Let's Make Robots!

Robot Vacuum Cleaner

After doing some searching the last few days I've found that either there is very little information on people who have created their own autonomous vacuum cleaners, or iRobot has done an amazing job at taking up a vast majority of searches on the subject every place I've found. Given the high cost of the Roomba, and the relative cheap-ness of robot parts, this is surprising to me. I've seen posts for the crumbot, and the post for the bot using that $7 mushroom vac from dealxtreme. So I'm wondering, is there any more information available? 

The two scenarios I see for making this are either the vac mentioned above mounted to a robot, or going to Big Lots, finding a dirt-cheap vacuum cleaner, cut bits off, and build a robot around it. Having spent a week reading various things on this site I can say that I trust the group's intelligence much more than my own on this decision, and seeing all the help I got in my previous thread I figure this will be a good way to get ideas as to which direction I should go.

For the record I'm leaning towards the small vac a bit because I've come up with an idea that will give me a sort of PTO system for my robot. Basically there would be an adapter plate on the front which various accessories could mount to (ie: vacuum cleaner), and then build my own wiring harness (likely out of a molex connector or something) that would provide both power, and access to pins on the arduino (I'm pretty set on this board due to its ease of use) to be able to use sensors (ie: for a vacuum I'd want bump sensors on the front-mounted vacuum rather than on the front of the bot, so it would reach into corners). Or is this idea, like my last one, likely too crazy for an absolute beginner?

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+1 Vote for used roomba.

Would SparkFun's 12v vacuum pump work for an application like this? 

http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10398

 

That pump is too slow for your needs. It only cranks out 12-15LPM. Standard vacuum cleaners pull anywhere from 100-300+CFM. A quick poke on the abacus says that pump puts out around 0.53 CFM. A little low :)

I suppose I could have probably looked up the CFM LPM conversion myself, sorry about that and thank you for the help.

I was lucky enough to pick up two used Roombas for $20. If you hunt around you might find one and can hack it.

But if you want to got the DIY route, I bow to JAX's experience there.

Out of curiosity, where did you find them? I just looked on eBay and any of them that seem to be in working condition are still fairly expensive. I do still plan to do the DIY route, because I would like to learn and teach my girlfriend at the same time, so starting from scratch would be more educational for me.However if I can find an easy to fix roomba somewhere for $20 that would still be a cool thing to have.

I lucked out on craigslist.

that the Roomba has no where near the cleaning capability of something like the B&D you two are talking about. The impression I have gotten from articles/reviews is that it is maybe somewhat better that the mushroom vacs you speak of. Roomba's aren't good for a heavy job. They are meant to clean endlessly for hours that you are not around and pick up the small stuff of average days/lives.

As far as bump switches go, you may consider trying to use only 3 switches and then a solid ring that encapsulates the body. That way you will get 360* coverage with only 3 inputs.

That's the basic idea here, I will still vacuum weekly (or maybe even every other week) thoroughly, but having a vacuum run for 8 hours a day while I'm not home would at least make that job easier, and keep the carpets cleaner overall. 

If I used a ring around the outside how would I tell what direction the bump came from? Is there a way that I could easily ensure some sort of accuracy on a rectangular bot? 

If you have 3 switches equally spaced around a circumference, you will get reasonable notification about where the robot has been hit within a number of degrees of precision. If 2 switches are hit, then the bot has likely impacted near the center of said switches. I believe you can follow the logic along from here.