[Miguel] wanted to get more hands-on experience with Python, so he created a small robotic platform as a testbed. But as such things sometimes go, it turns out the robot he created is a worthy enough project in its own right.
There’s nothing wrong with starting a project just for the experience of it. It’s an excellent way to learn about hardware or software you’ve been meaning to gain some practical experience with, and if you end up having a bit of fun along the way, even better. Getting too bogged down on the “why” can sometimes get in the way of the “how”.
With a low total cost and highly flexible design, [Miguel’s] robot might be exactly what you’re looking for. Who knows, it might even bootstrap that rover project that’s been wandering around the back of your mind.
The robot makes use of an exceptionally simple 3D printed frame. No complicated suspension to worry about, no fasteners to hold together multiple printed parts. It’s just a single printed “L” shaped piece that has mounts for the motors and front sensor board. As designed it simply drags its tail around, which should work fine on smooth surfaces, but might need a bit of tweaking if you plan on taking your new robotic friend on an outdoor adventure.
There’s a big open area on the “tail” to mount a Raspberry Pi, but you could really put whatever board or microcontroller you wish here. In the nose is an HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor, which [Miguel] is using to perform obstacle avoidance in his Python code. A dual H-Bridge motor driver controls the pair of gear motors in the front to provide propulsion and steering, and a buck converter steps down the 7.4V from the 2S LiPo battery to power the electronics. He’s even included a mini breadboard so you can add circuits or sensors as experimental payloads.
If you’re looking for a slightly more advanced 3D printed robotics platform, we’ve seen our fair share. From the nearly fully printed Watney to a tank that looks like it’s ready for front-line combat.