Friday, November 12, 2010

To Repair or Dump That Domestic Robot

Recently I posted about a problem with my Roomba 560 robot friend "dying" after just 2 years of good work. The average human would just dump the little guy into the garbage and probably purchase a new one. Many of you or fellow human friends/family would probably do the same thing. Is it worth the time and effort to fix it? or just dump it to have an excuse to purchase a new version? The "Throw-away" mentality that many humans have and in these financial and environmental trying times should make all give it a second thought. The thought as to just throwing away a broken domestic robot because you do not know how or are afraid to repair it, do not have time and/or do not have the tools should not be a reason. I mentioned that I decided to fix my little Roomba 560 friend and this is why I was surprised that soon after my post I found out that the humans over at iFixit wrote a "Self-Repair Manifesto"!

It made me happy! Here are the basic principles:

  • Repair is better than recycling (If it worked why throw it away? You didn't dump it when it was working)
  • Repair saves your planet Earth (Using what you already own cuts down on the need to get new materials to create you a new replacement)
  • Repair saves you cash ($$$) (Generally it is cheaper to repair the broken part than buying a complete replacement of the unit)
  • Repair teaches you to be like Chief Engineer Scotty and LaForge (You gain knowledge on how the device works and how to repair it for yourself and fellow humans)
  • If you can not fix it, you do not own it (You Pwned the item soon after you learn how to fix it and can "stick to the man" by not forcing you to have it fixed by them)
This manifesto applies to everything, not just domestic robots. Go ahead and print out a copy of it and set it up in your shop. It will help you remind to fix your little robot friends and in turn you will benefit from it. It surely helps all of us and your little robot friends will thank you while you gain confidence and knowledge over the technology that make the robots work.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Ghost Inside A Domestic Robot

I enjoy my domestic floor cleaning robot friends but sometimes they seem to have their own spirit or may I say electronic ghost within them. One of my helpers, a Roomba 560, has decided to play sick recently. This little "guy" worked each day without a complaint and cleaned all the floors with a simile under that black/gray shroud. It only asked for a new battery after about 2 years of faithful and hard work from which I gave him one that he deserved. Last week I left this guy to take care most of the floors of my domain while his grandpa, Roomba 4000 "Discovery" series that keeps on ticking, was taking of the smaller areas. Soon after I disconnected from the grid I noticed the Roomba 560 giving me the finger! Yes! The FINGER!

In Roomba 500 series language that is the exclamation sign and 10 ugly beeps! Guess what? After much troubleshooting I found that his IR sensors inside the bumper left switch gave up the fight. I give iRobot kudos for great domestic robotics at a decent price and so I thought. Many of the internal components (electronics, DC motors, plastics, etc) were never designed to last much. I would say to expect about 2 - 3 years maximum life on their latest line of domestic robot floor cleaners. Why? Price, demand and the throwaway mentality. The nice thing is that I do not throwaway, I rebuild. I can see the next Tip of The Month coming soon. My poor little Roomba, Papa will make you Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger!