Rebuilding a Roomba Battery for Less

Inside the Roomba and Scooba and more, Cool mods, Repair and Upgrades - including the all new iRobot Create Kit. Let's void that warranty baby!

word of caution about batteryspace

Postby jonjonbear » February 6th, 2007, 9:41 am

Hello group,
After following this thread I want on over to Batteryspace and bought their top of the line Roomba battery replacement battery pack. I received it exactly two weeks ago yesterday. I followed the instructions posted on the site and upon putting the new battery in, Roomba seemed happy with his new battery. Two days later I noticed his green light around the power button was barely lit, but was green. I pushed the button, nothing. Dead. Hmmm..Charger problem? I got my second roomba and put him on the first one's dock. Charged fine. Then I took the battery from the second roomba and put it inside the first one (removing the rebuilt battery) and he worked fine. Then I tried putting the rebuilt battery in the second roomba and got the same condition. Looking over their site it appeared the way you get tech support is from a similar forum to this, so I posted my problem there. The first response I got was from someone called "jas" and he/she recommended several charges and discharges which I did try to follow but that didn't work, they also asked for battery voltage so I posted:
<br>
Voltage at battery terminals: 2.113
Voltage from charger: 22.63
<br>
The next response from "pitsarut" was the battery was dead, and he/she posted a link to buy a new battery. Guess they missed the first part of my thread saying I had just purchased this battery at their site so I posted my order number and date. Then "jas" came back and asked what charger I was using, that my voltage posted didn't match up to their battery. I then responded that the roomba must regulate the voltage internally as both of my roombas charger output is nearly the same. It seems these people know nothing about roomba, and if you get a defect like it appears I did, plan on being without roomba for a long time. I still have no resolution and now very sorry I didn't just buy a factory battery.
If anyone cares to see the batteryspace thread it is here:
<br>
http://forums.batteryspace.com/forums/v ... 3881#23881
<br>
Hope you all have better luck than I did.
John
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getting the bits in the plastic box

Postby higgypop » February 18th, 2007, 12:21 pm

Can anyone one post a pix of how to fit the little silver bits inot the end of the battery when you rebuild it??Thanks, Gwen
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Re: getting the bits in the plastic box

Postby Gordon » February 18th, 2007, 1:05 pm

higgypop wrote:Can anyone one post a pix of how to fit the little silver bits inot the end of the battery when you rebuild it??Thanks, Gwen
Sorry, I have no such image at hand, but, would it not be sufficient to know that:
a) the silver-bit with RED wire attached, fits in the opening farthest from the cell-pack,
b) the silver-bit with BLK wire attached, fits in the opening nearest the cell-pack,
c) the silver-bit with WHT wire attached, fits in the side-slots, and
d) you will have to examine each wire's routing to determine the *sequence* by which each silver-bit should be fitted, thus optimizing the 3-wire harness fit up within the provided routing channel. (Helps to fit the Cover in place).
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battery wiped out my roomba's charging circuit

Postby jonjonbear » February 19th, 2007, 9:33 am

Hello group..
Looks like the first battery they shipped must have done something to my poor roomba as it now won't charge the battery. I have swapped batteries around between the two roombas and appears the problem is within the roomba its self as I can put the other roomba on this one's charger and it works fine. Is the only way to fix this is to replace a circuit board inside the roomba? I didn't do this by putting the new battery together wrong as I had the good and bad batteries side by side and verified the voltage polarity prior to installing the new pack. I did the tests listed else where on this site and it seemed to fail the one where the roomba detects the state of the battery or something. It passed the voltage from the charger test and it acts like it's charging but it doesn't.. If I put a fully charged battery in it he runs just fine. Any suggestions?

Thanks!
John
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Smashed battery connect lead

Postby edublives » February 23rd, 2007, 10:17 pm

Hello everyone,

I was rebuilding my roomba battery, and as I was putting the metal leads back in the battery case after having stripped and soldered the wires onto them, I bent one of the contacts. When I tried bending it back into its previous shape, one of the wings snapped off. Anyone have any idea on where I can get another?

I appreciate any help!
-Eric
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Postby vic7767 » February 23rd, 2007, 10:58 pm

You might PM Recon_supply_store and ask Chris if he has any old batteries that he can sell ya.
Roomba and Neato Mods, come visit: http://www.vic7767.com/

http://www.Robot-Doc.com/
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Pain in the a$$

Postby catfureverywhere » February 28th, 2007, 6:10 pm

I bought a replacement ni-MH battery from "all-battery" via eBay for about $30 including shipping. I was a bit disappointed at the whole process. I was hoping for a quick and simple way to replace my 14 month old dead battery (no, I have no surefire way to verify it isn't my charger, I am assuming it's a battery issue), but instead turned the operation into a minor hobby.

Anyhow, I got the screwdriver with the triangular bit on it, and had to work hard to remove those f%#*ing screws. I'm pretty sure the screwdriver tip was a bit too long and eventually had to file it down to fit on one last screw that was situated directly above the terminals. Again, pain in the a$$.

I thought the top was "snapped on" to the base. It was glued on or somehow sealed through a melting process. I guess the 8 pain-in-the-a$$ screws weren't enough they figured to keep the thing closed. Well, I after almost cracking the damn thing 2 or 3 times, I knocked the thing open with a slender flathead screwdriver and a hammer. Great, got the top off finally. Now the easy part, right?

Well, I didn't notice that the new battery didn't come with the terminals already on it (the little metal peices that connect to the battery that make contact with the Roomba electronics when the battery is inserted). I have a soldering iron - not the end of the word. I desoldered the old ones, and soldered on the new ones. The wires on the replacement battery were way too long. Another little hassle that required cutting them to length, stripping the wires, etc.

Lastly the replacement battery was not the exactly the same as the original -- it had hot glue holding each of the cells together. This would never fit into the plastic battery holder dealio because the screw holes wanted to occupy the same space, so I started shaving off the glue at the 10 points between the cells with a razor. I got pretty tired of dicking around with that and managed to get the thing started back into the holder. Now, my stupidity really kicks in - I was getting so tired of dealing with this stupid thing and wanted to get on with my life that I shoved the f#&%er right in. Well, it went in allright, but now it's bulging at the sides quite a bit, can't fit the stupid lid on, and I can't pull the damn thing out without digging into the batteries.

Assuming I don't feel like wasting any more of my life on this, I'm out my $30, another $50 (or whatever) it costs for a whole new battery, and I'm super pissed at the world now.

I just had to let the world know this and possibly save somebody in the process. Thank you for reading this rant.
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Re: Pain in the a$$

Postby Gordon » February 28th, 2007, 8:55 pm

catfureverywhere wrote:I bought a replacement ni-MH battery .... I was hoping for a quick and simple way to replace my 14 month old dead battery... - I was getting so tired of dealing with this stupid thing and wanted to get on with my life that I shoved the f#&%er right in. Well, it went in allright, but now it's bulging at the sides quite a bit, ..., and I can't pull the damn thing out ...
I just had to let the world know this and possibly save somebody in the process. Thank you for reading this rant.

I feel your pain! You have basically substantiated my belief that it is not realistic to
rebuild a battery, except for two reasons: a) An owner is able to install new cells which have higher energy content, and there is a need to increase the robot's run-time, and b) the owner resides geographically outside of the US & CA.

Here is a process you may try to dislodge that new cell-pack from the ballooning case:
You are going to use the stuffed assembly to hammer on a block of wood, so find a small block, say about 2-inches cubed (large enough to reliably strike, and miss w/o hitting fingers holding the block). I'll assume you to be right-handed.
1) Examine the battery assembly, and take mental note of how much the cell-pack sticks out from the lip of the case. You may want to take terminal connections loose from the case, and insulate / tape them out of harms way.
2) Grasp the battery with the right hand, facing the open side down, and allowing about half the battery to project beyond the hand.
3) Hold the block steady with left hand, while practicing a down-swing of the battery so the outboard case-projection can strike the block. Pivot your arm from your elbow, such that as the projection hits the block, the opposite projection (under your little finger) remains above the surface the block is on. I.e., the top and bottom of the battery is parallel to the supporting platform, at end of stroke.
4) When ready, swing the battery through that arc and hit the end of the case on the block--hard enough that you'd be glad no fingers were in between the block and case!
5) Examine the cell-pack. If it has moved from its initial position, at that end, then flip the assembly end for end, and continue striking the block as before.
If you achieve no movement, you could try heating side-walls of the case with your hair-dryer set on high, then apply the shock treatment. And / or, you could add a little 'lubricant' around high spots that are obviously dragging on the case-wall. I would suggest rubbing alcohol, or something similar that will evaporate readily when done.

Good luck!
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Postby Joe426 » March 1st, 2007, 9:40 pm

Very cool thread guys, thanks for the info
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This is my next project!!

Postby lovedc » March 4th, 2007, 2:32 am

Where can I find the connections that are used for the batteries. Im getting all the gear together for the rebuild. Can anyone assist with some suggestion of where they bought theirs.... Im going to get the batteries but looking for the terminal connections and the new wires, etc.

Thanks in advance.
D
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Postby jmccorm » March 4th, 2007, 12:15 pm

jaredrawk wrote:HOWEVER I must say this procedure is not for the faint of heart. Unlike the times posted here, I took more than two hours starting from the much talked about Pre-assebled 4200 mAh battery pack:

http://www.batteryspace.com/index.asp?P ... rodID=2321

The URL for the pre-assembled 4200mAh battery pack appears to have changed. The new URL is:
http://www.batteryspace.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=2604

COST: $49.95 and +$1.95 for an optional screwdriver. No quantity discounts listed.
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Postby kaidomac » March 5th, 2007, 10:39 am

gimgim wrote:The original APS had a pencil correction on the sticker that says 3000mA/h
It was rebuilt as a 3300mA/h


Does anyone know how many mAh the current APS battery is? I ask because the 4200mAh kit from BatterySpace is $49.95 while a brand new APS battery from iRobot.com is only $59.99...$10 more doesn't seem like that much to avoid disassembling the existing battery and soldering in a new one. If the APS has less mAh than the BatterySpace model, how much more time does the BatterySpace model really give you on the floor? I think we need a science experiment here :D
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Postby mundt1 » March 5th, 2007, 3:48 pm

Hello kaidomac,

You are asking a fairly complex question. All ratings are not equal.

Actual usage time for a battery is strongly dependent on the load (current), battery type (chemistry), and battery quality/age (mostly internal resistance).

For example, I have built a Li-ion based battery with a spec "rating" of 3400 mAH. It runs 25%-30% longer than a new APS with a spec rating of 3300 mAH. See the LI battery kit thread.

Since the APS battery pack consists of 12 NiMH cells in series, the real usefull capacity is determined by the "weakest" of the 12, not the average. A battery pack could be measured as having a great capacity (nominal current, steady load) but still have a short runtime in a Roomba (high current spikes, high cutoff limit).

If you are going to rebuild your battery, then you are likley wasting your money buying the larger "capacity" battery pack - go with the cheaper standard capacity cells. Rather than comparing $50 to $60 you should be comparing ~$35 to $60 for the work of replacing the cells.


Randy
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Postby mundt1 » March 5th, 2007, 3:50 pm

Hello kaidomac,

You are asking a fairly complex question. All ratings are not equal.

Actual usage time for a battery is strongly dependent on the load (current), battery type (chemistry), and battery quality/age (mostly internal resistance).

For example, I have built a Li-ion based battery with a spec "rating" of 3400 mAH. It runs 25%-30% longer than a new APS with a spec rating of 3300 mAH. See the LI battery kit thread.

Since the APS battery pack consists of 12 NiMH cells in series, the real usefull capacity is determined by the "weakest" of the 12, not the average. A battery pack could be measured as having a great capacity (nominal current, steady load) but still have a short runtime in a Roomba (high current spikes, high cutoff limit).

If you are going to rebuild your battery, then you are likley wasting your money buying the larger "capacity" battery pack - go with the cheaper standard capacity cells. Rather than comparing $50 to $60 you should be comparing ~$35 to $60 for the work of replacing the cells.


Randy
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Postby bob_ninja » June 28th, 2007, 10:44 am

kaidomac wrote:
gimgim wrote:The original APS had a pencil correction on the sticker that says 3000mA/h
It was rebuilt as a 3300mA/h


Does anyone know how many mAh the current APS battery is? I ask because the 4200mAh kit from BatterySpace is $49.95 while a brand new APS battery from iRobot.com is only $59.99...$10 more doesn't seem like that much to avoid disassembling the existing battery and soldering in a new one. If the APS has less mAh than the BatterySpace model, how much more time does the BatterySpace model really give you on the floor? I think we need a science experiment here :D


I pulled a 2 year old pack and the label stated "3000 mAh"
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Postby bob_ninja » June 28th, 2007, 10:55 am

I did my own rebuild yesterday.

WARNING: When ordering say from battery space, while you are outside of US make sure NOT TO USE UPS!!! They charged extra fees which killed me. I am so pissed I won't even tell you the total cost :(:(:(

I got 4.2 Ah pack from battery space. Worked like a charm. They screwdriver was perfect. I used a Dremel like tool with a cutter to cut little notches between cover and case big enough for a screw driver. Then opening was easy, 15 min max.

I chose to keep the old wires making my job easier. I simply connected old wires and new battery wires, put some tape,... Now I did end up with extra wire on top so cover didn't close fully. Don't think that is a big deal.

Anyway I'll try to measure some things like run time. Hard for me to compare as I always run my machines when not at home.

I should note one more thing about capacity. The old pack was 3 Ah and lasted less than 2 years of average once per week Roomba runs. Note very intense usage, but busy. The new pack is clearly bigger, 4.2 Ah.

I don't actually care for longer run times as I have hard wood floor that is easy to clean. I DO care about longer lifespan. I hope that this bigger battery won't always drain down to zero (as I limit cleaning area) and thus should last longer.

NiMH batteries don't like deep discharges. So if my runs now discharge to 30% as opposed to near 0% before then this new pack might last much longer. That plus changing some habits, such as not leaving it on dock charging for 5-6 days. Plus like I said try to limit runs and avoid carpets.

Anyway my experience with this batteryspace replacement is 100% great. Easy and couple of hours max.
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Postby glo69 » June 28th, 2007, 6:10 pm

Hello Bob

Just remember to do a Max run with your Roomba every couple of months. You are correct that NIMH batteries don't like deep discharge, but they do get crystalline formation (Memory) and need to be fully exercised every so often to break up the crystallization.
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Postby Gordon » July 1st, 2007, 3:01 pm

bob_ninja wrote:...WARNING: ..., while you are outside of US make sure NOT TO USE UPS!!!
They don't do any favors for US shippers, either!

Two other things about your post:

1) You said:
... Now I did end up with extra wire on top so cover didn't close fully. Don't think that is a big deal.
It seems to me that a mis-fitted Cover COULD be a big deal, since there is great possibility that its latches will not engage Roomba's chassis correctly. Yet, I do see you may have been able to squeeze the end-gaps shut, and just live with a bulging central section!

2) And, regarding *life*:
... I hope that this bigger battery won't always drain down to zero (as I limit cleaning area) and thus should last longer. ... So if my runs now discharge to 30% as opposed to near 0% before then this new pack might last much longer. ...
It seems you have not picked up on the fact that these robots do not totally discharge their cells. Roomba / Scooba monitors battery voltage and requests re-charging when terminal voltage falls somewhere around 12Vdc (one-volt per cell). Sorry, but I can't see that use of higher-energy cells equates to longer cell lifetimes. :(
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Re: Pain in the a$$

Postby pippolippi » July 13th, 2007, 1:55 pm

catfureverywhere wrote:I bought a replacement ni-MH battery from "all-battery" via eBay for about $30 including shipping. I was a bit disappointed at the whole process.
[....]
Well, it went in allright, but now it's bulging at the sides quite a bit, can't fit the stupid lid on, and I can't pull the damn thing out without digging into the batteries.

Assuming I don't feel like wasting any more of my life on this, I'm out my $30, another $50 (or whatever) it costs for a whole new battery, and I'm super pissed at the world now.

I just had to let the world know this and possibly save somebody in the process. Thank you for reading this rant.


Reading this post I was a bit hesitant to buy a battery pack from all-battery, but seeing they have mostly positive votes, and the price was really good, I finally decided to buy.
Today it arrived (2 weeks for overseas shipping, not too bad) and probably things have changed, since the most difficult part was opening the old battery, since, as you said, f#$*ing irobot decided to glue the lid. The screwdriver was perfect for the screws and, once removed the lid, the new battery fitted perfectly. I did a quick hack job with electrical tape instead of using the soldering iron, and had no problem putting the lid back on. The whole process took around half an hour.
Now it's charging, I hope it was the battery and not the roomba failing ;-)
All in all, shipping included, it cost me a third of an original roomba battery purchased here or half the original battery shipped from the usa.
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Postby sys12345 » July 14th, 2007, 5:44 am

Speaking of glueing the battery lid, anyone knows whats the reason for doing that? Did you glue the lid after your battery replacement?
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