To start, I am very new to the robotics/electronic motors space. I am trying to learn as much as possible. I have read lots information and watched lots of videos, but I still have lots of questions. This is a lengthy post, so thanks to anyone who reads it!
I am looking to build a mini skid steer/electric loader to help with yardwork, specifically mulch moving. I would like to make this a rideable machine. I have a very steep yard, so whatever I build will need to be able to handle sloped and off-road terrain.
I plan on powering it with 4 electric wheelchair motors. I have a Quantum 1650 base—a large bariatric wheelchair. The base has two large 24v motors and I also have the wheelchair controller module and joystick.
I also have two motors (brakes removed) from a disassembled Jazzy 1113 wheelchairs. I have the controller, although it was not working to control the motors—I believe it is simply a ribbon connector issue in the joystick.
I have a few key decisions/questions which is what brings me here:
Question #1: Does anyone have any build plans or suggestions? I have thought about getting some welding work to extend the front of the Quantum 1650 frame, add lift arms, and add sheet metal to the frame to protect electronics. Additional disclaimer: I cannot weld, so any work I would have to pay for.
Another thought I had was modifying a zero-turn mower frame (ie: strip engine and mount wheelchair motors) to use the 4 motors/wheelchair wheels. My intention is to use mower wheels (or similar), but I am aware I will need to either use couplers or get a hub conversion fabricated as well. I would also consider a normal riding mower stripped down and modified to support 4 wheels. My concern with both of these approaches is if these platforms would be too heavy.
I have also thought about track drive, but I did not know how well that would work with 4 motors as most tracks (for purchase) I have seen use single drive sprockets. Additionally, to buy these tracks seems quite expensive—even if I go with the cheap ones from Alibaba.
Question #2: I have read that the best way to control the motors is to use a Sabretooth 2x60 controller. Does this seem like the best approach, or would anyone recommend any other controller? Additionally, since I am looking to make it a ride on machine, does anyone have any ideas for the best controls? I have seen the sabretooth can support analog controls but have no idea what type of analog controls are available to be used.
Question #3: I am thinking of powering the lift arms with either strong electric linear actuators, or with an electric hydraulic pump (like used on a dump trailer). Does anyone have an thoughts on which one is better?
Any other comments/feedbacks/criticisms are welcome. Thanks for any help!