1st time robot. Too ambitious?

Hello All,

I have recently started an ambitious project. There will certainly be much learning along the way.  But it is too ambitious?

The goal is to build a bot that can be controlled remotely, to aid in the detection, marking, and ultimate removal of unexploded ordinance in Cambodia (in this first application).  Though I have never built a robot of any type, I am quickly learning the basics, but would like ultimate beginner advice if anyone had any.  If anyone would like details on the project, PM me.  It's really a lot for a forum post...

If there are any Veterans or military buffs out there, I could really use other first hand accounts of experiencing UEO.

Through generous donation and aquisition, I have come cross an electric wheelchair, and many parts needed for a former "Battle-Bot".  Battle-bot turns peace-maker.  I love it!  The motors are Bosche, 24V and ~750watts.  Included were DC motor (high amp) speed controls, and 2x 12v 26A sealed lead-acid batteries.  Very very excited to really dig in.  I lack a quality track or model of a good track to use for traction, etc.  Anyone know of any good and sturdy RC tank tracks I could look at for design or actual construction? Though I began to construct my own track out of sheet metal and various materials available (it actually turned out kinda ok), I don't intend on reinventing the wheel, as it were.  3" took me almost 2 hours.

Will also be incorporating a ~3'-4' rotating and articulating arm.  Trying to keep its weight to under ~30lbs.  The wheelchair frame is very strong and moddable, Ws thinking of using a lazy susan type bearing, but I'm not sure I could find one rated for that weight for an affordable price.  Any suggestions?

Thanks for checking this out.  Again, if you want more details, I'm happy to share my plans.  Just PM me. This is being designed 100% open-source, and 100% documented with a video and written journal in order to be easily duplicated.  

Constructive criticism is NOT personal criticism!


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huck alexander (author) 4 years ago
For anyone interested, we have opened a blog for our project. It can be seen at: http://antiminebot.wordpress.com

I will ensure that the blog is kept updated, and we appreciate any feedback we are given.

Tomdf4 years ago
huck alexander (author)  Tomdf4 years ago
Great idea! That should work very well.
Tomdf Tomdf4 years ago
Are tank treads a must? Wheels would be much easier and cheeper.
huck alexander (author)  Tomdf4 years ago
The tracks seem like the best option right now (at least as far as I can figure). Wheels would be MUCH cheaper and easier, but I'm concerned about using them in high(er) terrain areas. Unless larger tires were used...hmm...
FoolishSage4 years ago
I'm by no means an experienced robot builder or anything but that does sound ambitious. Ambition can be a good thing by giving you something to set your sights on but try planning discrete steps towards your goal. If you never built any robots you might want to start simple and move your way up. You can even disassemble and reuse components from one prototype to the next.

Maybe start with a RC wheeled platform, then move on to tracks. Build a separate robot arm and then integrate the two components.

Im looking forward to the resulting Instructable(s)!
huck alexander (author)  FoolishSage4 years ago
Your suggestion makes a lot of sense. So far, I have been trying to get a good overall concept of the machine. But when planning how to go about constructing a prototype, taking it in small steps will definitely be the way to go. Without my journal right in front of me, I can lay it out into a few main stages (that will be broken down further):

1. Chassis/Frame
2. Drive (motors, gearing, etc)
3. Power supply and regulation
4. Communication
5. Arm construction
6. Probe construction

Thank you for your suggestions. This will be a long term project (not really something I'm willing to rush). I'll be posting updates and questions along the way, but the instructable is likely a little ways out. :) Stay Tuned!

huck alexander (author) 4 years ago
True, robots exist for this already. Unfortunately, those designs used by military and police organizations are highly proprietary. This makes them very difficult to reproduce by someone without millions of dollars to invest in design. The goal with this project is to do it in an inexpensive way, and do it so that other people could reproduce it.

From what I've been able to find, an average bomb squad bot can easily run $300k+. This simply puts their use out of reach for poverty-stricken areas (unless backed by a corporation). Corporations exist for the purpose of UEO removal in areas such as Cambodia, but they are making money. Very few will leak any details on methods they use (at least as far as I can tell). Seems like a backwards way to do something like this.

The money factor will definitely be an issue if just purchasing existing bots. I have not experienced any squad bot use, but a specific technician is the operator. This leads me to believe that there might be a steep learning curve for operators. Would like to simplify controls so that the bulk of training for the disposal process can be focused on safety aspects and proper deployment.

More than happy to answer any other questions you may have!