Let's Make Robots!

Rooby the butler robot (WIP)

Last fall my wife bought a powerful vacuum and I got the green light to transform our Roomba into a butler robot. So I went to Home Depot and bought a few PVC and ABS pipes and connectors and mounted them on top of Roomba. I cut a square hole with my Dremel in the T connector and placed there my Chumby One that will be used as the brain. The name is a combination between Roomba and Chumby, thus Rooby.

Chumby needs 5V regulated, so I bought a 5V switching regulator from Pololu so I can power it directly from Roomba's 14.4V battery. I mounted the old arm I built for my previous butler robot version without the hand yet because I need one more servo for it. The servos will be controlled by one of my uServotino boards and will be powered from Roomba's battery through some 6V uBEC I got from HobbyKing. Chumby has only one external USB port so I needed to use a USB hub and plug Roomba, the webcam, a USB flash drive and the uServotino into the hub. The only problem with this setup is that Chumby has problems booting in robot mode with all these plugged in. Oh well, we'll see what we can do about this later.

GroG worked hard to get his My Robot Lab to run on the Chumby and some more work needs to be done to be able to access all the peripherals directly from MRL. In theory, the software is set up so I can do all the programming remotely from a MRL session on my laptop and then run the code directly on Chumby. But I didn't get that far yet. The work was interrupted by the need of some parts and a damage to the Roomba's battery monitor circuitry. Then I got preoccupied by another project so this one is still waiting for my better mood. I'll take more pictures of it soon, for now, you just have the one above.


I have attached all the servos and the Lego Adaptive 4 digit hand to the robot, here is the picture:


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Great looking robot.  If you want to get back to this project, I can ship you one of my 400 series Roombas(I started collecting them now that people know I make robots with them).  All I ask is you pay for shipping and make a video when you get it working (so I can gloat to my friends).  I live in Austin, TX, so I'm not sure how much shipping would be.  If you know what part you need for the electronics, ie, find the part of protechrobotics.com and send me the link, I can just send you that and save on shipping.

Good luck!


Thanks Luke, I'll check what's wrong with it in the winter time and I'll get back to you. Cheers!

Gotta love the Roombas!

I am waiting for a video. How good is video streaming - maybe you could add a streamed video in presentation ?

Remember that the maximum recommended weight that can be added to Create is < 2.3kg.

Oh boy, I think I'm about there already with all the tubes, connectors, servos and Chumby. I can remote control Roomba, but it starts the vacuum motor which makes a lot of noise and I hate it. Hmm, I can unplug it I guess and try again. But the robot moves with all the weight on it. No straming video for now, software is still in the works on the Chumby side. Like I said, I ran into a problem with the battery monitoring circuit on Roomba and I'll have to debug it a bit before I can continue the tests. I was waiting for the uBEC to power the servos and a couple of metal geared servos for the shoulder side movement and elbow lift, now I have them and I can install them on the robot. Then I can try to do more tests and once the Chumby MRL works, first tests will be mobility then video streaming. I think I'm going to have the robot as a telepresence device first, then start to add autonomous routines. 

Perhaps you can put the vacuum motor under microcontrol, so you can turn it on or off as needed.

Great project. Keep it up!

You should do that (control the vacuum motor from Chumby) or just cut its wires :)

I gutted a first gen and left it with nothing but the bumper plate springs and the motor assemblies, which are amazingly well balanced BTW. You end up with two 12v motors (brush and suction) and take about half the weight off. The optical interrupts in the bumper assembly seem like overkill-I just replaced them with contact switches on the arms. Still, a good butler should run the vacuum every once in a while so maybe you ought to leave it.

Yeah, put an Arduino in there and a suitable motor driver and have everything running as you want it to run not as Roomba lets you run it. Roomba has a Serial Command Interface that allows you to have some control over Roomba's motors and read the sensors. The only thing I don't like about that is the fact that you can't give it commands like go forward 2 feet or 60 cm. You have to say go forward and read the encoders and issue a stop command just when it's about to get to the distance you want. You have to determine by trial and error when to issue the stop command for the robot to stop perfectly. Many factors may affect that, perhaps a PID control can still be possible. If the Roomba brain is eliminated, you can build a smart motor controller with any microcontroller, with the added cost of the motor drivers and the microcontroller itself. 

I notice this was made last year according to the date the photo was taken. Can't wait to see it up and running!