How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

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How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Res89 » December 2nd, 2017, 11:46 am

Hello,
I have Neato BotVac D75. The problem is it doesn't recognize charged batteries. I put it on charging station, Neato blinks orange light, but after many hours of charging it still displays 0 and asks to charge him...

I've checked my batteries (I have 2 of them) and I can see that Neato is charging them.

I think that there is a problem in main board. Somewhere it doesn't understand that battery is charged. But where? How can I troubleshoot the main board?

Thank you in advance!
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby glnc222 » December 2nd, 2017, 12:06 pm

Fuel Gauge per cent is reported over USB. This is calculated by auxiliary processor MAX17047 IC at U4 label.
One user replaced this to fix a problem.
Fuel Gauge can be manually set over USB as well for testing certain things.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Res89 » December 2nd, 2017, 12:35 pm

glnc222, thank you for information, I'll try that now and report back.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Res89 » December 2nd, 2017, 2:13 pm

Here are my sensor readings:
Code: Select all
____   Discrete:   ____=
SNSR_DC_JACK_IS_IN=False
SNSR_DUSTBIN_IS_IN=False
SNSR_LEFT_WHEEL_EXTENDED=False
SNSR_RIGHT_WHEEL_EXTENDED=False
LSIDEBIT=False
LFRONTBIT=False
LLDSBIT=False
RSIDEBIT=False
RFRONTBIT=False
RLDSBIT=False
____   Analog:   ____=
BatteryVoltage=mV=12554
BatteryCurrent=mA=-235
BatteryTemperature=mC=20801
ExternalVoltage=mV=586
AccelerometerX=mG=0
AccelerometerY=mG=27
AccelerometerZ=mG=996
VacuumCurrent=mA=0
SideBrushCurrent=mA=0
MagSensorLeft=VAL=0
MagSensorRight=VAL=0
WallSensor=mm=72
DropSensorLeft=mm=0
DropSensorRight=mm=0
____   Buttons:   ____=
BTN_SOFT_KEY=False
BTN_SCROLL_UP=False
BTN_START=False
BTN_BACK=False
BTN_SCROLL_DOWN=False
BTN_SPOT=False
____   Charger:   ____=
FuelPercent=19
BatteryOverTemp=0
ChargingActive=OFF: 0
ChargingEnabled=OFF: 0
ConfidentOnFuel=0
OnReservedFuel=0
EmptyFuel=0
BatteryFailure=0
ExtPwrPresent=0
ThermistorPresent=1
BattTempCAvg=20
VBattV=12.54
VExtV=0.58
Charger_mAH=0
Discharge_mAH=246
=Digital Sensor Name, Value


Is anything wrong here?
When I put Neato on charging station I've noticed parameter ChargingActive doesn't go 'ON'.

Edit:
When connecting to charging base the ExtPwrPresent changes from '0' to '1' and VExtV (my guess "External Voltage") parameter changes from ~0.5 to ~10.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby glnc222 » December 2nd, 2017, 7:06 pm

Thread following has another charging problem. http://www.robotreviews.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=20223
I don't have a Botvac to compare, but the dock supplies 18v for charging on the plates (24v on Neato XV). There could be a dock failure. I don't recall negative figures for the dock voltage sensed internally, ExtV.
The battery voltage shows a substantial partial charge. The Fuel Gauge will not show correct info unless the battery charges properly. By manually setting to 100 the bot can be run to discharge the battery and start over.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Res89 » December 2nd, 2017, 7:38 pm

glnc222, thank you for the link. My VExtV is also rapidly changing it can be anywhere from 9 to 19 while Neato is connected to dock station.

So I conclude that either the charging dock or system board is broken.
Dock costs around $70;
Motherboard is around $170.
I can't buy both :(

Is there a way to know for sure what is broken?

*I can't test my dock on another Neato, and I can't test my Neato on another dock, because I don't have any :(
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby glnc222 » December 2nd, 2017, 11:55 pm

More info needed. Set the Fuel Gauge manually to 100 and run the bot -- or just the fan over USB -- to discharge the battery. Then see if the dock charges the battery and raises the Fuel Gauge. If the battery charges but the Fuel Gauge does not rise, the system board, or maybe the MAX17047 IC at U4, is faulty. The battery temperature should be observed over USB while charging as the system terminates charging when the temperature rises when full. Compare the voltage on the battery off the charger with the report over USB to see that the main board is measuring the voltage correctly.
Check the voltage on the dock with a multimeter. Examine the system current over USB while charging; the system charges at 2 amps.

Dock failures are more rare. If the dock is supply charging current and voltage but the Neato does not report this I would assume the system board is faulty.
The other user with similar problem found diode D4 on the main board possibly defective. It could be checked with an ohm meter and replaced before replacing the entire board. Also the MAX17047 IC at U4.

Member Medtech who repairs Neato's advised data should be collected with the data logging feature of the Neato Control program, filing results of the GetCharger command repeated every one second (posting a link to the file on DropBox or whatever):
or the analysis, you need to run the getcharger command at a period of 1 second, turn off the testmode and put the robot on charge, you need a log record for at least 3 minutes. The log should be archived and not published in an open form - this clogs the forum and worsens readability.


You might get a system board to test and then resell it if not needed.

Unfortunately there is no cheap way to maintain these systems. Apart from the cost of replacement parts, there is a cost of equipment and instruments for electronics work. Personally I would be cautious about spending a lot on repairing an old robot instead of getting one more durable. Similar considerations apply to repairing old cars.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Medtech » December 3rd, 2017, 4:28 pm

It is worth carefully reading the next topic http://www.robotreviews.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=20223 and follow my instructions.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Res89 » December 3rd, 2017, 7:10 pm

Hello, Medtech,
I've attached a 3 minutes log of getcharger. Neato was on dock and test mode was off!

Short link: https://pastebin.com/raw/SQ4CFv0c
Attachments
log.txt
(32.58 KiB) Downloaded 38 times
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby glnc222 » December 4th, 2017, 3:59 pm

Without knowing the full design, schematic, and firmware code in this, I would theorize that the charger is not running because of some failure of the power switching circuits on the main board. The dock could be shutting down because it is not loaded for charging, after initially supplying charging voltage -- a safety feature for the exposed charging plates. The small 100ma load on the battery shown is the typical cpu system load in the robot, without motors running. Charging is shown enabled, but not active; I think enabled is just a software flag; Active reflects the current flow set by the power direction switches.

Also on the dock the system is supposed to be powered off the dock, not the battery, with the power direction switches set accordingly. Maybe this is not happening. One could look with a meter for the 100ma load on the dock. Absence of this could be why the dock shuts down. In the oldest XV systems a hot resistor across the bot charging contacts loaded the dock to engage full power in its power management circuit. Newer XV's somehow eliminated this resistor with some more sophisticated method probably used in the Botvac. Perhaps just a larger resistor on board with more sensitive circuits.

On XV models a defective diode replaced locks the power direction in charging mode so the robot will not run.

I suppose it is possible the dock voltage falls because the switching power supply cannot supply the charging current under load. Comparison with a good system would be needed to know how the dock voltage should behave. Over-loaded switching power supplies often make audible whistle sounds as the oscillation frequency falls under load into the audible range -- increasing the duty cycle to supply more average current. Perhaps the dock could be checked by attaching a load such as a 12v 25w auto lamp or bunch of 10W resistors in parallel, also used to load batteries for testing.
I would think the system would show Charging Active for the dock to get over-loaded.

The GetCharger command does not log the battery voltage shown in the GetAnalogSensors command. I would suspect battery voltage does not show a 1-2v increase when charging current is applied, nor any charging current.

Were the charging circuit on the main board traced out it might be possible to measure points where abnormal switching is observed, but the info is not available except on the XV board, which could be suggestive of what to look for.

Perhaps Medtech has more useful info with some experience with various system defects. The normal procedure is to just replace boards until it works. It is not practical commercially to replace components on boards made cheaply with mass production.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Res89 » December 4th, 2017, 4:16 pm

glnc222, thank you very much for such broad answer!
New BotVac D-series chargers also have a diode showing the charging process, mine is pulsating and I guess that means it's working and charging (but that's my guess). Multimeter shows jumping Voltage on the charger: 14-19V. And I see the same voltage on charger-to-board connector P6.

I also tend to think that the problem lies somewhere on the main board. Maybe the battery thermo-controller, the charging controller, the fuel gauge indicator... but something out there is faulty.

I will wait for Medtech's answer. And then I guess I would have to buy the new main board :cry:
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby glnc222 » December 4th, 2017, 6:32 pm

Several Botvac boards are on U.S. ebay around $100, lower than years ago. Europe is another matter, but U.S. postage to Europe might be $35. One has to wonder why these boards get pulled from complete robots, but Neato lidars have been pulled for other uses in the past, leaving parts to sell. A lot of this seems to be from Massachusetts state -- home to MIT et al.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Medtech » December 6th, 2017, 7:10 am

VBattV,12.26
VExtV,22.45
These jumps above 19V indicate that the base controller does not regulate the output voltage, it is regulated haphazardly, this is a direct indication of the failure of the base, the voltage can not be higher than 19V for the built-in robot control.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby shirgal » December 6th, 2017, 9:01 am

Medtech wrote:VBattV,12.26
VExtV,22.45
These jumps above 19V indicate that the base controller does not regulate the output voltage, it is regulated haphazardly, this is a direct indication of the failure of the base, the voltage can not be higher than 19V for the built-in robot control.


Yes you are right :thumbup: :clap:
same issue as MrGT is reporting in another post.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Res89 » December 6th, 2017, 6:50 pm

Medtech, thank you for your analysis!
But if the dock station is broken why doesn't my Neato see that the batteries are charged?
I have 2 batteries that have good 12V each. My Neato shows them as 0%.
If I manually set Fuel Gauge to 100% with Neato Control - the power falls to 0% very quickly... :think:
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby glnc222 » December 6th, 2017, 8:02 pm

A distinction needs to be made between some different situations.
The actual charge on the battery charged externally needs to be measured, to see if that is the cause of short runs.
Setting the Fuel Gauge to 100 manually to recognize the battery charge.
The fan can be run over USB alone to discharge the battery at about 1 amp load or cleaning performed at about 3 amps. The battery voltage under load such as the fan running, seen over USB, can indicate whether the battery is fully discharged (the Neato tends to keep a 30 per cent reserve against deep discharge). I think the minimum voltage on the Botvac 12v battery is about 10v, never reached because verging on damage. The unloaded voltage on the battery is not fully indicative, though it does fall with discharge. Bad batteries will show a sharper drop under load. Both good and bad batteries show similar high voltages fully charged -- it is all in the capacity revealed over time with load.

If the bot is stopping very quickly, it might not be sensing the battery voltage properly, or the MAX17047 fuel gauge IC is not working right. After the bot stops prematurely, try to determine the true state of the battery charge to compare.
After external charging the bot will not set the Fuel Gauge properly without a calibration charging cycle, which is not happening with a bad dock or system board.
You can also measure the battery capacity timing discharge with a 12v 25w auto lamp or similar, taking care not to over-discharge.

One could wonder if there is some sort of short draining the battery unusually.
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Medtech » December 7th, 2017, 5:45 pm

12V is the potential, connect a car incandescent lamp with a power of 10-20Watt and measure the voltage on the battery with the lamp connected, let us know the result. Charge the battery with a third-party device, connect the battery to the robot, set the charge value to 100%, remove the video as soon as the energy value drops and what voltage is shown by the sensor tab. It is better to see once than 10 times to read
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Re: How to troubleshoot Neato BotVac main board?

Postby Res89 » December 9th, 2017, 4:10 pm

Medtech wrote:12V is the potential, connect a car incandescent lamp with a power of 10-20Watt and measure the voltage on the battery with the lamp connected, let us know the result. Charge the battery with a third-party device, connect the battery to the robot, set the charge value to 100%, remove the video as soon as the energy value drops and what voltage is shown by the sensor tab. It is better to see once than 10 times to read


I've decided to say "F*** it", and just bought a new charging station. I will receive it in a month and report back the results. If that won't fix the problem - I'll have to buy the new main board ($150, not cheap :( ).
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