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So what’s this all about?

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Team HellHound has entered the SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition. Actually, we’re not officially in the contest. We’re on the alternate list and hoping some other teams will drop out or be eliminated when the video is due by April 1st.

The team is Floyd H. and me, Mark H. Combine the H’s, find a word that fits and you end up with HellHound. Worked for us. Floyd is an electronics and software guy. He already laid out a custom board for control of the vehicle and sensors interfaces. I’m primarily a software guy but am also working to get items physically mounted since I have a few more tools at my disposal. Beyond the competition, we work together and have been involved in numerous autonomous vehicle programs over the last decade. Yeah, we get paid to do it but this one is all for fun, fame, and just to hang out with the cool folks at SparkFun.

For the contest, we’re entering the ground vehicle portion of the competition. We have a couple of vehicles already computer controlled but made the decision to get one that is more capable than the ones Floyd had on hand. So I purchased a barely used Traxxas Slash. I picked it up on the 17th. Work has begun to get it equipped but I’m awaiting various parts.

Before major mods

Here’s the vehicle before invasive modifications commenced. Beyond the stock vehicle, the only thing added is the front IR sensor mount. As parts begin to arrive this week and next, changes will be pretty rapid. Currently, we’ll continue to use the stock speed controller but that may shift if speed control doesn’t have quite the fidelity we need. It might mean a brushless motor upgrade but hopefully we can avoid doing so but Floyd’s board is ready to handle it if necessary.

Front IR Sensors

Obviously, we’re adding sensing to the vehicle in addition to GPS. Considering the vehicle is going to be driving itself, knowledge of the environment is critical. The IR’s are the starting point but ultrasonic sensors are also planned. If all goes as planned, we won’t need a depth meter for the pond. Things rarely go as planned so maybe I’ll look into one.

I’ll add updated photos as the modifications progress. Once the next red box arrives from Boulder along with a couple of brown ones from US Digital, A Main Hobbies and L-Com.

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