In honor of the $5,000 iRobot Create Challenge being thrown by our DIY pals over at, PopSci’s How 2.0 blog will be hosting a series of tutorials on learning the basic fundamental techniques for using, programming, and hacking your own project together with the Create kit, hopefully sending you well on your way to the juicy $5,000 prize.

As you may recall, Create is the iRobot bot that doesn’t suck—or, slurp, for that matter—basically a vacuum-less sibling of the famous Roomba equipped with a bevy of ports and open interfaces, making it an ideal DIY platform for building your own robot.

Forget all that hardware wiring stuff about motors, controllers, and sensors, the Create’s base platform already has those things covered. Instead you can concentrate on learning how to add an LCD, finagle Bluetooth communications, or even add a weather prediction station to your new companion while grabbing some entertaining instruction from the elite PopSci team of “Create-tionist robotologists.”

We’re calling this series of tutorials, “iRobot iNstitute.” And each instructional entry will be dedicated to providing you with some helpful information for meeting, and hopefully, beating the iRobot Challenge. Our tentative schedule will cover everything from giving your Create kit a brain to teaching it to predict the weather. Pretty neat, eh?

Accompanying each topic will be some juicy hands-on instruction, maybe a design secret or two, and a jaw-dropping, eyeball-popping, Oscar-nabbing informational video that will give you a “once-around-the-shop” overview of how to apply your newfound ‘bot knowledge to a Create robot.

So save some space on your calendar for getting Create-ive (oh!) at the iRobot iNstitute in the coming weeks. —Dave Prochnow