Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

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Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

Postby Julian » May 7th, 2018, 11:38 am

My 9 year old Roomba 560 is getting a bit old and I quite fancy an upgrade on the basis that newer models get more life out of each battery and presumably suction and cleaning power has been improved in the last 9 years. I actually don't have a problem with the random cleaning algorithm since it has lighthouse support so that I can cut the cleaning area in two which means it still does a pretty good job. If I do replace it then I'm considering the 980 because my current Roomba just gets under various bits of furniture so I would like to keep the same height or lower and given how infrequently I change it I figure I might as well go for the top of the range again. I have a question about the navigation though.

Is it possible to tell the 980 to start cleaning at a point other than the docking station? I know that it will go back to recharge and then carry on where it left off but what I would really like to be able to do is have a Roomba for my living area but have the dock live in my home office so that it doesn't clutter up the living room or kitchen. When it started a cycle it would have to come off its docking station in my office, navigate itself to the living room, and then start cleaning that room, the hallway and the kitchen and on completion head back to its docking station at the back of the house. Is this possible? I'm guessing not but I thought I might as well ask.

Given that I do want a replacement that fits under the same things that my current Roomba 5xx does, are there any options other than a more modern Roomba that I should consider that are the same or lower in height and do a good job?

I do see on this thread (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=20455) that the 980 is actually a fair bit older than I thought so maybe, especially if that report from a shareholder call/letter is accurate, I should throw one more replacement battery at my old 500 series and wait 6 more months to see if anything new comes along.

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Re: Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

Postby vic7767 » May 7th, 2018, 12:49 pm

Ya, stand by for a newer model release from iRobot.
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Re: Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

Postby Julian » May 7th, 2018, 12:55 pm

vic7767 wrote:Ya, stand by for a newer model release from iRobot.

So you're saying hold off on buying a new gadget for 6 months? Man, you set the toughest challenges :lol:

Seriously though. Thanks for the advice. If that is what the smart money is saying (and, although presumably not privy to any inside info, I know you're really tuned into this whole world of robot cleaners) then that is exactly what I'll do. For the sake of a few months I'd kick myself if something great came out.

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Re: Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

Postby leonicholson » May 12th, 2018, 7:58 am

You may wish to reconsider your experiences and results with your nine year old 560 when thinking about a newer one, especially as batteries are not that expensive. Greater complexity in a newer model might result in lesser long term dependability.

Concerning cleaning area, we just use two unrestricted 595's as a simple solution. They start from different locations and double the cleaning in the same amount of time.
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Re: Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

Postby Julian » May 12th, 2018, 8:39 am

leonicholson wrote:You may wish to reconsider your experiences and results with your nine year old 560 when thinking about a newer one, especially as batteries are not that expensive. Greater complexity in a newer model might result in lesser long term dependability.

Concerning cleaning area, we just use two unrestricted 595's as a simple solution. They start from different locations and double the cleaning in the same amount of time.

Thanks. I think throwing my 560s some new batteries will definitely be at least a holding tactic.

I actually have two 560s, the first bought pretty much exactly 9 years ago give or take a few weeks. That one actually did have an issue within a year or two when the brush unit locked up and I used that as an excuse to put in a new brush/motor module with the fancy metal bearings mod (I forget where from) and that has been perfect ever since.

I was so impressed with my first 560 that I got a second one about 6 months later that is still on its original unmodified brush unit. I have a hard virtual wall (as opposed to a "soft" lighthouse that a Roomba can get through) that splits my apartment into front (living) and back (sleeping) areas. My first (modified) Roomba lives in the living area and cleans that in the early mornings before I get up. My second Roomba lives in my bedroom and cleans the bedrooms and bathrooms in the daytime when I'm up and working in my home office.

My setup works really well for me. Even with a new fancy smart-navigating I-can-clean-your-whole-house-in-one-go Roomba added to my menagerie I think what I would do, at least initially before I got a feel for the capabilities of whatever new Roomba I might have purchased, would be to move my original modified Roomba to the bedroom area, retire the newer 560 to keep for parts (the older modified one runs more smoothly still thanks to those metal bearings), and put the all-singing-all-dancing newer one in the living areas.

Even if the newer models can keep track of where they've cleaned and what is left to clean in a whole house there's still the issue of finite dustbin capacity and, at least with my 560s, suction dropping off as the bins get fuller, so the general concept of splitting my apartment into two to reduce the amount of dust each one is likely to collect in a single mission still seems like a strategy that I would want to keep going forward. The only thing that might derail that (in a good way) is if the next Roomba has a much more sophisticated docking station that can empty the Roomba's bin itself. If that were to happen my original question of can a 980 navigate itself away from the dock at the start of a mission before starting to clean would be pretty critical though because a fancy new docking station like that would presumably be much bigger and almost certainly wouldn't fit under the sofa/couch which is where the 560 in my living area currently lives. I would definitely want to put that docking station in a utility room where it doesn't clutter up the living spaces.

Hopefully 2018 will be an exciting year for Roomba. I have quite a lot of brand loyalty given how much use I've had out of my 560s and I still love them to this day.

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Re: Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

Postby leonicholson » May 12th, 2018, 8:56 am

Have you tried letting them both run at the same time without a virtual wall, starting from different locations? This also addresses the bin filling by splitting it between two vacs.
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Re: Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

Postby Julian » May 12th, 2018, 9:57 am

leonicholson wrote:Have you tried letting them both run at the same time without a virtual wall, starting from different locations? This also addresses the bin filling by splitting it between two vacs.

I haven't. I can see the logic but I don't think it would work well for my setup since the meeting point between the two areas is a 6 metre long and less than a metre wide corridor. I think they might meet in the middle and start head-butting each other. It might be good entertainment value though.

Also, 5 metres seems to be about the boredom threshold for a Roomba, or the 560 firmware at least, where it won't go further than that in a straight line and makes a random course change which, in a corridor, can often result in it reversing direction. I think I'd have to make a lot of lost-Roomba recoveries where one of them had managed to cross to the other side and hadn't been able to randomly discover its docking station before its battery ran out so I'd find it dead in the middle of a room somewhere. That pretty much never happens with my current setup.

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Re: Questions about 980 & possible alternatives

Postby leonicholson » May 12th, 2018, 11:58 am

Try it, you may be surprised. Mine also go through hallways, rarely at the same time. They always find one of the charging stations when finished and can run 20-30 minutes (if necessary) after the docking light starts flashing. My logic is that all the floors get cleaned twice in about the same amount of time rather than once. My bins both get about equally full. I think Roombas also have primitive bump logic to determine if they have finished cleaning a confined area. This is avoided if they roam a larger area.

Have you also tried an iRobot Braava?
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