Terrapod Family- Parvus Mundus
With all of the excitement and success of the latest rover on Mars, I got to thinking about experiments in robotics preserving, transporting, and protecting life on other planets. I thought about the other cool fundamentals of BEAM ethos and making a sustainable environment for life, some science fiction, and robotics merge, and create a family of robots that are born with an ecosystem or little world for a heart.
For a first fun experiment, I started a small homemade terrarium globe with a sundew and moss in it, on a chassis powered with some hacked solar garden lights. That gave me 4.8V 220mAh top level charge, so the electronics are a 3.3v arduino pro mini and a couple low voltage drivers. By the time I was done wiring everything, it was quite a crowded board, but I can reduce parts cost if I hack the servos to keep their circuits instead of gutting them into geared motors, or using smaller dc motors. Regarding power, I hope that I can stack a reserve battery inside the chassis and extend the charging from the solar cells for more activity at night when this could travel a bit easier without lots of ambient IR.
The chassis itself was a fun challenge to print, and really set off the project well. If I can make it just a bit more efficient to produce on a 3d printer, I will put together a couple more and experiment with features like swarming and reporting their position w/ gps. In the future, other pieces such as the wheels will be printed as well, or turned into cool linkage legs.
There is a lot going into the first prototype, and I think it represents a novel idea, but it isn't as repeatable as I'd like it to be. Some of the first people that I think should be able to build a terrapod are kids, and so I took some inspiration from other BEAM projects and am working on the smallest of these 'pods, which will be an analog drvien breadboard design mounted chassis. With the small breadboard, one could try any number of BEAM analog experiments or try some small mcu projects as well. I've reduced the cost of parts by making attachments that are quickly 3D printable but also able to be handmade with other materials.
Code is currently nothing more than setting the IR sensors to watch for bumps and cliffs, and the CDS cells compare light levels to balance solar charging and rotate the terrarium evenly to avoid overheating.
This robot's home is at Handmadecircuits.com, where I'll be producing a few of the first type for beta testing.
Got some rough code done and Terrapod can live in his own environment without falling off of stuff... most of the time. Still ironing out the stuff, and there is always a better way to do it, so those are next. Thanks to Tinhead, we got a cool event handling library working that helped simplify the code a bit.
-Terrarium ingredients list
-Build log for "Ambulans Mundi"