my introduction

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my introduction

Postby n0oxy » July 9th, 2018, 2:59 pm

Hello everyone, my name is Mike, I live in Saint Louis Missouri in the United States. I've always been kind of a robot geek and have always had a thing for vacuum robots. I started with a Roomba 400 series, then got a Roomba 500 series robot, I've had a Neato XV12 since 2012 and it's still working great.

I've been looking through the different topics in this forum and have really enjoyed gaining more knowledge about how these robots work. I do prefer the Neato robots over the Roombas, although based on a lot of the reviews, it sounds like Neato has quality control issues. I should also mention that I'm a blind person as well so cannot read print, which is why the new smart phone controlled robots are interesting. I'm wondering if the Botvac D7 would really clean much better than my XV12, my apartment is all hard floors. I'm not sure if it's even made anymore but the newest version of the LG Hombot sounded interesting because apparently all of the messages are spoken rather than displayed on a screen. I wish Neato would add this to their robots.

I've really enjoyed reading the threads about getting lithium batteries to work with the Neato robots, I just replaced the batteries in my XV12, although I have gotten my batteries to last much longer than most people. I never leave my robot on the charger for too long, once it's charged, I move it a way from the charger and shut it down, I memorized how many times to press the buttons to do this since I can't read the display. Thanks to another thread on this forum, I can connect to my Neato using USB on my mac, so I could try setting the time and schedule using that method. In the end I decided to stick with NIMH batteries since there have been some issues with the lithium packs, the issues related to that are probably because the Neato charger is not designed for that type of battery, and unless you can put your Neato in to lithium mode, you are using techniques to try to fool the charger to make things work. My XV12 has the charge jack on the robot so I'm guessing I have the older system board type.

I also recently replaced my blade brush with a combo brush, much quieter. I wasn't sure I would be able to attach the brush since I couldn't see it but it was actually pretty easy.

Anyway, sorry this has gotten kind of long, I'm definitely looking forward to being part of this group, I also want to check out the other forums on here as well.
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Re: my introduction

Postby Brett » July 9th, 2018, 9:59 pm

Welcome!

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Re: my introduction

Postby Wing Nut » July 10th, 2018, 3:24 am

n0oxy wrote: I've had a Neato XV12 since 2012 and it's still working great.

Hi Mike and welcome!

I'm waiting for one of my two (near 10 years old) Neato XV-11s to fail catastrophically so I'll have a good excuse to buy a Botvac with more 'smarts' and a progress map on my phone :)

However, until one does die, I'm fairly content with the old XV design even if it doesn't do edges. To help in this, I quickly run a broom about the edges of hallways and rooms before sending the 'bots out - only takes a couple of minutes to bring that fluff within reach of a passing Neato.

I've added lithium batteries (Lithium Power brand) to both of them now and they both now remain out for well over an hour before recharging. In fact the upstairs one has much more to vacuum, yet can often finish 3 bedrooms, a study, walk-in robe and long hallway on the first run - around 80 minutes over carpet and timber floors.

Although cheaper, NiMH after-market batteries didn't last much over an hour when new and degraded to near-useless at 18 months. One of my XV-11s has had the same lithium batteries for 3 years and is still running like they're new packs. You should find it fairly easy sourcing and shipping them within the US.

However, a future problem for me (being overseas - Australia) is replacing them since freight companies now charge a premium for lithium batteries sent on their own and not inside a device, assuming they even agree to ship them in the first place. A previous source for the Lithium Power brand has dried up, so I could be paying much more through Amazon Australia when the time comes and these things are still running OK ... and I reckon they will be at this rate!
#1 Neato XV-11 SW 2.0 Board Rev 113 / 4400mAh Lithium Power battery installed Jan 2018 / Pet & Allergy pack installed Sept 2013. In July 2014, received and repaired a faulty #2 Neato XV-11, running Lithium Power 4400mAh battery since July 2015
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Re: my introduction

Postby n0oxy » July 11th, 2018, 3:47 pm

These new NIMH batteries are giving me about 75 minutes so far which is pretty good. One question I do have about the neato robots, how does it identify the charge base? Is there a certain patern that the laser sees that it recognizes as the base? Even if I don't start my XV12 from the base, it does pass it during cleaning and always goes back when it's done.
I figure I will keep my XV12 until it has a major issue, I need to get a new package of filters for it, that will be my next purchase. The main issues I have read about with the lithium packs are either battery errors while charging or having to connect some kind of external charger to wake up the battery when you first get them, I don't have any external chargers, also I'm just not too fond of the idea of manipulating things to try and make things work in a way they were not designed for. The robot was designed for NIMH batteries and using another type of battery with circuit boards that try to make things appear differently just seems like it would be a recipe for problems. Interestingly though, a long time ago I had a Nokia cell phone that came with a NIMH battery and Nokia also sold a Lithium Ion battery for it which I purchased later, this was before smart phones, it was Nokia 5160. You could charge either type of battery while attached to the phone or use the same external charger for both batteries, perhaps the charger had some way to detect what kind of battery was used and adjusted appropriately, not sure. I've also read that the Lithium batteries will not fit the older Neato robots because of the metal heat sync in one of the battery compartments, I'm pretty sure mine has that.
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Re: my introduction

Postby Wing Nut » July 11th, 2018, 7:23 pm

n0oxy wrote: how does it identify the charge base? Is there a certain patern that the laser sees that it recognizes as the base? Mike

Yes, there is a pattern hiding behind a dark panel on the front of the charging dock that the Lidar sees as a distinctive home 'waypoint'. Even if it doesn't start at the charging dock, if it happens to pass by one or more during a run, it will recall these later once the battery runs low and return to one for a recharge.

The dark cover on the dock can be unclipped to reveal the pattern - 3 adjacent squares if I recall. Some users have mentioned their Neatos being fooled into docking with other floor hugging items in their homes that slightly resemble the pattern on the dock.

Others are better versed about the safety of NiMH vs Li-Ion batteries. However, my understanding is that there are good quality Li-Ion packs available with integrated circuitry appropriate to (some?) Neato models. The circuitry compensates (mimics?) for the differences and ensures the original dock delivers an appropriate charge and provides overheat protection. Cheaper SE Asian made lithium packs might be attractively priced, but there's a risk they're not as safe or reliable.

The LithiumPower packs I've bought for my XV-11s all fit OK although it is a tight fit inside the metal (heat sink?) sheet. Depending on the cable lengths and routing, the battery cover might have a slight bow in it when screwed up tight.

I leave my XV-11s on their charging docks 24/7, but I would take them off and disconnect the batteries if going away for an extended period as a safety precaution. Some more recent XVs have a switch in the hopper cavity to achieve this, while older ones have to be unplugged manually. All Neatos are consuming power while docked and run flat in a few hours. Running them flat isn't advised, so it's best to leave Neatos on their docks where the circuitry delivers a trickle catch-up charge at intervals ( green LED flickers occasionally), while also avoiding overcharging.

I've never received any replacement battery packs, both NiMH and Li-Ion, that weren't already charged up or had battery errors. It might be more likely when buying certain packs from China, however I've bought NiMH from there years ago and they didn't need any pre-charge wake-up, and they lasted 15 - 18 months before degrading to near useless.
#1 Neato XV-11 SW 2.0 Board Rev 113 / 4400mAh Lithium Power battery installed Jan 2018 / Pet & Allergy pack installed Sept 2013. In July 2014, received and repaired a faulty #2 Neato XV-11, running Lithium Power 4400mAh battery since July 2015
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Re: my introduction

Postby n0oxy » July 12th, 2018, 10:24 am

I've had the issue you mention where the robot thinks something else is the charge base, in particular, sometimes it tries to dock to a power strip that is on my living room floor, after trying this a few times it realizes that this is not the base and goes to the real charging base at that point.
I wish I would have changed the brush a long time ago, the combo brush is so much quieter, night and day difference. Interestingly, I had to use the baring end caps from the original blade brush though. The barings that actually came with the combo brush make an awful squealing sound and become very hot, a sign of too much friction, other than that the combo brush is better in every respect.
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Re: my introduction

Postby Wing Nut » July 12th, 2018, 6:53 pm

n0oxy wrote:I wish I would have changed the brush a long time ago, the combo brush is so much quieter, night and day difference.

My XVs came with the original noisy drums, but I did 'upgrade' one XV to the combo rubber/brush (Pet) version when its silicone/rubber strips wore down. I've replaced the strips in the combo once and in the original drum a couple of times.

Another strip to consider replacing is the 'squeegee' strip across the bottom front edge of an XV which enhances the suction effect, especially on the flappy rubber drum. It's best if this strip is able to just touch the floor and create a momentary 'tunnel' of concentrated suction between it and the rotating drum strips.

I've got one XV-11 running upstairs and the other downstairs. The flappy rubber drum seems to do a better job on the hard timber floors and the bristle drum probably gathers more off carpet. However, with carpet and timber upstairs and down, I swap them about occasionally.
#1 Neato XV-11 SW 2.0 Board Rev 113 / 4400mAh Lithium Power battery installed Jan 2018 / Pet & Allergy pack installed Sept 2013. In July 2014, received and repaired a faulty #2 Neato XV-11, running Lithium Power 4400mAh battery since July 2015
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