Connected Roomba - SMS

published on

2 min, 362 words

As I mentioned before one of the primary reasons for starting this project was to let my wife and I start the Roomba when we are not at home. One device that most of us take everywhere is our phone. An easy way to to send information from your phone without a custom app, stack and hassle is SMS. While it's easy to broadcast receiving that message can take a little work.


Luckily monitoring a number for messages is pretty much a solved problem. Twilio offers an easy way to setup number with an attached webhook for receiving and sending messages. They also have a nice Python tutorial that had me up and running in about 10 minutes. Since I was already using the Pi Zero to send commands to the Roomba setting up a script to watch for an SMS message and pass on the new command was simple enough.

import busio
import board
import adafruit_rfm9x
from digitalio import DigitalInOut
from flask import Flask, request
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import MessagingResponse

CS = DigitalInOut(board.CE1)
RESET = DigitalInOut(board.D25)
spi = busio.SPI(board.SCK, MOSI=board.MOSI, MISO=board.MISO)
rfm9x = adafruit_rfm9x.RFM9x(spi, CS, RESET, 433.0)
rfm9x.tx_power = 23

app = Flask(__name__)

@app.route("/sms", methods=["GET", "POST"])
def sms_start_roomba():
    When a message is received determine which
    signal to send  the Roomba and reply
    to the sender.

    txt = request.values.get("Body").lower()

    if txt == "start":
        msg = "Starting the Roomba."
        cmd = bytes("1", "ascii")
    elif txt == "halt":
        msg = "Stopping the Roomba."
        cmd = bytes("0", "ascii")
    elif txt == "dock":
        msg = "Roomba beginning to dock."
        cmd = bytes("2", "ascii")
        msg = "Unknown command. Continuing."
        cmd = None

    if cmd:

    resp = MessagingResponse()

    return str(resp)

if __name__ == "__main__":

And with that the same board I had used to test sending messages in response to button clicks can now receive SMS payloads and translate that into a command that the Feather will use to start, stop or dock the Roomba.

Next Steps

With all the pieces assembled and working the last thing to do for version 1 was setup some redundancy, restart everything and make sure it all worked as expected without my intervention.