3 ways to easily extend your Rover

March 16, 2020

by

Szymon Dzwończyk

We live in strange times when more and more products become black-box solutions with no way to fix or hack. Imagine how phones looked like a decade ago and how do they look like now. Remember the times when you could hard reset your phone just by taking its battery out? It’s gone for good or bad.

As everybody got used to this new closed-design trend, we - in Leo Rover, see this growing fear of the users opening the Rover case to fix any issues on their own. And we don’t like it. Our mission is to make sure you stop thinking about the Rover as if it was a closed iPhone, and start working with its guts - as in the old days.

Here we gathered some quick tips on how to develop on the Rover and where to look for any info on its hacks and mods. We’d like to show you where you can find the needed interfaces to use in your projects and which parts can be easy customized.


Mounting platform of every Leo Rover


First: Use the mounting platform

The top of the Rover is designed especially to be used as mounting plate. You’ll add any of your devices there for easy access, unobstructed view and up to 5 kg of load.

To make it easier we prepared a single waterproof mini-USB socket there that is connected directly to Raspberry Pi port in the Main Electronics Box (MEB). There is as well a male RP-SMA antenna socket there - used for the access point modem antenna. Given the socket, if you build something protruding high on the platform, you can always change the antenna to higher one or add antenna extension cable to mount it high enough for your use.


You’ll most probably mount here: LiDARs, robotic arms, additional cameras, Leo Rover mast

Our internal Leo Rover with Hokuyo lidar

Second: Use the additional modules quarter

The rear right quarter of the Rover was originally used to hold a Wifi modem, but as we moved the modem to the Main Electronics Box in Leo Rover and then we stopped using a power converter in Leo 1.6 - this quarter doesn’t have any use in stock Rover other than keeping its design symmetric.

You can now add anything you like to the quarter keeping it out of view and safe in the Rover internals. There are 4x m4 threads ready to hold your modules that can fit a FIBOX ABS B 65 G plastic case to keep your add-ons nice and tidy from the outside and waterproof inside - hint: similar box is used for the Rover battery.


Here you’ll add: second Raspberry Pi (or other SBC), additional battery, additional network module, power converters


Our internal Rover with IR lights mounted

Third: Add to Main Electronics Box

The architecture of the Rover electronics allows for almost unlimited extensions using either internal Raspberry Pi ports or Core2-ROS interfaces. What’s more, the box itself is designed to be easy-opened and modified to keep any modules close to the main electronics.

The box and its cover are designed to be 3d-printed (are even 3d-printed in the stock Rovers). The covers have ready-to-use mounting points where you can implement a universal mounting plate or anything of your own design and then assemble your own modules to be kept internally. This way you make sure you have unobstructed access to Core2-ROS and Raspberry Pi ports with no need of routing cables out of the box and keep your work watertight.

If you still need external access (as for proximity sensors, additional lights, cameras) you can modify the cover on your own or use Dev Cover project that provides a rear opening for cables at a cost of waterproofness. This way you can easily route cables out of the box and quickly try your ideas before you design something more elaborate. Then, if you need to external access components, you can edit the cover to your own needs and just switch the stock one (as we showed with IR-lights cover project).


Here you’ll add: IMU, IR-lights, Ethernet cable for tethered use, etc.


By showing these 3 ways to implement any of your ideas, we hope to keep you less afraid of tinkering and more eager to customize the Rover for your own needs. As we know, every single idea comes with slightly different approach needed, so we won’t answer all the issues here - it’s your job now to find the easiest and most elegant way to build your stuff.


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