I always like seeing the projects around the world using expensive robots, running complex vision processing software and dreamt of the day I would have my own to play with.
Win the lottery or build one on the cheap?
Cheap wins every time.
I say cheap, but what I mean is cheap-ish. It depends on how complicated you want it to be and how much you have lying around. Maybe it should be "cheap compared to a Corrobot or Whitebox robot" (although they have much more functionality)
Toyabi Skullcrusher RC monster truck
SSC-32 for webcam tilt
Logitech Pro 9000 webcam
Sabertooth 2x10a speed controller
Dell C610 laptop system board + proc + memory + wireless
12v - 19v converter to run laptop from 12v SLA battery
12v battery (I used a 12v SLA 7ah but its a bit too heavy, maybe a LIPO?)
RS232 - TTL converter (homemade or Ebay) for Sabertooth
USB - RS232 converter for SSC-32
Remote control unit and keyfob (homemade or Ebay) - this is a failsafe so I can cut power to the Sabertooth
Old satellite set-top box - emptied this and used it as a box to house it all in.
Step 1: Sourcing the RC truck
They can be bought in Europe from Seben racing and in the USA from Amazon and are called "Skull Crusher" from Toyabi.
Here are some videos of the trucks in action
I had a good robotty feeling about these asked my better half to get me one for my birthday.
The truck is HUGE and comes with a simple speed controller which is on/off rather than proportional, still, it was amazing what could be achieved with such a cheap model.
Stock, it will spin on the spot, climb all sorts of objects and gradients.
It has independent suspension and gearing to each wheel and runs from two small-ish motors. It is VERY big and came in an enormous box.
Construction is better than expected for such a cheap model, but the tyres are some kind of foammy PVC moulding. Apart from that, lots of space on board and has springs at each corner. The transmission is by gears down 4 articulated arms to the wheels.