A robot vacuum cleaner that ex-ter-mi-nates dust.

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An autonomous driving robot, wifi connected and built mostly from scrap. Capable of maping it's surroundings (in house) this robot will form the base for a Dalek robot vacuum cleaner.

The idea

I've been thinking about building a robot for a very long time but since i didn't have any direct purpose i never got around to actually buiding it. I have been looking at vacuum robots lately and that sparked the idea to build my own, better, version. 

I don't understand why most vacuum robots are round and low. Well, i understand the low part is so that it can get under your couch and stuff but it seriously decreases the available space for the sucking part of the robot. I would rather have a robot that is capable of cleaning all the visible dust in those corners than one that cleans the invisible dust under the couch. I'm perfectly capable of cleaning under the couches when i feel the need.

So. i want a vacuum cleaner that is able to get into corners and i don't really care about the places i can't see anyway. I also want it look better than a Roomba, which isn't really that hard, and i want it to be able to dump the collected dust while it's recharging. I wouldn't mind if it has a bigger dustbucket and i would like it if it sucks more that the avarage robotic vacuum cleaner. I'm told that a cyclonic dust collector actually works pretty well so maybe i can include that into my wishes?

While considering my options i came accross a blog which had detailed plans for building a Dalek. The Dalek form is high enough to house a cyclonic dust collecter, has some edges at the base which would probably allow it to get into corners and it appeals to my inner nerd. So a clyclonic, robotic Dalek it must be. Of course i need to think of a way to have it empty it's dustbucket.

The Hardware

The robot should be controllable from a smartphone but over the internet would be nice as well which is why i chose wifi for the communication. I've got a bricked TP-link that will be perfect for the job provided i can get it up and running again. There's a hardware mod that breaks out i2c from the router board. The i2c will be used to interface between the router and various modules throughout the robot, motors, arms, head and such. The modular design will enable others to use parts they like in other projects.

I already have some ultrasonic and IR distancesensors that will be used. There will be some microswitch touch sensors in the base and probably something underneath to measure ground clearance and avoid falling down the stairs.

I want the robot to collect the information it gathers while cleaning and store it. It should be able to map it's surroundings, know where it can or cannot go and which places have already been done. Based on the data it should be able to move around in a smart way. In a later stadium i might even add some way of measuring the amount of dust it gathers so it knows which areas need to be cleaned more often.

I am just starting this project, there's a few bits and pieces i have laying around that might be usefull, and i'm thinking about size, function etcetera. My budget is minimum, if anyone feels the need to sponsor any part of this project don't hesitate to inform me.

  • 1 × A cpu board Something with some processing power and WIFI, i've got a couple of different routers laying around. One of them will fit the bill.
  • 2 × Geared drive motors I'm gonna go for tracks with tank control, need two decently sized motors, probably geared down a little.
  • 2 × Microsoft sidewinder joysticks These i've already got. I'm thinking thay would make great front arms (the suction cup and laser gun. Just need to figure out if they will fit.
  • 1 × USB camera For the eye of course.
  • 1 × RC Hobby servo For moving the eye arm.

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  • Vote! Damnit

    witchdoc08/04/2014 at 19:39 0 comments

    Just added a picture to get those chicks to vote for me.

  • Uploaded pictures

    witchdoc07/25/2014 at 20:03 2 comments

    As promised i uploaded the pictures that were used in the video. These pictures show the current prototype platform and a mockup screen layout for control of the robot.

    The protype platform is build from Lego. It's a small six wheeled platform with four dc motors. Two motors on each side, all six wheels are driven. Some loose wires are visible on top of the platform, these connect to the motor inputs, these wires are wedged between the motor connectors and another lego brick. This way i din't need to break or alter any Lego parts. The motors will be controlled by one TLE 4202B motorcontroller per two motors. I chose these because i have a bunch of them from Pollin for just 50 eurocents each.

    The other picture is a mockup of the screen layout for controlling the robot. Main feature in this layout is the use of a hexagonal grid. Hexagonal grids are often used in games and i believe they have some advantages over regular cubic grids. A lot of info about this can be found on Amit Patels website.

  • Video!

    witchdoc07/21/2014 at 01:28 1 comment

    So, from what i understand i need to upload a video to increase my changes to stay in the game. Right ...

    I had been preparing some stuff to upload to the blog but this video-thing is not my cup of tea. But i installed some tools, scrounged some materials and did my best. Stuff shown in the video will be uploaded here too.

    I think the video is moving along to fast right now, i may have to some more editing. For a first time video editing i think it's allright though.

    So, without any further adue;

  • The Brainz

    witchdoc06/25/2014 at 22:37 1 comment

    Right. I recovered another bricked WR703N, this one looked intact but just wouldn't boot, it needed a console connection and once that was soldered on i could boot it into maintenance mode and flash a working image. 

    Below is a picture of the brains in its current state. I've added a five pin header of which rx/tx and gnd are now connected. Put the header on top of the USB host connector and broke part of the casing so it's accesible when the casing is closed. For now i'll leave the board in the casing, the pads on the board are pretty fragile and this way i don't have to worry too much about tearing them off.

    The two extra pins are to be used for the I2C interface. I have yet to solder those to the board. Right now i'm compiling an openwrt image with i2c and python. Never compiled openwrt from scratch before, i'd like to have a booting, self compiled, openwrt before i start on the extra mods.

    The I2C part should not be too difficult, i've got some proven I2C slave code for an atmega88 from a previous project. I'll clean up that code and put it on Github. As soon as i have control over a microcontroller from the router i'll start building a mobile platform. We recently acquired a shitload of Technic Lego at my local Hackerspace (Hack42) and i'm thinking i could use that to build a prototype vehicle for further development of modules and software.

    Debricked WR703N

  • Designing

    witchdoc06/14/2014 at 23:36 1 comment

    In the last week or so i've been thinking on the design of the Daleklone. How to build it, what materials to use and so forth. I have modified the project picture with a rough layout of the robot's internals. My first priority is the base, a dust sucking robot isn't particularly usefull if it's incapable of moving around.

    I've actually got three TP-Link routers, the WR703 type. All of them bricked in one way or the other. I brought the first one back to life, this one was missing the micro-usb connecter and thus could not be powered. It was an easy fix, i cut an old usb cable, soldered the power wires to the regulator and added some hot glue to keep it in place. I've designated this one as a bacup device. The other two routers are more seriously injured. Someone has tried to access the console port on one of them and severly damaged the TX trace on the board. I don't think i'll be able to restore that one. The last one just doesn't boot. I'll try to get ot back to life over the console. The next step is to get one of these thinsg connected to an atmega over i2c.

  • Planning

    witchdoc06/05/2014 at 19:55 0 comments

    I just did a little reformatting on the text and  added a component list. This is not actually a "components used" list but rather the stuff i think i need or already have.

    What's next?

    There's some nice blueprints on the net from a "Radio Times Special" magazine that was published back in 1973. Since these are for a full sized, some 1,5 meters tall, dalek i will use them as a reference only. I will determine the size of my dalek based on the parts i'm planning to use.

    The size of the robot will determine the materials to use. I might be able to use the 3D printer, at least for the frame. With a low fill-in that will probably be lighter than a wooden frame. I need some guestimates about the weight before i can decide what motors to use.

    Next i will have to figure out what i could use as tracks or how i could make tracks myself. I haven't decided yet wether to use tracks or wheels but i think tracks are better suited for scaling small obstacles like door sills and such. Of course these tracks, or wheels, should not be in plain view.

    I'm toying around with to different ways of emptying the dustbucket. The first method i thought of was to create a hatch in the bottom of the robot and have the docking station lift the robot over a dustbin, so it just has to open it's hatch. Another, easier method might be to have a hatch on the back that slides away and use an old vacuum cleaner in the docking station that cleans out robot's innards.

    I just realised that the 24 cm fan i listed with the components is way to big, the robot would have to be some 70 or 80 cm tall to fit that fan. I'm aiming for 40 to 50 cm max.

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Hacker404 wrote 07/25/2015 at 23:24 point

I saw this and thought 'Awesome'. Then I saw that it also has a purpose so it's Awesome squared (Awesome^2). A whole new 'level up'!

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Erikward11 wrote 07/03/2015 at 22:40 point

I made this years ago out of cardboard and my parents roomba robot for a robot vacuum already exists...

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Erand wrote 07/11/2014 at 15:33 point
Hah made me so nostalgic. Had a similar idea a while ago, but to water plants.

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witchdoc wrote 07/11/2014 at 18:27 point
Heh, nice :) what's on the other end of the cable? I mean, what is the guy carrying?

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Adam Fabio wrote 06/14/2014 at 06:31 point
A dalek dust busting robot? Sign me up! Just make sure it doesn't exterminate the cat! Can't wait to see what you come up with. Keep the pictures rolling in, and thanks for entering The Hackaday prize.

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witchdoc wrote 06/15/2014 at 00:02 point
don't know. I don't trust cats, they seem to have just as many lives as the doctor and who knows what they do in those litter boxes ...

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