SunRover Part 4 – Adding a Pi Camera and Diagnostics System


The SunRover project has been in hibernation for the winter months. We've had no sun in the Northwest US because of El Niño (WeatherPi [22], and the solar-powered weather station, is only waking up every couple of days), so I took the wings off and plugged it into the wall. Now, I'm going to add a couple more sensors that have caught my eye, and I'm adding a LIDAR system, just like the big boys (e.g., Google autonomous cars) – but quite a bit more cheaply. I am also adding some gas sensors, dust sensors, and an air quality sensor, as well as a wind tower to check the wind speed and direction. Measuring rain, because the weather station won't always be level, is more problematic.

Next up: sensor city!

SwitchDoc Note

Isolation of faults using an I2C mux board doesn't work all of the time. For example, something about the TRex motor controller board hangs the bus and the chip when the power is off. This required some coding to make sure I never access bus 1 when the TRex controller board is powered down.

The ESP8266

I am in the midst of what you might call a love affair with the ESP8266 system on a chip [21]. Although it's not an Arduino – it's missing decent analog to digital converters and hardware PWM, and it has a very small set of GPIOs – it makes up for a lot with built-in WiFi, Arduino IDE compatibility, and the extremely inexpensive packages available. If I were to do the Arduino part of SunRover over again, I still would use an Arduino Mega 2560 or an Arduino Due, but it is a closer decision than it was six months ago.


  1. "SunRover" by John C. Shovic, Raspberry Pi Geek, issue 13, 2015, pg. 68:
  2. "SunRover 2 – Power supply" by John Shovic, Raspberry Pi Geek, issue 14, 2015, pg. 60:
  3. "SunRover navigation system" by John Shovic, Raspberry Pi Geek, issue 15, 2016, pg. 72:
  4. Project Curaçao:
  5. Rasp Pi 18-inch camera flex cable:
  6. picamera:
  7. Clear acrylic plastic globe:
  8. Dagu mini pan-and-tilt kit:
  9. "3D Print Your Mouse" by John C. Shovic, Raspberry Pi Geek, issue 8, 2014, pg. 54:
  10. 3D-printed pan-and-tilt case for a Raspberry Pi:
  11. I2C servo driver:
  12. RasPiConnect:
  13. "Lightning detector" by John C. Shovic, Raspberry Pi Geek, issue 12, 2015, pg. 54:
  14. "WeatherArduino" by John C. Shovic, Raspberry Pi Geek, issue 07, 2014, pg. 62:
  15. AM2315 temperature and humidity sensor library:
  16. "Design/build process" by John C. Shovic, Raspberry Pi Geek, issue 12, 2015, pg. 64:
  17. Build your own RasPiConnect control panels:
  18. Turning the Pi on and off:
  19. SunAirPlus power controller:
  20. Repairing SD cards on a Mac:
  21. ESP8266:
  22. Build your own solar-powered weather station:

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