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Discussion Starter #1
I've been toying with the idea of building an electronic dog for awhile now. This is one of my "back burner" projects that I will get to sooner or later, but it might be awhile. I thought I would run it by you and see what ya think.

So OK, what's an electric dog?

What I have in mind is a small radio controlled vehicle that would carry a wireless surveillance camera. This camera would have IR capability so it could be used day or night. The basic use would be to scout out an area while I am safely in the rear with the gear.

The easiest way to make one of these would be to buy a 1/16 RC tank model and just add an IR surveillance camera. I've seen RC tanks for about $100, and as a bonus, some shoot airsoft pellets and have a rotating turret and gun elevation control. This is a bonus because having the aiming controls and firing circuit would make it easier to upgrade if the need arises. (Naturally, I would never even consider adding a real gun to it)

Another option would be to start with a tracked (or even wheeled) robotics chassis like a Dagu Rover 5.

The military has these, but they are VERY expensive. I think I could build one for under $600.

My list of "must have" features would include:

Proportional steering
Proportional throttle
1000 ft range for both RC and camera
color day / IR night capability
Minimum 60 minute run time per charge
(optional) 2 way voice communications (would let me say cool stuff like, "Halt!! You are entering a restricted area, turn back or be fired on!"

So what do you all think? Is this just a crazy idea or is it something that might be useful?
 

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I am intrigued. I have a 35 degree slope just off my deck with an elevation drop of about 50' then another 25' to the creek. Could one of these manage such a angle?

My son-in-law, stationed in Germany, is into RC cars. But speed is their thing it seems.
 

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It sounds like a fun project, although I am not sure yet what the real-world practical application would be. That being said, just because something is a crazy idea does not mean it should not be built.

One suggestion, rather than building an Electric Dog, maybe consider an Electric Parrot? Building something like you outlined as a flying vehicle rather than a ground based vehicle would make it easier to build since I expect your optics and sensors would need constant readjustment and re-calibration due to the jarring movements of ground travel. Plus, travel in only 2 dimensions is so 1980's. :p

Unrelated but along the same lines, I saw this article yesterday and laughed my ass off:

Computer Tells Offensive Jokes - Business Insider

Apparently, the Scots dumped a bunch of public funding into creating a computer application that makes up jokes and then were mortified to discover the application created jokes that were mildly funny but totally politically incorrect! :mrgreen:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
PalmettoTree, Yeah, it would be able to handle a 35 degree slope as long as you kept the center of gravity low and had the traction.

Inor, A flying vehicle wouldn't really be that stealthy, and would be hard to fly, at least for me. As far as optics and sensors... it wouldn't have any sensors, and the optics would just be a hard mounted, fixed position surveillance cam, which would be used for observation and driving. A tracked vehicle should be able to pivot steer in place to look around.

What I would do is basically drive it around on a perimeter sweep or maybe send it out if I saw a campfire or something and wanted to check it out. I would sit inside the house, warm and dry, steering it with regular RC controls while watching the camera image displayed on my laptop. The wireless cams I saw could even have their output sent to a tablet or even a smart phone if I wanted to go mobile.

Did I mention that I would never even consider mounting a small gun on it? :)

I've built a few small autonomous 'bots with sensors and scripted to navigate on their own, but with mixed results and not all that reliable. Building one that I controlled would just be a matter of connecting a few off the shelf parts... easy.
 

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I've been toying with the idea of building an electronic dog for awhile now. This is one of my "back burner" projects that I will get to sooner or later, but it might be awhile. I thought I would run it by you and see what ya think.

So OK, what's an electric dog?

What I have in mind is a small radio controlled vehicle that would carry a wireless surveillance camera. This camera would have IR capability so it could be used day or night. The basic use would be to scout out an area while I am safely in the rear with the gear.

The easiest way to make one of these would be to buy a 1/16 RC tank model and just add an IR surveillance camera. I've seen RC tanks for about $100, and as a bonus, some shoot airsoft pellets and have a rotating turret and gun elevation control. This is a bonus because having the aiming controls and firing circuit would make it easier to upgrade if the need arises. (Naturally, I would never even consider adding a real gun to it)

Another option would be to start with a tracked (or even wheeled) robotics chassis like a Dagu Rover 5.

The military has these, but they are VERY expensive. I think I could build one for under $600.

My list of "must have" features would include:

Proportional steering
Proportional throttle
1000 ft range for both RC and camera
color day / IR night capability
Minimum 60 minute run time per charge
(optional) 2 way voice communications (would let me say cool stuff like, "Halt!! You are entering a restricted area, turn back or be fired on!"

So what do you all think? Is this just a crazy idea or is it something that might be useful?
Sounds cool! can you make it bite too?
 

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If you can make it able to go up and down stairs it would be a good idea. I would like to see two cameras - one always pointed ahead for navigation and another that could look around to see threats at the sides and back - mounted on the turret perhaps so it can also look up and down while panning.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, they can be a little noisy, but I should be able to minimize that by mounting the motors on rubber, sticking foam in the unused spaces, and maybe finding some sort of ruberized coating. I used to have a Traxxas racing truck, and it wasn't that loud. Still, it was louder than I want and sucked down a full charge in less than 10 minutes. I would have to use less powerful motors, which should be quieter and use less juice.

If I remember right, the military requires that it's ROVs (at least for some applications) can go up and down stairs and fit through a standard doorway, but I don't really need that ability. It would be nice to have, but would make the whole thing bigger than I want. I would mostly use it to scout the property, and maybe send it out to meet people at the gate if it had a 2 way radio on board, as some of the surveillance cams do.

And yeah, having a camera that tilts and pans would make it very hard to drive unless you had some way to make sure it is pointing in the right direction when you do move. Two cameras would solve this, but add more complexity and cost. I'll probably opt for a single fixed cam, at least for the first version.

Lynxmotion A4WD1 v2 Robot Chassis.png

wireless IR camera.png
 

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I wonder if a group on a forum like this ever simultaneously each built something like this. Each communicating to work out bugs. I doubt I would be much help to others but following the process by being a copycat would be fun.

I think I'm starting to think like a ten year old.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I ordered an Exceed RC MaxStone 4WD Rock Crawler today to serve as the base for my electric dog project. This 1/8 scale beast is 26" long and has tires over 7" tall. I'll be running it without the body and be adding an aluminum deck so I can mount the cameras. I will also install multiple batteries to increase run time and probably upgrade to a 6 channel radio with more range. The 1/8 scale MaxStone is on sale for $200, and comes ready to run including battery, charger, and radio gear. It's an unbelievable value. nitrorcx.com

 

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I think this is a great project. The ability to conduct surveillance from a secure location and react to a potential threat without exposing yourself could be live-saving. There is a reason the military uses this type of technology and I am all in favor of citizens having it also.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Dude, that's a lot of gear! But yeah, if you could get it all working, that would be much netter.

My electric dog (ED) would just be so I didn't have to go out and do perimeter sweeps physically. I would still go out and walk the property now and then, but it will be nice to have a robot I can send out too. In almost any location, there will be dead spots that you can't directly see from the house. I consider these to be dangerous, because if someone is lurking there, you might not see them until knife fighting range, and that's far too close for comfort. Better to send the bot out for a quick look, you know?

The usefulness of this thing is only limited by what kind of sensors I stick on it. I definitely want day/night capability, but could also add motion sensors, for example. In this mode, ED would be parked in an over-watch location and alert me if it detected movement. There are many other things that could be added to it once I get the basic platform worked out.

Edited to add:
As far as it being 24/7/365 complete coverage, no, not so much, but I have a regular old non-electric dog for that.
 
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