Chapter 4 - Run Baby Run
Chris was away today, so spent Friday evening in the garage, ably assisted by my wife , Dawn. Chris had finished welding the battery mounts and had also welded in the tensioners for the belt system. My task, then, was simply to complete the second drive set, assmble it and mount the speed controllers, castors and radio gear. This was fairly straight forward apart from the fact that one of the plate gears wasn't quite perfect and had to be machined down. Took about 3 hours in total. The board that the speed cons are fitted to is only a temporary measure: it gives us the flexibility to move these to better positions once the weapons are in.
Today was the day of the first test run. I took Panda back to my house and set her up in the lane. Ran for a couple of minutes but then started pulling heavily to one side. Closer inspection revealed that one of the belt pulleys was slipping on the axle, so we didn't get a good drive. This basically brought it all to a halt. I pulled her back to the patio and spent the afternoon trying to drill out and reset the axle. Bit disappointed really.
The second day of testing and things are much better. I seem to have minimised the slipping, although a point weld will finish it all together. MPM is running well. The picture here shows her accelerating away (hence the backward tilt) and about to turn. The handling is a dream after Panda 1. She turns, stops, accelerates away smoothly and accurately. I've not even set the speed controllers up properly (she turns when she goes backwards at the moment) but I can already control her more than I ever could Panda. The rotary mech interface gives a much better control range and the heatsinks have got rid of the over-heating problem even without the fan (didn't see any point fitting it when running 'naked'). It puts out loads of power (I can't stop it with all my weight now) and the motors seem perfectly happy at 24V. No signs of any problems with the gearbox yet - something we were concerned about.
Another picture, this time me checking to make sure the belt isn't slipping. Shortly after this, a group of kids from neighbouring houses came over to, er, go 'wow!' a lot. Having used MPM to chase one of them up the lane, I then suggested they put their football down.  I used MPM to score goals against them. This was really cool and is excellent practise for driving. I was able to use the front to dribble (even without the scoop attached) and use the sides to flick the ball over the 'goal line' (that concrete line behind me in the picture). The batteries lasted about 1 hour in total, although they got a bit sluggish in the last ten minutes and I hadn't done any heavy load testing apart from trying to hold her back with my feet. Can't wait for the batteries to be charged now!!