Build Log: Nanosaur

Similar to a few other small autonomous rover projects that we’ve seen over the years, I am going to build a tiny little robot by the name of Nanosaur. It is a small tracked vehicle, powered by an Nvidia Jetson Nano, two small motors, a rechargeable battery pack, a Raspberry Pi camera, and some custom 3D printed parts for the body. It runs ROS in a Docker container by default, so, I’ll naturally be attempting to “balena-fy” that, but even in it’s default form it looks like a fun build.

This project is originally developed by Raffaello Bonghi, currently working on the Nvidia Jetson team though created in his spare time as a personal project.

I have all of the parts on the BoM, ready to go:

Of course, a pile of parts doesn’t always turn out to be exactly what is envisioned, but if everything goes according to plans, the end result should come out looking like this:

Tonight, construction will begin, and I’ll update this thread in a few days to see what kind of progress I’ve made!



@dtischler are you going to be soldering things? :scream:

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I sure did solder some things @chrisys!

In fact, I soldered the 40-pin GPIO header to the small PCB, and the cabling needed for the OLEDs and motor control board:

Nanosaur’s tail is taking shape:


Made some more progress on the physical construction, getting the motors in place, frame built, and tracks on:

It’s a been a while since my last post, and I have some progress on my build, so let’s dive in!

First, I got the Adafruit DC Stepper mounted up:

After that, I got the expansion board lines fed through the chassis which will eventually have the Nano on top:

Then I placed the Nano over them, checking the alignment and fitment of the board and the fitment of the head piece. Both seem to be ok, so, we can continue on!

The Nanosaur’s head was up next, so, I mounted in the two OLED eyes, and attached the 4-pin cables for each:

The camera goes in right below them, on his nose. :nose:

The cables I cut are a bit too long, so, I think I’ll trim those back a bit, but overall Nanosaur is taking shape!


Just seen now, this post!
Nanosaur yellow is really cool :smiley:

Ha, I am documenting my progress @rbonghi … though I am due for an update, as my physical build is complete now.

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My Nanosaur took his first steps last night. :t_rex:

So, that reminded me to post an update. I ended up redoing my cabling, as it was a bit messy and my cables were too long. So, I ordered in some new PCB’s and resoldered more carefully, using shorter cable lengths this time. I then finished up his snout, placed it on the body, and powered up!

With full assembly complete, it is time to start focusing on the software. Raffaello has everything documented over at, so you can follow the instructions there. But for the moment, I am running the Nvidia JetPack 4.6 software on the Nanosaur, in it’s default configuration. I will eventually migrate this to balenaOS of course, but for testing purposes the “normal” installation allowed me to verify that the hardware is functional!