Roomba and virtual walls make up this theme family Halloween costume

It figures. You spend a ton of time making a cool set of costumes and then you can’t get your kid to pose for a picture. It’s okay though, we still get the point. This themed set of costumes dresses the little one as a Roomba vacuuming robot while mom and dad are suited up as virtual walls (modules that are used to keep the bot from falling down stairs, etc.). It’s fun and unique, but had it not been for some additional electronics this would have been relegated to a links post. For safety sake each costume was outfitted with a ring of LEDs. As a challenge, the lights were given the ability to sync up patterns with each other.

Each costume has a circular frame at the top with a set of RGB LED strings attached. To get them to display synchronized patterns an IR transmitter/receiver board was designed and ordered from OSHPark. Each costume has four of these modules so no matter where the wearers are facing it should not break communications. A demo of the synchronized light rings can be seen after the break

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Roomba 4000 teardown ready for your Doomba build

In addition to getting a haircut, [Dino] spent his week editing an old video of him tearing down a Roomba 4000. These robots can be picked up for just a few dollars on eBay, making them one of the cheapest bodged up robotics dev platforms available.

After [Dino] goes over how to unscrew the cover and disassemble the Roomba 4000, he goes over the layout of the motherboard and takes a look at the sensors. The wheels on the Roomba are actually very neat pieces of technology with a very cool planetary gear system that is the perfect drive system for your next robot build.

There are a ton of ways to use the electronics in Roombas for a few interesting robotics projects. [Dino] built 2/3rds of a all terrain rocker bogie robot – just like the Curiosity rover – out of a Roomba, and a small two wheeled indoor robot using a Parallax Propeller. If you’re a redditor there’s always the possibility of building a Doomba, but we think [Patrick] has a better idea than a knife strapped to a vacuum cleaner.

As always, [Dino]’s vidia after the break.

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Robot cares for grave stones while honoring the dead

This robot was built to care for the graves and honor the dead in the Jewish tradition. It is called “Stoney” and was developed by [Zvika Markfeld] based on a concept by [Itamar Shimshony] who is working toward an MFA degree. The image above shows it in action as part of an installation; to our knowledge it has not been used for actual grave sites. But the concept is not a joke; it’s something that makes the observers think.

The base of the robot is an iRobot Roomba on top of which is built a platform for a robot arm. The arm has easy access to two palettes, one holds small stones, and the other flowers. There is also a small box which holds a rag. It navigates around the grave, placing stones, flowers, and using the rag and a water dispenser to symbolically clean the headstone. All of this is controlled by an Arduino Mega board which controls another Arduino running the arm, as well as the microcontroller in the Roomba.

The details of the ritual, as well as the components of the robot are well explained in the clip after the break.

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Meet OSCAR, the Google Hangout robot

[Gus] made it to the Google+ developers vlog to show off his new Google+ hangout controlled robot. This robot, named OSCAR (Overly Simplified Collaboratively Actuated Robot), drives around according to the whims of everyone in a Google+ hangout. Not only is the robot under remote control through a Google+ hangout, it also features a camera, allowing a hangout audience to explore a space in real time.

[Gus] built OSCAR out of an old Roomba he found in his parent’s basement. After attaching an Android tablet to the Roomba with some binder clips, [Gus] put a web server on the tablet and wrote a Google+ hangout extension allowing all hangout viewers to remotely control OSCAR.

Right now, all the commands received on the hangout are put into a queue, meaning everyone on a hangout has control of OSCAR. The next version will change those commands to deltas, or changes in the current state, canceling out conflicting commands. If only we had one of these while we were streaming for the Red Bull competition

You can check out a demo of OSCAR after the break.

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[Dino] upgrades his robot chassis

This is the fourth iteration that [Dino] has produced for his all-terrain robot. Just before this it was more of a turtle, with an aluminum pan shell. We think his upgrade to MicroRAX frame parts makes it look a lot better, and lightens the load so it can get around better as well.

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but many of the components are from a Roomba robot. The four motors, and the mainboard are all from units he picked up on eBay. To drive the motors he tapped into the H-bridge signals on the control board using a Seeeduino. His write-up (linked above) shares some of the details regarding the electronics, but the video after the break shows the development and assembly of the new chassis. It’s made from extruded aluminum bars which easily connect to each other with the system’s brackets. To interface with the non-standard parts he makes his own brackets from some aluminum sheet stock. It’s similar to other modular building materials, but the MicroRAX is a great size/weight for a small design like this one.

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Pep up your house cat’s boring wintertime life

With winter upon us, and all the windows shut, [Garfield] and [Socks] can get a little restless. But [Dino] is determined to keep his furry friends entertained through the cold dark months. He hit the junk box, and used some interesting fabrication techniques to build the Chase-a-Mouse motorized cat toy.

The toy is popular with the cats because it incorporates two traditionally satisfying features; something to chase, and an obstacle to chase it around. The base of the unit is a long plank which is held up from the floor by a couple of inches. The loop of rope which spans the board’s length has a mouse attached to it with about six inches of string. When the motor is flipped on it bounces and jerks its way around the circuit, darting in and out of the space below the base.

As you can see in the video after the break the motor is a bit loud. [Dino] used the sweeper motor from a Roomba for this. It might freak the kitties out at first, but curiosity will get the better of them eventually. It’s a quick build, and we love the drill-turned-lathe that is used make the wooden pulley for the system.

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Robot vacuum makes cleaning into a game

This is not a Roomba hack, but a ground-up vacuum cleaner robot build. It’s the result of a class project from six students at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. There’s a slew of information available in their paper, but fair warning that it’s an 8.6 MB PDF file that we couldn’t get Google to translate. We were able to skim the PDF and cut and paste to translate the interesting bits we found.

Unlike a Roomba, which just uses a little sweeper to pick up debris, this robot actually includes a vacuum. The image above shows that the cylindrical body is wrapped in an LED matrix, with an ultrasonic sensor on the front for obstacle avoidance. The robot uses a CAN bus to control the various modules inside. We don’t think there’s any autonomous function, but that’s made up for by the remote control. It communicates via a ZigBee module, and includes a d-pad, touch screen, and accelerometer.We’re a little bit hazy on how the games are played, but there are at least two interactive version: one called ball, and another modeled after the classic game of missile command.

You can check out the source code for the project in their repository, or join us after the break for two demo videos.

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