Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Careful, or else I'll fix that Roomba

A while back I got a Roomba.  I completely didn't expect to get one, they are usually a fairly expensive piece of technology.

They look like a giant dinner plate and wander around your house picking up after your dog, chasing your dog, getting tangled in electrical cords and stuck in inaccessible places that cause you to have to move your furniture.

I happened to win an Auction of goods that turned out to have the Roomba in it.  Not bad for eight bucks right?

After charging the thing up I pressed the power button and then "clean". 

I could see I needed to train the dog.  She immediately attacked it.  Not doing damage to it other than putting a few bite marks on it, I managed to get her unattached from the growling appliance and set it on its way.  Lettie on the other hand has a healthy distrust of it.

The Roomba seems to have a heat seeking aspect to it.  That particular feature is quite useful if you want to find every other person in the house.   For a while, the dog would hide somewhere, then get bored and crawl into a dog-ball and go to sleep when it was running.   I'd hear a bark of alarm as it found her and tried to vacuum up the source of the fur instead of the dust chihuahuas that roamed in lazy circles under the air intake for the air conditioning for the house that runs 11 months out of the year.   After all, this IS Florida.

We learned to pick up the wires for the laptop, the bath mats, any random animal mats and relocate everything either on top of things or in the Florida room.  The Laundry and the Florida room both are separated from the rest of the house by a step down and the Roomba is smart enough to know not to go there.

I grew fond of the brain dead appliance, it saved me a lot of work.   Get the house "Roombaproofed" and press the button.  It would sweep the tiled floors while I was out walking Lettie, and usually get stuck under something that meant I'd expect to find it turned off, the lights flashing and a Sad Sound playing out of the cheesy little electronic squeaker by the time I got back.

Through time, the batteries wore out and eventually didn't have enough charge to run the thing off the charge base let alone around the house.   Since they built the battery pack to be removable, I was going to eventually fix the thing.  The pack had 12 "sub-c" rechargeable batteries in it so how tough could it be?

When ever you replace batteries in a battery pack, there is a small, if infinitesimal possibility that the new cells may fail.


They could explode or catch fire.  Sure, it COULD happen.  Especially with the new-fangled Lithium Ion Batteries that everybody is fond of using.  These were Old School NiCd batteries.   The worst thing that could happen is that they could leak and put poisonous heavy metals around the house and turn this into a toxic waste site.

Ok, Pollution aside, replacing the individual cells is not particularly difficult especially if you have more time than money and are handy with a soldering iron.

Check and Check.

You also have to live with someone who wants to live dangerously.  After all the probability is somewhat greater than a Lightning Strike that they COULD leak.

Can you tell that it's raining?  Lightning?  Writing Blog Postings in the dark on the 7th day in a row in the rain here...

Well I don't.  Bless his little heart Kevin doesn't want to wear a hazmat suit to go into the living room.  Having heavy metal poisoning is not a pleasant thing even if once in a while I catch him listening to the Rock station here.

So he ordered the replacement "new" battery pack that arrived yesterday. 

I charged the thing up, and the Roomba growled back to life.

It also immediately took a bead on the dog.

Ahh back to normal!  Come on, Lettie, lets go for a walk while I let the Roomba clean up after us!

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