Mikroe Buggy: Assembly and first impressions

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Back to my workbench. Today it’s time to assemble the MikroElektronika Buggy. There are several Buggy kits. depending on the chosen “brain”. Mine is MIKROE-1828, which consists in the buggy itself, plus one clicker 2 for PIC32MX and one BLE P click board.

Inside the box you will find the main chassis for the buggy, three raiser cards for the Click boards, the side panel and top bar, two holders for the battery, the battery and, in my case, one BLE P click and one Clicker 2 for PIC32MX. Of course, other mikromedia compatible boards can be used, such is the case of mikromedia for XMEGA (sold separately).

The mini-sumo competition rules state that rovers should have a width and length under 10 cm. This rover, without the wheels, it has a size of 14 cm x 11 cm. No sumo competitions with this rover. What a pity.

The Buggy is one of the rovers in which the main PCB serves also as chassis. On the top side we find the mikromedia compatible header which allows us to add the desired “brain”, the motor control circuits consisting of two DRV8833RTY H-bridges and the associated components. Note that each motor is placed in series with a 400 ohm resistor as current limiter. We also find theĀ  battery charging circuits and the electronics for lighting the LEDs.

Under the chassis we find four identical Pololu Micro Metal Gearmotors. The manual doesn’t specify the gear ratio. All motors are mounted directly on the PCB. Holes in the PCB allow for fixing screws to be installed. The wheels are 42 x 19 mm in size, also from Pololu. Between the motors there is space for the battery.

Assembly

This rover requires some assembly. First, the battery has to be installed. My approach is to solder first the tab opposite of the battery connector, as the battery is easier to insert from this side. Then, insert the battery and solder the other holding tab. The battery will be connected later, after all the raiser cards for the Click boards are soldered in position. If you ever need to remove the battery, the holder tabs are easily removed by absorbing all the solder with some solder wick.

Next comes the really difficult part: soldering of the mikroBUS raiser cards. Especially the back raiser card proved to be a real pain in the well-you-know. It’s located very close to the motor holder, and there is not enough space to work comfortably. As such, expect some solder bridges šŸ™ If this happens, use some solder wick to remove the bridges.

The two front raiser cards are easier to install as there is more space around them. After finishing this step the buggy is ready to be “beautified” by installing the side panels and the top bar.

Some first impressions

This buggy requires some soldering skills, especially when installing the mikroBUS raiser cards. Have some desoldering braid (aka solder wick) at your disposal. Having a soldering station with a narrow tip helps a lot.

Three mikroBUSĀ  sockets on the rover, plus another two from the Clicker 2 card. Over 140 click boards at this time. Many, many combinations possible. I can see the MikroElektronika Buggy easily as the bare bone for a lot of final year projects.

There is no mikroBUS socket underneath the robot, although I wish for one. No line follower out of the box – but I’ll show you soon how to make a line follower robot using the Buggy platform.

The rover has a ground clearance of 15mm – the rover won’t stop on the first bump on the road.

Whoa. This thing is FAST!!!

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