Disassembling a Roomba 560

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Revision as of 12:04, 29 March 2010 by MartinoMigliavacca (Talk | contribs) (Removing the bottom cover)

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The Roomba by IRobot is a vacuuming robot; but it is also one of the (still) few examples of mass-market robotic products. Its low cost, the easy availability of spare parts and the wide diffusion make the Roomba an interesting starting point for "hacking".

This page is dedicated to the disassembly of a Roomba 560. Its purpose is to provide AIRLab users (or anyone else) wanting to hack a Roomba with a guide to the process, so that they can plan their work easily. Other Roomba 500-series models should be similar to the one featured in this page.

Please note that the robot we have taken apart was well-used, so you will see a fair bit of dust and dirt on the parts... all for the sake of realism. (Just joking: simply, that was a broken robot we could spare in case the process proved to be fatal :-) )

If you click on any of the images below, you will be taken to its own AIRWiki page, where you will be able to download the file. However, the files are NOT high-resolution (480x320 pixels: on this page they are shown at full resolution). You can download the high-resolution originals of the images (and some additional image not shown by this AIRWiki page) from here. Note that the originals are 3888x2592 pixels, and each of them weighs in at 3-5MB.

Before the dissection

Here you can see the Roomba 560 before any disassembling occurred.

Removing the bottom cover

To get to the electromechanical elements of the robot, you have to remove the bottom cover (as we will see later, electronics is accessed from the top instead).

The brush housing

This element is more complex than it is immediately apparent.

The active wheels

Roomba is propelled by two actuated wheels, in a classical differential drive configuration. By modulating the rotating speeds of each the wheels independently from the other, different trajectories are obtained.

The front sensors

Most of the sensors of the Roomba are located on the front of the robot. Such sensors are:

  • bumpers to detect collisions;
  • two sets of infrared emitters/receivers: front-looking to detect the presence of obstacles, and downward-looking to detect the presence of the floor (so the robot is able to avoid falling down the stairs);
  • an omnidirectional infrared sensor to detect the presence of active Roomba accessories such as "virtual walls" and recharge stations.

Removing the top shell

The upper part of the robot is a sort of tray, where the main circuit board (and a small auxiliary board as well) is enclosed. It is separated by the (dusty) bottom part of the robot's hull, except where cutouts are required to allow for the connections between the board and the electromechanical components. A metal shield is located on the bottom of the "tray", presumably to shield the data-processing parts of the circuit from interference from the motors below.

The control board

The Roomba 560 includes two circuit boards: a main PCB and a small, secondary one. The second one is only used to add two pushbuttons to the control panel of the robot, while the first PCB -mostly populated by SMD components- houses all the circuitry of the robot. Data processing, control and power driving of the robot are all done by this board.