Monthly Archives: February 2015

DIY Electronics Microcontrollers PIC Robotics

The Sumo Roomba is back on the bench

I had to tear my Variac apart today because the wiper was missing on bits..  I gave it a solid cleaning got rid of some rust on the case. I used alcohol to do the cleaning.. worked out great. I don’t use my Variac as much as I used to.. in fact I nearly got out of the hobby over my very first. When I was 14 I understood what transformers were and I had been playing with very high voltage (neon transformers)…  I wanted more voltage so I thought I might test the insulation a bit. Seeing as I didn’t have any good way to get more voltage I thought I’d just flip my primary and secondary around running my secondary in the 80~110 volt range. Well.. that doesn’t work out so well. My variac was on it’s side and at about the 2 o’clock position.; it blew out every winding from 2 o’clock down to 6.. I had issues plugging things in for a while after that 😀

I eventually got over that out of necessity. I used/use variacs for powering up old electronics… it kind of works the old caps in before you hit them hard… filaments as well. Today I was using mine to lower the input to a linear power supply to find the approximate drop out voltage of a piece of equipment; that was in interruption of what I was really doing in my shop.

I pulled my Roomba off the wall. It’s an older 400 series I got for dirt cheap on eBay. A friend of mine at work challenged me to a Roomba Sumo contest; no winner… I think he is still working on his 🙂  My first, current, version is based on two PICs, a 16F628A and a 18F2331; both written in assembly. Well it’s okay.. but I think I can do better. I did the PCB in deadbug… ASM was okay but it takes much longer to develop and making any code remotely tricky is a chore. So this time I think I’ll develop a custom PCB and write it all in C. This new makerspace I’m co-founding looks promising so maybe I’ll sucker a couple of people into joining in the fun.


Roomba On the Bench



I’m re-accomplishing all my sensors; ditching my hardware-happy comparators and going with all A/D. I also never added in switches for my bumpers.. they were pushbutton microswitches on the only mainboard if I’m not mistaken… I’ll figure something out.


Roomba Back?





SnoCo Makers Group

In my free time I’ve been watching MacGyver episodes on Netflix. It’s week two and I’m just a few into season 2… not so much free time. On Sunday I had a workshop visitor that I went through a Soldering Workshop I have planned; that’s about all the shop time I’ve had. I’ve been busy working on this Makers group I’ve been building with a partner. I really excited about this and should lead to many new adventures! For now the packages are piling up…

If you’re interested check out the SnoCo Makers Group on Meetup.