is one of the few cameras available that has hardware h.264 compression which is a must for wireless video streaming.


   I recently changed the computer from a Raspberry PI 3 to an ASUS UX360CA motherboard with an integrated Intel M3 5Y30. I also added the Logitech C930E webcam. This new setup seems to be working very nicely. It now has 8 gigs of ram and a 64 gig M.2 SSD. The new hardware makes a HUGE difference. It is now running Ubuntu.