Neato XV Error 4xxx

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Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » February 21st, 2017, 12:02 am

Hi all

I'm sort of new here, this forum helped me choose a Neato XV Signature over 3 years ago!

Now, Neato has started with the error 4000 messages about two months ago. It runs for about 1/2 hour, then suddenly the error message comes on and has to be cleared multiple times. It restarts, runs for a minute and then you hear the "bleep!" In many cases, even if the unit manages to resume with no further errors, it is "lost" at that point and starts banging into walls and going through some endless loop over the same cleaned area in a random pattern and will not find its way back to the charging stand.

I have reset it multiple times and cleaned the LIDAR with compressed air as shown on the Neato site.

It still manages to do 1 room at a time or small areas with a short runtime just fine. The issue always creeps up ~1/2 hour into the run. The unit has new-ish (4 month old) Li-ion batteries from Cyber Tech.

I took the unit apart, cleaned well inside and cleaned the LIDAR belt with a paper towel moistened in windex. I did not attempt to further disassemble the Lidar unit, and the error continues.

Is it worth replacing the LIDAR motor and belt or is it possible other things are wrong? Is it OK to poke in the LIDAR holes with lens paper? (we have cats so cat hair and litter dust abound). I see instructions for testing the LIDAR via USB but I'm not sure if this can answer much as it does seem to start up fine.

Any suggestions appreciated. I'd like to get another year of service out of it before I shell out $500 for a botvac but also don't look forward to spending all weekend tinkering with something that's a lost cause.

TIA for any help!
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » February 21st, 2017, 12:51 am

When the unit runs half an hour and only then produces an error, a lot of its functions have been pretty well tested in a substantial run. Suspicion should be directed at the battery being worn or defective and giving out quickly. Power supply problems create any number of failures in systems. The battery voltage at the point of stopping on the error before returning to the dock could be checked for unusually low voltage near 14v. Generally no robot defect can be analyzed without a known good battery to begin with. These products are deficient in not reporting battery condition measures or alerts when the battery should be replaced. They just go haywire when the battery is bad. Early indications are loss of full original run time and more frequent recharging.

[edit] Of course you can clean the lenses on the lidar barrels, like a Q tip. Just beware the Bandersnatch.
Last edited by glnc222 on February 21st, 2017, 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » February 21st, 2017, 4:01 pm

Thanks! Will test the battery and report back. Hope the offmarket Li-Ion is not to blame....
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » February 21st, 2017, 8:44 pm

The lithium batteries have a protection board which can disconnect the battery if voltage falls too low, over-discharge protection. Not sure how resets, maybe charge some. They also have a Sleep-Mode when not used long periods. Wake up with a 9v battery on each pack separately a few seconds.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » February 22nd, 2017, 5:56 pm

So each battery has a voltage of 7.5 and 7.4 V, respectively when the errors begin. When charged they are at 8.1 V each. I only record a potential between the two outermost pins in the plug, the ones in the middle are 0 V.

Are these voltages of concern? I guess I can test out with the old set of batteries I have lying around.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » February 22nd, 2017, 7:07 pm

The batteries are charging properly, near full at 8.1v, though the maximum should be 16.8v. The system load may drop this a little if measured installed switch on. There is also a Fuel Gauge per cent over USB which should be near 100 when charged. It can be manually adjusted or reset with the "New Battery" LCD option I think.
At 7.5 v (15v total) it should be still running. The middle pins are for the thermistor signal, passive resistor. Temperature is shown over USB. The voltage is different under load when running, so if there is abnormal load, a short or something, or the battery worn out it might stop on low voltage when running. There is no cheap way to analyze these things unless already equipped to service it (though an NiMh battery is only $20 on Amazon). Batteries can be tested outside the robot with an external load such as a 12v 25W auto lamp, and see how it drains when fully charged, observing the time to discharge.
Neato runs about 3 amps when cleaning. Running the fan only over USB for about a 1 amp load (reported over USB), the discharge cycle can be observed and the effective battery capacity measured.
One user replaced the battery management IC which measures the Fuel Gauge. Malfunctions there could cause a false stoppage. Look at the Fuel Gauge over USB after it has prematurely stopped. External load tests can discover whether the Neato system measurements are wrong.

[edit] Note on Botvac over USB the "fan current" shown is wrong and the Total System current can be used, noting the extra cpu system load. Their ammeter is on the wrong circuit or something, just some fan controls.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » March 14th, 2017, 10:34 pm

Thanks glnc222 for the replies! So I got a replacement Li-ion battery from Cyber Tech, but the error 4000's continue. The behavior is a little different this time, it only runs 10-15 minutes before it throws the error. You clear it, then it keeps recurring every 10-15 minutes.

I have found the Neato XV makes a brief "beep" noise at some point into the run *before* the error 4000s start to happen. When this happens, the fan shuts down momentarily (2-3 sec, not enough time to stop altogether) and then, the unit restarts itself and resumes cleaning. But, the 4000 errors start occurring always after this initial error. I have only once caught it while standing nearby and nothing is displayed on the screen when this happens (just the "cleaning house" message). This happened with both the old and the new battery.

Any suggestions on how to further troubleshoot this? Should I try with a standard NiMH battery?

Thanks!
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » March 15th, 2017, 12:54 pm

I would be curious what the Fuel Gauge per cent parameter is read over USB right after the unit fails, off the dock so as not to initiate charging.
There can be marginal components on the system board, typically tested by replacing the board. These are computer systems, complicated.
There were rare cases where the battery on/off switch was faulty. Short it out with a jumper to test.
Over USB run the fan only to see if it can go an hour on the fully charged battery. The new battery is fine, preserve the old one.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » March 15th, 2017, 9:45 pm

Well today the unit only failed once in each run it did upstairs and downstairs, so I wonder if that has to do as the new batteries are being conditioned. I will try and do the USB diagnostic soon. Is there a wiki on how to do this? Been years since I've done this kind of tinkering.

Edit: Found the link with the update software further down. Fingers crossed...
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » March 15th, 2017, 9:57 pm

USB cable with Mini USB size plug (not micro for cell phones). Covered jack on outside of robot rear.
Neato Control program for Windows http://www.robotreviews.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=18173
Install driver from factory web page at link provided first.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » March 16th, 2017, 3:43 am

Did you set the "New Battery" option on the LCD menu when installing the new battery? Resets the mathematical modeling of the battery properties to recalibrate.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » March 16th, 2017, 8:07 am

Yes, I did set the new battery option. Any ideas why/whether the error is less frequent?

Probably won't have time to do the USB testing until the weekend. Thanks for all tips!
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » March 21st, 2017, 9:09 pm

Looks like after a week, the new battery is now broken in and no more errors, and it manages to do runs of about 1:15 hr before recharging. Thanks for the tips!

The Li-ion battery insert recommends to do the "new battery" conditioning every few months. Is it advisable to select the "new battery" option right after a run (battery low) or after it has been already charging for some time?
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » March 21st, 2017, 10:02 pm

I do not think the lithium battery is changing, rather the robot modeling of the battery properties, just a guess. Lithium batteries do not require conditioning the same as NiMh as far as I know, could be wrong. The robot is not equipped to measure the battery fully for lack of a load to discharge it on the dock like a test instrument, so it makes assumptions based on specifications for the original battery. Batteries have a curve along which voltage falls slightly as discharged, used to detect an over-discharged condition. The robot also measures the charge usage when run and when charging by integrating current x time continuously, IxT (the Botvac has a special IC for this). Batteries also signal when fully charged by special temperature or voltage conditions, separate from the charge added.

The discharge curve for lithium batteries is more flat but lower than the curve for the original NiMh battery, so exactly what happens to the software, unpublished, is unknown except to companies who have reverse engineered it. The run time charge usage is programmed about 2ah, preserving an original large margin against damaging deep discharge, and a reserve for returning to base. As the battery ages and loses capacity, the software may detect premature discharges from monitoring the voltage discharge curve and comparing it to the measured charge usage over time, and adjusting programmed charge usage accordingly, to maintain reserves to return to base. So the "New Battery" option is just to signal an unknown battery is installed which is assumed to be the specified original battery. The system is more complicated than a simple flashlight with its need for a reserve to return to base and hence monitoring the battery capacity, charge and usage.

The NiMh batteries also had a situation where initial capacity could expand over several initial runs from a shelf-life problem of self-discharge in that chemistry, absent in lithium batteries (fixed in small AA size NiMh cells but not the larger higher drain types). The cells loosen up with initial use, mentioned in the manual (in some cases damage is irreversible, duds). So exactly what happens between the lithium batteries and the NiMh modeling software is not known. The more flat discharge curve has been observed to increase the run time over the NiMh probably from fooling the software certain ways. Initial short run times with the lithium substitutes has not been much reported and there could have been some defective condition in the lithium adapter board microcontroller and its software. Lab facilities would be needed to tell, digital instruments etc.

[edit] Experiments with DIY batteries showed the Neato's get better measurements of the battery when initially charged from a mostly discharged condition, so measurements of the charge added are more indicative of the capacity. The charger tends to remain in the orange blinking state until 1ah charge is added to the battery.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » March 22nd, 2017, 11:21 pm

Wow, lots of good info, thanks. It does seem the reverse engineered Li-ions are not trouble free, the old set went bad after exactly 1 year (after warranty) and the unit would suddenly die on the floor before initiating return to base, the batteries were probably cutting off to prevent deep discharge.
Then the next ones started with the error 4000's a month or two after install, thankfully the company replaced them. Here's to hoping these replacements sent will last longer.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » March 23rd, 2017, 1:35 am

The original XV lithium replacement for NiMh was from a Taiwan company distributing in the U.S. as LithiumPowerInc., at http://www.lithiumpowerinc.com/neato-botvac.html and in Europe as AnewPow. They also own Boston Power corp. They sell it for a little higher price with a warranty. Whether CyberTech is another distributor or an imitator is unknown. They had sold through small distributors as well, so could be the same, they do not say. Distribution is affected by recently tighter air freight restrictions on lithium batteries for fire hazards, so not usually direct from China retail. The Taiwan company has a background in medical equipment batteries. Both the XV and Botvac markets are limited as the robots have switched to original equipment lithium batteries in newer models, following Vorwerk's original use of lithium in their XV model VR100.

It may be possible to make DIY a longer lasting and safer LiFePo4 lithium battery for the XV models since one has been successfully made for the Botvac, though it has not been tried. My earlier attempt used the wrong cells, and some higher capacity ones have apparently been found for the Botvac. Ten cells are needed compared to NiMh dozen and eight regular lithium cells. The LithiumPowerInc batteries use the safer LiNMC chemistry used in tool power packs, with their own contracted cells I think, not published.
http://www.robotreviews.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=19149
In France kelrobot.fr/forum regular lithium batteries have been made for the XV models with newer Rev64 system boards where the Neato software can be set to Vorwerk lithium charging configuration. Lithium Ion Revisited thread here.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » March 24th, 2017, 11:05 am

That first set of Li-Ion batteries that failed at 12 months was from lithiumpowerinc.

The ones from CyberTech seem the same, packaging and S/N stickers stamped on have same order of letters, so it's just a different sticker, they were a little cheaper on amazon and had 18 month warranty so I got those.

Would it be wise to put a timer on the charging stand? From what I understand, Li-Ions do not do well if left at 100% charge all the time. So, maybe have the timer come on during the day when the Neato Runs, and then turn off after 3 or 4 hours after it's finished? Thoughts?
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby vic7767 » March 24th, 2017, 1:04 pm

The Lithium packs have power Control Boards that limit discharge and charging voltage and current. They are not damaged by being connected to charging power supply or home base for long periods.
Roomba and Neato Mods, come visit: http://www.vic7767.com/

http://www.Robot-Doc.com/
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby glnc222 » March 24th, 2017, 1:15 pm

Run time measures: On the XV the middle line and on the Botvac the top line of the warranty screen on the LCD appears to show the accumulated total run time across all runs in seconds in hexadecimal, posted somewhere here.
http://www.robotreviews.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=18606&p=131274&hilit=hexadecimal#p131274
Another line total number of charging cycles.
The clock I put on the dock is an electronics hobby project, partly just curiosity, and related to testing different robots.

If the robot cleans a large space with multiple charges every time run, and run frequently, the battery could be used up in a year, even less. If charged only once, suddenly requiring a second charge would indicate loss of battery capacity and time to replace. Once capacity falls noticeably, it tends to worsen fairly fast over additional runs. The NiMh battery, depending on quality, could last 200-300 charges. LithiumPower Inc specified up to 800 cycles. The French DIY battery project was undertaken to reduce costs of using more than one robot in a large space, when equipped with the required tools and skills.

The Botvac is more efficient and the batteries less expensive, as low as $30 for the older NiMh (newest WiFi models have lithium batteries, maybe not compatible with the older NiMh).

The battery cost is a large portion of the total cost over time of using a robot, and also a substantial part of the cost of a new robot, which also might make more economical use of batteries. The Samsung Powerbot is oriented towards larger spaces and has been recently on sale as low as $290 (though the very large battery, longer lasting lithium, can cost $175; mine is still going after 220 charges, and only time will tell). The new Xiamoi Mi is also less expensive than Neato but not yet distributed for U.S. use, menus in chinese etc. Age of the robot and potential for parts to wear out is a consideration. Some XV models have run for years, others break down. Up to personal taste and circumstance.
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Re: Neato XV Error 4xxx

Postby Panache » March 27th, 2017, 4:12 pm

With the Li-Ion battery from Lithiumpowerinc, the runtime was long enough that the Neato could do ~90% of the ground floor in my house (~1300 sq ft). It would run about 75 min before returning to charge and then finish the remainder in 10 minutes.

We do have cats so we run Neato every day (maybe skip a day on every now and then when we forget to start it) and every other day we bring it to vacuum the upstairs too, (1 cycle). So on average 1.5 cycles/day x 300 days = 550 cycles.

So I was a bit puzzled why this Li-Ion battery threw the towel so fast. With the NiMH batteries, they would start deteriorating after 2-3 months to the point where it would only run 20-30 minutes each time and the unit not be able to finish the whole downstairs. Forget finishing the job if it got stuck and one isn't home.

I just ordered a Xiaomi and we'll see how that goes, I am getting frustrated with the Neato and may use it for the easy cleaning upstairs. But I was not ready to shell out $600 for a Botvac.
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