Dec 24, 2015 | By Alec

If you’re one of those fortunate people who have some time off between Christmas and New Year’s, you’re doubtlessly looking for a challenging 3D printing project or two. If that’s the case, let me direct your attention to a cool, slightly challenging and absolutely doable project that has just been shared by Adafruit’s Rick Winscot. Called the Sandblaster, it’s a fun 3D printed dune buggy that is packed with sensors and can be programmed to avoid obstacles, navigate autonomously and much more. What’s more, it is absolutely doable over the space of day or so and comes with an excellent tutorial to help you along the way.

As Rick explains, his design is essentially a variation on a previous project of his: the Blue Buggy. “Sandblaster is a variation on Blue Buggy remixing the original Cox International gas-powered sand buggy - scaled-down, converted to electric, and 3D printable!” he explains. The great thing about this RC buggy is that it can be programmed to do just about anything: “explore obstacle avoidance, autonomous navigation, driverless vehicle design, or assisted Remote Control,” Rick says. And of course if you were looking for time and opportunity to put a new spin on 3D printed RC cars, this is a perfect opportunity. It is also a fun project to work on with your kids, nieces and nephews, or anybody else staying over for the holidays.

However, being so functional does mean it requires quite a few parts. As Rick explains, it requires two Continuous Rotation Micro Servos, a Standard Micro Servo, a Metro Mini, one Tiny Breadboard, and a AAA Battery Holder, a 2-AAA Battery Holder and as a 5V Step-up Voltage Regulator (all Pololu). Of course this means you’ll need two AAA batteries too, while the sensor action is provided by a Sharp Analog Distance Sensor - 10-80cm. The tires actually consist of four 2-inch 'Broccoli' Bands (Grifiti). You will also need an assortment of wires, headers, some shrink tubing, bearings, socket caps and plenty of plastic screws and servo screws, so compare Rick’s full list with whatever parts you have laying around and see what you can come up with.

3D printing itself is fairly straightforward. Just grab Rick’s files and fire up your desktop 3D printer. He does advise using solid infill for all parts, while the body will require the use of support material. But aside from that, it should be fairly easy to complete.

The real challenge comes in assembly, though Rick has written a comprehensive tutorial packed with images to help you along the way. The challenging portion is that you need to be clever with some parts to make it all fit, but with the help of the tutorial there’s no reason to be intimidated by the large number of components and electronics involved. You will, for instance, have to warm up a few parts with a torch or something (slowly!) to make it all fit, while other parts need to be cut or trimmed down (or drilled out) slightly to get it just right. Quite a lot of cleaning work will also be necessary.

The tires themselves are actually a very clever build, as the bands are essentially glued onto the 3D printed body for a very tight fit. “Rough-up the PLA a little with some sandpaper[to] improve adhesion. [Then] dab a little RTV Silicone Adhesive on the crown of the rim, and slip the Grifiti band on. It will take about an hour before the adhesive sets,” Rick explains. “You could hook-up a servo tester at this point to make sure that the wheel rotates without wobbling.”

After assembly, it’s a simple matter of downloading the source code provided and installing the Arduino SharkIR library, though it will take a bit of time to get it all to work. However, if this isn’t your first Arduino rodeo, it should all be fairly doable. Perfect for a relaxing day at home during the holidays.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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