powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

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powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby noslenwerdna » April 20th, 2017, 11:12 am

As a quick review, the robot itself is pretty awesome and that's coming from a Roomba owner who has had four different roombas starting back when they were really lame all the way up to my last 650 model. I have had a ton of fun with the roombas but I decided that I wanted a robot that did a better job at some kind of cleaning pattern. I decided to go with the 9350 because of the "select and go" feature and have been sorely disappointed in how poorly it performs but it's really just that the app is garbage and should be turned over to the open source community as we'd crush it. Specific changes that should be made in the mapping is that the robot should only run the perimeter of each room and not vacuum the house as it maps. The second thing that needs to happen is that they need to incorporate user input into the mapping so that rooms can be broken up especially with open floorplan houses. This could also be accomplished by allowing the user to have an edit feature. They should have a manual mapping mode that lets the user drive the thing around with the remote to map out areas that they want to get into or to avoid. One of the features that really lacs on this robot is its inability to determine if it is sensing a cliff (or stair) or if it's just going over a dark pattern on a floor. This robot hates running across my area rug in my living room because it thinks that the dark patterns are cliffs and it tries to get around them, trapping itself like a cat in a tape square (try it, it works). And speaking of cliffs, it does not handle them well at all. Sure, it finds them and stops but then it has the tendency to turn around and back up off of them if they are in a door jamb where it might run into the jamb as it avoids the cliff. Then it backs off the cliff to avoid the door jamb... seriously? WTF? All of these problems are simple to fix and it seems that the real problem with this little robot is that they were trying too hard to get it out and the firmware is still in beta 0.0.53 after my last OTA update. I am sure that if they ever release the 1.0.0 firmware, it will be a rocking little robot but their customer communication is horrendous. I would not recommend that anybody buy a samsung robot with the way they go about things. However, if you are a hacker, this might be the exact little robot for you. I am keeping it since the only problems that I can find with it are in the app and firmware, it won't be long before I have my own system running on it and it will at that point out perform all of the other robot vacuums that I have had. Samsung, you neeeeeeed to put the 9350 on github and let us fix it for you. Then you'd have, by far, the best robot vacuum of them all but I doubt your ability to deliver this on your own.
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Re: powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby glnc222 » April 20th, 2017, 12:40 pm

To operate on dark colored floor all brands of robots need to have the cliff sensors disabled because the IR Proximity detectors used do not work on some floor material. Covering the sensors with light colored paper or tape creates a false floor to disable them. A boundary marker either optical virtual walls, magnetic tape or physical barrier has to be used for any stairway cliffs etc. Users have had success with this sort of fix for the problem however inconvenient.

I am experimenting with a different optical method of using IR beams employing angles or parallax instead of intensity of the reflection off the floor, independent of intensity, which would work with very dim reflections if enough sensitivity can be obtained with simple parts. A lot of black materials still reflect enough in IR for the extant robots to work, so it is hard to get the particular materials which have been found to be a problem. Some rugs at IKEA have been mentioned, but the nearest store is hours away.

Some users of all the brands of robots have reported some problem with dark floors similar to that mentioned with the Powerbot.

I am just testing the principle, not looking at making replacement sensors to modify particular robots. Parts arriving today, 20 degree IR emitters and receivers 20 and 50 degrees. Mount on a vertically mounted sensor circuit board at 45 degree angle an inch apart, with space between available for a mag sensor possibly sharing components, combining into a single barrier signal for economy.
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Re: powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby noslenwerdna » April 20th, 2017, 1:33 pm

See, that's an awesome solution to a common problem. The thing that I think should be done with the powerbot is to have "safe zones" that could be mapped where the cliff sensors are turned off. This should be easy to do, but they'd have to incorporate a way to edit the floorplan map on their app (which is junk). Once again, that function should be part of the mapping of the "select and go" feature. The other way that they could easily do it is to assume that the interior of a room at any distance away from its detected perimeter should be safe. Either of these would work with the powerbot since it uses a camera to map the room but they are still in beta with their firmware so the robot can't do it (yet) and their app is lacking in every possible way but especially where the floorplan is concerned.

But that being said, your idea for a parallax sensor is a far better solution for cliff detectors and something that should have been better thought through by all of the manufacturers. Even a sonar system would seem to be a better way of doing a cliff sensor than an infra-red detector that can't see certain, especially dark, colors.

Cheers!
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Re: powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby glnc222 » April 20th, 2017, 2:35 pm

Sonar would be best but I expect too expensive or also high powered, take away run time from the limited battery capacity, constrained by space available. I don't have detailed data.

I have long imagined some "virtual" boundaries could be marked on a graphics screen to set up robots, but it has not happened. A lot of robots now show the travel path on smartphone screens, so I wonder why they cannot make some use of it. Accuracy and reliability could be an issue (critical when the product could be damaged falling); these are not professional surveying instruments. There are reports of the ambitious "select a room" feature not always working well -- more reports needed. Or it is just the slow dribbling out of improvements for marketing.

Also automatic, setup free cliff sensing is needed instead of relying on a user to setup properly -- product liability or returns.

I recall some Asian bot, maybe LG I forget, with a feature where you would manually guide it around the house and mark avoidance areas with the remote, and then it would conform to those instructions cleaning. Problem with some of those bots is they have little cleaning power despite a lot of expensive sensors. First things first...
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Re: powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby eqwalker » September 27th, 2017, 4:53 pm

I have recently moved to another house and I currently have the Neato BotVac (white w/blue LIDAR cover) and the carpet in this house is pretty thick and the Neato is struggling to moving on the carpet due to it's thickness. Also just last week the BotVac's LCD display is now blank even though it does function so I guess I now have the dreaded LCD issue. Anyway, I decided to look for a new robotic vac that will handle the thicker carpet and was wondering if the 9350 with it's larger diameter wheels would be a good choice. My home is single floor and is a light beige carpet with tile bathroom and hardwood kitchen floors. Would the consensus be that the PowerBot would be the best for thick plush carpet? It is not shag carpet, just thick plush.
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Re: powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby glnc222 » September 27th, 2017, 6:12 pm

There are limits to the depth of carpet any robot can handle, but the 4 inch compared to 3 inch wheels on the 9000 Powerbots, plus better tread (and even flexible rims on the top 9350), gives the greatest possibility and why I used it, to improve on previous Neato's. You would have to try it on the particular flooring. I have found the Powerbot the only one (compared to Neato and Roomba), which can move on "the Premium Wamsutta Fluffy Bath Rugs" (though unless the edge is fastened down, it will push that up).
The 7000 series has smaller wheels I think but still a better tread. There are no reports on carpet ability, but looks good in videos. Samsung specifies an actual height limit in the fine print of the manual (unusual disclosure for the industry), fairly conservative 1cm, I expect can be exceeded but don't have materials to refine the measure.
Long thread shag rugs have always been the worst situation for robots.

Besides depth of pile a slippery problem can occur with carpet, sometimes emerging only over time or in certain seasons maybe humidity related, and with waxy material in some carpet fibers, maybe for stain resistance. Performance of Neato's can sometimes be improved by adding a cardboard lifting slider underneath; see "Slick Carpet Effect" thread in the Neato forum. This worked for the Botvac on medium pile slick carpet, but when all new wall-to-wall carpet was installed after a pipe break flood, I upgraded to the Powerbot 9250, also to get more thorough carpet cleaning normally needing a full size vac, for embedded dirt. The Powerbot also is able to maintain the carpet, with tests of left-overs with the regular vac; I am not sure any other robot, besides the Dyson and recent imitations by Bosch and LG, would do that. The Powerbot has a good intake design flat on the floor like a regular vac (see the VR9000 thread for intensive analysis of this design).

The weakness of the Powerbot is a software limitation in interpreting the wheel extension sensors, which sometimes causes shut downs against furniture legs when one side is raised (failing to notice the opposite side is not). This is easily corrected by disabling the sensors, without opening the case. The bumper also does not extend back as far along the side as on the 7000, series, sometimes allowing the robot to climb things it cannot get off. See thread here "Powerbot Side Bumper Extension and Tilt Reduction Mod" thread for details.


Years ago the now discontinued Electrolux Trilobite was known for its larger wheels similar to the Powerbot today.

I also find the washable filter especially attractive compared to buying supplies for other robots. The 9250 and 9350 also has a sensor and indicator for clogging the filter in case that occurs before the large bin is full, as some fine dust gets onto it.
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Re: powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby glnc222 » September 27th, 2017, 6:27 pm

Needless to say, Powerbot is in the class of newer robots with solid state camera guidance compared to spinning lidars with mechanical wear. Hobbyists do lose the satisfaction of replacing lidar motors and belts detailed in the Neato forum. LG, Dyson, Roomba and others have all switched to camera guidance. The spinning lidar from Neato Robotics is a dozen years old now, ancient history in rapidly advancing electronics.
As Samsung sells some minimal Powerbots as low as $400 still with the camera, I have to wonder if this part of the tech itself is any kind of cost issue.
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Re: powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby eqwalker » October 4th, 2017, 10:31 am

Thanks for the replies. I currently also have a Trilobite that I still use (just to keep the batteries exercised) on hardwood floors. I did have it on the carpet as well but at first thought it had a wheel problem because I noticed when it went to turn I would hear one of the wheels occasionally jump gear cogs as it was trying to turn which told me that even it was struggling to turn. Once it was on hardwood I never heard the jumping of the gears. It is weird since the carpet is really similiar to the carpet I had in my old house and I never had any issues with any of my bots there. Just by looking at the carpet you would not think there would be an issue.
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Re: powerbot turbo 9350 (quick review)

Postby eqwalker » October 4th, 2017, 11:29 am

Also, I know that the lidar technology has been out for a while now and it is though of as "old tech" and being mechanical, but I have not had any issues with any of my Neato's (some with relatives) lidars in the years that they have been in service. Only the LCD issue. I, for one, run my units at night with the majority of rooms being in total darkness. I never have like the idea of using a camera since in my application there will probably not be any light in the rooms that it will be cleaning and I sure don't want to have to turn on a light only for the units to work. Maybe there will be an improvement in lidar technology that will take out some of the "mechanical" liability that is there. I guess that is why I am having trouble considering a unit that relies on a "lighted" room.
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