My kit finally arrived! Today the UPS guy brought my Elegoo Smart Robot Car V3.0 kit. You can see the yellow Elegoo package pictured to the side. I love Elegoo packaging. Right away, when I see that distinctive packaging, I know something fun is about to begin! This post will only focus on building the lower deck of the car. In a future post, I will blog about making the upper deck.
*** Updated 10/21/2020 – There was one small mistake with direction of the motor mount screws in the original post. That was corrected. However some pictures after that show the motor mounts screw backwards. That is ok, as long as they were put in correctly during the corrected step everything is fine. This mistake was caught towards the end of the build and I did not want to go retaking pictures of every build step again.
Following along with Paul McWhorter
To do this build, I am following along with Paul McWhorter of TopTechBoy.com. He has a series of beginner robotics videos using this kit posted on his website and YouTube. I have also embedded Video 2 of the series below for anyone that wants to follow along with him. This blog post’s steps combine his recommendations with minor modifications from me in a couple of areas.
Unboxing new kits is always fun. Here are a few unboxing pics. I like how the kit is neatly packaged and arranged. Manufacturers putting kits like this together make me more likely to buy more kits from them in the future.
What I love about the kit is that the components all come nicely packaged. Plus, they are arranged in four smaller boxes, making it easy to unpack and organize your parts. The picture below shows everything in the box. The tools needed for the assembly are mostly included (a little wrench would have been nice to have as well). The Assembly Tutorial book looks OK, but honestly, I don’t expect to open that at all.
Preparing the upper and lower decks
The first step is to take the protective coating off both sides of both decks. I found the coating comes off quite easily using my fingernail to pry up a corner. I found it odd that both decks were labeled “A” when they are different parts.
At this point, McWhorter recommended labeling the sides. I agree with him. I labeled the sides as follows:
Upper deck top = 1
Upper deck bottom = 2
Lower deck top = 3
Lower deck bottom = 4
If you look at the picture below, you can see the upper and lower decks’ tops. The upper deck has the rectangular hole to the right and three small screw holes directly below that rectangular hole. The lower deck has a group of four screw holes on the very right side of the deck. They are kind of around where I put my 3 label pictured below.
Mounting the motors
The upper deck can be placed to the side because only the lower deck (with labels 3 & 4) will be used for the rest of this post.
Out of the kit, we need the four motors and a little parts bag labeled For Motor.
Now the mounting plates need to be connected to the motors. You will need one mounting plate for each motor, two of the longer screws (M3*30), and two of the nuts (M3). The plate goes on the motor as shown below; it mounts just under the motors wires and will align with two holes. Place the two screws through holes on the motor and through the plate. Secure the screws with nuts. The hex driver included with the kit can be used to tighten the screws (your fingers should be able to hold the nut well enough).
*** An earlier version of this post has the screws backwards. That has been fixed. The following two pictures have bee updated to reflect this change. Pictures later on through these two posts may show incorrect screw placement for these motors. I can assure you that those pictures are wrong, and these two are right.
Then repeat the process for all four motors.
Now place the lower deck so the four extra screw holes are on the left (my label is now on the left instead of the right). On top of that, place the four motors so that each of them faces outwards and the wiring faces inwards. See the picture below. The two motors on each side point out, and the wiring of each set of motors faces inward towards each other.
You are going to place these motors off to the side in a moment. But you want to put them like this first, so you can get a look at how they will mount in.
Now move each motor carefully to the side. Use two of the smaller hex screws (M3*10) and place them through the two mounting screws under the deck where one of the motors mounts. Then place the motor mount over the screws and carefully hold them with your fingers so you can tip the deck over without losing the screws. Now use the hex driver to tighten the screws. Only screw these in enough so they are snug. These are cheap aluminum mounts; if you overtighten them, they will strip.
Now use the same process to install the other three motors. Make sure to keep the orientation right. These steps seem hard, but it is relatively easy by the time you get to the fourth.
Installing the motor controller
Now it is time to install the L298N motor controller module. The hardware used to mount this module is in a bag also used to mount the UNO card. In that bag, you will need 4 of the screws (M3*14), 4 of the nuts (M3), and 4 of the separation shims. The rest of the screws, nuts, and shims I placed into a baggie for use later.
Now you are going to mount the motor. It seems tricky but isn’t as bad as it looks. First, make sure the car is facing towards you. The front of the car has two screw holes on the end that the rear does not.
Now take the motor controller, with the heatsink pointed away from you, and place the four mounting screws down into the holes.
Now tip the module back a bit to install the spacers on the screws underneath the module. If you have the card tipped back slightly, the screws should not slide out, and the spacers will kind of stay in place. (I dropped the spacers a few times during this step).
At this point, you can carefully place the deck over the module and insert the screws into the holes on the deck. If you align them just right, the screws will go right in. It might take a few attempts. After the screws are in the deck, you can now tip the deck the other way so the screws will stay in place.
If this method doesn’t work for you, you might have to do each screw at a time.
Carefully put the nuts on each screw. You want the nuts on there and don’t care if they are tight. Ensure you are somewhere that dropping a small nut won’t be detrimental to finding that nut again (such as over carpet). After all four nuts are on, use the hex driver and your fingers to tighten each screw.
Next up to connect the motor connectors to the motor controller module. On the motor controller, there are two 2-pin connectors on each side. Each motor will go to the side connector to which it is closest. Notice the connectors only go in one direction, with the tab towards the outside of the car.
Installing the line tracking module
On the bottom of the bottom deck, the line tracking module will be installed. There is also a bag included with the hardware needed to install the line tracking module. This hardware bag contains four M37 screws, four M3 nuts, and four M34+6 copper screws.
Now tip the module over and place one of the copper standoff nuts in through a hole in the module’s back. Then use one of the nuts to hold that screw into place. Get all four screws in, and then tighten them with your fingers as best as you can. The kit does not include a little wrench to help with this.
Now tip the lower deck over, with the front facing you, and place the module so the copper standoff screws align with the four mounting screws on the deck. The white connector will face into the center of the deck. Put one of the four M3*7 screws up through the hole (coming from the top of the deck) and screw it by hand into the copper standoff screw.
Then repeat the same process for all four screws. It may be more comfortable for the remaining screws to tip the deck back on its top, especially for the screws right by the motors. After all four screws are in, use the hex driver to screw them in snug while holding the nuts on the other side (the ones on the end, not the middle standoff ones).
Lower deck complete!
The lower deck is now complete. The steps above seem like a lot, but really this part of the build probably took me less than an hour (it’s hard to tell when I’m taking pictures, writing, and building at the same time). The next post will follow the steps I took following Paul McWhorter to complete the upper deck. Here are a couple of pictures of the lower deck as of now.