another work related project... help? - RC Groups
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Feb 27, 2013, 12:42 PM
Registered User

another work related project... help?

Hey All,

I could use your input with this project. I work at an oilfield services company, we have some horizontal sections of pipe, which avg i guess about 40' long, and are connected together with collars (unions), to lengths of up to 250'. We occasionally get debris in the pipe that we would like to clear, and also we are generally curious as to the condition of the I.D. of the pipe, the geometry of the collars, etc. So, i suggested an RC solution, with FPV, possibly a robotic arm or other debris retrieval system, and my suggestion got approved =D however, since the company wants to pay for it, they also want it to be a somewhat integrated solution, i.e. not a bunch of junk wired together with a zillion moving parts, multple controllers, etc.. Something anyone could use, with a little documentation for training/operation.

We tossed around the idea of an Arduino based tracked robot vehicle, with XBee telemetry; and while we do have the skills to implement, it would take a lot of development time, lots of coding. An RC solution might be quicker to implement.

Here are some of our requirements:

Our 4 different pipes range from 10" diameter to 4.5" diameter, so size is a concern. I've seen a few RC trucks out there around 4" wide, so i would like to start there. The collars where the pipes join together might have a step about 1/2", so the vehicle must be able to traverse them. (soft, knobby tires should be fine).

since we will need to implement FPV and an arm, i need controls for them. This is probably where you guys can help me the most right now. I dont see much in the way of off-the-shelf vehicles with extra/auxilliary channels. So i guess that means we need to modify something. My idea is to get a suitible chassis, and switch over to using a flight TX/RX, 5 channels minimum. The left stick could control Throttle (up/down) and Direction (left/right). The right stick could control a Pan/Tilt for the camera. and the 5th channel could be a single function to operate the arm- either a pinch mechanism or just drop a garden hoe-shaped tool behind the debris... then i should mention, we do not need a reverse function, as we will never send the vehicle into the pipe without a tether. so if we can just get a scoop or something behind the debris, we can pull it out by the tether.

so! does this sound halfway feasible? any suggestions on a platform, where to start? i have next to no RC experience on the grand scale of things, i've owned a few RTF planes, never built my own system tho. We are electronics technicians with plenty of general electronics experience, good solderers, just no RC experience.

Thank you for your time!
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Mar 10, 2013, 12:53 AM
oh that guy
i belive you would need a minum of two diffrent trucks

The problem with anything under 6" in width you would have to use something like the losi micro crawler or trail trekker. They would manuver through 4" pipes effectively. But limited chassis space for fpv and the arm would be an issue. You would have to use an extremely small camera and servos for everything. Im not saying its impossible just a challenge. I would lock the suspension at a low hight for overhead clearance.

Over 6" diameter pipe I would recomend a1/18 scale truck like the hpi mini recon for more stability and you can use larger stronger equipment on it.

I would say even with a tether reverse would be a must for maneuverability. I would also recommend an external power supply with the wires running through the tether for extended run times. Also an antenna extention wire running through the tether to avoid interference from the pipes. You are also going to need 5 channels minimum.
I belive thats all the help I can be for now. I hope this helps any
Mar 10, 2013, 11:45 AM
Registered User
thanks for the reply,

i ordered some stuff; a turnigy 9x TX/RX, since it was so damn cheap and this is a non-critical application, plus it gives us lots of channels to play with. i also ordered a 5.8ghz FPV system from rangevideo, i will attempt to make my own pan/tilt. we'll see if the 5.8 will work inside the pipe, its only 250' and basically LOS, so im hoping it wont be a problem.

as far as the chassis, my buddy found a super cheap tracked vehicle chassis, which is a solid axle (no turning possible), comes with a dinky motor and gearbox. we want to just play around with it and see if we can make it work. i will probably rebuild the chassis to make it more robust. it is 4" wide and maybe 2" tall. Dimensionally it is perfect, just a matter of making the drivetrain something that will work. i built a robotic arm this weekend out of aluminum. cheap and dinky but i believe it will get the job done.

luckily i have a great RC shop real close to work- i expect i'll be getting all the small bits and bobs from them. shoutout to RC hobby shop in sugar land tx, so far theyve been real helpful.

ill throw some pics up when i can!
Mar 10, 2013, 12:33 PM
oh that guy
If you where closer to fort hood id try to actually help with the build. Im a major gear head and love to build stuff.
Mar 10, 2013, 06:19 PM
Registered User
i wish ya were to, i could certainly use the help!

heres the 'mechanical arm' i made. i know its rinky but in my opinion, for the application, i think it will work. i basically need to grab an object 20mm x 20mm cube shaped. this design allows me to pick the arm up off the bottom of the pipe in order to negotiate pipe joints. ill have one servo in the back to raise and lower the arm (due to design, 'spatula' platform will remain level), and one on the arm itself connected to the jaw. i am hopeful =)
Mar 11, 2013, 12:17 PM
buy, crash, save...
is the pipe almost perfectly straight?
Mar 11, 2013, 12:20 PM
Registered User
Mar 11, 2013, 12:45 PM
buy, crash, save...
i would use a directional antenna then to increase range. put it at the end of the pipe pointing down it for the fpv system. That wouldn't be necessary if you get good reception with what you have already, but if you find you need better video quality or range, i would do this.

btw, what material is the pipe made of?
Mar 11, 2013, 12:47 PM
buy, crash, save...
oh, and i don't think you really need a pan tilt system if were to just use a wide-range view lense on the camera.
Mar 11, 2013, 01:14 PM
Registered User
steel pipe. i figured pan/tilt would give us more inspection ability.
Mar 11, 2013, 11:01 PM
buy, crash, save...
it would but a wide view range lens would be much simpler and their wouldnt be a need for more contols, not to mention it should be cheaper.
Mar 11, 2013, 11:48 PM
Kowalski !.....Options
mredzadventure's Avatar
Originally Posted by onion456
steel pipe. i figured pan/tilt would give us more inspection ability.
I am wondering how your signal is going to be effected by the pipe? I suppose if it is opened on one end you should be good. I wonder if a longer wave like like 72 MHz F.M. might help rather then the 2.4 GHZ. I'm just a little curious how that would effect it. It sounds like a coo project.
Mar 30, 2013, 10:10 AM
oh that guy
Any updates?
Apr 01, 2013, 09:45 AM
Registered User
waiting on parts to trickle in. so slowly its killin me. =D

we did get the tracked vehicle chassis in. it is odd... it seems very light duty and very cheap... but its actually torqey as hell, the tracks would be perfect in the pipe, we dont need to be able to turn, so it might actually work for us. i will of course ditch the AAs, our power system will be a little complex, as our camera is 12v. I may rebuild the entire thing out of aluminum (can you believe its wood!)

just waitin on turnigy 9x, servos, video TX....
Apr 08, 2013, 02:28 PM
Registered User
guys, i could use some help... i need to spec out an ESC, that will do reverse, and be compatible with the turnigy 8x reciever. small is good. this thing has a dinky motor that runs on 3v, no more than 500ma continuous. cheap cheap. can anyone provide a link to a cheap, basic reversable ESC? Thanks!

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