Thursday, 12 June 2014


The BonsaiBot prototype is finally together and driving around. Most of it was developed from scratch. It was designed by Nick Fryer and Peter McKenzie using 3-D printed and laser cut parts. That blue 3-D printed box in the front of the robot is for the electronics which consists of an Arduino Mega, a Pololu Dual VNH5019 Motor Driver Shield and an XBee S1 paired with one plugged into my PC. As you can see it is a differential drive rover, the design was inspired by an old Sibbing front wheel drive electric wheelchair my brother and I used to drive.

This rover is driven from a Windows 7 PC using a C# application that I wrote. It uses the Command Messenger library to talk to the Arduino sending serial commands using the paired XBees. On the Arduino side is a pretty simple program that uses the Dual VNH5019 Motor Driver and the Command Messenger libraries. Video is sent using an IP camera at the moment although we do have a far better system (we hope) on its way.
It is very much a prototype but it does work well enough to chase the dogs around and scare small children. On the to-do list is to develop a single program that does it all without having a browser window open in the background. It would also be good to have a system that uses Wi-Fi as that is far more ubiquitous than XBees. If it is to be used as a telepresence robot you really need to be able to send commands to it through the Internet, so I am also playing around with TCP/IP as a way to send information to the robot.
So it’s awesome, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Below is a video of the robot driving around inside (please ignore the part where I crash into the fridge). C# and Arduino source files

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