Martian Rovers...Has Anyone Built An Amateur One?

Has anyone built an amateur version of the Martian rovers?
If so please supply links and a discussion of how you did.
Thanks
TMT
FYI...
Rovers Still Exploring Mars After 2 Years By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer
The warranty expired long ago on NASA's twin robots motoring around Mars. These two golf cart-sized vehicles were only expected to last three months.
In two years, they have traveled a total of seven miles. Not impressed? Try keeping your car running in a climate where the average temperature is 67 below zero and where dust devils can reach 100 mph.
"These rovers are living on borrowed time. We're so past warranty on them," says Steven Squyres of Cornell University, the Mars mission's principal researcher. "You try to push them hard every day because we're living day-to-day."
The rover Spirit landed on Mars on Jan. 3, 2004, and Opportunity followed on Jan. 24. Since then, they've set all sorts of records and succeeded in the mission's main assignment: finding geologic evidence that water once flowed on Mars.
Part of the reason for their long survival is pure luck. Their lives were extended several times by dust devils that blew away dust that covered their solar panels, restoring their ability to generate electricity.
Like most Earth-bound vehicles, these identical robots have their own personalities.
The overachieving Opportunity dazzled scientists from the start. It eclipsed its twin by making the mission's first profound discovery - evidence of water at or near the surface eons ago that could have implications for life.
The rock-climbing Spirit went down in the history books by becoming the first robot to scale an extraterrestrial hill. Last summer, it completed a daredevil climb to the summit of Husband Hill - as tall as the Statue of Liberty - despite fears that it might not survive the weather.
The rovers haven't been all get-up and go - technical hiccups have at times limited their activity, even from the start. At one point, Spirit had a balky front wheel, but engineers overcame the problem by driving it in reverse. Last spring, Opportunity got stuck hub-deep in sand while trying to crest a foot-high dune, and was freed after weeks of effort by the Earth-bound engineers.
The six-wheeled travelers, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, also are showing signs of aging. In November, a motor on Opportunity's robotic arm stalled and the arm failed to extend while it was surveying a rock outcrop. The engineers fixed that problem after two weeks.
This mission is the first time any probe has extensively rolled across Mars, whose rocky landscape is a dangerous place for man-made objects to settle and roam.
There have been four previous Mars landings that succeeded. Of those, NASA's stationary Viking 1 lander operated the longest, from 1976 to 1982. NASA's Sojourner was the first rover, but it stayed close to its Pathfinder lander.
Spirit and Opportunity parachuted to opposite ends of Mars. Spirit landed in Gusev Crater, a 90-mile-wide depression south of the Martian equator. Opportunity followed three weeks later, touching down on Meridiani Planum on the other side of the planet.
In two years, Spirit has traveled over three miles and beamed back 70,000 images including self-portraits and panoramas of the rust-colored planet's surface. Opportunity has driven over four miles and transmitted more than 58,000 images.
Three times NASA has extended the rovers' mission, spending an extra $84 million on top of the $820 million original price tag.
While both rovers have discovered clues of ancient water, they also have found evidence of a violent past that might have prevented some life forms from emerging.
Piecing together a definitive history of Mars is far from over, scientists say, as the rovers head to their next destinations to explore more rocks and minerals.
Spirit recently descended Husband Hill and is driving toward a basin that holds geologic promise. Opportunity is rolling to an enormous depression known as Victoria Crater that is thought to hold more clues about the planet's past.
"Rock layers are the barcode of Mars history," said John Grotzinger, a science team member from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Every time we encounter new layers, it's another piece of the puzzle."
___
On the Net:
Mars Rovers: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html
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Actually, did it professionally, but you can see the result at:
http://www.washingtonpavilion.org/ScienceDiscoveryCenter/events/newairspace.cfm
Worked with Exhibit Engineering and a couple other companies, we did the micro inside. We used a PlugaPod(TM) and two NMIH-0050's, and executed commands from a PC over a Bluetooth link. We implemented skid steering, with timed turns. It had a separate video camera link, that sent back pictures for the operator. Perhaps you can see from the set up, the operator has no direct visual path to seem operation, and must work through the wireless link when seated at the PC station.
--
Randy M. Dumse
www.newmicros.com
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Hi there,
That is pretty impressive work!
Does anyone know of any books that describe the rovers at an engineering level. I've yet to come across a decent book that goes into a decent depth in describing the systems, sensors and actuators etc.
Maybe one doesn't exist but it would sure be interesting reading if one did.
Allen.
On Mon, 2 Jan 2006 18:08:27 -0600, "Randy M. Dumse"

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"Does anyone know of any books that describe the rovers at an engineering level. I've yet to come across a decent book that goes into a decent depth in describing the systems, sensors and actuators etc. "
I have been looking for such information and it does not seem to be available.
In today's NASA, I assume that with the outsourcing that has occurred all such information is the property of the companies that have built the Rover and therefore won't be released.
If so it is a shame, I for one really do not understand why there has not been an increased interest in the Martian Rovers (note the lack of response to this discussion). I find it to be one of the most interesting robots around that is actually delivering on the promises made by its program. I would think that there would be a strong interest to build working models of it.
TMT
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Has anyone checked out this book;
Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet Steve Squyres
It is in the realm of pop-sci and will probably only touch on the engineering aspects of the mssion but I think I'll have to order it anyway.
Allen.
On 3 Jan 2006 08:43:57 -0800, "Too_Many_Tools"

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Hi!
I've read it almost all the way through. If you expect to learn anything about the engineering of the rovers, you will be disappointed. It is however a nice, enjoyable read, if you're interested in the inner workings of a space mission.
Regards, Andras Tantos
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I have found that by following up on the results of several searches I have been able to recover a lot of information about different parts of the Rovers. Combined; a person might be able to put together a basic design of one.
For instance the Robotic Arms: It turns out that a grad student was the developer of it. Since it was a NASA project the information like Specs are mostly open, yet many facets of the hardware used were developed specifically for this project and have no off the shelf exact duplicate. You could by learning what the specifications are duplicate the Rover pretty closely, perhaps even improve upon it. http://www.asi-space.com/products/Robotics.asp
The high gain antennas motor controls on the Rover. An article about the Antennas, references the manufacturers one of which,one has their web site operational and information on the cameras and motors used to move them in the super cold environment. http://www.machinedesign.com/ASP/strArticleID/56430/strSite/MDSite/viewSelectedArticle.asp
The Harmonic Drive Inc site that houses the information about the motors. http://www.harmonic-drive.com/products/actuators/psa-a.htm
Rovsoft is software, controlling a (Mars)Rover http://sourceforge.net/projects/rovsoft
Another Rover software package http://sourceforge.net/projects/psumrss
You get the idea, it would have to be pieced together. But if someone worked long enough I am sure they could put most of the Rover together in an engineering sense at least, perhaps write their own manual on it
Mr.G.
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Thanks for the leads Mr. G.
Any idea why NASA hasn't done just that...publish a manual and docs?
I thought part of their charter was educational?
TMT
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Well there is a lot of information on the site at NASA as well. It might not be a manual on building the Rover, but it should be enough to build a nice replica.
http://marsrover.nasa.gov/technology/bb_software_engineering.html
Autonomous Planetary Mobility http://marsrover.nasa.gov/technology/is_autonomous_mobility.html
Rover's Arm http://marsrover.nasa.gov/mission/spacecraft_rover_arm.html
There is also the technology transfer program that requires NASA to share it's technonlogy with industry and other organizations. You have to partner with them in some instances. Even though it seems like a lot of misery, if you have something to contribute like new inovations and the like, I am sure they will talk to you about it, perhaps even assist you in some aspect.
There is a good place to start with the Innovative Partnerships Program. http://ip.nasa.gov /
The next place to look around at is the Engineering Tech Briefs area. It has a lot of information and even has the software you can get free from NASA, I have explored the entire site yet. So I can't lead you every where on it, but it is extensive. http://www.nasatech.com /
http://www.techbriefs.com/software /
If you are looking for Robotic information specifically, you will have to look into several disaplines, Machinery Automation, computers electronics, Motion Control, Mechanics, etc.etc. you get the picture. http://www.techbriefs.com/Briefs /
For the following you will have to register. It's free, but it's a process.
Once you find something that interests you, you can look to see if there is a Tech Support Package on it. This will spill the beans so to speak on what ever technology your after. http://www.techbriefs.com/TSP2/cats.php
Anyway, there is a lot more online there too. As I find things I will try to catch up with you and post them.
Mr.G
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Again thanks for the leads.
I had checked NASA earlier but it would seem that more has been posted since then.
My interests are to build an amateur version of the Rover and to go where no man has gone before...my unmowed backyard. ;<)
TMT
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Here's one:
<http://www.mme.wsu.edu/~wsurobot/temp/2005-09-18
Here's a video of it in action:
<http://www.mme.wsu.edu/~wsurobot/temp/2005-09-18/drive2.wmv
dpa
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Actually, did it professionally, but you can see the result at:
http://www.washingtonpavilion.org/ScienceDiscoveryCenter/events/newai ...
"Worked with Exhibit Engineering and a couple other companies, we did the micro inside. We used a PlugaPod(TM) and two NMIH-0050's, and executed commands from a PC over a Bluetooth link. We implemented skid steering,
with timed turns. It had a separate video camera link, that sent back pictures for the operator. Perhaps you can see from the set up, the operator has no direct visual path to seem operation, and must work through the wireless link when seated at the PC station. "
Thanks for posting this.
Any links to detailed documentation?
Thanks
TMT
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On 2 Jan 2006 14:40:37 -0800, "Too_Many_Tools"

I haven't done anything in this area, but I recall there was a certain brand name of motors used, so I googled for: mars rover motors and found these interesting links offhand, they're certainly not comprehensive, so you surely want to do that search as well.
"Maxon motor provided 39 miniature motors for two new Mars rovers, sent to the Red planet in 2003. " http://www.solarnavigator.net/maxon_swiss_motor.htm Manufacturer's website: http://www.maxonmotor.com /
"Mars Exploration Rover Technical Data" lotsa detailed pics, this looks to be the MOST interesting: http://hobbiton.thisside.net/rovermanual /
"Harmonic drives boost pointing accuracy in high-gain antenna drives aboard Mars Explorer Rovers." Precision antenna positioning: This is presumably not that useful unless you actually want to communicate with your rover from millions of miles away: http://www.machinedesign.com/ASP/strArticleID/56430/strSite/MDSite/viewSelectedArticle.asp

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Servo mag did a mini series a while back "The NEA Micro-Lander Project" started in July 2005 issue, it included a couple of rovers too.
Paul Crouch www.outsider.plus.com
Ben Bradley wrote:

http://www.machinedesign.com/ASP/strArticleID/56430/strSite/MDSite/viewSelectedArticle.asp
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