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Content 4/4

It all started with the invitation to participate in a contest consisting of designing an amateur student rover, for simulating a small-scale lunar mission, back in 2019. A group of friends with the same goal got together working for a whole year non-stop for making this dream, a reality.


This part of the project consists of a set of printed circuit boards that gave life to the "RAMS Rover", the main PCB board can communicate wirelessly via radio frequency with a LoRa transceiver module, or Bluetooth communication with an additional module. It uses the ATMEGA2560 microcontroller just as the Arduino MEGA (hence the name "Juanduino MEGA", which a friend of mine suggested), the main board incorporates all essential components to operate the microcontroller properly (resonator or oscillator with its couple of capacitors), the codes can be uploaded via ICSP port (also used for bootloader) or via Serial port for using a FTDI USB to serial converter, this made it easy to program it using the Arduino IDE. A pair of voltage regulators and pads for the transceiver and all available microcontroller pins out made this board capable of connecting to several custom modules that, when all together, they could do various different functions to satisfy our needs, in this specific case, we needed to move the DC Motors attached to the wheels and move a robotic arm with help of some Linear actuators. I figured out that the best option was to make everything modular as if one system failed, it could be easily replaced with another repeated module.


The modules themselves, interact with the main board for controlling and powering DC Motors with help of the Pololu VNH5019 DC Motor Drivers. The remaining module, just as necessary, it makes use of the Pololu Jrk G2 21v3 Drivers, to control several linear actuators, also from Pololu.


A wireless controller was also made for controlling the actions of the rover (movements) with the ATMEGA2560 as its microcontroller and the LoRa Ra-02 433MHz as the transceiver. This controller read signals from two joysticks and six potentiometers, as well as four push buttons, the option of using an IMU sensor such as a GY-87/GY-801 or an MPU6050 for controlling the rover was also available.


Design and construction of these PCB's took over 6 months before manufacturing, as, they went through 28 different re-designs to get to the desired looks and getting the minimal trace width correct for every signal.


On March 11th, the first national contest "Hacia una Base Lunar 2019" (Towards a Lunar Base 2019) took place in Ensenada City, Mexico. Needless to say, our rover won the 1st place among 14 competing rovers after simulating a small-scale lunar mission, all the way from maneuvering on irregular terrain and collecting rock samples was no problem at all, all of this was controlled wirelessly at a distance with help of a Graphic User Interface and wireless cameras. This would have not been possible if it wasn't for every person involved in the designing, financing, making and performing of the rover, to all of the above, thanks.



  • You can watch our participation and the RAMS Rover in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa0HB27RXGI&list=PL_oKau96aoiwkGvxn3L0naupZyCes-oJO&index=10&t=0s


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa0HB27RXGI&list=PL_oKau96aoiwkGvxn3L0naupZyCes-oJO&index=10&t=0s


Bill of materials used in this project

ATMEGA2560 Microcontroller
1
16MHz Oscillator
1
LoRa Ra-02 433MHz Transceiver
1
AMS1117-5V Regulator
5
AMS1117-3.3V Regulator
1
Two Terminal Block Headers
8
DPST Switch
5
SMD Resistor 1M
2
SMD Resistor 100K
1
SMD Resistor 10K
3
SMD Resistor 1K
4
SMD Capacitor 100nF
9
SMD Capacitor 47uF
20
SMD Capacitor 22pF
2
DC Jack Barrel
1
SMD Green LED
1
SMD Blue LED
1
SMD Yellow LED
2
SMD Push Button
1
SMD M7 Diode
6
Apr 25,2020
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      Ben Jordan is a board level electronics and embedded systems design engineer. Always an avid tinkerer, Ben started with his first soldering iron at the age of 8, designing and etching his own PCBs soon after. Ben is an expert in EDA with Altium, Protel, CircuitMaker and CircuitStudio and has a Bachelor of Engineering (CompSys) Hon I. from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. He is an IPC-CID+ certified PCB designer, and makes training videos for Altium Academy.
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