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Thread: Hacking the Neato XV-11

  1. #1
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    Hacking the Neato XV-11

    The Neato XV-11 has a lot going for it as a robotic platform. It has a TON of sensors, some awesome drive motors with encoders, the LIDAR unit, and just generally seems hacker friendly. I propose we work on this robot in hopes of turning it into one hell of a platform!

    I have started here, let me know what you think...

    http://random-workshop.blogspot.com/...ith-xv-11.html

    -Hash

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    That is an amazing amount of data/commands available- Neato was not kidding when they said they wanted it to be easy for people to be able to hack the VX-11!

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    Very interesting... I just ordered a neato for myself.... due here tomorrow. Have you tried calling the "setmotors" functions yet? I'm now regretting that our lab just picked up a few more Creates -- I think our next bots will be Neatos if we can get the odometry as well.

    -Fergs

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    Wow. This is cool! Can somebody add to hash's reputation?

    I'm trying to see if Neato would publish their Open Interface specification:
    PrimeSense did it. They need to need to do it too.
    http://groups.google.com/group/hbrob...761b10a0d023b4

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    What an amazing post! The 'secret help' page is really interesting.

    I wonder if someone will make a bounty on working Windows drivers? I know Windows is the only OS that doesn't have automatic detection of USB-CDC... Mac and Linux should "just work".

    It's also interesting how many tantalizing hints are in your first sessions... it's like some sneaky developer wanted it to get hacked...

    - Nammo

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    @Fergs - Yes, I have played with the setmotors command. They let you specify the distance you would like to travel, speed, etc! Much much more than just "turn motor on/off".

    Looking at all these commands is what made me want to turn this into a platform we can use. Neato has done so much work that is hard for a homebrew guy to accomplish, that for $399 its one hell of a starter platform!

    I haven't even started to decode what seems like a completely live binary feed via the USB port when you issue the "setstreamformat packet" command. The robot dumps a massive amount of binary data via USB which I can only assume is the LIDAR data combined with ALL their other sensors. Perhaps as a live output of everything happening to debug/monitor the robot. Beware issuing that command however, I was only able to exit that mode by pulling the battery.

    @defwheezer - My thoughts exactly!!

    @RobotNV - I hope they do! Until then I hope by working on it further and publishing my findings I can get others interested enough to buy an XV-11 and hack away!

    -Hash

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    @Nammo - Those sneaky Neato guys!! I wish I knew more about Windows/INF files... Of course it was about 3am at the time so I may have just made a stupid error. It's a standard interface, just a matter of getting windows to load the standard USB serial interface driver when it detects that specific USB device.

    -Hash

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    Hash, thanks again for posting this link:
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1828805/screenlog.txt

    I noticed that the "Black Box" seems to be a mix of binary and ASCII debugging messages. The ASCII messages seem to correspond to the commands you ran earlier in the session. For example:
    MotorEnable turned On From 'App\Commands\TestModeCmd.cpp' line 47

    Seems to correspond to when you typed TestMode On. Other hints are text like this:

    Rcvd Remote Cmd 'help setmfgcode'
    - Nammo

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    Quote Originally Posted by Nammo View Post
    It's also interesting how many tantalizing hints are in your first sessions... it's like some sneaky developer wanted it to get hacked...
    I think this is exactly right. I vaguely remember in one of the videos (don't remember which one though) one of the Neato guys was saying something along the lines "Just connect to it and you will see how easy it is to see what's going on. This is a production unit, not some developer version."

    This, together with all that online help shows that Neato implicitly doesn't mind or even encourages other uses for their vacuum.

    I've heard Neato first wanted to concentrate on vacuum and then on hobbyists. It's just hard for me to accept this as the real reason.

    I wish I knew what was a real reason for them not saying it explicitly.
    Not wanting to support backward compatibility?
    Warranty concerns?
    Some "interesting" California consumer protection laws?

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    Re: Hacking the Neato XV-11

    Quote Originally Posted by RobotNV View Post
    I wish I knew what was a real reason for them not saying it explicitly.
    Not wanting to support backward compatibility?
    Warranty concerns?
    Some "interesting" California consumer protection laws?
    Those are good reasons. Also, companies are accountable to their investors. Maybe the people bankrolling the operation don't want their money spent on hobbyists right now.

    Another reason: New companies can't afford many distractions before they're out of business. Big established companies like iRobot can spend the engineering, technical writing, support, sales, tooling, etc to launch a new product like the Create. And if it's not a big hit, so what? They're not betting the company on it.

    Neato has only one product, and from what they say on Robot Reviews, they have their hands full right now.

    - Nammo

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