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Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

February 27th, 2011, 2:33 pm

For anyone who's interested, you can make an amazingly great quality telepresence Robot off of a Roomba. Not including the laptop all the parts were under about 250. (ebay/amazon are your friends, not to mention craigslist)
Telepresence Robots are not an entirely new field, its just that to make a good one it costs money... as much as 100,000 dollars! (USD) This Robot, or technically a Rover, is all based off an old Roomba Discovery.

Here are the most important parts:

Roomba (Any gen. with SCI support)
Serial Cord: Hack your own here: http://hackingroomba.com/projects/roombongle/ or by a RooTooth.
Netbook/Laptop: The Lighter the better... Got mine for 150 off of OverStock..
RoboRealm: Amazing program, pm me for webserver files. (I'll post a link soon) Program Cost is not included as you could use Roomba Status... but seriously this programs amazing. You can control just about every robot with it as well as ton of servos. http://www.roborealm.com
LCD: I got an "I-Inc IK161ABB 16" Widescreen LED Monitor" off of Amazon. It weighs 5 pounds.
RocketFish HD AutoFocus webcam from CowBoom.com (10 dollars...!)
12v 8ah battery

Charging Parts:

Home Base
Adjustable Voltage (or 22v) Laptop Power Supply... 4a
22v to 12v DC Regulator from Jameco

We are using an Acer Aspire One A150-1126 as the computer on board, but any netbook/notebook running XP, or Linux/Mac if Wine is installed, should be fine. (ARM Processor's will not work) If you have trouble setting up Wine, contact me or leave a comment. The Computer will have to do 2 things,

1. Control RoboRealm
2. Control the Roomba via the RooStick
3. Run Skype

RoboRealm (http://www.roborealm.com/) is an amazing program which is perfect for this project. It enables you, with some work, to control just about any robot. The files needed for RoboRealm to control the Roomba will be uploaded soon. NOTE: You must have a License, or the trial, to use these files.

RooStick: It is the conversion from the SCI (Serial Command Interface) Port, or on newer Roombas, ROI (Roomba Open Interface), to USB. NOTE: Same port, different names. It is possible to create your own cord, by hacking a serial to usb cell phone cable. http://todbot.com/blog/2006/07/19/roomb ... sb-dongle/ Drivers for RooStick available here: http://www.silabs.com/products/mcu/page ... ivers.aspx

Skype: While RoboRealm has a built in video streaming, which is built in to the interface, it's very choppy and is basically just sending photos. For a cell phone, it'd be great. If you're controlling it from a Laptop, your just gonna want to use skype in conjunction. I might use the built in video streaming for a rear cam.

For the webserver to work out of your home network you have to port forward 80, 8080 to your internal IP. (On an Airport Extreme, it's 10.0.1.X. On most other one's it's 192.xxx.xxx.

The Webcam used is auto focus which is best for robots. If you use a regular webcam, the picture will probably be out of focus a lot. I got it for $20 off of Cowboom.com Any LCD display, as long as it's not too heavy should work.



Cut two brackets and mounted it at the same spot as the original screws on bottom. (I used longer screws) I have to snip some plastic off the edges of the dust bin, so it'll slide on. The holes were measured/milled.


Close up on wheels.


This was cut out of metal from a VCR deck. Another, exactly the same was made and they overlap each other to hold the body. (Trashcan from BigLots)
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Charging: I'll take pictures of this at some point...

Docking pads are hooked up to 22v to 12v converter which charges the battery and runs an inverter which charges the computer. The laptop power supply is plugged into the dock, but inside the dock the power is rerouted directly to the docking pads. (No longer low voltage when its not docked... did this because when regulator was hooked up the dock wouldn't stay on)

If anyone needs further detail just ask.

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

February 27th, 2011, 3:02 pm

Nice Ben!

Can you demo the user interface? I assume you can drive around and have video and audio to/from a remote site?

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

February 27th, 2011, 5:16 pm

Right I'll post some pics. I get video fed from RoboRealm, but skype is running which provides audio from the bot, and video/audio to the bot.

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

March 1st, 2011, 7:39 am

Here are the parts that work NATIVELY with RoboRealm to give you an Arm...

12v Gear Motor (2) 20 dollars: http://www.allelectronics.com/make-a-st ... DC//1.html

Serial Motor Driver (1) $56.00 http://www.robotshop.com/sabertooth-2x5a-rc-driver.html

USB to TTL (1) $10.00: http://www.amazon.com/Module-cp2102-arm ... B003SLRUOM

Gripper (1) 26.00: http://www.budgetrobotics.com/shop/?cat=159

6v Regulator (1) 8.00/w heatsink: http://www.superdroidrobots.com/shop/it ... itemid=602
USB Servo Driver (1) $39.9: http://www.hvwtech.com/products_view.asp?ProductID=449

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

March 23rd, 2011, 5:26 pm


I entered a competition on instructables for my robot. I'd appreciate any votes! http://www.instructables.com/id/MAYA-Te ... nce-Rover/

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

March 23rd, 2011, 5:34 pm

Good luck Ben!!

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

March 23rd, 2011, 5:48 pm


Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

March 24th, 2011, 2:51 am


good luck

hmmm mabey i diddnt they seem to be having probs logging in with fb and making a new account button as well

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

March 24th, 2011, 6:24 am

haha I just made one a couple days ago. You do realize that you still have to have an account most of the time to log in with Facebook? I think it't be cool though if that didn't have to be...

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

April 20th, 2011, 2:56 pm

Hi Ben, Great Job, I'm trying something similar with a Discovery model 400 with latest firmware loaded. but I'm having trouble getting the docking command through roborealm to work. I have tried issuing a "Clean" command first prior to a "dock" command, but as soon as I click the "dock" command the roomba stops. Do you have any suggestions. other commands seem to work fine.

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

April 20th, 2011, 3:03 pm

The robot has to be in clean mode for the force dock SCI command to take effect. The force dock command works on my create and security dawg (dirt dog).

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

April 21st, 2011, 10:27 am

Mike, he said he had the robot in clean mode. Honestly, I haven't tested docking now I come to thing about it. What you can do is print out a RoboRealm log, PM it to me, and I'll send it over to someone I know at RoboRealm. Theres a log option in the window where you enable the webserver, select the camera, etc.

I'll test it also.

P.S. I'll upload the picture of the robot with the arm in a couple of minutes. I also built a door for easy accessing. For the arm, a bungee cord connected to the arm is also connected on the bracket which has the caster wheel so the arm can go down and up. It was having trouble getting up.

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

April 21st, 2011, 12:50 pm

Also, as you can see, I added a pan and tilt system to the existing webcam. (Just a couple of metal brackets attached to 2 servos.)
Arm under power, but door not on. (Velcro)
Arm not under power, but it gives a good view of the door

Re: Maya Telepresence Rover: How To

April 23rd, 2011, 8:54 am

Zerocool: They're working out the problem now. A log would be helpful though.

Make sure you tell me how to goes! If you need any help, ask. Especially charging, it took me a while...
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