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Custom controller


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Cyber



Joined: 26 Aug 2015
Posts: 59
Location: Melbourne


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Custom controller

I wanted to build a custom control system tailored towards performing complex tasks accurately. IMO, typical R/C controllers are a compromise for a couple of reasons. While they support channel mixing for handling 'tank style' steering they usually do so by mixing steering and throttle control into the same joystick. I personally find this challenging to control accurately especially while performing other tasks. They also don't provide many options for control over the other channels. My controller lets me perform channel mixing using both thumbsticks (left for throttle, right for steering) and has 'bumper' and thumb buttons for additional channels. Modularity is a large part of the design and features can easily be added or removed to suit the bot being controlled.

My controller will be powered by an Arduino Nano and an ESP8266 wireless module. I'll also construct a ruggardised and shielded receiver which will consist of a matching Arduino Nano and ESP8266 with internal power supply and optocouplers on logic outputs to isolate it from EM noise.

---------

While I work out the software side of things I've started work on construction of the unit itself. I've used a Jaycar project box with clear acrylic lid. The thumbsticks feel very nice to the touch and use two 10k pots on each axis for a nice linear analogue output. They also have a momentary press button built in and are supplied with a clearly labelled breakout board. It was a simple case of drilling some 3mm holes and using an appropriate holesaw.


http://i.imgur.com/y7A9ee2t.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/lXQv85Zt.jpg

Some brass standoffs and 3mm washers allowed me to mount the thumbsticks at the right distance from the box cover to prevent fouling of the thumbsticks and allow full movement. I had to bevel the inside edge of the hole with a round file as the acrylic was quite thick and there wasn't much tolerance for mounting inaccuracies.


http://i.imgur.com/eGECLEst.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/r2PRlZEt.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/725BxPct.jpg

The buttons I have used also have nice tactile feel and although they require a little more pressure than I would like it should prevent any accidental input.


http://i.imgur.com/oagMrcO.jpg

I've used a latching IC to toggle power to the controller on and off using one of the momentary switches. It's a simple circuit and provides a power indicator LED as well.


http://i.imgur.com/nf7dXNV.jpg

Powering the setup is 3x AAA batteries in a detachable holder. More than likely I will replace this setup with a LiPo and built-in charger once the controller is working.

that's all for now! more to come...


Last edited by Cyber on Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:21 am; edited 1 time in total

Post Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:05 am 
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Valen
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Joined: 07 Jul 2004
Posts: 4433
Location: Sydney


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you can do the mixing with whatever channels you want as a rule with an off the shelf radio btw.

That said I look forward to your project, I was thinking about doing something similar, but I was just going to use an xbox controller and laptop/phone/whatever for the user interface.
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Post Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:01 pm 
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Ondray



Joined: 06 Jul 2015
Posts: 139
Location: Newcastle


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I was also thinking of going the xbox controller path, I've got some of the ESP8266 chips, I was going to try and avoid using an arduino as well because the ESP can do everything needed.

Ideally I'd have the ESP setup a webpage with bot info on it (bat voltage, motor temps, etc) then control the bot with an xbawks controller plugged into a tablet which views the webpage from the ESP.

Also, there's already a thread on this subject in general chat:
http://www.robowars.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2039

Post Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:10 pm 
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marto
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While I am all for using the ESP8266 for a wifi receiver I don't think it is suitable for a RX or TX module for proper combat. Purely due to the limitations of Wifi and the fact that a lot of the Spread Spektrum chinese transmitters seem to destroy Wifi.

Steve
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Last edited by marto on Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:30 pm; edited 1 time in total

Post Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:25 pm 
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marto
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As an alternative I think your better off using a hobbyking T6A and getting it for the module and feeding it PPM.

Steve
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Twisted Constructions
http://www.botbitz.com

Post Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:27 pm 
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Cyber



Joined: 26 Aug 2015
Posts: 59
Location: Melbourne


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Welp, i've still being playing with this but I've dropped the ESP8266. Instead I'm looking at using a raspberry pi and 'proper' WiFi gear. The ESP8266 is being repurposed to provide telemetry for my heads-up-display... demo viewable here: http://tanglesgaming.com/esp8266_test

I've had this working successfully with the ESP8266 receiving telemetry values from an arduino and acting as the wifi access-point and webserver. It struggles at range (hangs) but I have a different ESP8266 module on order with a socket for an external antenna.

Post Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:40 pm 
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Nick
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Joined: 16 Jun 2004
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Is the telemetry going to be a true head mounted see-thru display? That would be extremely cool! After having a telemetry radio for some time, I don't use it that much during actual matches as there is too much else going on to look down at the display.

IMHO, your display has too much info. There is no point in having precise temperatures of everything shown all the time as there is not much you can do with the info in the middle of a 3 minute battle. Just reduce many of the readouts to a three level bar graph or a warning light to save space and info overload.
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Post Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:42 am 
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Cyber



Joined: 26 Aug 2015
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Location: Melbourne


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I changed the demo value to show what happens when a value is outside the normal range... https://tanglesgaming.com/esp8266_test/

The idea being that I have it running on an iPad or a laptop in front of me and the flashing red/orange catches my eye if there's a problem. Might make the weapon fuel gauge a bit bigger too. have done some more testing and it seems to work quite well with the external antenna on the ESP8266

Post Sat Jan 09, 2016 3:15 pm 
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marto
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Interesting to see the antenna makes such a big difference. Is this on the big Bot? I am working on my own firmware for a BotBitz RX but it hasn't had much love in the past 3 months.

Steve
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Twisted Constructions
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Post Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:04 pm 
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Tim



Joined: 30 Oct 2013
Posts: 247
Location: QLD


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Still keen to test that if you need Steve, built everything from source as per your instruction, ran into troubles flashing the esp (have done it successfully several times? ) / com port issue at the time was busy and never got back to it, like the idea.

Cheers Tim

Post Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:20 am 
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