ESP32-CAM Building Your Own Robot Car With Live Video Streaming

Introduction: ESP32-CAM Building Your Own Robot Car With Live Video Streaming


The idea is to make the robot car described here as cheap as possible.
Therefore I hope to reach a large target group with my detailed instructions and the selected components for a cheap model. I would like to present you my idea for a robot car which uses an ESP32-CAM, a small computer with camera and W-LAN. With the so called ESP32-CAM it is possible for about 5,- Euro to transmit a live video image, the view from the robot car, over a W-LAN connection and to control the DC-motors build into the robot.

Because the small ESP32-CAM has a WIFI and Bluetooth module, the video image can also be sent to a smartphone or laptop over greater distances thanks to the additional antenna included.

The component list is available on my blog with the latest electronic I am using for that robot.

ESP32-CAM building your own robot car with live video streaming – project start

Step 1: ESP32-CAM Building Your Own Robot Car With Live Video Streaming – USB-serial Adapter Wiring

To program the ESP32-CAM module, it must first be connected to the
PC. As it does not have a USB interface, the USB-Serial Adapter must be used. In the ESP32-CAM module I have listed in the component list there is already such an adapter included in the delivery. I myself have used a similar adapter which I have used in similar projects before. The principle is always the same: ESP-32 with female-to-female jumper cables must first be connected to the USB-Serial Adapter.

The picture shows which pins have to be connected in which way so that the communication can be done via the serial interface of the ESP32-CAM module.

More information how to setup up everything is described in detail on my blog:

ESP32-CAM building your own robot car with live video streaming – USB-serial adapter wiring

Step 2: ESP32-CAM Building Your Own Robot Car With Live Video Streaming – Design of the Chassis

The chassis can be built from many materials or packaging that would otherwise end up in the waste. So I have made good experiences with chassis that are built up individually from cardboard. However, here the work with scissors and carpet knife is necessary and therefore it can perhaps come to injuries with children. Also the construction of a chassis purely from cardboard is a little more complex but more creative than a finished box made of e.g. plastic like an ice cream package. In the following I describe the building of a chassis out of an ice cream box because there are no sharp knives needed to cut the chassis. Further advantages of an ice cream box are, that it is cheap to have, stable, from waste something else is made and big enough to accommodate all components of the robot car. Also the thin plastic of the box is easy to work with and in case of errors it can be replaced cheaply.

How to drill the holes for the dc motors and a more detailed description is published on my blog:

ESP32-CAM building your own robot car with live video streaming – Design of the chassis

Step 3: ESP32-CAM Building Your Own Robot Car With Live Video Streaming – Wiring the I²C Hub

To control the L298N motor driver with the ESP32-CAM module we need the
PCA9685 servo controller. The servo controller and the OLED display are connected to the I2C bus of the ESP32-CAM via the I2C hub. In the previous article we have seen how we can make the I2C bus accessible by using the two pins 1 and 3. Since we know from the previous article that the I2C bus can generally work via these two pins and the attached OLED display has given the IP address, we can continue to build the control of the robot car’s motors.

Please follow the link below to get much more details about the I2C Hub and how to use it in the robot car:

ESP32-CAM building your own robot car with live video streaming – Wiring the I²C hub

Step 4: ESP32-CAM Building Your Own Robot Car With Live Video Streaming – Programming the WIFI Remote Control

With the previous article and the first small control of the motors, the robot car has already driven straight ahead. So it was clear that the technology works and now only a more complex control system has to be programmed with which the robot car can be actively steered. This includes a minimalistic web-interface and the possibility to control the motors with different speed and direction of rotation. In this article I will explain how I realized the web interface and which functions like rotating the camera image are possible. If you have worked through all articles step by step you don’t need to install any new libraries in your Arduino IDE.

The web interface with live video stream looks like the picture published here.

To get a detailed description on how to program everything just follow the link below and visit my blog:

ESP32-CAM building your own robot car with live video streaming – programming the WIFI remote control

I hope you have enjoid the idea of my robot build with an ESP32-CAM and that my blog helped you to build such a tiny robot by your own.

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