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Robotic Raccoon Cam — Parallax Forums

Robotic Raccoon Cam

I have a raccoon living in my crawlspace. It originally got there through a vent that was covered with hardware cloth. To keep it out, I replaced the hardware cloth with expanded metal:

That was no challenge for the raccoon: it pulled the new grate back, breaking the frame, and dug under it to re-enter its newfound haven. So I put a brick in the hole, pressing the grate against the foundation. The raccoon had no trouble with that, lifting the brick out of the hole and deftly setting it aside. Putting a large rock on top of the brick fared no better:

So I put a fifty-pound bucket of lead on top of the brick. That just pissed it off, and it proceeded to eat through my access door and frame:

Consequently, I've contracted with a local machinist to make grates from 3/16" steel, and I'll have to rebuild the access door.

But the question is this: is the raccoon living alone, or are there kits inside that are not old enough to leave? If the latter, which I suspect, I'm better off just leaving the access door open until they leave. If not, I can block further access now.

How do I find out? The robotic raccoon cam!

It's built on a platform that Ken sent me many years ago and that I employed as a demo for the robotics class I taught at the local high school. Installed on the front is a pan/tilt wireless IP cam that I can control and monitor from my MacBook. There's also an RC receiver connected to a remuxer that I designed, which takes the individual outputs from the RC receiver and remultiplexes them back onto one pin for the Propeller to deal with. That way I can control the movement of the robot with my RC transmitter while watching the real-time video on my MacBook.

The idea was to drive the robot into the crawlspace, looking for the raccoon -- and possible family -- in order to decide what to do from there.

Unfortunately, it didn't work. The crawlspace is lined with Visqueen, and the robot's tires could gain no traction, spinning its wheels.

I'm not giving up, though. Laser-cut "tire chains" are my next project. I hope, soon, to have video of the robot in action and a photo or two of the raccoon.

Stay tuned!

-Phil

Comments

  • I have a long-running battle just like this. I tried everything. The Nuclear Option for me was “Raccoon Eviction Fluid”. Google it. Its amazing. Sprinkle a bit around the opening and wait. They smell it, panic, grab the kits, and leave within 24 hours. I believe it is a synthetic analog of male coon urine. Harmless to animals and humans. But boy howdy does it work.

  • Thanks for the Nuclear Option tip!

    Meanwhile, I've attached laser-cut 36-grit sandpaper to the wheels with zip ties:

    Hoping for better traction on the Visqueen!

    -Phil

  • The sandpaper worked -- sort of. It got a perfect grip on a level surface, but the ridges and valleys in my crawlspace were too much for it. I think I really need tank treads.

    -Phil

  • ercoerco Posts: 19,925

    That's a great challenge. My crawlspace is also lumpy and that 2-wheel drive chassis would never make it. 4 big driven wheels would likely do it.

    Of course JRoark's low-tech Nuclear Option is likely your best bet.

    Unrelated, I'm on a total nuclear phase now since watching HBO's Chernobyl series and the 35-year anniversary on April 26. Robots failed there too, radiation destroyed the circuitry. Much like your angry raccoon destroyed your door & frame. A radioactive racoon would be formidable.

    I must see Chernobyl sometime soon. That's been the most popular tourist attraction in Ukraine ever since the HBO series. Zdrastvuytye, tovarischs!

  • There's always the Rover 5 platform.

    I share my love/hate experiences with the Rover 5 in this thread.

  • Of course JRoark's low-tech Nuclear Option is likely your best bet.

    Yup. 'Just have to figure out how to deliver the payload into the far reaches of the crawlspace where the raccoon hangs out. Maybe a slingshot?

    A small quadcopter could get back there for a look-see, but it would require ace flying skills, which are waaaay beyond my hand-eye-challenged capabilities.

    -Phil

  • I’m of two minds for having suggested the Nuclear Option. On one hand it works amazingly well on the local coons (YMMV), but on the other hand its going to be a lot more fun (and educational) watching Phil build a subterreanean, coon-conquering battle-bot. :)

    By strange coincidence I have just laid-in a sizable stash of popcorn, so I’m hoping for some big mischief here!

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