Bringing MATLAB to a Vacuum Near You

The essence of hacking is modifying something to do a different function. Many of us learned as kids, though, that turning the family TV into an oscilloscope often got you into trouble.

These days, TVs are flat and don’t have high voltage inside, but there’s always the family robot, often known as a Roomba. Besides providing feline transportation, these little pancake-shaped robots also clean floors.

If you don’t want to evict the cat and still get a robust domestic robot platform for experimentation, about $200 will get you a Roomba made to be hacked — the iRobot Create 2. [Gstatum] has a tutorial for using a Raspberry Pi and MATLAB to get one quickly running and even doing basic object recognition using the Pi’s camera.

The code even interfaces with Twitter. The impressive part is the code fits on about a page. This isn’t, however, completely autonomous. It uses a connected phone’s sensor’s so that the phone’s orientation controls the robot’s motion, but the robot does use sensors to prevent driving into walls or falling off a cliff. It also can detect being picked up and uses the Pi’s camera to detect a green flag.

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DIY Dyson vac hack

cyclone

[James Dyson] may have built eleventy billion prototypes to perfect his famous cyclonic vacuum, but sometimes just one will do the trick.

A cyclonic separator is used in workshops to keep larger cruft out of the dust collection system. The airflow inside a separator creates a vortex that flings heavier bits and particles to the periphery of the chamber, where they settle out the bottom, while relatively clean air escapes the vacuum port at the top. This makes for fewer filter changes and a more consistent pull from the vacuum.

You can go buy a fancy professionally-made separator, but [neorazz] shows how to create one from an assemblage of PVC fittings and a five gallon bucket. The design may lack the power and slick design of the big units, but for garage hack use this may be all you ever need. They demonstrate it to be about 95% effective, and it’s very simple to make. A prior cyclonic separator hack appeared a bit more work-intensive, but the principle is all the same. It all comes down to what skills you possess and what parts you have on hand.