Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Report - Week 3

There was some fair progress...
  • Got the new Roomba battery I ordered. The Roomba worked for a bit! It then stopped working as expected. The new behavior is shown on my You Tube page. May be able to be fixed if it's a broken wire on a sensor, TBD... need to take it apart and perhaps Hack the serial port to figure out the problem.
  • Finally was able to re-flash and "Talk" to the Linksys WRTSL54GS router via telnet and then SSH. I am working on getting it setup as a client vs. an access point.
  • Got the "Hacking Roomba" book and skimmed it. Found some good ideas there and will use this more later.
  • Researched a remote controlled indoor helicopters to be vision controlled from the Roomba device. I saw Jake's Air Hog Havoc helicopter ($25 at Walmart!?!) and was inspired to control it via a computer using a webcam. It would be great to have the Home Robot involved in the control of a helicopter vs. just fire missiles. The helicopter can be vision controlled as I've seen done by others (see links below).
  • Found that there are USB Missile launchers that can be hacked. One model has a laser and then can be used for range finding using the web cam but this model only shoots about 5 feet. The other model can shoot 25 feet. I think that getting both will be helpful for evaluation and for picking one as a base to rotate a web cam on the Roomba.
  • Put in ~25 hours put in since last Monday am tracking my time with a free software tool, Baralga and shooting for 30 hours / week
  • Talked with a few people about this and am evolving ideas.
  • Analyzed the data rate needed to transmit for vision control without compression. There are some challenges to overcome to remotely stream webcam video to a PC for analysis.

To do:
  • Make a financial budget for the project
  • Finish the initial requirements and project plan
  • Setup a web site or find server to host my Robot requirement documents and other notes (may do a home brew setup)
  • Get the Linksys router working as a wireless client on the network
  • Order parts needed: electrical interface hardware, soldiering equipment, missile launcher(s), etc.
  • Get a remote control helicopter!? The one I would like is ~$120.
  • Start developing code
Helicopter vision controlled examples:


  1. David,
    good progress!
    can u share how you re-flashed the router?
    I would think the helicopter would be nice but difficult to control. The nice thing about the roomba is the ability to recharge itself when needed.
    The slow motion and the sensors will make the robot easier to control.
    I have also bought a wiimote and connected to my laptop. I am using python to control it.
    the wiimote has very interesting sensors that can be used for robotic experiments. check this out http://www.windmeadow.com/node/45

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  3. I talked to you on the phone about this but to reply to your post too: I re-flashed the router using a Freespire 2.0 LINUX computer and another router as a buffer in-between. The software I used was TFTP and the instructions are here: http://wiki.openwrt.org/OpenWrtDocs/Installing/TFTP

    I had to download TFTP to using CRN and I might have used ATFTP vs. TFTP (don't recall now)... it took lots of experimentation but it worked after a bunch of hours of trying. One of the keys was to make sure that the PC and the buffer router wasn't the same address as the Linksys. To my surprise it worked according to those instructions...

  4. You are using a Wii Remote connected to your laptop with Python. Have you gotten anywhere yet? I saw the link of the device and it was a good example of how it the IR camera can be used. I know it had the gyroscope so it can be used as 3D accelerometer and/or a IR camera and/or a bluetooth device... I found it for $35 used and $42 new. How do you plan to use it? I wonder if I should get one too... I may have some problems interfacing my existing Web cam to Open WRT, so perhaps I will need to get a new one anyway... and spend $25 or so that could go into the Wii... then I could have a Bluetooth device and accelerometer.

    I'm looking on the Web at some Wii hacks...