When maker and Thingiverse user Michael Larkin started designing an RC all-terrain vehicle he wanted something that he could 3D print. When he decided that he also wanted it to hold a video camera he found himself designing some interesting robots, but nothing that worked quite the way that he wanted it to. But in a moment of inspiration he decided to create a rover style robot so he could mount a grabbing claw, a movable head to contain the camera and individual drive wheels so it could go virtually anywhere. He named his cute rover Moon One and got to work figuring out what parts he would need to buy and what he could 3D print himself.
Once Larkin decided on the type of motors and gears that would work best for the robot, he designed the chassis around them. He chose to use Cubify Invent to design all of the rover’s 3D printable parts because it was simple to learn, it was available online and didn’t need to be installed, and he had already enjoyed designing other 3D printing projects using it. The only 3D printable part that he didn’t design himself was the grabbing claw, as he found a simple design online that did everything that he wanted and was easily adapted for Moon One’s chassis.
“The process of creation was quite rapid. I completed it in about 1.5 months. It probably would have been faster, but I ordered some parts from foreign online stores. This slowed down the process. What kind of work can you make this robot do? Hard question. It might have something to pick up, to carry items from place to place and it can spy. We put on a radio so we could talk to people. Everyone really liked it and people smiled. Children want to touch it, dogs want to bite. It is almost invisible and may accidentally hit the foot. We also put a plastic cup into his hand and began to ask the people for coins. People gladly gave and in 10 minutes we had about 5 dollars,” Larkin joked when we spoke via email.
Because each wheel would have its own, independent motor Larkin opted for a simple, compact design that allowed Moon One to be extremely fast, nimble and gave the wheels a lot of room to move. In order to give the rover even more maneuverability he used some durable syringes to power some air-driven shocks, which allowed it to easily bounce and roll over just about any sort of terrain. In the end, Moon One is the perfect little RC robot to explore your backyard, or harass sunbathers and pedestrians in the park.
And here is some video of Larkin doing just that:
Larkin had initially intended to 3D print all of the rover’s wheels but found them to be too hard and fragile, with the surfaces becoming quite rough and cracked after only brief use, so he ended up just purchasing some basic 1:10 scale RC car wheels. Other than the wheels, the only other parts of Moon One that were not 3D printed were some 8mm ball bearings, some aluminum tubing for structure and durability, the drive motors, the electronics and of course a standard RC aircraft controller. He used a GoPro 3 for the FPV camera and then mounted it inside of Moon One’s adorable little 3D printed “face.” He even gave him some spotlights on the side of his head that look like a pair of eyes.
The Moon One robot can operate on batteries for about an hour and a half, and with its 1.5 watt transmitter Larkin could see video and control it from about three miles away. Although because he lives in a huge city like Moscow, Larkin said that he would be far too afraid to send it off that far away from him. He watches where Moon One is going using a pair of viewing glasses connected to the GoPro that allows Larkin to get a first-person view of whatever the rover encounters. There is also a gyroscope built into the glasses that allows him to control the rover’s head just by turning his own head.
The 33-year-old professional photographer says that when he wears the glasses and controls his Moon One rover that he actually feels a little bit like a robot himself. And he thinks that is a pretty “excellent feeling.” You can download the 3D printable files and get a list of electronic components over on Thingiverse. Let us know what you think of this project and the Moon One robot over on our 3D Printable All-Terrain RC Rover forum thread at 3DPB.com.