Send This FPV Bot Into The Crawlspace To Do Your Dirty Work

The least pleasant space in most houses is likely to be the space below it. Basements tend to be dank, dusty, and full of too many things that have too many legs. And even worse than the full basement is the dreaded crawlspace, which adds claustrophobia to the long list of unpleasantries that lie below. Sadly, though, a crawlspace might be a handy place to run wires, and if you’re hesitant to delve too deeply, this FPV cable-laying rig might be something to keep in mind.

This one comes to us from [Old Alaska] with very little detail other than what’s in the brief video below. The setup is clear enough — a need to run an Ethernet cable from one side of the house to the other, and a crawlspace to do it in. Also in the toolkit was an RC rock crawler with a field-expedient FPV camera. With Breaking Bad-style access to the crawlspace through a few floorboards, [Old Alaska] was able to deploy the crawler dragging a Cat 5 cable behind it. The terrain under the house made the rock crawler a good choice, with four-wheel-drive, locking differentials, and an articulating frame. The bot’s-eye view also makes it clear that actually crawling in this rubble-strewn crawlspace would be a painful affair.

With very little drama, [Old Alaska] was able to navigate the crawler across the crawlspace to the outer wall of the house, where he could fish the wire out and complete the connection — no fuss, no muss, no bloody knees. The only quibble we’d have is not running an extra length of pull rope with the wire. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

The whole thing reminds us of a more tactical version of [Cliff Stoll]’s subterranean inventory management bot.

27 thoughts on “Send This FPV Bot Into The Crawlspace To Do Your Dirty Work

      1. When I made the house ‘end to end’ run, I just used those plastic cable holders with two small nails in each. Tack up on each joist. Made for a fairly ‘neat’ job. I have a full unfinished cement basement, so wasn’t in the ‘dirt’. I actually made two runs as I have an internal network, and then the external network to get to the internet.

    1. Hey I’m the guy who made the video – and agree! If it was anything other than temporary network cable, I’d be running it conduit. I used a similar Lego RC vehicle to run a string, which I then used to pull a big cable for a sub panel, and that one is all in conduit (I actually drive under it at one point in the video!)

  1. Very cool but what I need is more snake-like—long, narrow, traction all along its length, articulated, and capable of self-righting. Something like the train-like vehicles that cross frozen landscapes would work. I have open trusses between first and second floor and a vehicle needs to be able to crawl over obstacles, around obstacles, and through narrow openings. Maybe 3-4″ wide, 18″ long, 10×10 drive.

    1. Yep. Even small cottages and forest huts in eastern Europe have better foundations by an order of a magnitude regardless whether they were built under Soviet or under current EU bimbocracy.

      1. Clue: The footers of a foundation have to be below the frost line or frost heaves will break it.

        Don’t pat yourself on the back too hard. You just live in the tundra.

        That said: The pilings this house sits on are rotten, don’t have ‘crete footers.

  2. I love this! Always wanted to build something that can crawl through a suspended ceiling for similar purposes but it’d have to be a pretty compact and sophisticated robot. :-D

  3. First it’s like lunar exploring then familiar. A rotating whisk is needed to erase the 8 leg’s mess first. I had an idea years ago with a friend who had a crawlspace to make a dirt racing track for RC FPV action. His space had pea gravel everywhere with a vapor barrier underneath.

    With that much dirt first a RC grader or dozer may have to be used to make the track. Then comes the cable running RC car to string up white Christmas lights for at night realism. An arm equipped “wrecker” with vision would suffice to hang the lights or in this case network wire. The end effector has a junked drill that can screw in a hook and can grab and hang the wires.

    If you have to make runs like this on the job this is the next Labor Saving Devices thinking unless it’s ferrets. LSD’s first product was a Wham-o wrist rocket slingshot attached to Zebco fishing reel loaded up with a big sinker weight. Shoots a pull across suspended ceilings in a flash. No casting. No ferrets.

  4. Done this with a modified RC tank for running cable. Got a wifi camera on it with a cable tone generator so I can locate it in a ceiling if I get lost. I went with a tank so I can cross over joists, pipes and existing cable.

  5. Not every region can have basements or cellars. I lived in an area everything was slab – usually done with with tension cables/rods and thick as heck with utilities pre-embedded. Why all of the trouble? The soil had very high clay content. It would swell when soaked by rains. It would shrink in the hot, dry summers. Not a great combo engineering a basement.

  6. Fun! I did something back in the 80’s when working retail to run coax in my stores. We sold a R/C 4×4 truck that had a low gear. I mounted some lighting on it. Would tie the coax to it and just run across the ceiling tiles. Nice slow crawl and could pick my path. Not very pro but better than most folks that just tried to throw the cable from one or two points. Yeah. Ever look at a suspended tile ceiling in a store? Tons of support wires get in the way of that.

  7. My Dad; a self-employed electrician in the 60’s, when running cables to re-wire homes, used to tie a string round the neck of the house cat , put it down a floorboard hole, close it off and then lift the floor board at the other end of the building. There was only one way out for the cat and they would come out *really* pissed-off. Once he had a string run through, he would use it to start pulling his wires along. Pretty inconsiderate of the cat’s rights, but it was the 60’s.

      1. My cat, BabaYaga, brings me magnificent gifts!

        The headless squirrel was the nicest, he even left the liver in it for me. He typically eats the best bits, but that one, he gave it to me nearly whole.

        El Cucuy is much more selfish. Never gotten more than half a mouse from him.

  8. One evening while running telephone cables under the floor in my fraternity house a cat playing in the holes we opened up inspired a solution. Attach a string to the cat and then shine a light into the hole where you wanted it to go. The cat followed the light and then the string was used to pull the cable. It was less work for the people and a fun play session for the cat.

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