In preparation for next semester’s course on robotics, we are preparing cars that will be used by the students.
As of the writing of this post, the car currently looks like this (see bottom of page). This project was a real pain at times, like when we had to fit hex nuts into the slots of the 3D printed frame. But it was also pretty cool-- we used tools which I had never used before like the soldering iron, heat gun, and 3D printer. The three things we swapped out were the motor, the servo, and the VESC (motor controller).
It’s interesting to go through the process of building something and to feel all the parts come together, physically and mentally. Before this, I wasn’t aware of all the components that went into a (toy) car and scanning the materials list was overwhelming. I tackled each section one at a time, only briefly looking ahead to see if there was anything for the next section I would need to do before. In the hours of building this car, the mental image of this car went from being an abstract black box to a system of clearly identified components.
Update: The car now runs!
Things to note for building a car like this in the future:
- Don’t be afraid to try the wires and move them afterwards.
- The buck converter didn’t change the voltage it was outputting until we added the heat sink.
- The cables we pinned down using the screws were really finicky, always test those first if the power supply does not light up the Jetson board.
- If the Jetson display keeps flashing and restarting, try flashing the SD card with a different file. In our case, we ended up with the file provided by NVIDIA and then running the install scripts for the mushr project ourselves.