Friday, January 30, 2009

Picorover photos and sketches

Picorover has now its own photo album, which contains more photos and drawings than were included in the video posted few days ago.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Okay, here is the newest entrant in our rover design competition that has caused a lot of discussions on our forum during the last few days: A moving sphere with two degrees of freedom. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Two-wheel robot shoots for the Moon

It has been brought to my attention that in addition to the Ask Charlie Blog there is also an article in Control Engineering about Team FREDNET, JALURO , and the Google Lunar X PRIZE in general. You can read the article online here.

Ask Charlie: Is it possible to stabilize a 2-wheel robotic vehicle?

Yes, it's about JALURO :-)
Charlie Masi from Control Engineering blogged about our 2-wheel rover prototype and the control challenges we are faced with. While the 2-wheel setup with underslung chassis is statically stable, the pendulum-like properties make it difficult to keep the rover body stable during acceleration and deceleration. You can read the blog post, which also contains an analysis, on the Control Engineering website.

For the sake of completeness, I've included the video showing JALURO's first test drive (this was already posted back in December 2008).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Updated wheel hub and blueprints for WRV1

It has been a busy week both at my daytime job, which pays my bills, and my nighttime job, FREDNET. In the meantime Jörg has uploaded an updated wheel design for WRV1 as well as some blueprints hoping to find people who can help manufacturing the many parts. So, GLXP fans, here is your chance to help building some hardware for this cool lunar rover prototype! Let us know if you can help.

The wheel with the new hub and modified segments:

Wheel segment:

The wheel spoke:

From WRV1: Wheeled Rover Vehicle 1

Monday, January 12, 2009

Steering Gearbox with Redundant Motors for WRV1

Jörg posted an update on the steering Gearbox using two stepper motors (for redundancy) and the shaft for moving the two WRV1 halves.

From WRV1: Wheeled Rover Vehicle 1

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mooncast Simulation in HD

While working on our on-board video processing pipeline we reached a point where we needed a test video that would be representative of a mooncast for the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Using a regular video is not the best solution here because a mooncast has a different motion and color profile and these parameters can have great influence on the efficiency of the compression algorithms.
Therefore, we took some Apollo 17 surface photos from EVA 2 Station 4 (Shorty crater) and created a simulated mooncast consisting of a 360 degree pan. To make it a bit more entertaining we added some original voice recordings from the EVA.

The simulation uses stereographic projection, which allows panning and zooming in all directions. The vertical field of view is 60 degrees. The flickering of the small stones is an artifact of the projection algorithm and not the video compression. We will have to improve that.

Watch in HD

So what do you think? Is the quality good enough for a GLXP mooncast? Or is it too bad? Is the panning too slow or too fast? Leave your comments!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One rover, two rovers... many rovers?

If you have followed Team FREDNET during the last few months you have probably noticed that our team members are working on two very different rover designs. Why do we develop several designs instead of focusing our efforts on the design?

The thing is that we are trying to build up a large and engaged community and there are many ways to do it. We have chosen a way where instead of expecting everybody to support one official design line we invite and encourage people to work on their own ideas and demonstrate that it provides the best solution for a given problem. Using our public forum and wiki they can collaborate with other members of the team and share common components across the competing designs. They may even find other members who support their idea and would like to contribute to it. They can organize themselves in informal working groups without the need for any official approval from the team management.

While this may not be the most efficient way towards winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE, we are sure that this is one of the best ways to engage interested individuals and groups and give them a fair chance to prove what they are capable of. Basically, it is the same concept as the whole Google Lunar X PRIZE but applied at a smaller scale.

Currently we have this parallel design study/competition concept going on in the rover area, but we expect similar parallel design studies applied to other subsystems as well. If the organizational concept works out, we can at the end choose the most suitable configuration. It also provides additional security against making the wrong design decisions early in the process and suffering from it for the rest of the program.

The two rover concepts currently being worked on at Team FREDNET: WRV1 (left) and Jaluro (right).

Of course, turning an idea into a design and implementation that can prove suitable for a lunar mission requires hard work and stamina. There is a very long way from a conceptual design to a working prototype. Fortunately, we have many active members who has the right stuff to take their ideas all the way to the end.

You can read more about our rover design competition Moon amateurs invite rover designs from the public.

What are your thoughts about this? Will it work or will it leave us in a hopeless situation? We'd love to hear your comments.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Moon with a Webcam

I am working on a setup where I'm trying to mount a cheap webcam onto my Meade ETX-90 telescope for terrestrial observations. While I was working on the setup the other night I looked out the window and saw the Moon behind a tree. Without thinking too much I pointed the telescope towards the Moon and recorded this video.

Concerning the bad quality it should be noted that:

  • It was recorded with a webcam
  • It was recorded through a double-glas window (which was dirty)
  • The Moon was behind a tree

I will try to improve on the setup, although I made it for a completely different purpose.