Let's Make Robots!

Hand held battery vacuum cleaner

I bought a cheap battery powered vacuum cleaner from dealextreme to build into Ozzy. The idea was to build a front mounted vacuuming attachment as inspired by emullers vacuum bug. I was pretty skeptical of its sucking power and for about $6 with free shipping worldwide I wasn`t expecting it to be very useful. Now that it has arrived I can say yes indeed it does suck! In a good way!

Heres a small pre-hacking photo review.

It`s a small mushroom shaped hand held vacuum cleaner dimensions approx 8cm high and 9cm diameter on his hat that comes in a small cheap cardboard box. On opening the box the top blue half had popped off. Whether this was accidental, or customs checking inside it, I don`t know.



Twisting the top pops it off to allow access to the batteries and switch, in my case it was already off. It takes 2 AA size batteries (not included). Theres a lot of wasted space in here that will be removed when I incorporate it into Ozzy.



Underneath is the suck hole and some stiff brushes. They are too hard for delicate equipment. Not to be used for cleaning your iphones screen, but good for getting dust out of my rug.



Twisting the bottom makes it pops off easily. The white part is the catchment area. It`s VERY small and fills up quite quickly. The black piece is the filter.



Removing the filter exposes the blower. Unfortunately the filter is designed such that it filters the air after it passes through the fan instead of before, as such the fan can get fouled with hair etc easily. 



I ran it really quickly over a 30cm square area of my rug and heres what it picked up.



Running on 2 AA batteries it draws about 1A which would make about 2hrs of cleaning with 2500mAh batteries but you could parallel some up for better duration. I also tested it with 1 AA. The fan is significantly slower but so is the current draw at 500mA and it still easily sucked up a giant dust bunny I made by running my finger across the window sill. With a single 2500mh AA you could get almost 5hrs cleaning!

All in all I`m quite surprised by the amount of suction it can generate and consider it well worth the money. The fan is well designed for $6 to stop wasted air flow however having the filter after the fan instead of before is a bad idea. When the junk needs emptying, the fan also needs cleaning.

I`m going to add on a bigger catchment area and better filter, plus a relay or mosfet to allow the robot to switch it on and off. Also making a thinner and wider head to cover the width of Ozzy with a rotating brush to kick up the dust.

One more photo against Ozzy for scale. I may mount it on the back with a flexible hose going to the vacuuming head if it doesn`t reduce the suck too much.



If anyone is interested I can take a video of it in operation.



Update 4/08/09

This was my first attempt at preparing the vacuum cleaner for mounting. First I pulled the bristles off the bottom. I used a small sauce bottle as rubbish container. I cut the funnel tip off the bottle top and used Fritz Glue™ to fix it to the bottom of the vacuum cleaner. A small filter cut from a laundry bag fits in the lid and the bottle screws on holding the filter tight.



Next I set about cutting the unwanted blue bits off. Makes it so much more compact.



I`m not sure exactly where this is going on the robot so I cut a hole and put some plastic flexible pipe on with hot glue again. 



I made a quick vacuuming head with 5mm foam board. The small channel widens the sucking area. I think it might be too deep though. In front of the suck pipe is where the rotating brush would go and below it are some bristles I cut from a toilet brush (a NEW one) and glued on the back.



The completed prototype. The blue part I cut off can still clip back on, which I did to make testing easier.



It works ok as is but I think the sucking channel is too deep and wide making it lose a lot of useful suck. For the next attempt I`m going to use plastic sheet because it`s thinner and wont be squashed by bolts.

I uploaded a quick video.

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6$ and free shipping? Sounds like a deal, i might consider buying it too! 

Will vacuuming be your robot's primary task?

Yes I think so, plus self charging. I have a ton of other ideas I want to work on but when I pull something else out to experiment with my wife gives me that look that says "you havent even finished the other one yet".

I need to give it a purpose or I`m going to be eating plain rice for the rest of my life.

screw Irobots roomba u could just make ur own! be sure to buy 2 or 3 of those vaccumes and youll be set!
I`m hoping that just 1 of these and given enough juice will be able to clean a spot the width of my robot.

You mentioned the mushroom vac pulls 1A. Is that during normal operation? I was hoping you could do me a huge favor and measure the current use of the vacuum at stall. I've figured out the motor they use in the mushroom vacs ares probably Mabuchi RE-260s like the Tamiya gearboxes. FWIW the Magic Bug uses a smaller FA (maybe E) -130 motor. I think I'm going to try to upgrade the mushroom vac for Crumbot :) If you can pull the amp draw at stall from your unit I can probably figure out what motor it is for a baseline.