Meet Rob: the cleaner

With charging issues of the new robotic vacuum cleaner out of the way, there's nothing cooler (geek mentality) than hacking it!

I hope that this post inspires fellow young curious minds to perform hacks and demonstrate how i go about doing it systematically (like an engineer)!

Hacking Rob: wifi everything

In this series, the main aim was to WiFi-enable Rob so that vital statistics could be viewed remotely.

Listing out what can be monitored

Here's the list of monitor-ables:

  • is it online/offline?
  • voltage (Battery, Dock)
  • bumper switch activation (left and right)
  • Mode of operation (idle, cleaning, active etc)
  • Button pressed? (only one "clean" button)
  • InfraRed (IR) signal
  • edge detection
  • motor speed and direction
  • vacuum status (on or off?)

With this list, I probed Rob to find the respective pins that would tell me what i needed.

Planning what to monitor

Here's what is monitored as of now:

  • is it online/offline?
  • voltage (Battery, Dock)
  • bumper switch activation (left and right)
  • Mode of operation (idle, cleaning, active etc)
  • Button pressed? (only one "clean" button)

Making notes

When you perform hacking, pen and paper are essential for the act.


I tend to keep a book of notes documenting my findings that makes it so much easier to trace back what goes where and who does what. :)

Planning the hack and some critical info


It is also very useful to have things all planned out on... PAPER, yes paper cos you won't want to be navigating on your laptop with your dirty hands.

You can see that i planned for where which wire go, some resistors that i will require, their values and behaviors that i expect to see for the LEDs.

Actual hacking process


The first step is to cut a slot for the wires to go through without protruding.


Woohoo! Simple :)

At this junction, you might realize that having a good toolset is important to perform hacks.


I came to understand that during hacks, you can never achieve tidiness (even for someone with OCD like me)


And often times, you have to hack your workspace too. Like how i have to setup a makeshift soldering station..well...beside my bed..


So the chosen WiFi-controller is a Particle Photon and this is the first sign of life for a successful hack! Getting powering from Rob itself. :)

It should be of no surprise why I used a Particle Photon since i have been on their Elite team for 2 years and counting.


You tap one signal at a time..


You continue to tap and solder more signals out from the original board..and more soldering...and more soldering...


Finally, all the wiring is completed and it's now time to test it out!


With some coding and debugging, the hack is done! Everything about Rob is viewable on my laptop and the next step is to make him some new website.

Stay tuned!

You should also learned that documentation is key as an engineer or this blog post and the accompanying photos would not even exist. :)

Happy hacking!

Meet Rob: the cleaner
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