Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

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Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby AndyTane » February 23rd, 2013, 5:31 pm

I have a 595 series roomba. And I have carpets witH black stripes, so my roomba wouldn't vacuum it because it always thought the black stripes are cliffs. I've had some success with taping tinfoil over the sensors, but replacing them when they get worn out was becoming an annoyance.

I once did some research to see if any of the spray dye upholstery company's produced a colorless spray that was highly reflective to infrared. I could then spray the black areas of my rug to make them cliff sensor friendly. But couldn't locate anything out there.

So, this time I decided to disassemble my roomba to see if there was an easy way to disable the cliff sensors. I use a virtual doorway at the top of my stairs, which is the only cliff in the house. So I have no issues with the roomba being unable to detect a cliff.

I discovered that the IR transmitter and sensor are in a housing that made it easy to aim the two directly at each other without the need for any soldering, melting etc, and it's just as easy to put it back to its original configuration should I ever get rid of that stupid black striped carpet.

See the photos below to see how I did it. If you can't get your roomba disassembled to this point, then maybe this mod isn't for you. Just sayin'.
Attachments
image.jpg
Remove sensor assy from Roomba
image.jpg
Slide clear plastic cover off
image.jpg
Separate the two inner halves
image.jpg
Remove electronic parts
image.jpg
Press led and sensor into other cavity
image.jpg
Bend component leads downwards
image.jpg
Route wires out original location
image.jpg
Put halves together and slide on clear cover
image.jpg
Install sensor assy back on Roomba
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby vic7767 » February 23rd, 2013, 5:47 pm

Very nice non-harmful mod to the existing cliff sensors on your 5XX Roomba. This mod can also be accomplished on 6XX, and 7XX models that don't require the cliff detection sensor function during the cleaning cycle.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby Gordon » February 25th, 2013, 3:36 am

Member "Dajiu" disabled his R3 Roomba by placing each cliff-sensors IRED & PT side by side, taped together as I recall, about four years ago. He posted that achievement in this rr thread: viewtopic.php?p=58152#p58152
but rather than detail what he did, as well as provide a great step-by-step procedure about taking the R3-Roomba apart in order to reach the sensors, he built a web-page at this address to hold that information: http://www.pottsland.com/roomba/Roomba_ ... ensor.html

Now, a comment: From an opto-electric view point I am certain that Dajiu's side-by-side coupling of an IRED with its PT partner is more desirable than beaming IR radiance directly into the PT, for the reason that side-by-side coupling tends to mimic the considerable attenuation normally experienced by scattering the IR signal off flooring materials. IOW, the detector portion of a Cliff Sensor is expecting a low level return signal, not the high strength of source radiance. Notice I said "desirable", not superior.

Good of you to post, Andy. Your thread title may be easier for searchers to find than Dajiu's.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby AndyTane » March 1st, 2013, 5:22 pm

When I first decided to look into a better way to fix this, I was thinking of making something that I could add to the outside that would act as a light pipe, to get the IR light past the little black barrier that's glued inside the clear plastic cover.

After opening the assembly, I was thinking of removing the black barrier, but that wouldn't be reversible. That's when I noticed the cavity that would hold the LED and PhotoSensor.

If anyone is concerned with the intensity, they could put a small square of paper between the two devices. That would diffuse and attenuate the light somewhat. Personally, I'm not concerned with my sensors being damaged.

I'm very surprised that iRobot hasn't listened to their customers, and provided a way to disable the cliff sensors for those who have black carpets. Even an un-documented internal switch, on the circuit board would be nice. They don't even have to acknowledge it in the manual. Just make it available for those of us who need them disabled. These kludges shouldn't be necessary.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby TechGuy » March 1st, 2013, 7:57 pm

iRobot does not want to be responsible for the broken Roombas that go down the stairs.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby mfortuna » March 1st, 2013, 8:35 pm

Or broken items caused by a roomba going down the stairs, including personal injury.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby adrik » May 3rd, 2013, 3:43 am

I once did some research to see if any of the spray dye upholstery company's produced a colorless spray that was highly reflective to infrared. I could then spray the black areas of my rug to make them cliff sensor friendly. But couldn't locate anything out there.

So, this time I decided to disassemble my roomba to see if there was an easy way to disable the cliff sensors. I use a virtual doorway at the top of my stairs, which is the only cliff in the house. So I have no issues with the roomba being unable to detect a cliff.

I discovered that the IR transmitter and sensor are in a housing that made it easy to aim the two directly at each other without the need for any soldering, melting etc, and it's just as easy to put it back to its original configuration should I ever get rid of that stupid black striped carpet.

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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby Roombascoobatastic » May 12th, 2013, 6:46 pm

I have an idea, but not sure if it can work, but I'm sure an electrically savvy person could find an answer... Can anyone think of a way to replace the IR cliff sensors with magnetic sensors so you can use magnetic strips to confine the roomba instead of virtual walls? Would a magnetic sensor just send on and off signals to the Roomba's computer?
Sincerely,

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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby vic7767 » May 12th, 2013, 7:49 pm

Getting off topic, cliff sensors are not used for detecting virtual walls. The Neato uses a magnetic strip that functions as a wall.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby Roombascoobatastic » May 12th, 2013, 9:18 pm

I know that. It's just interesting to imagine repurposing them to eliminate the virtual walls. I'm sure someone could get it to work. It's off topic but posted here because someone might want to try it.
Sincerely,

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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby vic7767 » May 12th, 2013, 9:22 pm

Ya it is kinda strange though because over on the Neato forum there is a thread on converting from magnetic strips (very inconvenient) to IR based virtual walls or even converting Roomba VWs to work with the Neato. The grass is always greener...........
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby mfortuna » May 13th, 2013, 7:26 am

A black non-magnetic strip (I am not sure of the minimum width) will work without requiring a modification to the robot.

Search the forum, people have done this.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby Roombascoobatastic » May 13th, 2013, 3:56 pm

Tried a few strips of differen materials. They all get ignored by the sensors
Sincerely,

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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby vic7767 » May 13th, 2013, 4:37 pm

It has to be a strip of flat black or very dark color and must absorb instead of reflect the IR signal.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby tigermilk » February 6th, 2014, 10:50 am

I succeeded in the operation of my 620 by the same approach!!
Thanks for this technique!! Goodbye, fragile blind tape! :lol:
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby a1robotrepair » May 27th, 2016, 8:49 pm

A new method for an old problem. Defeat black rugs and still have cliff sensing ability. Move the IR emitters and receivers as shown and add the whisker switches. The only hard part is mounting the switches. It doesn't matter if the switch is on the source or return side of the IR receiver. The dark one.
CLIFF-TRIAL (4).png
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby a1robotrepair » May 28th, 2016, 5:29 pm

The micro switch from a wheel module will work. It's wired NCHO so its NC wire will have to be resoldered to the NO solder joint.
image.jpeg

The bottom wire in the picture is the Common with the board trace to the solder joint in the middle of the board closest to the wires, now called C.
The top wire needs to be resoldered to the pin in the middle, middle of the board, Normaly Open. When the switch is pushed in, the NO contact closes bringing C to NO.
The solder joints of the top wire and the middle, farthest from wires is the normally closed, NC.
In no cliff state the switch will be held closed...NOHC. In the cliff detected state the switch will open.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby a1robotrepair » May 28th, 2016, 8:29 pm

No Cliff = 4.87V.......... Cliff = 4.94V across IR receiver without switch.
Return feeds an LM324 Op Amp thru series resistor capacitor circuit.
Wired micro plunger switch NC to verify BIT 3 using outer left IR receiver coupled to outer right IR sender to show the IR Diodes are wired in series. Closed switch, no cliff detected, open switch, Cliff detected.
I can't drive the input of the OP AMP any lower-(corrected) by opening the switch than opening the IR receiver, no further devices needed.
Some parts will be needed but instead of moving the sensors in the retainer block, we will move the retainer block its self and deal with getting it to reflect inside the array cavity with white paint, paper, tape or just point them at each other.
Attachments
image.jpeg
image.jpeg
Switch open...operated
image.jpeg
Switch Closed...not operated
Last edited by a1robotrepair on May 30th, 2016, 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby a1robotrepair » May 29th, 2016, 5:39 pm

I haven't been able to find an off the shelf limit switch that will suit the travel and space requirements. This is where I would know my limitations and hand off a limit switch to a mechanical engineer and say I need to activate this switch until the actuator bottoms out. The actuator must have free travel up and down of 1/4 in, min, 1/2 in max and not get hung on ledges or impede the front brush.
I'll give it a try with some scrap materials and let you know what I come up with.
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Re: Disable Cliff Sensors, zero parts, reversible

Postby mfortuna » May 30th, 2016, 8:20 am

That measurement doesn't seem right. I would think there would be a greater difference than .07V?
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