Introduction: Wifi Video Streaming Mars Runt Rover (inspection Bot)

This rover can be used for roaming the moon or mars providing you can get wifi coverage to those planets If you dont have a space shuttle to get this unit to space (or you find out Mars doesnt have WIFI), Its also good for your local house, hallways, yard and sidewalks! I found it to particularly be interesting to drive around at work in an office building as well!


This guide will detail how to build a small budget friendly Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROVer) with surprisingly impressive functionality.

  • This drone can be driven remotely from a computer via a live streaming WIFI webcam.
  • It has a range only limited by your wifi & RC coverage. (Mine is about 500 feet!)
  • The camera can see very well even in complete darkness due to infrared night vision technology
  • The camera unit has a very flexible remotely operated PAN - TILT function allowing you to look around or up.
  • The Runt Rover body will be driven by a RC Radio remote allowing for very precise steering and speed control.
    • Once you get used to it, it feels like you are driving your own car. Very smooth precise steering.
  • It has an integrated "video capture" function, as well as a "snap photo" function.
  • There is also a stream audio function, and a two way communication process.
  • THE BATTERY is impressive! A single charge can last about a week of continuous operation! Great for hacking / spying or security operations!


    This video demonstrates the cameras full range of flexibility.


This is a video demonstration of how the streaming and driving from my PC works.
My livingroom was dark, and my kitchen had the lights on. so in areas in the house where you could see color video it was light enough to see in. The camera will switch to nightvision automatically in low light areas. it will display the video in black and white. The livingroom is so dark, you cant see anything hardly. Yet I was able to still drive in there without much issue.

This rover can also be used for an inspection bot to inspect hard to get to areas such as under your house or on a rooftop. It will also work as a security drone to watch areas of your home you can not see from where you are, or be deployed to watch your front driveway for the pizza delivery man.
What ever the mission, this unit is up for the challenge!

Step 1: Step 1" PARTS LIST! Total = Approx $225 Dollars.

    Servocity Shopping list....

  1. Runt Rover Kit. https://www.servocity.com/junior
  2. Roboclaw 2x7A Motor Controller https://www.servocity.com/roboclaw-2x7a-motor-cont...
  3. 5V Step Up / Down Voltage Regulator https://www.servocity.com/5v-step-up-down-voltage...
  4. Your choice of one or two buttons or switches for ON / OFF functionality.

    https://www.servocity.com/electronics/components/s...

  5. Your choice of Radio Control and Receiver. I use Tactic TTX300 https://www.servocity.com/tactic-ttx300

Amazon.com Shopping list.....

  1. 5000mah 7.2v RC battery

    https://www.amazon.com/FUZADEL-Duratrax-electric-A...

  2. Servo wiring, Its great for plugging into pins and routing power. https://www.amazon.com/Tinksky-Quadcopter-Extensi...
  3. Male Tamiya Battery Cable

    https://www.amazon.com/TOOGOO-Charging-adapter-Fem...

Ebay Shopping list.

  1. The Webcam. https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid...

Step 2: Beginning at the Beginning.

I built this kit around a Servocity.com Runt Rover kit. When you get the kit it will come in pieces. Dont be discouraged. Its quick and easy to assemble and surprisingly solid and well designed.
Start with the Runt Rover Assembly itself and click on the included video in this step and follow along.
Included in this step is the embedded Runt Rover assembly video. Watch and follow along!

Step 3: Installing the Battery and Power Bus.

Installing the battery

The battery is huge and heavy on this unit. It will indeed power the unit for multiple days of continuous usage.

I drilled holes thru the bottom floorplate straight down the edges of the battery. The battery was fastened to the bottom via zip ties. Zip ties are very quick and efficient for connecting parts and more than strong enough for the job. If you snug them tight nothing moves around. I made this whole kit with Zip ties rather than glue or scews. You can use any fasteners you like.

Installing the power bus

The power bus is nothing more than a "Male Tamiya Battery Cable". This is what the battery will plug into. See the above photo. Just cut the Tamiya Battery Cable to just a few inches long and cut the female ends off of 3 of the servo wires. Connect atleast 3 of the Servo wires in parallel to the Tamiya cable. Solder them together and use some shrink tubing or electrical tape over the connections to prevent electrical shorts.
then zip tie the whole bus on to the end of the battery on the same side as the battery cable. (should be the rear)

Routing wires.

I chose to drill a hole in the cover and funnel all motor wires thru that hole up to the top of the robot. I will be connecting the motor controller on top of my robot. So the motor wires need to be able to go up there. You dont have to do this if you dont like. That servo hole is more than large enough to run the wires thru. Its up to you how you want to run your wires.
I am not sure if I will ever use that servo mount hole in the future or not. So drilling seemed most practical to me right now.

Step 4: Routing Power to Motor Controller and Radio Receiver

Motor Controller.

Go head and cut the male end off one single Servo wire. Strip back the insulation on the cut wire side and connect it to the power posts for the motor controller. The motor controller can now be programmed based on the manual that came with it.

Power to the Radio Receiver.

I did not have a "Male to Male" Servo wire. So as a result, I cut a male end off two wires and hooked them up (Red to Red) - (Black to Black) - and (Yellow to Yellow) and soldered them together. I put a small piece of shrink tubing over the ends to prevent electrical shorts and essentially made my own Male to Male servo wires. I needed two for this project.
You can see in the above pictures how the male to male servo wires tie into the Radio Receiver and motor controller. This connection will power the radio receiver with no other connections needed.

If you like, you can alternately choose to buy two Hi-Tec servo wires about 4 inches in length with Male connectors on both ends. They are only a dollar or two.

Step 5: Routing Clean 5v DC to the Camera.

Preparing the 5V Voltage Regulator for usage.

What does the Voltage Regulator do you might ask? Well I will tell you.
A dead battery has less than 3 volts of electricity in it. as it charges it gains in voltage and a fully charged battery has a whopping 7.8 to 8 volts DC. Yes 8 volts is too high to power the camera. also 3 volts is too low. How do we solve this problem?

A voltage regulator uses diode technology to hold the voltage to 5.1volts no matter what the input. So for example, you can hook up a fully charged battery at 8 volts, plug in the voltage regulator to the battery and the output of the voltage regulator will be 5.1volts DC. Perfect voltage for the camera. When the battery dies and reads only 2.8 volts, the Voltage regulator will step the voltage up to 5.1volts DC. No matter what your input, the output will be 5.1 volts DC. It cleans up the power so that the camera wont get burnt up in the process. Get it?

Now that we understand what it does.... Lets start to work.
First off, Solder the pins using a soldering iron as shown in picture 1. Be careful that you dont put too much solder on and connect two pins together that should not be connected.

Picture 2. It should now have pins. Let the solder cool. Dont burn yourself on the iron!

Picture 3, if you turn your Voltage Reguator over, look on the back. There it will tell you which side is INPUT and which side is OUT. You will need to connect the battery to the INPUT side of this device. Notice the color of the wires. One black wire needs to connect to one GROUND Pin, and the RED wire in the middle needs to connect to VIN pin. The yellow wire isnt used in this process. just cut it off or whatever. make sure it doesnt short out.

Picture 4, I went ahead and hooked up my Voltage Regulator to my rover. from there you can see where and which way I hooked power up from the battery to the input side of my Voltage Regulator. This is how and where the connector goes.

Step 6: Prepping the Voltage Regulator Power Out Cable

Literally the only thing you are doing is making the cable in PICTURE 1 and hooking it up in this step.

Above is a photo of the cable you will need to make, along the bottom of the photo.
In the picture you can see a cable made of a male servo wire soldered into the supplied power wire that is provided with the webcam.

The power wire is cut off the AC Wall socket power supply that comes with the Webcam. We are going to power it by battery instead. However we do need the connector plug that plugs into the webcam.

The overall wire will need to be about 10.5 to 11 inches long. Mine is 10.5 and is just fine. The paper it is pictured on is 11 inches long so the wire is pretty close to that.

When you cut the webcam wire, make sure its long enough to reach out the back of the rover kit and roll up and plug into the webcam unit as pictured in photo two attached to this step. Make it reach out the back of your Rover about 4 inches or so, See the second photo to get an idea. DONT CUT IT TOO SHORT! yikes! But if you do, you can just make the servo wire longer to make up for it.

After cutting, strip the insualtion off the wires. One wire in the power cable will be red. the other black. Simply solder (Red - Red) and (Black - Black) to supply power correctly. What you see in the picture is shrink tubing used to cover the connections to prevent electrical shorts.

Take a careful observation of picture 3 and 4 and look at how I plug in the Voltage Regulator output power wire. You can see the black wire goes up, and I skip the first pin. I also cut the yellow wire off as it was not needed here.

Step 7: Topograpgical Layout: Switch Placement!

Next you will need to place your webcam on top of your Rover as pictured above. draw an outline of it where you would want it to set.
That leaves the rest of the area open for putting the power switche(s).

I drilled a hole in the top of mine you can see there in Picture 1 for the first switch. It doesnt have to be pretty or perfect, just get them in there.

Look at picture 2, I have two switches on my design. you can do it all one switch if you like. This allows me to turn on the RC function separate of the camera. So I can turn the cam off If I like.

Soldering up the power to the switches

See Photo 3 above.
This is a detailed picture of basically what we will be doing. simply put, pull the red wire loose a little and cut it, solder one side to one side of the switch, and the other side to the other side of the switch. When the switch is on, it connects the power wire. When the switch is off, no power goes thru.

If you installed more than one switch go ahead and solder up the other one as well.

Step 8: Now Might Be a Good Time to Program Your Motor Controller

Now might be a good time to program your motor controller to operate skid steer fashion.
Just follow the manual to your controller and test it using your RC controller to make sure all the motors are moving in the correct direction.

If you have a wheel going the wrong way, simply reverse the black and red wire coming from your motor and it will turn the other direction.

I found a PDF file instruction manual for my controller at

http://www.ionmc.com/Roboclaw-2x7A-Motor-Controlle...

Inside the manual, Go to page 35. This is all you need to do to configure it.
I cut the page and included it in the photos above for simplicity.

once you have your motor controller properly programmed, and all the wheels are turning as expected... You are almost ready to roll!

Step 9: You MUST Connect the Wifi Cam to Your Network Before Mounting It to the Rover!

There is a simple process for this.
Follow the instruction manual supplied with the webcam to the location for your software.
Download the software app on your PC.
Run the setup program and set it up. Its pretty easy.


First plug in power to the camera, wait for it to boot up. The camera will move to point straight up, then swivel back to normal position. Once its back to normal forward position, its ready.

Then simply plug in a cat 5 network cable.
After its hooked up on your network via cat 5 cable, Use the software, Hit the giant + sign to add a new camera, at the bottom, click "Find my camera" and it will find if it is on your network.
Click it.

The default password to enter is six eights ( 888888 ) like that.
type that in the camera and click save.

Now you can access the camera. Click You will see your webcam in the upper left corner listed. Right click your camera and click "Device parameter setting". Then under WIFI click Obtain. Select your network, type in your wifi password and click Setup.

Now you can unplug your Cat 5 cable and it should be able to connect wifi from here on out.

Step 10: Mounting the Webcam Firmly to the Base.

This takes only one screw.
Drill a hole in the ABS top in the dead center of the rover. Measure carefully.
I noticed also I had to grind down the little side wall bumps so that the camera would fit flush onto the body.
make sure your screw is short enough that when its screwed into the bottom, it doesnt reach thru and press against the circuit board inside the webcam! This is important!

Step 11: Last Step Power on Sequence!

When you turn the unit on, There is a small boot up process in the motor controller. You need to turn on power to the motor controller and wait about 3 seconds.
After 3 seconds, then turn on your RC hand held controller. and dont touch the controls for about 3 seconds until the light starts blinking on the Rover. Touching the controls can throw the axis out of calibration. To fix it simply power off and start over if it tries to run off without you.

Camera is simple to work. Just turn its power on, and it automatically connects wifi. Then use your app to connect to the camera as I did in the video at the beginning of this tutorial!

Have fun!

Side Note! Pets love this thing!

I will post future videos of unusual places I take my Mars Rover below! Check back in from time to time for updates!

Comments

author
StefanoP8 (author)2017-08-17

People who wants to make it in Europe can also buy parts on https://www.steplab.net

author
Swansong (author)2017-08-11

Great first instructable! That's a fun setup, you've got pretty good video quality on it. :)

author
JavaScriptMikeC (author)Swansong2017-08-11

Thank you! Regarding video quality, That was a steep learning curve.
Higher quality cameras and units got horrible lag. It turns out that the lower resolution webcam units are better because they send data thru WIFI so much quicker (smaller pictures upload nearly instantly) Where as the newer units wont adjust to any resolution below 720p HD. The wifi lag is much higher and thus makes it harder to drive the unit remotely.
When selecting the camera, You want to ideally use 720p or less to stream your video. Actually the smaller the video quality, the faster it will stream and the less video lag you will experience.
You sorta trade picture quality for speed.
I know the 1080p webcam I have is literally undrivable. It has a 2 to 3 second video lag meaning I can move my car, and it wont show up in video that it moved for 3 seconds. I usually have already ran into a wall in that time and cant tell till the video catches up. High res cameras are useless like that.
I also found that driving the unit from a Ethernet connected computer gives a great reduction in video lag as well.
I can only assume that its because the video is traveling only one direction from the car to the router, then from the router it is routed into ethernet.
When I drive the car from my laptop, I experience much more video lag I believe to be a result of the video coming from the car in WIFI, to the router, where the router then has to route the video across WIFI a second time to my Laptop. So there is a load sharing process going on with laptops vs ethernet connected devices.