Most of us don't have $15,000 to drop on an Anybot, even though having one around would be nice in the event we don't feel like leaving the house to get some coffee. To help those of us with more humble means, our old friend Johnny Chung Lee (of Wiimote hacking and Kinect dev team fame) has utilized his prodigious DIY talents to create a video chat robot for the relatively paltry sum of $500. Using an iRobot Create ($250), a netbook with Skype ($250), a cable to connect the two, and some control software he wrote himself, Mr. Lee built a digital surrogate on the cheap. Johnny isn't the first person to so leverage iRobot's hacking platform, but he added a stand on top of the robot to get the PC closer to human height, attached a fish-eye lens to the webcam for better remote viewing, and even did some re-wiring to allow the netbook to charge via the Create's base station. The code and how-to instructions are up on his blog, so hit the source link if you're feeling up to making one yourself. Seems like Johnny Lee's putting that Google 20 percent time to good use thus far -- keep 'em coming. Check the video of this latest creation after the break.

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Johnny Chung Lee makes DIY telepresence bot out of an iRobot Create and a netbook