Yesterday I added training wheels to the bot and allowed it to run free in the kitchen. The “training wheel” is a simple furniture caster attached to a 1.5" wide piece of aluminum bent in two places and bolted to the frame. The controller is running a very simple navigation program. It basically goes forward for two seconds, turns right for one, repeat. The timing is too far off to make any kind of recognizable shape, but it was a chance to see the ’bot in action.

Side view of ’bot with caster
Bottom view of ’bot with caster
Closeup view of battery connectors

There’s also a short high-power burst forward and backward (and forward again) to qualitatively determine what kind of torque characteristics the system exhibits. Interestingly, it’s enough to kick the caster wheel up off the ground, despite having two battery packs strapped to it.
For its first untethered tests, I added two 6-cell, 3000 mAh NiMH battery packs (the kind used in electric R/C race cars and planes) wired in series to give a nominal battery voltage of 14 V. This makes for rather large drop across the controller’s main regulator (and might even be outside the spec; I’ll have to take a look). Perhaps I should tap off of one of the batteries for powering the electronics.