Okay, so we have considered all the requirements for starting a construction nail manufacturing business.
ElectronicsGeneralProject. It started off simple enough, as a remote controlled lawn mower, using a hobby RC controller and some used wheelchair motors. With some simple steel framing, the lawn mower was durable, easy to drive, and worked surprisingly well for a remote controlled mower.
Well, it was a little hard to steer in a straight line. However, when I attempted to add the GPS and inertial guidance functionality to see if it would operate autonomously, it failed miserably. Although it would navigate to preset waypoints, it would only find one waypoint on the North side of lawn, and one waypoint on the South side.
The goal here was not a random pattern, but a parallel path mowed lawn. This allows it to calculate incredibly accurate positions, in relation to each GPS.
What this means is that I can leave one GPS unit at a fixed location, put the other one on the robotic lawn mower, and have it calculate coordinates from the fixed GPS down to 2 centimeter accuracy.
This meant that a robotic lawn mower was suddenly possible again. Rather than use the heavy and large steel frame from the original robotic lawn mower, I decided to upgrade everything. I moved the batteries up over and between the rear wheels, dropped the motors down horizontal, and increased the size of the tires.
The previous tires tended to slip on wet grass. The new tires are Sno-Hog tires, and provide incredible grip on all surfaces. I then added on-board chargers one for the mower battery and one for the wheelchair batteries and wired them to a single plug so it would be easy to recharge at any outlet.
Two fans control the temperature nail manufacturing business plan, with one blowing in and one blowing out to generate a cross breeze. Eventually I put a hinge on the top piece of acrylic and the entire electronics section was fully enclosed from the elements. Not that I planned to drive this in the rain, especially with expensive electronics on board.
The PC was also configured to use an I then set up the PC using Remote Desktop so I could run code on the machine while the robot was driving.
Using the webcam, I get a nice video feed to monitor the progress. Using OpenCV software, I should be able to instruct the robot not to drive over anything that is not green grass colored.
The Piksi GPS was mounted inside the electronics enclosure, but an antenna was added on a tall mast above the rest of the electronics, so it had a clear view of the sky.
This used USB port 2. An Arduino clone was added to provide PID control of the fans, which could slow them down to a stop when the outside temperature was exceptionally cold for when I use it as a snowplow. This used USB port 3, which provided power to the board and established a link for continuous serial port communication.
This will also allow me to add additional sensors to the Arduino, and have it communicate back to the main software running on the PC. To provide safety during operation, I devised a way to cut power to the main lawnmower motor and blade, and to stop the wheelchair drive motors while allowing the computer to continue to run, all with the press of an emergency stop switch on the top of the electronics enclosure.
This switch is a normally closed switch which opens when pressed, and locks into position once pressed, so you have to twist it to turn it back on. The switch is wired to two relays which can each handle 30 amps of current.
When the main power switch is turned on, the relays engage and remain engaged unless the emergency stop switch is pressed. The main power switch controls all power, and disconnects power to the PC. I wanted to be able to shut down the PC safely when the emergency switch was pressed, but all moving parts of the mower had to stop immediately.
It was a catch and I removed it for the time being.
The software then sends specific commands addressed to this motor controller, and there is a checksum to verify the correct command was received. The software on the PC was written in Python for east of integrating it with everything I had to include.
It was fairly straightforward to write the motor controller software, although some initial testing indicates that precise motor control may not be possible without feedback from additional sensors. For example, making clean degree turns based on motor timing is difficult, and not very reproducible.
Adding rotary encodes to the wheels or inertial sensors may help increase the accuracy. I have encountered several problems, especially with the Intel NUC computer. It seems it is sensitive to voltage fluctuations, and the power circuitry can be easily destroyed by over or under voltages.
At the present time, I have the mower driving with the software code, and I hope to have it controlled to drive to waypoints via GPS shortly.
The Piksi GPS units are working fine, and the accuracy has been verified. The next plan is to set up boustrophedon cellular decomposition to break the lawn up into logical areas to mow, so the mower finishes in an efficient manner.Prestige Printing & Signs.
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