View Full Version : New rover find - For sale by a US university student

07-30-2008, 12:26 PM

Looks like a decent little rover. Not many details though.

I'd like to know what he is using for the micro controller, and am curious how he can offer it at only $200 compared to almost 500 for a Surveyor SRV-1

07-30-2008, 01:07 PM
The glasses are cool, but ...

From ad:
This type of Video glasses does not hinder the user from also going about other daily activity,

The robot would be safe, I on the otherhand would bump into everything:)

07-30-2008, 01:24 PM
Looks pretty cool! I assume their so cheap because he's not making a whole lot off of them.. less markup

07-30-2008, 03:06 PM
Looks like it's based on the robby RP5 chassis.

07-30-2008, 03:33 PM
Definitely a widened RP5, ScuD.

It's a nice little turn-key, but I can see how he can make his price-point.

07-30-2008, 03:43 PM
Definitely a widened RP5, ScuD.

It's a nice little turn-key, but I can see how he can make his price-point.

I have not seen the rp5 before, but yes I agree.

What do you suppose he is using for control?

07-30-2008, 04:04 PM
Wireless serial sender. You can get a 500' pair at Sparkfun for under $10.

Here's the RP5 chassis: http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/3172-Robby-RP5-Chassis-Only.aspx

I have the 2.4Ghz vide wireless sender/receiver he's using, as well as that exact camera (and the step up from that camera). The wireless sender/receiver is $35 in quant 25. It's pretty spotty.

The camera is $30 in quant 1.

Figure a PIC or even small ATMEL board is just a few dollars custom after layout charges.

His cost in low volume is ~115-120. Less in higher volume. But he has written some user friendly (apparently) software for it. His pricing on options is very high, one could do better in the TR store here, BUT he's turn-keying them which makes for a higher price - his expense in R&D.

It doesn't look like a bad deal for a turn-key starter package. I don't know what the reliability/lifespan is of the RP5, but I would probably consider his package even though I could build it for less, if I had the application for it.

07-30-2008, 04:40 PM

Looks like a decent little rover. Not many details though.

I'd like to know what he is using for the micro controller, and am curious how he can offer it at only $200 compared to almost 500 for a Surveyor SRV-1

Thanks. You should have seen this Robot fall from 3 ft during an interview and still get up and do it's thing, with only minor scratches. Just ask Jason Pratt of "The Florida Times Union," It's Durable, and my oldest rover is 3 years old, and still kicking around.

The price is so fair because we use the affordable RP-5 chassis, and we are using a cheap but powerful microprocessor/transmitter configuration. We have prefab boards and several overseas suppliers, that give excellent price breaks with bulk purchases. The last step is smooth outsourcing of assembly. We have began enlisting private technicians to work from home, and allowing business to license and sale the product. We may have just found some affordable manufacturing services, but for now we rely on independent technicians, some other engineers, and myself, to handle R&D, assembly, and testing.

We do release more details of the robot with private emails that I receive, and that's to further the interest of building other net applications and hardware that may work with this flexible platform.

07-30-2008, 04:49 PM
Hi and welcome to the TRC! Your input on your new platform is very much appreciated - thank you!

As I mentioned in my posts, it looks like a good deal on a turn-key device. A lot of R&D obviously went into it!

07-30-2008, 05:05 PM
Thanks alot. You are correct, we have done some extensive R&D. The first version was a blimp robot, which didn't work well due to weight restrictions, HVAC systems, and control precision. It did however, serve as a test bed for the software and the method of communication. We are investing in computer vision and hope to eliminate the need for other sensors to detect object. We have seen some impressive presentation of things going on with online virtual 3D maps, that we think our robot can play a big part in. Right now we are thinking affordability, and that's why we offer the robot for minimum markup, and hope that experimenters, like myself, will take it to a new level.

07-30-2008, 05:46 PM
Good to see you made it. Welcome to the forum. How are you controlling the robot? I guess I'm more asking, are you using a custom microcontroller, or something off the shelf...Also, what ranges are you getting from the video?


07-31-2008, 06:11 PM
Hi DB,

We are using TI and microchip processors to control the robot. Right now we are using analog video and a custom digital transceiver for controls. We get around 300m on the video right now; however we are upgrading to an all digital interface which will extend the range to 4000m. Yep, you heard right 4000m. That's over 2 miles with a clear line of sight, which of course is reduces with obstructions. That's more then most wireless robots out there offer. This new arrangement will be coupled with DSP technology to enable on-the-fly video compression.

The current range is perfect for in house use, and patrolling the perimeter of your home. Our customers really enjoy the functionality of the robots, but I believe it can grow to me much more.

07-31-2008, 06:18 PM
Ok...there is a competition being sponsored by this website called Mech Wars. You'll have to read all of the threads on it to really get it, but one of the things people have to do is mount a camera on their robot which they can then use to drive it around. A couple of questions about the digital system you are talking about...

1 How big is the transmitter / camera?
2 power requirements?
3 How many channels are available?
4 How much?


07-31-2008, 11:51 PM
The transceivers are very small...less then 1/2" squared. The cameras are small but powerful and deliver up to 1300x1040 resolution. The entire system was put together with power conservation in mind, so we use 2.8V logic throughout. The robot draws less then 5mA in standby mode(all sensors off), with the camera on. When it detects motion, via embedded software, it will turn on the transmitter on(4mA) and sensors automatically. We're driving the motors at around 500mA which offers over 1 hr drive time with our 900mAH batteries.

Right now we are working on a different configuration to eliminate the noise produced by the gears. Right now, its about making it more efficient and more intelligent, while also keeping it affordable to the average home owner. We have 3 different channels for the custom transmitters, and now offer WiFi and Bluetooth solutions. The basic unit is $200, and is a user controlled rover, with a user selectable timer fail-safe. Sensor options add autonomous intelligence.

08-01-2008, 12:12 AM
well...I'm sure a lot of people on this website will be interested in the video and transmitter systems to say the least.

When you have time check out the mech wars thread. You may be interested from the home security stand point.


08-01-2008, 01:23 AM
>> The cameras are small but powerful and deliver up to 1300x1040 resolution.

Isn't that an NTSC receiver in your video?

08-01-2008, 07:26 AM
M'mmmm I would like to get my hands on one of those Cameras if not two. Welcome to this forum LeBeaux, Nice bot you have.

08-01-2008, 12:02 PM
Heh I want one. It looks fun!

08-01-2008, 06:09 PM
You're correct. The first Gen Robots used an NTSC wireless camera, but the limitations on that setup was quickly identified. Interference, range, and quality were our biggest concerns. That's why we have develop this custom video solution. Now the ROBOTs are able to be used like a webcam. The transmitter now transmits the compressed video data, instead of an analog signal. The A/V input,and data transceiver is bundled up in one little package, and is handled with the usb port.

We are doing data manipulation right off of the CMOS camera parallel port now, which allows us to do some very interesting things. This combo is like nothing on the market. Right now we are still ironing out some things and gearing up for mass production. I don't even want to get into what type of cool web apps we are designing around this system. The second gen should be available to consumers soon. Keep checking us out.

08-01-2008, 06:14 PM
That's great! Thank you. As something of an RF specialist, I can concur with your findings. 2.4G video senders like the original one you were using stink-on-ice. Nothing but broken video when you're moving, or when any water-laden meat-bags [aka mammels in general] step in front of the antenna.

Good to hear you've gone to a highres, high-thruput data uplink instead - kudos!

08-01-2008, 08:42 PM

I egarly await the release of your second gen product.

Do you anticipate a change in price for the next version?

What sort of programming options do you use with it?

and of course.... HOW LONG?!? :veryhappy:

oh, and if you look - your rover is similar to the one I want to build. My thread is in this forum.

08-01-2008, 09:04 PM
The price will probably be higher at first, because of the R&D costs, and the limited production. However, as we scale up, the price will drop. I'm not going to say how much yet, my marketing guys would kill me:) I'm not going to say how long yet, because my engineers would kill me:) I'll keep you posted.

08-01-2008, 09:13 PM
Oh yeah, programming options. This is cool...we have built in a boot-loader, that works with the application software to flash more capabilities into you robot with the existing transceiver interface. You can do it the hard way, with assembly, or embedded C, or for non-programmers you can make routines, using the available robot actions, in your software application and save them as functions that will be carried out with a specified command from your software application.

08-02-2008, 11:51 AM
Very cool! I eagerly await the second gen!