Unbox and Set Up your Viam Rover 1

The Viam Rover 1 arrives preassembled with two encoded motors with suspension, a webcam with a microphone unit, and a 3D accelerometer module.

The front of the assembled Viam Rover 1

This guide covers what’s inside the kit, describes each component, provides instructions for wiring your rover, and includes links for additional hardware.

What’s inside the kit

  1. One assembled Viam Rover 1.

    The side of the assembled Viam Rover 1
  2. Four M2.5 screws for mounting your Raspberry Pi.

    Four screws
  3. Two spare stiffer suspension springs. You can swap them out with the springs that come with the rover if you need stiffer suspension for higher payload applications.

    Two suspension springs
  4. Three different Allen wrenches (1.5 mm, 2 mm, and 2.5 mm) to unscrew the top and mount the Raspberry Pi.

    Three allen wrenches
  5. Ten female-to-female jumper wires. All of the wires’ colors correspond to the included wiring diagram. Six are for the motor controller and four are for the accelerometer.

    Ten colorful jumper wires

All together, your kit looks like this:

A Viam Rover 1 shipping box contents

Rover components

Dual drive motors with suspension and integrated motor encoders

two motors with encoders

The motors come with integrated encoders. For information on encoders, see Encoder Component. For more information on encoded DC motors, see Encoded Motors.

The kit also includes stiffer suspension springs that you can substitute for the ones on the rover. Generally, a stiff suspension helps with precise steering control. In contrast, a soft suspension allows the wheels to move up and down to absorb small bumps on the rover’s path.

Motor driver

A L298N motor driver

The kit comes with an L298N driver dual H-Bridge DC motor driver. L298 is a high voltage and high current motor drive chip, and H-Bridge is typically used to control the rotating direction and speed of DC motors.

720p webcam, with integrated microphone

Webcam with cables

The webcam that comes with the kit is a standard USB camera device and the rover has a custom camera mount for it. For more information, see Camera Component.

3D accelerometer

A ADXL345 accelerometer

The ADXL345 sensor manufactured by Analog Devices is a digital 3-axis accelerometer that can read acceleration up to ±16g for high-resolution (13-bit) measurements. You can access it with a SPI (3-wire or 4-wire) or I2C digital interface.

In Viam, you can configure it as a movement sensor component.

Buck converter

A mini560 buck converter

A buck converter is a DC-to-DC power converter and you use it to step down voltage from its input to its output. The 5A mini560 step-down module has high conversion efficiency and low heat generation.

Toggle switch

A toggle switch

The toggle switch comes wired to the rover and you use it to turn the power on and off.

Battery pack

A battery pack

The rover comes with a battery holder. You must purchase four 18650 batteries (and a charger) separately. The battery holder also has a female jack for an external DC power supply.

Four 18650 batteries with a charger

An 18650 battery is a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. We recommend the button-top type, though either button or flat top can work. We have used batteries approximately 67.5mm in length, but the battery housing includes a spring to accommodate most batteries of that approximate length. Any brand is suitable as long as you comply with the battery safety requirements.

Check the safety section for more information.

Safety

Read all instructions fully before using this product.

This product is not a toy and is not suitable for children under 12.

Switch the rover off when not in use.

Disclaimer: This product is preliminary and experimental in nature, and is provided “AS IS” without any representation or warranty of any kind. Viam does not make any promise or warranty that the product will meet your requirements or be error free. Some states do not allow the exclusion or disclaimer of implied warranties, so the above exclusions may not apply to you.

Setup

This is the recommended order to assemble your rover:

  1. Install Raspberry Pi OS on the microSD card.
  2. Unscrew the top of the rover and screw the Pi to the base.
  3. Connect the components.
  4. Screw the top of the rover back on and turn the rover on.
  5. Install viam-server and connect to the Viam app.

Install Raspberry Pi OS

Install a 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS onto your Pi following our Raspberry Pi installation guide. Follow all steps as listed, including the final step, Enable communication protocols, which is required to enable the accelerometer on your rover.

Attach the Raspberry Pi to the Rover

Once you have installed Raspberry Pi OS and viam-server, put your SD card in the slot on your Pi. To be able to attach the Raspberry Pi, unscrew the top of the rover with the biggest Allen key. Then use the smallest Allen key and the provided M2.5 screws to attach the Raspberry Pi to your rover in the designated spots. The following image shows the four mounting holes for the Pi, circled in red:

The Viam Rover 1 base with the top removed. The motors, chips and wires are exposed.

Connect the wires

Wire your Pi to the buck converter, the acceleration tilt module, and the DC motor driver:

Closeup of the wiring diagram, showcasing the Pi, motor driver, accelerometer, and buck converter, wired according to the table below.

The following pinout corresponds to the diagram:

ComponentComponent PinRaspberry Pi PinWire Color
Buck ConverterGND39black
Buck Converter5V4red
Acceleration Tilt ModuleGND34black
Acceleration Tilt Module3.3V power17red
Acceleration Tilt ModuleSDA3maroon
Acceleration Tilt ModuleSCL5pink
DC Motor DriverEn B22gray
DC Motor DriverIn 418yellow
DC Motor DriverIn 316white
DC Motor DriverIn 213green
DC Motor DriverIn 111blue
DC Motor DriverEn A15purple
DC Motor DriverGND6black
DC Motor DriverEncoder Left35yellow
DC Motor Driver3.3V power1red
DC Motor DriverEncoder Right37white

Then connect the camera’s USB cable to the Pi.

Wiring diagram showcasing the Pi, motors, driver, camera, and all other rover components.

the Pi, motors, driver, and all other rover components

Turn the rover on

Once you have wired up all the components, reattach the top of the rover and fasten the screws. Insert the batteries and turn the rover on. If the Pi has power, the lights on the Raspberry Pi will light up.

Connect to the Viam app

While the Pi boots, go to app.viam.com and add a machine. On the machine’s Setup tab, select Linux (Aarch64). ssh into the Pi and follow the instructions on the machine’s Setup tab to download viam-server and configure your machine.

To configure your rover so you can start driving it, add the Viam Fragment to your Machine.

Next steps

Follow one of these tutorials with your borrowed or owned rover:

Rover Build

If you want to learn more about the rover, you can find the CAD files and bill-of-materials (BOM) on GitHub.

Extensibility

Due to the aluminum chassis and its expandable mounting features, you can extend the Viam Rover 1. With it, you can customize your rover by mounting additional sensors, lidar, robot arms, or other components. The following are just a few ideas, but you can expand or modify the rover kit with any components you want:

Mount an RPlidar to the rover

If you are mounting an RPlidar to your rover, be sure to position the RPlidar so that it faces forward in the direction of travel, facing in the same direction as the included webcam. For example, if you are using the RPlidar A1 model, mount it to the Rover so that the pointed end of the RPlidar mount housing points in the direction of the front of the Rover. This ensures that the generated SLAM map is oriented in the expected direction relative to the Rover, with the top of the generated map corresponding to the direction the RPlidar is facing when you initiate mapping.

If you need a mount plate for your RPlidar A1 or A3 model, you can 3D print an adapter plate using the following:



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