UPDATE: 03/2011
The Airsoft Roomba has received a lot of attention since it's first build.  Last winter it was in Belgium taking part in the IF Kortrijk, Yes We're Open Exhibition 2010.

other places on the Web "O" Sphere:

Engadget
Gizmodo
Dvice
Wired
Make







 This is a current project of mine, hacking a Roomba Red.  After seeing all the roomba hacks on MAKE and Hack A Day I really wanted to build my own bluetooth controlled roomba. What really finally motivated me was seeing all the different  projects on  TodBots site.  I have an Arduino and have been wanting to learn Processing, this is my chance to do all three!  For my first project I figured that I could use the camera off of the Sonarbot and find a video to usb converter for my laptop. Quick and easy remotely operated robot on the cheap.

I own a Discovery roomba and use it in the never ending battle against dog hair.  I love it as it does an amazing job at sweeping up not only dog hair but all sorts of dirt and dust.  I didn't want to take the chance of killing it so I searched around for another and found this Roomba Red on craigslist for $30, it wasn't charged when I went to see it but I figured that if it was dead the motors and battery would be worth the money.  I took it home and plugged in the charger.  I smelled something strange and realized that the charger cord was damaged and the wires were shorting out! I repaired the wires and pluged it back in and after a few hours gave it a test. It Works!   With my discovery working I didn't feel bad when I removed the vacuum mechanicals on the Red to save weight and make room for any additional modifications I might add.  Now for the disassembly.  I removed every screw I could find on the bottom and removed the cover.  I have never seen so much cat hair!  In every nook and cranny it was crammed in.  It had to be pried out with a mini screw driver plus compressed air!  a final vacumm finished the job.  Wish I had taken photos, it was unbelievable.

This is how it looked after the first modifications.

Of the housing, only part left in place is the bumper.  The vacuum took up almost half of the area.  In this space where the brushes, motors and dustbin for the vacuum mechanicals occupied I will build a platform or box to house the bluetooth and various other additions as my project progresses.

Front view with character marks from it's former life.

I ordered a bluesmurf bluetooth module and antenna from Sparkfun and assembled a bluetooth interface board using the tutorial from Makezine.com
I used a couple of pin sockets in order to use jumper wires to connect to the DIN socket on the roomba and for the cameras power circut.

The board only took an hour to build and I got it up and paired with my computer in a couple of more.  I wasn't having any luck connecting to the roomba though!  So I built another board, this time larger and easier to trouble shoot (pic above) to be sure it wasn't the problem.  It seemed to work fine but still no communication with the roomba!  I asked a friend who has a bluetooth controlled bot for help and he quickly figured out that the baud rate was set wrong! Thanks Mike!  A couple of changes using info from the iRobot website and we got the first beep out of the bot.  Next the RoombaCom program from RoombaDevTools was downloaded and Red was zipping around my flat within an hour.Mounted the Bluetooth board over the right motor and wheel for now.  CA glued a couple of stand offs and used a thumb screw to hold it on during testing.I will build a platform between the two motor/wheels and permanently mount the module in a safe spot.
I did not have a DIN connector so used jumpers, will replace with a proper plug when the deck is finished. The glowing LED is the power indicator, there is a smaller one for the camera power circuit.  I am very happy with how this is working.  Driving it with the camera is very challenging, you get a very different perspective of the enviroment from such a low veiwing angle.   A wide angle lens might help with that.  Next up is motorizining the camera to enable tilt (up& down).  Hopefully I can use the sidebrush motor geared down to control the camera angle.

Looks like iRobot is on to the same idea as me!  looks like a great platform, really am interested in the controller interface.

Update:
I received the book Hacking the Roomba today.  I had pre-ordered it and have been waiting for it to come out. It is full of cool projects and I recommend it highly for experienced builders and newbies alike.  So much information and very well written, my only complaint is the pages are not heavier stock and I am sure I will wear them out!

I picked up an Airsoft gun on sale and plan on adding a remote target practice capability soon.  Don't worry, I won't use my dog as a target.

Finished the deck area today, moved the bluetooth from above the wheel to a much safer area.
Close up of the cargo bay. It is 1/8" black acrylic with a slight texture.  I laid out a hole and slot system for mounting different size components.  This took about 30 min. on the computer and about 5 min. on the laser cutter.

The cargo area is held in place with fasteners in the original locations along the front and in the rear I added two tabs to the motor areas.  The chassis was flexing a lot before I added the deck, now it is much stiffer.The rear support is supposed to be verticle but I forgot to cut the parts to hold it up so I have bolted it horizontally in place for now.  Takes up more space this way and does not support the deck as well.

Might as well earn its keep.  Any bot can fetch a beer, what about a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses?


Another change:

I have now installed the first, smaller bluetooth board I built on the side wall, this leaves the whole deck area open for more projects.  If you have noticed the rather large springs over the drive wheels, well those are softer replacement springs.  Because of the lighter weight of the missing vacuum chassis, the original springs kept setting off the wheel drop sensors everytime it stopped suddenly.  I had to replace the stock springs with ones that were less stiff to keep the rear down.
I have kept the original key pad circuit board. I glued on a silicon dome switch over the start contacts for now.  Would really like to replace the whole board with a couple of nice switches.  Have to map the layout first.

UPDATE! 2/16/07

Robots with guns and lasers!

Modified the Airsoft gun and fabbed an ammo hopper out of acrylic.  It runs thru the RoombaCom interface.


the hopper is offset to one side to allow access to the timer board which limits the gun firing duration to 2 secs.  which is about six rounds.






I added a laser line level for a gun site, nice to see the line running from the bot to the target, helps aim when driving using the camera image only.








This turned out to be a lot more fun than I imagined,  It takes some skill to navigate using the camera image.  Add to that finding a suitable target, lining up and finally pressing the trigger, hearing the ratt a tat tat of the airsoft, brings out the kid in me.  Will post a video soon.

Here's a link to a quick video, will try and shoot a better one soon!

Roomba in Action!



For the Makers Faire I switched the Airsoft with a Nerf gun.  I wanted kids to be able to operate it with out any fears of  ricochet.