3 ways to easily extend your Rover

Quick tips on how to develop on the Rover and where to look for any info on its hacks and mods.

May 25, 2023


Szymon Dzwończyk

We live in strange times when more and more products become black-box solutions with no way to fix or hack. Imagine what phones looked like a decade ago and what 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, at 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 – just like in the good ol' days.

Here, we've 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 easily customized.

Leo Rover's mounting platform
Mounting platform of the Leo Rover

First: Use the mounting platform

The top of the Rover is designed especially to be used as a 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 the Raspberry Pi port in the Main Electronics Box (MEB). There is a male RP-SMA antenna socket there as well – used for the access point modem antenna. Thanks to the socket, if you build something protruding high on the platform, you can always change the antenna to a taller 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

Leo Rover with Hokuyo lidar
Our internal Leo Rover with Hokuyo lidar

Second: Use the additional modules quarter

The rear right quarter of the Leo Rover was originally used to hold a WiFi modem, but as we moved the modem to the Main Electronics Box, we stopped using a power converter in Leo Rover 1.6 – this quarter doesn’t have any use in the 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's internals. There are 4x m4 threads there 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's battery.

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

IR lights mounted on Leo Rover
Our internal Leo Rover with IR lights mounted

Third: Add to Main Electronics Box

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

The box and its cover are designed to be 3d-printed (and in the stock Rovers, they are). 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 the to Core2-ROS/LeoCore 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 the 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 access components externally, 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.

Now, unlock your creativity

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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