Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

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Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby tayloch3 » January 19th, 2009, 2:24 am

I've had my Roomba 535 since May 2008. It's worked great (and I've regularly changed the brushes) until two weeks ago when Roomba encountered some 1/4" wrapping ribbon on the floor of the room it was cleaning. The ribbon got twisted around the brushes, wheels, etc. but despite taking Roomba apart to dislodge and dispose of the ribbon and other debris Roomba hasn't been the same since. Specifically, Roomba picks up dust and fine particles in the smaller "filter" bin but nothing in the larger "waste" bin. It baffles me that dust can get picked up in the "filter" bin but relatively larger debris (e.g., small pieces of dry cat food, 1/8" chip chunks, etc.) are pushed around rather than deposited in the larger "waste" bin. I've exposed and wiped down most areas, including the CHM. Any thoughts? Help! :?:
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby mfortuna » January 19th, 2009, 7:08 am

Most likely your main brushes no longer turn.
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Troubleshooting 5xx CHM issues....

Postby Fraggboy » January 19th, 2009, 11:31 am

tayloch3,
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mfortuna is correct. You can verify your brushes aren't turning by sending your Roomba out on a cleaning mission without the dust bin. If they aren't turning, the earlier issue was that the white main gear bosses (Where the brushes slip into) melted, and rounded out (Older CHM). You can verify by removing the brushes and looking at them. They should be square shaped. If you have the older CHM (Brushes have the yellow "Bearing" plus yellow inserts on each side of the brushes, you have the older CHM). The new iRobot CHM has a black deck (As of now, this might change in the future), with 2 bearings around the main gear bosses to prevent entry of pet hair entering the gearbox. You can see some pictures of it taken Apart Here.

What you can do is take apart your Roomba (Remove front wheel, side spinning brush, and bottom plate). You will see 4 small screws (I have included a picture where the 4 screws are located at) holding the CHM in place. The CHM that is pictured is the Newly designed CHM from iRobot (Black deck and different brush ends. There are no more yellow washer 'caps' on both ends of the brushes, making it much easier to clean. It still has the yellow "Bushing" on one end like the other Roomba's have.).

Image

Blow out all of the debris trapped inside while you have your Roomba apart. You can also remove the other 'Modules' and clean them as well since your Roomba is apart. There are the side spinning brush, left and right drive wheel, and the CHM Module. They are all secured by screws. You can easily remove them and clean them. Best of all, it won't void the warranty!! If your white gear bosses aren't stripped, and still look square, try to manually turn the brushes by hand while you are holding the CHM. There should be a little bit of resistance but not much. You can also verify the motor is turning by turning the brushes by hand while looking inside the motor (See picture below).

Image

If you verified that the motor turns with the brushes, the white gear bosses aren't stripped, and cleaned the CHM (Cleaned inside the gearbox on the older CHM), replace the CHM back into the Roomba, and run the Roomba without the dust bin. If the brushes are turning now, it could have been debris, and/or a bad connection (Between CHM and Roomba). If they still don't turn and your Roomba is still under warranty, I would call iRobot to have them send you a New CHM. Explain to them what steps you have taken (All above steps will NOT void iRobot's Warranty).

If your warranty has expired, you 'could' purchase a new CHM from iRobot. They are inexpensive and more than likely will fix your issue. There might be a small chance that the Roomba itself is causing the issue. But so far, the CHM has been faulty on these issues.

I am adding this thread to the READ FIRST FAQ
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby tayloch3 » January 20th, 2009, 1:36 am

Thanks for the detailed instructions. I went through the steps (two times) but to no avail. I've asked iRobot to send me a new CHM, since I am within the warranty period. Thanks again. :D
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby tayloch3 » January 20th, 2009, 1:37 am

Also, for what's it worth, my 535 came with the old CHM.
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby Fraggboy » January 20th, 2009, 6:31 am

That's great! You should receive the New CHM with bearings. The base will be black. Much easier to clean the brushes.
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I got the brushes to turn, with a slightly-different method.

Postby netpog » February 12th, 2009, 2:58 pm

Well, I went through the whole disassembly/cleaning/reassembly ritual, which made no difference to MY stalled-out (500-series) roomba brushes. Gear train turns smoothly, rotating the brushes causes the motor to turn, as I verified thanks to the above excellent guide.

But I liked this logic: the motor can't get current if the motor-brush/armature contact is dirty.

And I noticed this detail: each time I would give the brushes a few twists, including after reassembly, when I gave it a test run (without the dustbin/vacuum attached, of course) I would see the brushes give a partial rotation before they again stopped.

Conclusion: it's a flaky! It's an intermittent electrical contact that responds to movement!

HERE'S WHAT WORKED:
Remembering my college radio days, when noisy low-tech faders could be cleaned in this manner: I gave the motor's internal brushes a GOOD cleaning by grabbing the big brush and rotating it back/forth about 100 times quite fast.

After two tedious and silly-looking minutes, I had a fully-working Roomba!
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Re: I got the brushes to turn, with a slightly-different method.

Postby cybs » February 27th, 2009, 12:01 am

netpog wrote:HERE'S WHAT WORKED:
Remembering my college radio days, when noisy low-tech faders could be cleaned in this manner: I gave the motor's internal brushes a GOOD cleaning by grabbing the big brush and rotating it back/forth about 100 times quite fast.

After two tedious and silly-looking minutes, I had a fully-working Roomba!


Hi "netpog"! Your method just cured my Sage - thanks bunches!

:thanks:
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby Fraggboy » February 27th, 2009, 5:52 am

netpog,

Welcome to Robot Reviews!!

Thank you for sharing that wonderful Tip!
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby mfortuna » February 27th, 2009, 8:28 am

This could be dirt between the carbon brushes and commutator or a bad section of winding. You may find your brushes won't turn in the future because of a bad winding. Rotating by hand will pass over the bad winding and allow the motor to run.
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby IntegraVT » March 29th, 2009, 2:26 pm

Wow, I was all ready to purchase a new CHM for my 560 then I stumbled on netpog's post.

His suggestion really works, thanks!!! :cheers:
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby cybs » March 29th, 2009, 6:16 pm

IntegraVT wrote:His suggestion really works, thanks!!!


And keeps working, says I, after more than a month since da great fix! :clap:
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby stevescot » April 7th, 2009, 10:34 am

Thanks - I had a similar problem, and was looking for somewhere to capture the solution I went for,

likewise - the contacts in the motor were my problem, and they tended to only last about 2 months,
I ended up blowing hard through the hole in the motor in that picture,
I then sprayed polish in there, and put sellotape over both the holes in the motor. (I was a little worried it might overheat -but I haven't seen any problems since),
it's been running fine now for 4 or 5 months.
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby Julian » July 30th, 2009, 10:42 am

I just tried my Roomba after a month of not being used (I had to go away suddenly). It didn't seem to be picking up and doing the "run it without the bin" test confirmed that the brushed weren't turning. I tried everything in this thread, set the Roomba (560) running without the bin again, and when I looked inside the brushes still weren't turning so, partly out of frustration, I reached into the back of my Roomba while it was running (through the gap where the dust bin would normally be) and flipped the rear brush down towards the carpet (i.e. in the direction it should have been rotating) and it then started spinning and carried on as normal.

So far it seems OK but I only "fixed" it 5 minutes ago so it's pretty early days but I don't trust the CHM much now. I'll need to keep a careful eye on it I think. Does this sound to other people like it might have been an contact issue with the brushes inside the motor? I wish there was a non-invasive way during normal mission running to check whether the brushes are turning or not.

- Julian
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby cybs » July 30th, 2009, 9:00 pm

I wish there was a non-invasive way during normal mission running to check whether the brushes are turning or not.

- Julian


Hi Julian! When the brushes are not turning, my Roomba runs a lot more quiet than usual.

Glad you solved the problem for now - hope it keeps working. Mine still does, now five months later...
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby vic7767 » July 30th, 2009, 9:29 pm

The most non-invasive way to verify the brushes are spinning inside the CHM is to remove the dust bin and look through that same opening while you press the Clean button sending your Roomba on a cleaning mission.
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby Julian » July 31st, 2009, 6:00 am

Thanks cybs & vic. Unfortunately my "fix" lasted about 20 minutes. I also learned that, once you experience the "with and without" contrast, then you can quite easily hear the difference between the brushes spinning or not. There's a slight rattling component to the noise that the Roomba makes that comes from the brushes spinning and the Roomba also seems to take on slightly more of a smooth gliding motion across a carpeted surface when the brushes stop obviously due to the reduced friction against the floor.

I witnessed the exact moment the brushes packed up again. My Roomba went head-on into a skirting board and for some reason the IR sensor didn't slow it down so it was a fairly hard impact and that seemed to knock something loose again because I immediately heard the change in the sound and noticed the smoother motion across the floor and removing the dust bin confirmed that the brushes had stopped and my "flicking" trick didn't fix it this time.

It's still under warranty so I'm not even going to try and fix it again. Why end up with a potentially flaky CHM when I can get a new one? The CHM really does seem to be a weak point in the Roomba reliability so the more warranty returns that iRobot get on these things then the greater the chance that iRobot might throw just a few more dollars or cents (or more likely Yuan) into the build cost to fix the problem and reduce the cost of warranty replacements.

- Julian
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby vic7767 » July 31st, 2009, 11:22 am

Julian, what color is your CHM?
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby Julian » July 31st, 2009, 2:20 pm

vic7767 wrote:Julian, what color is your CHM?

It's mostly green with a bit of blue. The bulk of it with the gears and housing for the brushes is green and the thin outer frame that screws it all to the Roomba is blue. My Roomba's serial number is "xxxxx 090316 xx xxxxx" so I think that means its born-on date is 16th March 2009 doesn't it?

- Julian
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Re: Roomba picks up fine particles but not larger chunks ...

Postby vic7767 » July 31st, 2009, 2:32 pm

Yes Julian that is the born date. If you can get some compressed air try blowing out the brush motor. Also spinning the motor a couple of hundred times may clear your problem. As well as removing and replacing the CHM assembly. You could also try connecting a 9 volt battery to the motor and see if it will spin.
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