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  1. #1
    oakstave's Avatar
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    Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

    Anyone else here own a Roomba, or another brand of robotic vacuum cleaner?

    We just rescued a cat in the neighborhood, and although we love her dearly, she's a long-haired cat. Vacuuming suddenly became a 45 minute a day chore to keep the cat hair to a minimum.

    Since I'm the one who cleans the floors in the house, I used my tax return to pick up a Roomba 780.

    So far, I'm thoroughly impressed. It's quiet, compared to our upright. The cat thinks it's fascinating, and it appears to do a great job keeping the hair to a manageable amount.

    If you own one, or want to own one, please post your impressions here. If anyone is interested, I'll post pics.

    The other robotic floor cleaner I looked at was the Neato XV11. The Reviews seem to indicate the Roomba is a better product.

    Robots are our future!
    "If you consider the entertainment value of armageddon, the future doesn't seem all that dim."

  2. #2
    Member Mr. Roboto's Avatar
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    I used to work for iRobot, I still get the warm and fuzzies when I hear that people like our stuff
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  3. #3
    Member jokers_greg's Avatar
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    please post pics, I'm actually quite interested in possibly picking one up in the near future
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Roboto View Post
    I used to work for iRobot, I still get the warm and fuzzies when I hear that people like our stuff
    I'm truly impressed with this gadget. The modular design, and relatively cheap replacment parts won me over. This is a refined and well engineered product.

    Firstly, it cleans the floor BETTER than our Braun upright. I wouldn't use it to clean a really filthy floor. But the amount of dust it catches is impressive.

    Within two cycles the carpets are noticeably cleaner in my house. Cat hair is now limited to my clothing. That's something I guess.

    Secondly, it's just darned entertaining. The Roomba apparently doesn't even know where it is in the house. It exhibits insect-like behaviors and techniques to get around objects. No mapping. I think that's a very clever way to keep the hardware requirements minimal.

    One criticism is the cost. Grab your ankles and think warm thoughts, 'cause the top of the line Roomba is 600 smackers. Although if you don't need lighthouses and halos, there are cheaper models that clean as well.

    So far, I've had to clean out the brushes and bin after every run. But it's less than 5 minutes total. Not a big deal. Also, originally I was going to dock it under the couch, out of sight. But apparently the IR homing system doesn't work well under objects, and the remote control is IR not RF. No big deal for me, I like looking at the thing.

    @ Jokers_Greg: Ask and ye shall recieve. When I get home from work tonight I'll post some pics, including maintenence chores! If it needs any deeper maintenence, I'll post that as well.
    Last edited by oakstave; 04-25-12 at 09:08 PM.
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  5. #5
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    The contents of the box, minus the DVD, power supply cord and cleaning tools.

    It comes with two Lighthouses, which can create an invisible barrier that robot won't cross (adjustable, up to 7 feet). However, I use them in "lighthouse mode" which simply tells the robot, 'this is another room, finish cleaning that one first'. It also helps with navigation in lighthouse mode.

    I separately purchased an embarassingly expensive 'Halo' which creates a 20" circle that the Roomba will not enter. It is a must for my cat's water dishes.

    I don't know how often you are supposed to change the HEPA filters. I assume when they look dirty.



    That's a handle on the top. Place it on a stain for spot cleaning.


    The bin slides out easily with one hand.


    This is the result of vacuuming approximately 900 (Edit: More like 700) square foot of home, mostly carpet with a hardwood kitchen floor and throw rugs. It adjusts effortlessly. The floors were already pretty clean when it found this.





    The underside:



    I clean the brushes after every run. There's a tool to remove hair wound on the brush roll, but if you clean it every time, it takes seconds. And we have a lot of hair in our house.



    Apparently, prior to the 700 they did not fully seal the gearbox, necessitating a more complete strip-down and clean every few months. (Edit: they fixed this in the 600 series) Even though this problem is supposedly resolved, I will be taking it apart and hitting it with compressed air a couple times a year. There are youtube videos that will guide you step-by-step.

    Roomba loves hackers. Open source baby. They even sell a development model without the vacuum parts for robotics studies.

    @jokers_greg, also check out the Neato. It's a worthy contender, and a bit cheaper. If you've got more dollars than sense, check out the Electrolux Trilobite.... Mmmmm... $1800 dollar vacuum....
    Last edited by oakstave; 04-25-12 at 09:56 PM.
    "If you consider the entertainment value of armageddon, the future doesn't seem all that dim."

  6. #6
    Member jokers_greg's Avatar
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    Wow, this is just too awesome. I've always wanted one but figured it was just a gimmick really. Might be making a purchase soon!
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  7. #7
    Member Mr. Roboto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oakstave View Post
    I'm truly impressed with this gadget. The modular design, and relatively cheap replacment parts won me over. This is a refined and well engineered product.

    Firstly, it cleans the floor BETTER than our Braun upright. I wouldn't use it to clean a really filthy floor. But the amount of dust it catches is impressive.

    Within two cycles the carpets are noticeably cleaner in my house. Cat hair is now limited to my clothing. That's something I guess.

    Secondly, it's just darned entertaining. The Roomba apparently doesn't even know where it is in the house. It exhibits insect-like behaviors and techniques to get around objects. No mapping. I think that's a very clever way to keep the hardware requirements minimal.

    One criticism is the cost. Grab your ankles and think warm thoughts, 'cause the top of the line Roomba is 600 smackers. Although if you don't need lighthouses and halos, there are cheaper models that clean as well.

    So far, I've had to clean out the brushes and bin after every run. But it's less than 5 minutes total. Not a big deal. Also, originally I was going to dock it under the couch, out of sight. But apparently the IR homing system doesn't work well under objects, and the remote control is IR not RF. No big deal for me, I like looking at the thing.

    @ Jokers_Greg: Ask and ye shall recieve. When I get home from work tonight I'll post some pics, including maintenence chores! If it needs any deeper maintenence, I'll post that as well.
    Very cool, glad you are liking it so much. I really do miss working there, you wild be surprised how small the company is for the outreach they have.
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  8. #8
    Member SteveLord's Avatar
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    These use to be very common on Woot.com. Dyson vacuums are very good a well. I have a refurb I bought on Woot 4 years ago and it is still going strong.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Roboto View Post
    Very cool, glad you are liking it so much. I really do miss working there, you wild be surprised how small the company is for the outreach they have.
    What did you do for iRobot?
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  10. #10
    Member Mr. Roboto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oakstave View Post
    What did you do for iRobot?
    I was a mechanical design engineer for both the Roomba and Looj gutter cleaning robot.
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    How well does it do on the hardwood floor? My entire apartment has 100 year old hardwood floors (except for the subway tile bathroom). Will it scratch or damage them? Currently i sweep and dry mop them by hand. Sometimes i will use a small amount of water/vinegar mixture but dry it up immediately with the dry mop. I usually sped maybe an hour or two a week cleaning the floors.
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    I have a Roomba as well. I live alone and don't have any pets so I don't run it very often. When I do, I can't say a bad thing about it.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Constantinos View Post
    How well does it do on the hardwood floor? My entire apartment has 100 year old hardwood floors (except for the subway tile bathroom). Will it scratch or damage them? Currently i sweep and dry mop them by hand. Sometimes i will use a small amount of water/vinegar mixture but dry it up immediately with the dry mop. I usually sped maybe an hour or two a week cleaning the floors.
    It will absolutely not damage the floor... It does a fine job on my hardwood floors, but I would say it's better as a carpet cleaner. Their competitor, which I mentioned in an earlier post, apparently does a better job on hardwood floors than carpet.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Roboto View Post
    I was a mechanical design engineer for both the Roomba and Looj gutter cleaning robot.
    Well then, I owe you a personal thanks! You made a great design.

    Funny you should mention it, I just bought the Looj. I'll post some pics of that when it arrives this weekend. Can the Looj operate full submerged? My gutters need a thorough cleaning, and they are pretty water logged.
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  15. #15
    Member Mr. Roboto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oakstave View Post
    Well then, I owe you a personal thanks! You made a great design.

    Funny you should mention it, I just bought the Looj. I'll post some pics of that when it arrives this weekend. Can the Looj operate full submerged? My gutters need a thorough cleaning, and they are pretty water logged.
    It can operate fully submerged, though if your gutters are that clogged, it may struggle a little to be honest. Most of the complaints from the Looj came from people who had extremely clogged gutters who expected a small robot to perform miracles. After you get them clean this go around, it will work great if you keep up with the routine cleaning. I dedicated a lot of time to the Looj, so I would love to hear your thoughts on it once you get it.
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  16. #16
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    Well, I recieved the Looj yesterday, charged the battery for 18 hours and gave it a shot on my gutters.

    First, I went up and cleaned out the downspouts. I removed any big clumps while the gutters drained. As I clean my gutters every year, they really aren't as bad as I thought. In fact, it was questionable that I really needed clean them once the downspouts were cleared up... But hey... new toy, gotta try it...

    The Looj wouldn't work for me.

    The Looj is at least 1/4 to 1/2 inch too wide for the tracks to grab in our standard aluminum gutters. These are the same gutters you can get now at Home Depot. Just standard-sized aluminum gutters. The looj won't fit at all in a small section of plastic gutter we have on our tool shed.

    As a result, the tracks just spin in place... jam... spin... jam... running it constantly back and forth, trying to get traction; I made it travel perhaps 8 feet in 15 minutes. It seems to travel somewhat better backwards than forwards but it would not move in our gutters, clean or dirty. The wheels have small plastic projections in the center that ride on the side of the gutter, preventing the tracks from getting enough traction. I tested it on the ground, and it appears to be functioning.

    The auger and wheels regularly jammed and stopped. It did buff off that slimy film that grows in on the sides, but it left a lot of leaf debris behind.

    I finally resorted to pushing the little robot up the gutter by hand, but of course while you are doing this, you are getting a fine spray of gutter water and leaves all over you... not exactly convenient, and certainly more messy than just scooping it out by hand. After 40 minutes or so of trying to get it to work, I gave up and hosed it off.

    Maybe this is for extra wide gutters? In any case, I cannot make it function at my house.
    Last edited by oakstave; 05-05-12 at 05:45 PM.
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  17. #17
    Member Mr. Roboto's Avatar
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    It was designed to operate in a standard 3-1/4" gutter. There is a template on the site that helps to determine if it will fit in your gutters found here. Do you know what size your gutters are?
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  18. #18
    oakstave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Roboto View Post
    It was designed to operate in a standard 3-1/4" gutter. There is a template on the site that helps to determine if it will fit in your gutters found here. Do you know what size your gutters are?
    Looks like the gutters used in this part of the world are 2 1/2 inches. My neighbors are all the same, but of course our houses were all built around the same time as well.

    That explains it! They sent me a return envelope, I'm sending the Looj back. (I still think the Roomba is the coolest gadget ever.)
    "If you consider the entertainment value of armageddon, the future doesn't seem all that dim."

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