Hey there, you may not know me yet, but I’m the guy who is responsible for leading the electronics group within the Part-Time Scientists. In case you might also not know, the Part-Time Scientists are a group of around 100 people world wide who aim to send a rover to the moon. This may sound audacious, but when I tell you that we will get $30 Mio. from Google for it, you may think that it sounds rather reasonable. What you have to do to get this money is quite simple: Land a rover on the moon, drive 500 meters and transmit back HD video. There is only one little catch: You have to get to the moon before you can actually cash-in that cheque. So we thought, lets go to some companies and ask them if they want to support this endeavor. One of the first companies that agreed was Cadsoft. And they supported us ever since. When they saw our moon playgrounds, that we love to show at several occasions, they gave us the opportunity to present us at the Farnell booth at the Electronica. Being an electronics guy, I absolutely loved that idea.
The Electronica is kind of funny. When we present our moon playground at some educational occasion, people generally take pictures of the rovers driving around and ask questions about how we plan to get to the moon. Not so at the electronica… At the electronica people were taking pictures of the PCB inside the rovers and the most asked question was: Is that remote controlled wirelessly? And how does it work? To answer that simple question: It is remote controlled by a bluetooth SPP module and an Atmel is handling all the servo stuff. For the electronic nerds among us I attached a schematic of it. We are planning to release the Eagle files when we can be certain that it works the way it was intended to work. Currently the switched power supply cannot handle the spikes of the servos very well. Something that we also noticed with some higher quality TI modules. So we will probably switch that to an LDO, even tough most people won’t need to populate it at all. We are even planning to release a pimped, but cheaper version of the R0 rover. The idea is to create a fun version that you can use as a basis for your robotic experiments. Why not attach a camera and a Raspberry Pi and program it to fetch some snacks from the kitchen?
Karsten Becker from the Part Time Scientists