White Sands Rover Sniffer Project (WSTF Sniffer)

Hi all!
I am a senior undergrad in EE at NMSU. We are working on an ongoing project for white sands jet propulsion office that utilizes reach, and a small robot that will autonomously patrol the rocket fuel storage facility for rocket fuel leaks.
So far we have a working robot using the wild thumper chassis, 3 daisy chained arduino unos, 6 IR sensors, and 2 ultrasonic sensors used for basic obstacle avoidance. Working as in, we can make it move, and we can have it stop due to different obstacle scenarios. What we plan to have by the end of this semester is making the rover capable of maintaining predefined waypoints but able to avoid obstacles in the process.
It has been a real challenge and I would say the hardest part has been all of the paperwork getting in the way of the fun part! The other challenge is so many people talking about rtk and hardware implementation who have been in the industry for quite some time and the steep learning curve of GNSS lingo.
Anyhow, great to join everyone and look forward to using reach on this and other projects in the future as well.
Cheers, Rusty


Cool project!
I used a Wild Thumper for a while, but the hardware and build quality is not very good.
It will destroy the front and back motor bearings in no time and the motors will burn, if it gets stuck. The suspension mechanism is also a mechanical nightmare. Using self-cutting screws as an axle is not a good idea at all. The preinstalled wiring is low strand count, pvc coated junk and I removed it, before it had the chance to break.
It might work as a prototype, but you will get frustrated very soon, if you want to use it permanently.

For our purposes it is fine, its just a toy to develop on. Once a working model shows success it will be scaled. We still do not even have the sniffer payload. That’s NASA’s part and its been in development for 3 or 4 years now. There were suggestions that the payload could smell a large manner of things, or at least that is their goal.
Glad to get some feedback before I placed it on my birthday list though! I would much rather get to work on dad’s snowblower anyway haha. That or an autopilot for his landing craft. So many other things to tinker with too, I just can’t wait to be done with this undergrad and start learning for real!

1 Like