3D Printing + Arduino + 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS = Mars Rover Replica

When you saw the Mars Perseverance Rover for the first time, what were your first thoughts? My guess is that most people thought: “Wow – that this is going to roam around on Mars! Cool!” If you’re a maker like How To Mechatronics (515k Subscribers) , you might have thought “The things I could do with 3D printed parts, Arduino boards, motors, and some wiring.”

OK – so it’s a bit more challenging that just doing some 3D printing of files you find online and hooking some things up. That’s pretty clear. Before it’s time to make sure your parts fit into your build envelope, and before you start soldering, you’re going to need to design your vision. Whether that means 15 unique parts or 150, you want design software that gives you the right mix of power, flexibility, and portability.

In the video below, Dejan of How To Mechatronics explains why, for them, that meant using the tools that come with 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS, which industry users can buy today. And later this year, makers everywhere will be able to access 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers (bundling 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Professional with browser-based modelers like 3D Creator and 3D Sculptor) for a super affordable price.

But anyway, more on that later. Let’s get to the Mars Rover replica.

It has a rocker bogie suspension – which is what allows it to move on very uneven terrain. Each wheel has its own independent DC motor, driving the rover forward/backward. The four corner wheels have individual steering servos for efficient movement.

To avoid tire slippage – particularly when going over harsh curves and indentations in the terrain, they employed Ackermann steering geometry. Basically, this puts the tires of the rover at different angles. Though each of the turning radii and angles of the wheels is different, the arcs the tires trace all share a common center point. Pretty neat!

(I think we’re all starting to nod our heads at the notion of design automation software providing a major service in figuring these sorts of things out before you go and try to build them in the real world.)

In terms of getting the profile correct, Dejan brings in some overhead and side profile pictures of the actual Mars Perseverance Rover to take note of key dimensions (like overall width and length, distance between wheels, etc.) Then, in terms of modeling the individual parts and subassemblies, they combine a desire to keep the parts aesthetically similar to the actual Rover, but with the understanding they’ll need to 3D print the parts down the line.

With 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers, makers of all kinds will have great flexibility in the domains of design and collaboration. Dejan hits on this in his video – with SOLIDWORKS connected to the cloud, and with 3D Creator and 3D Sculptor able to run in a browser (on devices like MacBooks, as he experiments with in his video), you can contribute to and build projects from basically anywhere, with anyone. And makers will be able to access this package for $9.99/mo. or $99/yr.!

To see the full build, assembly considerations, wiring, and programming, be sure to watch Dejan’s video. And, of course, be sure to subscribe! Dejan’s How To Mechatronics channel is a wonderful asset to the online maker and overall engineering community – the channel is a treasure trove of amazing content.

Sean O'Neill

Sean O'Neill

As the Senior Strategy & Community Manager here at SOLIDWORKS, Sean helps connect community members from around the world who go above & beyond in sharing their SOLIDWORKS passion and expertise. Sean also looks to amplify the voices and efforts of many community members who seek to inspire others through their usage of our products.