Sunday, April 25, 2010

More stuff on the pipe

The good work goes on, and the objective of achieving a fully autonomous rover is closing in. In this article I present 3 hardware additions:

First I found that the 1300 mAh LiPo battery could not be enough for long endurance roving activities. So I decided to add a pack of 4 NiMh AA batteries (2500 mAh each) dedicated to the Fonera. With this extra power, control and communications autonomy is guaranteed even if the powertrain pack becomes depleted. Additionally the efficiency is improved, because considering the fonera input voltage (5 V), and the voltage of the main pack (11.1 V), a regulator would be necessary, to properly drop the voltage. A linear regulator would not be a very efficient solution, and a switching regulator, in spite of being more efficient, is more complex and expensive. So with this separate pack, which provides around 4.8 V when fully charged, is enough for the Fonera (in fact the Fonera can be powered to a minimum of 3.5 V thanks to its internal low dropout regulator).