Build a Raspberry Pi Camera Robot (Updated)
January 30, 2014
Hi all, I'm a big fan of Dagu's Mini Driver board, and having realised recently that its 5V voltage regulator could provide up to 1A I've put together a tutorial which shows you how you can easily use it to build an affordable Raspberry Pi Camera Robot that you can drive round using a web browser on a tablet, smartphone or computer. All of the required software is provided as an SD card image, so it makes it really easy to get up and running with a cool robot quickly.
We also have a chassis bundle in our store which provides parts needed to build the robot. If you buy this bundle then it comes with wires soldered onto the motors, and connectors crimped onto all of the wires. So no soldering is required, you can just plug everything together and start having fun. :)
Any comments or suggestions would be very much appreciated. Also, all of the software we wrote for the robot is open source and available here in case it's of use to people building their own Raspberry Pi robots.
Update 18/06/2014 - We've carried on improving the software for this robot, and so the new things to share since our original post are
New software and an updated SD card image for the robot featuring, faster camera streaming, more config options, and an off button in the web interface...
We've released an open source Python library that allows you to connect to the webserver running on the robot, and write scripts to give the robot autonomous behaviour. The scripts can run either on the robot, or on another, more powerful computer. The library lets you stream images from robot's camera for computer vision with OpenCV, and you can also get motion vectors from the robot's camera (free low resolution optical flow! :) ).
We've started to sell a USB powerbank that can be used to power the entire robot. This is more expensive than using rechargeable AA batteries, but gives longer running time (approx 3hrs compared with 1.5hrs for Duracell NiMh) and means that you don't have to buy a separate charger.
As always, any questions, comments or suggestions much appreciated.
Update 15/09/2014 - We've now expanded the kit slighty so that we run the Pi off a UBEC (efficient switching voltage regulator) rather than the Mini Driver's linear voltage regulator. This gives more current overhead for attaching sensors, and increases the robot's battery life to 3 hours when running off 6xAA NiMh batteries. Details of our battery testing process can be found in this blog post.
Also, we've updated the robot's software so that it's really easy to attach lots of sensors to the robot and read from them using Python. The tutorial showing how to attach and read sensors can be found here.