Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tip of The Month: Un-clogging Your Roomba 500 Series

This month's tip will help out if you are an owner of a Roomba 500 series robot that suffers from a clogged dust intake (as shown in the picture). This phenomena occurs were fine home dust, certain amount of humidity and hard floors or low pile carpet exists. The very narrow and short space between the two dust intake squeegees make it very easy to clog fine dust with just a small amount of it existing on your home floors. This issue also contributes to the "Roombarf" problem that some owners report.

With this problem your Roomba 500 series will be unable to pick up the fine dust left after the main brush and beater bar picks up the larger dirt and dust particles; this is something not appreciated when you suffer from allergies and/or want your floor clean. Something else to consider is that the vac motor will be working harder under these conditions which in turn will heat it up, shorten its life and consume more battery power without giving you the benefit of picking up the fine house dust. I have contacted iRobot about this issue and provided the gathered evidence to just find out that nothing is being done to fix it. In my frustration of working with iRobot I have found a work around; by removing the bottom squeegee from the dirt/dust bin takes care of this problem. Try it out and see the difference; see how much dust is trapped by the air filter and how cleaner your floors get.

STEP 1: Remove dust/dirt bin from your Roomba 500 series robot.

STEP 2: Open the air filter compartment.

STEP 3: Turn over the dirt/dust bin and slide out the bottom dust intake squeegee (highlighted in green). Do NOT throw away the bottom dust intake squeegee.

STEP 4: Close the air filter compartment and re-insert the dirt/dust bin into your Roomba 500 series robot. Run it for a cleaning session and check out the difference.

NOTE: The suction power will be reduced by a fraction but the vac motor is strong enough to pick up the fine dust. The benefits of this mod out weigh the cons if not you can easily slide the bottom dust intake squeegee back into place.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Much Buzz with Samsung Hauzen VC-RE70V

I first talked about the Samsung Hauzen VC-RE70V back in early April 2008. Recently, in the past couple of months, this robotic floor cleaner has been leaked out to the international market after being in Korea for over a year. The VC-RE70V is being sought out by domestic robot enthusiasts in Europe and America at an average premium price of US$500. What makes this robot stand out against rivals like iRobot's Roomba? The ability to map out a room and cleverly clean the floors in a uniformed single pass method. The VC-RE70V does not use the "chaotic"/statistical floor cleaning method that almost all current floor cleaning robots use. This robot is sexy looking like something out of a Sci-Fi film, has nice features that every domestic cleaning robot needs to have like dual side brushes, HEPA filter and VAC auto shut off when seeking a re-charge. Knowing all of the greatness of the VC-RE70V does not mean it is flawless, it does have similar problems like many other domestic floor cleaning robots. Hair accumulates on the sides of the brush and need to be cleaned off regurlarly, the dirt bin has to be emptied out manually, getting stuck in certain areas and other issues that are only found on the VC-RE70V like loosing the room map when the robot is shut off for charging.

Nothing is perfect but we always point towards it. This domestic floor cleaning robot still has charms that makes me interested in getting it for a full in depth review. A newer updated version called VC-RE72V (better room mapping and voice (Korean) prompts) is recently available in Korea. So if you have the extra cash and like to try new robot technology then get this guy! Here are some specs and a video to help you decide:

  • Robot Dimensions: 14.2 x 4.1 in.
  • Robot Weight: 9.9 Lb.
  • Max. Vac Power: 50 W
  • Dirt Bin Capacity: 0.5 L
  • Robot Noise: 62 dB
  • Charger Voltage: 220 V / 60 Hz
  • HEPA Filter
  • Crash Prevention Sensor
  • Obstacle Sensor x 8
  • Bumper Sensor x 4
  • Cliff Sensor x 3
  • Motion Safety Sensor
  • "Air Pump" to improve dust/dirt suction
  • Double Side Brushes
  • Auto Recharging
  • Camera based room mapping

Monday, May 18, 2009

HAWK: The Future Domestic Robot Butler

Wow! It has been a while since I last posted here. I have been working on different projects and ideas during this time. I do not want to leave all you domestic robot fans out in the cold! Here is a nice one I found from the geniuses at Dr Robot from Canada. Dr Robot was founded back in 2001 by a group of Scientist and Engineers that previously designed robotic systems for different space agencies. Their goal is to make cost-effective and high performance robots for industrial, commercial and academia use. One such robot that I found interesting is HAWK. HAWK is wireless/networked/autonomous/humanoid/mobile robot. He may look ugly and crude but definitely functional and moving to the correct path of future domestic robots. If you are a robot geek, like I am, you will want to get your hands on this guy! Here is a list of what is available with HAWK:

  • Dual arms with 6 joints (DOF) + 2DOF gripper, reaching 60cm (2ft), with max lifting weight of 800g (optional 1kg)
  • 6DOF animated head with dual 640x480 color cameras
  • 3.5 inch color display on chest, playing video (.wmv), audio and displaying images
  • Overall height of 1.4m; Dimension: 43cm(L) x 38cm(W) x 140cm(H)
  • Navigation and localization providing collision-free point-to-point autonomous navigation
  • Vision-landmark base indoor localization (indoor GPS, position/orientation) sensor and the landmarks together provide precise position and direction information covering every inch of the floor
  • Auto-docking and recharging station
  • Fully wireless networked 802.11g
  • OS independent application development tools
  • Navigation sensors including 6 sonar and 10 IR range sensors
  • Max speed 0.5m/sec.
  • Comprehensive circuit protection
  • High resolution pan-tilt-zoom (10X) camera
  • Max payload of 10kg (optional 40kg) with body weight of 21kg
  • Tele-operation and remote monitoring
  • Extended operating time. 2 hour nominal operation time for each recharging
  • Upgrade options: Laser Scanner; Power and battery systems for 4, 8 hours operation time are available

If that list of goodies still does not convince you then take a look at some of these videos:

You may ask: "Hey Nikolai, we have seen similar robots like this one (Reem-B, ARMAR, MDS, ASIMO, etc.). What is so special about HAWK?" Come on! You don't see it? All other similar domestic humanoid robots are not reachable to the general public but HAWK is! Don't get me wrong, the other robots are great but our chances to see them in our house this year are slim. HAWK can provide the platform for you to improve on him or have him help you with your robotic projects. HAWK may prove too much for some of us but the nice thing is that Dr Robot has other smaller robotic platforms that may suit your needs and budget. Let me know if any of you get this guy; if so send me a picture! Enjoy.