For the past semester, PacBot has been focusing on improving our controls from previous years and developing solid firmware for our new custom motor drivers. Since we likely won’t have a competition this season, we’ve put our time into refining our development process and modularizing our code base and approach. To do this we’ve split our codebase into subsequent repositories for the ATSAMD (closed loop motor control), ESP32 (Integration and future sensing), and the Raspberry Pi (Path planning and game communication) and as a whole moved to Gitlab for managing files. For managing current projects and updates, everything is brought together on the new team Trello.
Since we have not had a chance to fully assemble the PacBot Arena, most of our testing has been focused on the motor drivers themselves. The thought being if we can consistently and controllably drive in straight-aways and squares, the arena should be a simpler matter of pathing. In previous years we’ve had several problems with our drivebase that we’re hoping to fix with our new drivebase (and more developed firmware). To keep things simple, our new drivebase is a basic 2-wheeled differential setup. This should remove the problems with last year’s in-hub omni wheels sticking and slipping unpredictably (and is of course an excuse to put better hardware in there).
Speaking of new hardware, our new motor modules are a notable step up from previous years. For the motors we went with low KV gimbal motors paired with a high CPR serial encoder for a full FOC control loop. Each of the motors is in their own motor module with a custom ESC. For more info about our drive modules [check out our last post] (https://irobotics.illinois.edu/pacbots-head-start-on-next-drivetrain/)
That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more PacBot updates.