With so many projects that focused on the software capabilities of the Robot and my respect for the modder community, I wanted to come up with a project that physically altered the attributes of my robot that left it functional but in a different way. I only found one other project that really altered the physical attributes of their Roomba [http://isopoddesign.com/7.html], so this will be somewhat uncharted territory. Along the way, I will have to learn some electronics and will have to build things that I have no expertise in (I'm a programmer, not an Electrical Engineer).
So, with the idea that I want to do something "GRAND", I brainstormed, I asked friends for input, I searched the web for "fun" projects. Eventually, I came up with the concept of a hovercraft. A Roomba is a vaccuum and in my youth, I remember projects that transformed a "normal household vaccuum into a hovercraft". While this isn't a "normal household vaccuum" it seemed like the perfect modern twist on this old garage project.
Any good project starts with a set of goals (for my programming projects, we'd call this the scope and this stage "Envisioning"). (On a side note, a lot of bad projects start this way, too.....I'm just hoping this isn't one of those projects.) So, here are my intended goals for this project and the order in which I plan on tackling them:
- Make my Roomba hover
- Give my Roomba some means of propulsion
- Use the existing Serial Command Interface (via a RooTooth) to control the "flight". iRobot provides a serial comminications port for the Roomba with a very detailed Serial Command Interface [warning: PDF].
- Remove the cliff sensors and replace them with some sort of sensor that is more useful to a hovercraft (first choice would be some sort of electronic compass -- there are four cliff sensors and four cardinal directions, seems logical to me)
- Write a full suite of Roomba software that allows the Roomba to navigate a simple obstacle course