Just letting folks know what we have been up to over the last year or so.  Finally getting close to something we can release.  Essentially an all open source hardware modular robotics platform.  The short version is it's a BrainBox that can accept several different modules so it can be configured as a plane/copter/rover/whatever.

  Figured it was about time the community had a modular frame system to match the different flavors of autopilot code.  Still lots to do before we can release anything.  I have been involved with a few online communities and open source software projects and know it can turn into a big mess in a hurry.  Trying to avoid that if we can.  Also need to decide on a proper open hardware license.  Feedback welcome.

  I run a small shop and stay very busy so might be a bit slow responding. 

BoxBotix

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Comment by Coby on July 1, 2015 at 7:01am

Here's a pic of BBRover.  This one was running a Navio+/RPi with another RPi running a camera board.  Although it's in parts in the shop right now waiting for new speed controls and autopilot.  I am not a linux sysadmin so find the Pixhawk easier to deal with than Navio+.  4 wheel skid steer.  Hope to size the big EPP wheels so it will be amphibious.  Don't think they are wide enough just yet, and I have been too lazy to compute the buoyancy requirements for 5 pounds.  Would also like it to work right side up or upside down.  But I want a lot of things.  Very limited testing on R/C gear so far. 

Comment by Antonie Kruger on July 1, 2015 at 10:43am

Yeah, this is great - good concept. Good luck fellas. The amphibious rover is something I've been looking at for a while. I considered upscaling  a wild thumper with sealed plastic wheels. The EPP wheels is a great idea....one of those - why did I not think of that. Looking closer there might be some comments, but I like the idea.

Comment by Coby on July 2, 2015 at 5:29am

Thanks Antonie.  It helps that we CNC foam a bunch.  The wheels are 11.5in diameter, which is just based on making max use of foam with min waste.  It's also about as tall as I like to get with our hotwire bows.  I also tried to get the geometry set so it could climb steps without hi centering but not sure it's there - miss by about .5in clearance if we use the same arm module geometry as the BBCopter.

BTW, if people are thinking "man those things are ugly." We know.  It's OK.  Really.  The slab sided part is to keep it easier to make.  Once you go to compound curves to get pretty you also make it harder to make.  But that is why we want to open source it.  Let the builder decide.  The base model is designed around 2D CNC operations in foam and ABS sheet, plus a bit of 3D printing.  BoxBotix was as much about design for manufacture as it was about use cases.

Comment by Coby on August 10, 2015 at 3:27pm

Just a quick update.  We are in the process of moving things over to Metanomy, a nonprofit I helped found several years ago when I first started doing this kind of work.  I have since moved on to more commercial work, but the current team at Metanomy wants to take over the hosting etc.  They are also providing a bit of funding for us to clean up the initial design.  Please do not expect things to happen fast, but they are moving along.

We are going to optimize the design fro 3D printing.  It's getting easy enough to find someone with a printer who will work for beverages so why not.  We have a bunch of lessons learned from the commercial side that we will incorporate to help make printing a bit easier and the overall design more reliable etc.  It still does not make much sense to print things like wings, but most of the rest, if designed right, can be printed in ABS.  And it holds up pretty well.

More soon....

Comment by Coby on August 10, 2015 at 3:34pm

Forgot to mention.. Turns out my neighbor kid is pretty smart and works cheap.  He installed an old APM 2.5(ish) I had in the shop into the BBRover and put it through some tests. 

The thing is too light to climb stairs without 5 pounds of ballast.  Not enough traction with raw EPP foam wheels, which surprised me a bit.  It also high centers, so I did miss the spacing by about an inch.  All easy fixes.  I think we will forgo the amphibious part for now and design big printed wheels with spokes and perhaps some TPE treads.

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