Current setup

Just to be thorough I thought it would be good to document the current setup I’m working with.

  • one Arduino Duemilanove
  • one Motor shield from adafruit
  • two DC motors
  • one 12V power supply from an old switch
The motor shield is stacked on top of the Arduino. The motors are connected to M1 and M2 on the motor shield. The motor shield draws power from the 12V PSU, for testing purposes it is configured not to share power with the Arduino. The Arduino draws power from the USB cable which connects it to my laptop.

It works … sort of

Okay, piggybacking the IC seems to improve the performance.

I’ve been trying to run this code:

#include <AFMotor.h>
 
AF_DCMotor motorR(1, MOTOR12_1KHZ);
AF_DCMotor motorL(2, MOTOR12_1KHZ);
 
void setup() {
  motorR.setSpeed(200);
  motorR.run(RELEASE);
 
  motorL.setSpeed(200);
  motorL.run(RELEASE);
  }
 
void loop() {
  motorR.setSpeed(200);
  motorL.setSpeed(200);
  motorR.run(BACKWARD);
  motorL.run(BACKWARD);
}

The motors start turning enough to turn the screws as well. After about 5 seconds the screws stop, but I can still hear the motors trying to turn them. Currently I have no idea why they can’t.

The L293 ICs are becoming quite hot, so I grabbed the first heat dispenser I could find in my assortment, it may be oversized but it should suffice.

Heat dispenser for the L293 ICs, a little oversizedThat’s it for today, let’s see what I can do about it over the weekend.

Smartphone controlled boat at TU Delft

Looks like I’m not the first to have that idea.

Since it currently seems to be impossible to embed a YouTube video without it loading tracking scripts the video can only be viewed directly on YouTube.

I couldn’t find more information on that project, but it looks as if they are controlling the boat directly over a bluetooth link. I’m really curious how the range extension via XBee will work out.

Anyway, I’d love to have such a tank for testing … I guess my fishes will mind if I try it in their tank.

First tests for Android remote control

Over the last couple of days I worked on the basics to use my Android powered mobile phone as a remote control for my R/C boat. The first test covers reading the motion sensors of the phone (accelerometer specifically) and visualizing it. The result can be seen in this video:

Since it currently seems to be impossible to embed a YouTube video without it loading tracking scripts the video can only be viewed directly on YouTube.

I plan to steer the boat as one would control a vehicle in a game on the phone.

Some kind soul already mixed up an XBee module and a bluetooth module for Arduino to create a nice little module that can be used to control an Arduino from an Android device.

In other news, I ordered an motor control from Adafruit I want to use to control the motors of the boat. Can’t wait to start playing with it.

Not quite mint condition

Looks like I was a little too enthusiastic about the condition of the boat. For some reason the range of the remote is about 1.5 meters. There is nothing I can see which could be responsible for it, at least no loose wires, but I’m far from being an expert.

The second thing I realized when I opened the box containing the electronics is that there is only one circuit board containing everything. I guess that makes it cheaper producing the boats, but I guess I’ll have to replace everything except the motors.

This box contains everything, the wires are connected to battery, motors, ON/OFF-switch, on the backside is another one to the antenna.

Well, considering that I would have replaced all that stuff anyway I still consider it a pretty good deal.

Boat arrived

Today I got the boat I ordered last week. As stated previously, it is an “Atlantic Yacht” by Heng Long. The boat was returned to the retailer, so he sold it as defective on eBay. Since it was returned I expected something broken, but hoped it wouldn’t be serious. Well, it exceeded my expectations. At least regarding the “broken parts”, its performance leaves to be desired.

First a full view of the boat.

Continue reading Boat arrived

Possible future project: Automated roving tank

I know, people are going to scream “Skynet” about this one, but I just can’t resist. I have am RC tank (coincidentally also from Heng Long) sitting around here, doing nothing. Until today I thought it was dead, but today I realized it works after changing the channel. When controller and receiver are on channel A it doesn’t work, after changing both to channel B it works fine. No idea why.

Anyway, after realizing it works fine I decided that this might be a nice project after I get my Boat working. There is one problem though I need to address on both projects: Having more than one motor for propulsion. Every code I’ve seen yet on ArduPilot assumes that you only have one motor for propulsion. Normally that’s no big deal, I just wire both motors together and connect them to the ArduPilot as one.

That doesn’t work on the tank though, since tracked vehicles need to control both tracks independently for steering. On the boat this will be useful to program closer turns, having one screw turning forward and the other one turning backward.

New Project: RC boat autopilot

Today I took the first step for a new project that kept returning to my mind for the last couple of days.

I bought a remote controlled boat on eBay. The boat is an Atlantic Yacht by Heng Long which is sold by the retailer as “defective” because it has been returned by a customer. No idea what’s wrong with it, I hope it’s just the control unit I’m going to replace anyway.

Currently I’m planning to equip it with an Arduino based ArduPilot that is modified for marine usage.