Old Robotic Vacuum Gets A New RC Lease On Life

To our way of thinking, the whole purpose behind robotic vacuum cleaners is their autonomy. They’re not particularly good at vacuuming, but they are persistent about it, and eventually get the job done with as little human intervention as possible. So why in the world would you want to convert a robotic vacuum to radio control?

For [Lucas], the answer was simple: it was a $20 yard sale find, so why not? Plus, he’s got some secret evil plan to repurpose the suckbot for autonomous room mapping, which sounds like a cool project that would benefit from a thorough knowledge of this little fellow’s anatomy and physiology. The bot in question is a Hoover Quest. Like [Lucas] we didn’t know that Hoover made robotic vacuums (Narrator: they probably don’t) but despite generally negative online reviews by users, he found it to be a sturdily built and very modular and repairable unit.

After an initial valiant attempt at reverse engineering the bot’s main board — a project we encourage [Lucas] to return to eventually — he settled for just characterizing the bot’s motors and sensors and building his own controller. The Raspberry Pi Zero he chose may seem like overkill, but he already had it set up to talk to a PS4 game controller, so it made sense — right up until he released the Magic Smoke within it. A backup Pi took the sting out of that, and as the brief video below shows, he was finally able to get the bot under his command.

[Lucas] has more plans for his new little buddy, including integrating the original sensors and adding new ones. Given its intended mission, we’d say a lidar sensor would be a good addition, but that’s just a guess. Whatever he’s got in store for this, we’re keen to hear what happens.

8 thoughts on “Old Robotic Vacuum Gets A New RC Lease On Life

    1. to be fair, Roombas (the actual Irobot ones) are repairable. they sell you most of the mechanical parts (brush assembly, wheels, motors, battery packs, etc) and you can swap them out with a #2 Philips). my 620 is heavily beat up and I have replaced the brush assembly (dirt got into the gears, not pretty) and it still works.

      they divide their lineup in “families” and parts are swappable between families. the 600 family is over 5 Years old, still being sold, and still supported

      1. iRobot’s did even better than that. People were hacking on them. iRobot found out, and started selling the roomba without the vacuum component, directly. For hackers. My kid’s robotics club went to a competition that used them as the main platform.

  1. Honestly, the software for robot vacuums is terrible. The reviews are lies too. We got the deebot, and omg, I think a 3rd grader would have done better! LiDAR and camera say you’re up against a wall. Motor turning, but position not changing. Is the bumper stuck? Or placed maybe above molding? No! Keep ramming the wall. Did I move yet? No? Back up and get a run I g start and try to ram the wall again! Didn’t work? Error out and complain that I’m stuck, though I was clearly able to get a running start! LiDAR and optical camera showed the motion. But since the bump sensor never triggered, the other sensors ***must*** have been wrong! Like I said, a third grader would know that the bump sensor wasn’t triggering properly for some reason…we need an open source replacement that people can port to robots. Kind of like how we have ddwrt and openwrt for routers. If I had the time, I’d start on it. However, lesson learned? YouTube is full of lying shills when it comes to robot vacuums. Don’t trust any of them.

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