Robotic Platform Turns Shop Vac Into Roomba

The robotic revolution is currently happening, although for the time being it seems as though most of the robots are still being generally helpful to humanity, whether that help is on an assembly line, help growing food, or help transporting us from place to place. They’ve even showed up in our homes, although it’s not quite the Jetsons-like future yet as they mostly help do cleaning tasks. There are companies that will sell things like robotic vacuum cleaners but [Clay Builds] wanted one of his own so he converted a shop vac instead.

The shop vac sits in a laser-cut plywood frame and rolls on an axle powered by windshield wiper motors. Power is provided from a questionable e-bike battery which drives the motors and control electronics. A beefy inverter is also added to power the four horsepower vacuum cleaner motor. The robot has the ability to sense collisions with walls and other obstacles, and changes its path in a semi-random way in order to provide the most amount of cleaning coverage for whatever floor it happens to be rolling on.

There are a few things keeping this build from replacing anyone’s Roomba, though. Due to the less-than-reputable battery, [Clay Builds] doesn’t want to leave the robot unattended and this turned out to be a good practice when he found another part of the build, a set of power resistors meant to limit current going to the vacuum, starting to smoke and melt some of the project enclosure. We can always think of more dangerous tools to attach a robotic platform to, though.

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A white male in a green shirt sitting next to a tall rectangular robot made of green and black components with an aluminum frame. In front of him are a variety of components from several windshield wiper motor assemblies. Casings, gearboxes, and the like are strewn across the wooden table.

A Wiper Motor 101

Need a powerful electric motor on the cheap? [Daniel Simu] and his friend [Werner] show us the ins and outs of using windshield wiper motors.

Through many examples and disassembled components, the duo walk us through some of the potential uses of wiper motors to power a project. Some of the nuggets we get are the linear relationship of torque to current (10-15A max) and speed to voltage (12-15V DC) on these units, and some of the ways the wiring in these motors is a little different than a simple two wire DC motor.

They also discuss some of their favorite ways to control the motors ranging from a light switch to an Arduino. They even mention how to turn one into a big servo thanks to a project on Hackaday.io and a few modifications of their own. [Simu] also discusses some of the drawbacks of wiper motors, the most evident being that these motors use nylon gears which are prone to stripping or failing in other ways when subjected to high torque conditions for too long.

If you recognize [Simu], it may be from his robotic acrobat built with wiper motors. Want to see some more wiper motor hacks? How about a 3D scanner or making sure your wipers always keep the beat?

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Automating Your Door For $20

We love the doors on Star Trek’s Enterprise. We should have known they were human-operated though because they were too smart. They would wait for people, or fail to open when someone was thrown against them during a fight. [SieuweE] has a much more practical automatic door┬áthat he calls ArduDoor.

You might guess from the name it uses an Arduino. It also uses a windshield wiper motor which is perfect since it is high-torque and low speed. You might even be able to pick one up for little or nothing if you frequent the junkyards.

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