Wake Neato up from dead mode

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Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby m00 » May 16th, 2014, 5:06 pm

Hi, 1st post. Just in case anyone might run into my very same problem again, here is my story

My neato xv21 battery died after about 10 months (used 2 times everyweek on 50sqm tile surface). So I purchased a new set of batteries from local importer. The new batteries are OEM with neato sticker on the box. Put them in, bah, nothing! the LCD won't lit up, no wake up sound, press and hold big round button for 15s, the dim green LED goes off, then back on, still nothing!!! so I took both battery out, test it with my cheap multimeter, one sais 6.5v, the other says 7.2v. After about one hr, I put both batteries back to Neato and push it against the wall charger thinking that it will charge. Nope, it won't. After 10 hr, still nothing on the LCD and LED around the big button still dimmed green. My guess is I hit a bug in Neato's power management software, where if there is not enough voltage to power up the LCD, it won't charge because the new battery option can not be selected. It is now in so call 'DEAD MODE'

Enough with my problem, here is how I solved it
- get a mini USB to normal USB cable
- connect the USB cable to your laptop,
- power up your laptop
- pick open the rubber seal on Neato's USB port
- connect the mini USB plug to the Neato
- Ensure Neato's battery power switch (remove dust bin to locate this switch) is set to 1 (ON) position
- Wait for laptop to recognize Neato as new device (USB com port??)
- Neato/LCD should start by itself as soon as Windows finished detecting h/w. If not, try press and hold the big round button for 15 sec to reset it. If at this point your Neato's LCD still won't start, try muck around with the round button, or the power switch inside Neato. or swap position of both batteries.
- Once the LCD starts, Neato is now back to NORMAL MODE with low battery warning
- Navigate the 'support' menu, find the 'New Battery' option, select it
- Neato thanks you
- return back to home screen, Neato now start charging.

Bottom line, if the LCD won't lit up, it won't charge. Personally I think this is a silly bug. If Neato is connected to the external power (wall charger or the DC plug) there is no valid reason for the power management module to prevent the system from booting up to normal mode.

Edit:
After about 1 hr of charging, Neato is now back to its former glory. I did a full run, cleaning lasted for 50 minutes (as opposite to 7 min on the dead/old battery).

Edit2:
getting some feedback from others saying they can't find the battery switch or the battery switch does not exist on their robots. If this is the case, please ignore the "ensure that battery switch is on" step. I only put that step in because I switched it OFF to install battery but forgot to switch it back ON :)

Also you might also need to push the Neato against the wall charger with the usb cable connected if the new battery set voltage is way tooooo low
Last edited by m00 on June 1st, 2014, 7:25 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby vic7767 » May 16th, 2014, 6:17 pm

Hi m00, great discovery. Lets see if others can try your procedure when their Neato behaves the same way and see if their Neato can wake up.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby ryebrye » May 19th, 2014, 8:30 am

I did the new battery thing the other day and it died again.

I just used the USB trick to get it to turn back on and let me activate the new battery mode again.

When it was sitting around dead the voltage of both battery packs was 7.58v. Ill let it charge up again today and try to see if it stays alive.

If not, I think the 3.1 firmware might be part of what is making my xv-21 continue to go brain dead. I might try downgrading to 3.0 after this try if it dies again.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby mfortuna » May 19th, 2014, 9:27 am

Do you mean 7.58V for the two packs in series or 7.58V each? The latter should be fine.

If you are getting just 7.58V for both packs in series that is way too low.
How old are the batteries?
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby ryebrye » May 19th, 2014, 10:55 pm

It's 7.58 volts for each battery by itself.

My wife ran it this afternoon after it had done it's new battery cycle and was fully charged. It did the same thing it has been doing recently - it did a room and then died and only has a green glow around the power button.

The batteries we replaced a few months ago, but they haven't had a ton of use because maybe a month or so after we replaced the batteries it started to die on us and it's been sitting idle for a while.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby vic7767 » May 20th, 2014, 12:07 am

Your twin packs should be reading 8.4 vdc when fully charged. Your packs seem to be defective.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby ryebrye » May 20th, 2014, 6:57 am

I'll let the neato charge them and then measure them to see what they read when the neato thinks they are fully charged.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby mfortuna » May 20th, 2014, 9:00 am

For a 6 cell NIMH, 7.2V in still fully charged although bled off a bit. 8.4V is a bit hopefull, IMHO. Not all good cells will top off at 1.4V.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby ryebrye » May 20th, 2014, 9:13 pm

I let it charge all day today. I measured the battery voltage - the packs were 8.52v and 8.58v and when I measured across them both it read 17.05v .

I just did the firmware downgrade to 3.0 - I'm going to see if the 3.0 firmware has better luck at not going catatonic after doing a single room like I was seeing on the 3.1 firmware.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby vic7767 » May 20th, 2014, 9:30 pm

Those readings would appear to indicate your twin packs are at least able to receive a charge very well. The unknown portion now will be how well they perform under a load. Normally when the Neato is in a cleaning cycle all components together will be consuming just about 3 amps. So your Neato can basically perform a load test of its own batteries. See how long it will run. That will give you some insight as to the overall health of your battery pack pair.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby ryebrye » May 20th, 2014, 10:13 pm

I downgraded it to 3.0 and ran it - I didn't time it, but it went back to its starting location and died with the green light on the power button (I didn't have the charging dock in the room at the time)

The USB trick is the only way for me to get it back to being responsive once it has gone brain dead.

My old battery packs would not run very long before they died - maybe 20 minutes or so - but it would never go brain dead like it is doing now.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby pbastian » June 29th, 2014, 1:29 pm

WOW! I can't believe I finally stumbled on this solution. I have a NEATO XV-21 that exhibited the "dead" robot behavior. Green light on the front around the orange button was "dim", no LCD. In the past, I would take batteries out and wait a few hours. This got progressively longer and longer, until now, when no amount of "battery out" time would bring it back to life.

Just tried the USB trick - plugged it into my Macbook Air with the USB cable, and waited a couple of seconds and VOILA! back to life. Its now in it's cradle charging again. I did the "New Battery" reset thing, too.

Will be monitoring to see if this trick works again, but I am thrilled that someone found a solution. Now if only Neato will recognize that their s/w and/or firmware needs to be fixed to address this pesky thing. I was ready to throw the darn thing out.

Overall, these units seem to have real issues, though. This is my third robot under warranty, and it's out of warranty. Their new batteries are only warranted for 6 mos. I hope that future firmware issues resolve this, because in spite of all my frustrations with the electronics (this problem, dead batteries), the mechanics (stuck wheels) and software ("Clear my path", even though there is nothing in front of it), when it is functioning properly, it does its job!
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby RafaelVVA » July 13th, 2014, 2:18 pm

I have a XV-21 that entered the dead state for the first time a while back

First times, just leaving it at the charging dock was enough to bring it back to life, but it got harder each time. I found out about this trick (connect to the USB) and it also worked quite fine. However, a few days ago, This trick stopped working. I took out the batteries and checked them with a multimeter, getting 6,8V on each. It was quite low, so I left them connected to the Neato, plugged on the electricity for 48h, and now they are at around 7,1V each, so I guess it is probably ripple charging, but it will take a lot of time to charge them like this, if they ever get past the nominal 7.2V, that is.

Anyway, even the USB trick is not working now for me, so I wonder if anyone have had luck running this trick with the batteries under 8V, and if so, how low were they? Deoending on the answers I might go after a charger of some sort for my batteries...
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby vic7767 » July 13th, 2014, 2:35 pm

RafaelVVA wrote:I might go after a charger of some sort for my batteries...
How old are your batteries ? If more than 6 months, you may want to invest in a new pair.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby RafaelVVA » July 13th, 2014, 2:43 pm

vic7767 wrote:
RafaelVVA wrote:I might go after a charger of some sort for my batteries...
How old are your batteries ? If more than 6 months, you may want to invest in a new pair.


They are definately older thatn that, but I live in Brazil, so getting a new pair is not as easy as it sounds (also why I cant rely on custumer support)

I was thinking of getting new ones though, but wanted to try giving these ones a proper cherge first...

Still, shouldn't 7.2V be enough at least for a power up??
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby vic7767 » July 13th, 2014, 3:08 pm

The problem with reading the no load battery voltage is that it may drop when attempting to run the bootloader and wake-up routine. It may drop the voltage below the minimum level needed.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby RafaelVVA » July 13th, 2014, 7:59 pm

vic7767 wrote:The problem with reading the no load battery voltage is that it may drop when attempting to run the bootloader and wake-up routine. It may drop the voltage below the minimum level needed.


Did not take that into account, silly me...

Guess I will have to try to find (or build) a charger for may batteries then. Just hope it works.

Still, gonna replace it with a different model next chance I get. My house have a few places where my Neato tend to get stuck at, and when this happens, since there is no one home during the whole day, it tends to deplete the battery and enter the dead state again, and again...
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby RafaelVVA » July 22nd, 2014, 9:45 pm

So.. I got around to building a slow charger, charging the batteries until they read 7.9V each (no load) and it was still not nearly enough to take my XV from dead state...

Anyone have any idea how much charge will I need? I'm going for 8.2V this time, and I am willing to go as far as 8.4, but if this does not work, I'll be out of ideas...
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby glnc222 » July 22nd, 2014, 10:03 pm

Fully charged NiMh cells show about 8.2v each pack (16.4v total battery) unloaded, after resting from fast charging at 2 amps. The charging voltage for fast charging reaches 9.2v per pack, to push in that much current. At the end it is all going into heat production. Slow charging will not produce that heat. The voltage will reach a maximum and then even drop slightly, a signature used by some NiMh chargers. The charging voltage is always above the discharge voltage of the battery, to push in charge.

A full battery is not needed to run the Neato system computer and LCD display, apart from running the motors. The LCD will advise when the charge is insufficient to vacuum. So a completely dead system with no display is unlikely related to a low battery charge -- it shows messages about low battery charge...
The batteries can go down to 7v per pack unloaded and still run the computer -- maybe even lower. The load is only 70 -100ma.

The trick mentioned about connecting USB suggests the computer is not being properly triggered by installing the battery and pressing the ON button. The system is off when a battery is installed until the button is pressed or the unit connected to the dock. Placing on the dock powers the computer from the dock and battery problems are reported on the LCD with error messages. So being dead on the dock is a definite sign of system problems. I would try the USB trick with it on the dock.

The power button is part of the LCD module. The connection to it through the flaky ribbon cable could be poor, very hard to analyze. There could be some defect in the system board components, impossible to identify. Swapping boards is how it is handled commercially.

It is not too good for the batteries to install them in a fully charged condition, as the Neato will not vacuum until they are charged again on the dock, which will over-charge them. Exact effect on lifetime is not known, but all the current is just going into heat. It will charge a full NiMh 12 minutes at 2 amps and then 24 minutes at .4 amps, just to be satisfied the battery is full. It does this to estimate the reserve required to return to base. There is no extreme damage, as I've done it several times, but the batteries never last more than a couple hundred runs.

NiMh cells terminate fast charging by transferring the current into heat when full, detected by a thermistor in the packs.
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Re: Wake Neato up from dead mode

Postby RafaelVVA » July 22nd, 2014, 10:12 pm

Like I said before, the reason I am trying this external charging is that I used to rely on the USB trick, but now it does not work anymore, after a prolonged battery discharge.

The fact that the LCD module does not consume a lot of power does not exempt it from having a faulty, poorly designed initial power check, which could affect the issue.

Anyway, thanks for the info on the battery charge.
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