Thanks to a hint given to me by a twitter friend, we purchased a refurbished Roomba 530 from Woot last week.
The unit arrived on Thursday … and I plugged it in to get it charging as soon as I got home. I positioned the charging base in the corner of the dining room which is pretty much out of the way.
So Friday morning it had a green light, indicating it was all charged up and ready to go. So, being the good geek that I am, I pressed the button and let it go about it’s business cleaning the dining room, living room, & kitchen areas.
It dutifully started up and was vacuuming up the dust & bits of cat hair. It went from room to room, cleaning the floors up, as I thought it should.
At one point it got jammed under the coffee table so I had to pull it out. I think the coffee table is just the wrong height above the floor … too high for the Roomba’s bumper to identify it as an obstacle … but too low for it to fit underneath.
Problem is … after it had been cleaning for a while … it just stopped and the indicator light on the top flashed red. The red meant that it was out of battery power. That’s odd, I thought, as I was under the impression it was supposed to go back to the charging station when it needed to recharge.
I figured maybe it needed more charging before it’s first use (they do say it should charge for 16 hours before using it). So I put it back in the charging base and let it sit for a few hours.
After it was charged up again, I started it up again. It did pretty much the same thing … and stopped in the middle of the floor as it had the last time.
I did some research but couldn’t figure out what had actually happened. Maybe the unit had a bad battery?
I then came upon the realization that the Roomba used infrared light to identify where the charging station is. Since the station was in the corner of the dining room, it was well out of sight when the battery died.
So I moved the base station to a more central location between the living room & dining room, and put up the virtual wall in the entrance to the kitchen, and let it loose again.
This time, when the battery got low, the Roomba found it’s way back to the charging station and docked itself nicely.
If I had purchased the next model up … the 535, the virtual wall unit will also work as a ‘lighthouse’ so that the Roomba can move from room to room and make its way back to the base station.
No biggie … now that I know how it’s supposed to work, I can deal with it.
All in all, seems like a nice little device to help keep the house tidy between deep cleanings by our cleaning service.
Oh yeah … Riley seemed to be quite perplexed by the Roomba … he followed it around for a bit, but ran a way fast when it decided to turn around 180 degrees and chase him.