A few uses for an autonomous vehicle

Ed Nutter May 21, 2016

From the time technology that we have come to know was invented, it has been used to gain an advantage militarily or to make life easier. Military usage seems to be a driving factor, but it is not the only factor.

Guerilla tactics played an even greater part in the US conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Using lessons learned fighting the Soviets in the 1980s and training from US backed anti-Soviet forces, the guerilla tactics did increasing damage to US military forces. Insurgents...


Basic Sensors for an Autonomous Vehicle

Ed Nutter March 27, 2016

The following are a few basic sensors that can be used to help an autonomous vehicle navigate its environment.

The faster the vehicle is traveling, the faster the sensor must be processed.  

Moving vehicles could knock something over or cause damage to a person or object if it collides with them.

Drop-off and line sensors function better when mounted to the front of the vehicle.

Drop-off and collision sensors should be mounted front and rear, if your vehicle can back up.


Autonomous vehicle - design questions to ponder

Ed Nutter January 27, 2016

When designing an autonomous or remotely-controlled vehicle, there are a few factors to take into consideration. Three of these are purpose, environment, and terrain.

What is the purpose of the vehicle?

Will it be used in an industrial setting with people moving around it that it must not run over?

Will it be used in a hazardous environment, like Fukushima or Chernobyl, where it would be exposed to high levels of radiation and must be cleaned or left behind? If it must be left behind, any...


Steering an autonomous vehicle - two basic ways

Ed Nutter January 15, 2016

While there are many types of steering mechanisms, for now, I will be concentrating on two of them.

The first is known as Ackerman-type steering. On a rear-wheel-drive four-wheeled car, the rear wheels push the vehicle while the two front wheels pivot left and right, either by using a servo or a geared motor, to steer the vehicle.  Understeer is when the vehicle tries to push through the turn too wide, possibly causing the vehicle to drive off the outside of the course.   ...


A quick look at the Line Follower Vehicle

Ed Nutter January 3, 20162 comments

In its most basic form, a Line Following Vehicle (LFV) consists of a line sensor, a vehicle, some way to process the signal, and batteries.

A basic line can consist of black 3/4" electrical tape on a white background. Other lines consist of a white line on a black background. While usually solid, a line can consist of dashes and even change between colors. Turns are generally sweeping and gradual, but can include angles. Each of these changes adds a layer of difficulty to the...


Mounting plate for Arduino

Ed Nutter November 30, 2015

While having a breadboard with your microcontroller is necessary, it is very cumbersome if the two aren't fastened together somehow.  You can buy mounting plates, but I choose to make one.

I am using thin plexiglass type glazing material from the hardware store.  You can use the thicker material, but may have to purchase longer screws for stand-offs depending on what you use.

I like using the small Plano tackle boxes, because they can hold the plate, a few parts, batteries and a...


Basic hand tools for electronics assembly

Ed Nutter November 20, 20153 comments

Though the software tools vary with different microcontrollers, many hardware tools are the same.

If you are working on larger robotic or automotive systems, you will need a 3/8" and 1/2" drive socket set. There are occasions when even larger drive socket sets are needed. For small robots and taking things apart, the 1/4" drive socket set is useful. The sizes usually range from 5/32" to 9/16" and 4mm to 15mm.  You will need both shallow and deep sockets, both standard and...


Choosing a Vehicle

Ed Nutter May 25, 20163 comments

There are a few things to take into consideration when choosing a vehicle or chassis for your autonomous vehicle. You can design and build your own, buy a stripped robot chassis, or use a radio controlled (RC) vehicle as a starting point. I usually use an RC vehicle as a starting point.

Two basic styles of RC vehicles exist. The first, is the toy-grade vehicle. It can be found in most retail stores, and usually costs below 50 dollars. Its main advantage is the low price, which can be as low...


It ain't heavy, it's my robot...

Ed Nutter January 3, 2017

Unmanned Ground Vehicles - Design considerations for man-portable/packable vehicles

A UGV is “a ground based mechanical device that can sense and interact with its environment.” (Carlson, How)

A Field Robot is expected to work outdoors, though generally not in rain or snow, including rough terrain, dirt and dust. (Carlson, Reliability)

A Man-portable robot weighs less than 40 pounds, or is capable of being broken down into subassemblies for two soldiers weighing less than 40...


Steering an autonomous vehicle - two basic ways

Ed Nutter January 15, 2016

While there are many types of steering mechanisms, for now, I will be concentrating on two of them.

The first is known as Ackerman-type steering. On a rear-wheel-drive four-wheeled car, the rear wheels push the vehicle while the two front wheels pivot left and right, either by using a servo or a geared motor, to steer the vehicle.  Understeer is when the vehicle tries to push through the turn too wide, possibly causing the vehicle to drive off the outside of the course.   ...


A quick look at the Line Follower Vehicle

Ed Nutter January 3, 20162 comments

In its most basic form, a Line Following Vehicle (LFV) consists of a line sensor, a vehicle, some way to process the signal, and batteries.

A basic line can consist of black 3/4" electrical tape on a white background. Other lines consist of a white line on a black background. While usually solid, a line can consist of dashes and even change between colors. Turns are generally sweeping and gradual, but can include angles. Each of these changes adds a layer of difficulty to the...


Autonomous vehicle - design questions to ponder

Ed Nutter January 27, 2016

When designing an autonomous or remotely-controlled vehicle, there are a few factors to take into consideration. Three of these are purpose, environment, and terrain.

What is the purpose of the vehicle?

Will it be used in an industrial setting with people moving around it that it must not run over?

Will it be used in a hazardous environment, like Fukushima or Chernobyl, where it would be exposed to high levels of radiation and must be cleaned or left behind? If it must be left behind, any...


Troubleshooting notes from days past, TTL, Linear

Ed Nutter June 19, 20181 comment

General Troubleshooting

  • Follow safety precautions.
  • Always think “what if”.
    • Analytical procedures
    • Precautions when probing equipment
    • Insulate all but last 1/8” of probe tip
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Don’t start with electronic test equipment, start with analytical thinking.
  • If you get stuck, sleep on it.
  • Many problems have simple solutions.
  • Whenever possible, try to substitute a working unit.
  • Don’t blindly trust test instruments.
  • Coincidences do happen, but are relatively...

Making a connection 1

Ed Nutter July 3, 20182 comments

In order for your system to control devices, you must be able to connect it to those devices.

Besides different sizes based on wire size, there are a few different styles of connectors that can be used.  There are also weather-resistant terminals that can be used if needed.

Ring

(Parks, 16)

- used for circuits that you don’t want to become easily disconnected

- ground wire attached to a stud

Push-On

- can be used on relay terminals

(Parks, 18)

- could be...