This topic has 2 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Alex.

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    Hi All:
    We’re a group of Highschoolers looking to build a FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) sized robot (34” L x 23.25 ”) designed to pick up trash from the sides of highways. We were doing some brainstorming and came up with a couple of questions we’d like to ask more experienced people.

    Thoughts on weatherproofing our electronics? It’ll need at the minimum to withstand extended use in the sun for hours on end, with a stretch goal of being able to operate in the rain.
    We were planning to use the FRC control system for a proof of concept due to our familiarity with it, but it isn’t ideal for our use case (it’s overly expensive and has too short range). Any recommendations on alternate control systems (it needs to be robust, have a relatively long range, and be able to handle vision inputs and display them onto the driver station)
    One of the things our mentor for this project wants is to be able to pick up trash from bushes (think paper bags on branches and such). He especially wants us to look into using multi jointed arms. We know that these are probably too difficult to manufacture and control, but industrial grade 6-axis arms are a little bit out of our price range at least for our first robot, and we only really need 4-axis arms, so are there any good industrial grade 4-axis arms that are less expensive than 6-axis arms.
    We want to put a powered intake on the end of our arm because using a claw would be very slow. Unfortunately, we haven’t figured out a good way to intake trash off a bush without also intaking parts of the bush. Any recommendations?

    Thanks for your time!


    This sounds like a really cool project! And I will help out as best as I can.


    To make sure your electronics are protected from water, start with a good quality air tight container. A sturdy plastic, or metal container will work. One thing that we have used in the past is a pelican case. These cases will hold up to just about anything you throw at them, and are easy to mount components to. If you need something a little bigger, you could look at buying a weather proof tote. Just make sure that whatever you are getting has a gasket around the lid to create a tight seal.

    When you decide on your container, you will want to try and limit the amount of holes that you put in it. Water has a way of going to the exact place that you don’t want it to go, so by limiting the amount of entry points, the easier it will be to waterproof. When you do drill a hole, consider using a water proof strain relief, or taking heavy duty silicone and putting as much of you can in and around the hole with the wire coming out of it.

    If you get to the point where you want to completely waterproof it, and are sure that you don’t need to add or remove wires, you can fill the electronics container with silicone. a product like dragon skin works well because you can pour it around the electronics and completely encase the electronics in a water tight barrier. Just be extra sure that you don’t need to modify it before pouring the silicone.

    – Control systems

    We use a mixed bag of controllers here, and it all comes down to what you need the robot to do. most of the time we use one micro controller, but there are other times that we have to use multiple different types in the same robot.

    for something like this, I would recommend using a Linux board with ROS. A very solid Linux board that we use is the Odroid-XU4. The Odroid has a lot of processing power, and lets you interface with many other things. We have also had good luck with Nvidia Jetsons, they pack a lot of power into not a lot of space, and have been very reliable.

    The wireless aspect is a bit hard to determine, it really depends on how far away you want to be, and where you will be operating. if you will be relatively close, or in range of a Wifi network, connecting with a wireless router would be a good way to go. This can also be scaled up to a 4G cellular connection fairly easily. You can also use wireless radio system, which will get you more range than the Wifi router, but less range than the 4G connection.

    -4 Axis arms
    I don’t have much information on other 4 axis arms that are out there, you can get some servo controlled arms for relatively cheap, but there will be a large price jump between those and the industrial arms. We do sell the a 4-axis arm that we use on our tactical robots that could work for you, but it might be a bit out of your budget.

    – Trash pickup

    the only thing that I can think of is to mount a vacuum on the end of it, this would allow you to pick up loose items, but there is always the chance of it clogged, or sucking up more than you bargained for (not to mention the power requirements of running a vacuum). Maybe you could mount a small air compressor to the robot to blow the trash off the bush, but then you would run into the power requirements of running an air compressor. I’ll keep this in the back of my mind and let you know if I think of anything.

    Hopefully this will help you guys out a little bit, and follow up when you have a design or a robot built! I am curious to see how all of it will play out.

    Let us know if you need anything else.


    I have a Dibea KB-9008 Handheld Car Vacuum like the 7th here (, I decided to power it using aditionat batteries. I think this could help you(I mean with the part about trash pickup).
    Hand vacuums are pretty portable, so, you may modify them any way you want.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Alex.
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