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My wife wants me to build autonomous "rats" that will wander the front porch, turn around when they encounter a wall or some obstacle, or the edge of the concrete, and only move when they detect motion nearby. I'm thinking an IR emitter / detector pair at the nose could sense the edges of the concrete, and cause reverse direction for a bit, and ultrasonic "ping" sensor would detect the walls.

 

I have to check, but I think I have a couple SLA batteries nearby, yes- she wants them that big... Those batteries were once used for hand-held cigarette lighter charged spot lights, so there's some good voltage sources. So, would need motor drivers and such.

 

Have to check things out, and get her to let me know the budget.

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@greeg

 

She walked in a bit ago and asked if I could do it. I was hesitant since my nephew is 9, so neither my wife nor I will be home to pass out candy (I might pass out, though. ;))

My wife is a big 'decor' nut, so we always deck out the house for occasions like Halloween,

 

She just thought it'd be cool if little rats ran around the porch, maybe even tripping the ghouls approaching the door.

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SLA batteries to power your rats?  Those are going to be some darn big rats!

Well, the batteries are about 2"x2"x4"... so seems like typical sized rats to me. ;)

It is Halloween though, so this is the one time of the year I can convince my wife size doesn't matter.

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My wife wants me to build autonomous "rats" that will wander the front porch, turn around when they encounter a wall or some obstacle, or the edge of the concrete, and only move when they detect motion nearby. I'm thinking an IR emitter / detector pair at the nose could sense the edges of the concrete, and cause reverse direction for a bit, and ultrasonic "ping" sensor would detect the walls.

How are you going to deal with "noise" with the IR? (Sunlight, the other rats). Though if this is a Halloween thing you maybe only operating them at night? Would it be simpler to use mechanical switches (give the rats "whiskers") to sense bumping into things?

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Place a small IR pair in the rats nose?

I'm thinking reflectance sensor. (tiny 2x2mm ones)

 

You could give it stiff wire whiskers that travel through a small metal ring, when deflected slightly the whisker creates a switch with the ring?

Whiskers would obviously detect walls and such, but the thought I had was the IR sensors would detect the concrete, when the nose goes past the edge of the concrete, the reflectivity would change, and thus it would reverse direction.
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