Latest (2018.04.29):

Changes made to the range have stopped other problems occurring.



YouTube 2018.05.02 - component parts  

YouTube 2018.04.29 - in a car park, first range test 

YouTube 2018.04.28 - various

YouTube 2018.03.08 - added background sound board 

YouTube 2018.02.27 - in lounge with real weather balloon 



Me tricking Rover onto a radio controlled carriage, to go over the edge of a river bank and away downstream. Or is this old age care for Rover? 


Rover Carriage in a car park with harness, harness cover not shown:




Balloon used in one of videos nearly fully inflated:



Controller circuits:

Keypad/potentiometer/LEDS, Rotary Encoder for steering, LCD for simplifying design, Rotation CONTROL, Encoder for mode switch and GPS power switch, Speech/sound effects module, TransceiverGPS module.

Carriage circuits:

LCD for diagnostics, Receiver, Multi-turn potentiometer for steering, Drive control, Speech/sound effects module, GPS module. 


Controller and Carriage (see tab at right for the Carriage, 2 more boards added since this photo):


Compass readings taken when this was part of the steering: 


Furniture item included in the debut photo but was wanted as well, Wonko The Sane inspired I think:



Battery charger before holes drilled in top and before LCD fitted for current and voltage of each (those items can wait): 



Test electronics for the Controller unit, from left to right - transceiver controller (mostly wired), display and controller, basic switch encoder, compass module, gyroscope/accelerometer/thermometer module (not to be used now), and controller chip. The controller chip has a USB peripheral which will be wired in case of the desire for PC operation. The transceiver is just that, and could also feed back to a PC, as the transceiver for the carriage unit is the same type. 


Labs used for the audio (on right) and other circuit experimentation:



Project base from August:



Stages so far:

- Reprogrammed the radio modems for maximum power and added aerials to each. There has been a problem with range and it has spoilt the videos I've been trying to make. There has also been a charging fault, which I'd not noticed. The voltage looked OK when charging but the current was very limited. Also, charger now has a limited voltage output range but it is in the right region, rather than being totally adjustable but very difficult to set accurately. Another change will be to make the steering quicker, as battery voltages are affecting the precise settings for that, and need to be more 'full'. The steering works by responding to inputs different to what the current position is.

- No changes and none for another few weeks, I'm preparing to start a new job (in electronics) and need all my time. There wil be another video in the next few days I hope, depending on the weather.

- Added the first audio board for the TX, to the RX (Carriage). This continually plays the whirring sound while sounds selected by the user remotely, are played as normal. Both sound sources are mixed and then go to the line-out socket, and then the main amplifier.

- Adapted the first transmitter digital audio source for continual playing of the mysterious whirring sound. Making a mixing amplifier for this and the output of the source playing the selected sound, in the carriage. So the carriage will play sounds without interrupting the whirring as it does at the moment. The signal is very clean.

- Made one of the final videos, but please wait for more improvements very soon - the mysterious sound will be continual, a second sound source on the Carriage. Also a better fixing allowing Rover to move faster safely. Latest video is

- Creation of harness, balloon fixings to complete still. Frame made from skewers, cover made from paper mache. Increased the volume of Rover's mysterious operating sound.

- Work on the audio, added the mysterious background sound that Rover makes. Part way through building a harness that will keep the balloon off the electronics. More steering work, still more. Added an external power option for the Transmitter. Sound playing can now be interrupted by another requested, so there is no need to wait until the current one finishes - Rover can begin with a low and friendly roar and then change to a terrifying one.

- Improvements to power distribution, which corrected a steering glitch. Steering has higher resolution now. Audio for the Demo mode finished, other than the final sound files to be used in that. Only the Controller uses the Demo mode. The Spatial mode (still to finish code for) uses sound also, on the Carriage also, and these employ their GPS units. Another video will be created when the steering is fully tuned, so the angle of the Controller turntable is replicated to the same scale by the Carriage steering.

- More prep toward the next video, and will be using the half steps between the magnets in the steering encoding.

- Got the steering working, made and uploaded another interim video: Then found that the serious jitter it was getting during that video, was from the Controller batteries running out and not from the loading of having to drive the vehicle. I can severely load the drive while the Controller is powered by an external supply, with no change. Steering is still abrupt, due to the low resolution - the rotary encoder I created in the turntable has 20 magnets around the rim, rather than 40, which made them too close. In the future I could change them to 30 maybe and tune the other parts in the steering to suit that. Or have an optical encoder somehow, fixed to the rim and turned by the centre.

- Overhauled the Carriage control chip's code. Much faster now but steering code needs more work, and is a new version. Vicious changes and also too low scaled, in other words changes little and viciously. Speed and forward/reverse responds nicely to the Transmitter see-saw control.

- Steering work: finished the rotary encoding on the Controller and began integrating the data on the Carriage control chip; also some improvements to the drive. Control chip code on the Carriage needs overhauling, it is 17th stage in its build and needs reshaping.

- Still doing the steering, which has changed in method again. Compass is not going to be used now, so forget any ideas of secret powerful magnets and kidnapping of Rover MkII.

- Nearer to finishing the steering; dismantled and reassembled part of the transmitter for new cables needed, Created an important background furniture item for the debut photo (photo shown here).

- Final stages on the steering (3rd method tried, and found the easiest) and am creating a background for an unveiling photo. Needed to strip out the circuitry from the Controller to make some changes.

- Finished the TX audio board.

- Made the new TX audio board amps and parts of the rest of that board, and tested. Still working on the steering.

- Fitted GPS/LCD board, begun programming it. Half-made the rotation sensor board, also for the Carriage.

- Cut and tinned the last PCB's, some soldering.

- Some hardware work on the steering, plenty of code work for the Carriage controller mainly. When warming, the motors are moving slightly, not sure of best way to combat it.

- Replaced the TX keys/leds/speed/Rover number chip code with a leaner version. Worked on the TX hardware, supports and some cable routing. Found a PCB fault that can work with a hardware hack, which I thought was a software problem (is due to overheating I think, when soldering a part). Replaced the LCD code with a 3-screen sequence, allowing all data to be visible on the 2 line display. Top line changes, bottom is essential data. Possibly more work, I can't remember. Yes - compass interpretation and found best method of aligning the RX with the TX.

- Configured the modes better, began replacing the LCD data, corrected the data so the LED sequencing works.

- Drove the Rover, with the controller. Activated the sounds with the keypad. Interim video uploaded to YouTube (

- Established radio, off the test rigs. Tidying here and there. Painted the new, lowest section of the base. 

- Completed work on the GPS associated chip, and the comms with the main Controller control chip. Part way through interface with radio transceiver control chip. Also begun extra work on the MDF hardware which will be an improvement and greatly enhance the appearance.

Improved the I2C communications all round. Reading of the GPS messages with the GPS/mode chip in the Controller unit, these are then read by the control chip, in the Controller. But no fix indoors, date is reading 2015 which is probably the last time that module was used. Organised the main procedures in the control sequence.

- More code creation and shaping, Carriage unit. The same and more configuration of the Controller unit.

- Minor hardware improvement, more code for Carriage control chip and spent an hour finding a bug in the drive chip code. Shifted it.

Workshop improvements and code progress, main chip in Carriage.

- Sent first real data packet and controlled the speeds, though some problems to solve.

- More work on code in control chip, Carriage. Some Hardware.

Consolidation of code and sent the 40 bytes from a test rig to the carriage unit, 25 milliseconds. Began assembling the new linkage to the compass on the carriage, from the steering.

- More work on 16 bit signed integers, within 8 bit unsigned variables. Finished programming the radio modems and sent data from one to the other. Ordered mechanical parts for the new steering arrangement.

- More data processing, and realised I've overlooked the turning of the carriage, needs the compass to rotate with the wheels, because the chassis stays orientated the same way. Either I mount the compass on the turning parts or use another method of steering.  

- Work on the Carriage compass module and code, and power supply improvements. CAD for a combined GPS/LCD module. 

Hardware improvements, code streamlining/consolidating.  

- Configuration of the radio modems. I found I'd heat damaged one while soldering the pins so have had to order another. More on the steering mechanism. 

- Finished the steering code and am replacing the steering servo with a new one like the others, instead of 2nd hand, and remaking the steering servo fixing. Also begun communications via the serial radio modems. 

- Programmed all speeds of the 4 motors and controlled via the separate control chip. Bought a really good glue gun also! 

- Steering and motor speeds aligning. 

- Work on the code for the chip on the drive board - preset speeds for the 4 motors and steering motor. There will be 7 speeds forward, 7 reverse, and stationary. The steering motor will follow the direction the controller is pointing in. 

- Audio working, code for drive control chip and main control chip. 

- Soldered the rest of the components to the remaining boards and tested. Because I'm about to begin work on the motors and speeds, I made the battery charger also, 4-channel. It will have an LCD to monitor voltage and current of each, but after the main construction is complete. Fitted stereo socket that will allow the carriage to be used as a general purpose audio amplifier.

- Made the power amps board and some of the control chip board, both for the carriage. Work on pwm chip code. Readied the chassis for the remaining boards. Work on the digital audio board, which was a prototype.

- Remade four of the carriage circuit board etchings after using different printer settings on the acetate.

- Fitted the speakers to the carriage.

- PCB making for the carriage, one is already made.

- Power switch wiring and speakers wiring.

- CAD and code for various parts of the carriage circuitry. Readying of a cgsng prototype digital audio board, which will be replaced later possibly. This uses parallel control, as desired here. Fitted the batteries to the chassis. Created 12 audio files the Rover will play, selected by keypad keys on the controller unit.

- Work on I2C send and receive. Carriage chassis now accommodates the 4 batteries underneath and the speakers when they arrive. It looks like the design won't be ready this month.

- Fitted top hardware except the audio boards, and speaker enclosures which are yet to be made. Speakers will have a covering plate as a temporary measure.

- More hardware work, mode switch firmware, work on digital audio board. This will be fitted later as the comms between the input there and the audio chip needs more connections.

- As below.

- Work on the speed control and direction, hardware for. Work on the transceiver board for the Controller. It uses a transceiver rather than a transmitter because there is the option for 2-way communications.

- Work on Audio amplifiers and SD card stage, and on Transceiver.

- Design and hardware for audio. Transceiver board designed but radio module changed, so will be done again.

-Working on the audio for the controller and upper mechanical components of it also.

- Finished underneath of Carriage. Improved Controller compass mounting.

- Assembled the Rotation indication / GPS board and the mode switch / GPS power board. Extracted the geographical data from the GPS that is needed. Switch is inverted, but easily fixed. Also painted the backs of the large switch boards, for best effect.

- Work on the wheel supports and gears, etched more circuit boards (only two left to do for the controller now).

- CAD for Rotation and GPS board.

- Speeded up the communications with the components to as fast as possible without error. More work on wheels.

- Keypad/Channel switch/Movement (forward-reverse)/Leds board finished and programmed, including sequences to show status. Begun fitting the wheels to the carriage.

- Part way through construction and testing of board for keypad, leds and channel switch. Other hardware items.

- Made Controller control board and fitted, added the compass. Fitted the Controller hardware parts made so far.

- Hardware work, assembled LCD unit.

- More CAD and programming, some hardware assembly.

- Made power/signals distribution board for the controller, made LCD board and ready to solder. CAD for making the controller's controller module.

- Fitted bearings to wheels, driving gear and them all to chassis.

- Begun painting the externals of the controller. More CAD work and externals made. Bought the carriage bearings again, because Royal Mail have lost the first ones.

- CAD work and chose a 2 line display rather than 4. Potentiometer to be used instead of gyroscope/accelerometer, having chosen a better idea for the motion control. Also, as standard the Controller will be able to address up to 4 Rovers or one could use those channels for playing extra recorded sounds, or up to 4 Rovers could play the same sounds at the same time....!

-Hardware work.

- Made a circuit for counting pulses from the wheels turning, because the speed of each motor is different.

- Work on sensor data using diagnostics display.

- Assembled wheels/servos.

- Waiting for parts, begun making the controller case.

- Most of the transmitter circuit made. Two emails sent to the ebay seller who is supposed to be sending the servos.

- Made the 5 gears and chassis.

- Switch circuit and LCD status/diagnostic circuit for the controller/transmitter;

- Begun making the gears which each servo and wheel are attached to, driven by a fifth, which is driven by the same type of servo also;

- More work on controller experimental circuitry;

- Some items bought for the carriage: 4x wheels, 4x 15.4kg/cm servos, flat bearings, electronics


Also - workshop improvements at times and setting up of a work area in a spare room.





Gears best 5 out of 6 made, but it wasn't be done in TV cookery program style, just a simple choice without the condemning that they do. Drive wheels are 50mm diameter, and at 10mm wide will allow a speed of about 6 inches per second and easy turning.