Suckmaster 2000 Vacuum Robot
This was my entry in the Atlanta Hobby Robot Club robot rally held at SciTrek on February 5th, 2000. This entry won the second place plaque by sucking up 1.99 ounces of rice and returning to the starting point in 4 minutes. Unfortunately a minor software bug caused the robot to repeatedly bang against the wall for 2 minutes. If this had not happened the score would have been much higher. Visit the AHRC home page for details on the contest rules.
I started with a Eureka Boss Lite battery operated vacuum cleaner and added sensors , motor driven wheels and a computer "brain" . The stock vacuum has a powerful 4 amp motor which runs on 6 volts. It also has a rotary brush to enhance dirt pickup. I used two PIC micro controller chips, a 16C73 and a 16C74. One controls the infrared sensor array and the other does the motion control. The drive motors are 24 volt surplus gear motors rated at 50 rpm. The wheels are 3 inch model aircraft tires. I machined custom hubs to permit mounting on the motor shafts. I attached left and right bump switches to the front of the vacuum head.
The robot is powered by a custom 24 volt NICAD battery pack. The vacuum motor is powered by the stock 6 volt battery that was sold with the vacuum.
This robot was designed to randomly travel around a room while vacuuming and avoiding objects in its way. It works much like an automatic pool cleaner. It also has sensors to locate an infrared homing beacon . The contest arena is an 8x8 foot carpeted area bounded by white walls. Inside the area are three objects; a chair, a lamp and a speaker box. Eight ounces of rice is scattered evenly over the area. The goal is to collect as much rice as possible in 6 minutes or less and score bonus points by returning to the starting box. My strategy was to randomly vacuum for 4 minutes before attempting to return to the homing beacon. This allowed two minutes to return to the starting box where the homing beacon was located. The robot was programed to stop when the homing beacon was reached or 6 minutes had elapsed.