Late last year I got a Roomba vacuum cleaner from a friend. My wife and I wanted to evaluate such a device for a while. The battery was completely dead, and before spending lots of money on a new battery, for a device that I didn’t know if it still worked, I tried to hook it up with the battery from my old netbook. That didn’t work out, so I ordered an original part. The friend didn’t want the Roomba anymore, so I thought if it’s not good for cleaning, I would use it as base to build some robot.
We still use it to clean the floor. Well, it doesn’t quite meet the cleanliness requirements of my wife, but she does clean the floor less often manually. Nonetheless, I looked around how to hack the device. I found lots of information on how to connect to it through the serial connector as well as an alternative firmware. The connector is a mini-din 7 and it is said that a MacMini connector should work as well. The local Mac store didn’t have a MacMini cable, so I ordered a mini-din-7 connector from Conrad. I had the cable soldered together quickly.
Of course the ideal device to connect to the Roomba would have wireless connectivity already in place as you don’t want to span wires across the floor as it drives around. As it turns out I have my old OpenMoko Freerunner still laying around, waiting for a new purpose. A perfect fit, i thought. Especially since I wanted to implement some SLAM for the roomba, and that could well run on the freerunner. Continue reading “Roomba vacuum cleaner hacking”