Let’s get ready to Roomba

Filed under Roomba

I recently picked up one of these little guys after reading what seemed like nothing but 100% good press about them, and a good friend (and a bit of a hacker) saying they worked surprisingly well.

I’d thought about it for some time but always felt like they’d probably not work all that great.

I put a few RSS feeds up on CraigsList and eventually got a hit for an SE for 100$

We’ve had it now for about 2 months, and, well, it’s a bit like Star Wars Episode III. You really wanted it to be good. Hoped for a miracle to wrap things up nicely, but knew deep down, it just wasn’t going to be.

First off, they call it a robotic vacuum, but hold your hand up to the exhaust port and you don’t feel much exhaust. More like what gets blown by one of those cigarette lighter fan things you see in old delivery vans. A robotic sweeper would be more apropos.

The dust bin is also rather small, so it won’t do much cleaning before you end up doing some cleaning. And speaking of cleaning, I’ve never, ever had to brush out the brush in my real vacuum, nor have I ever had to use a pick to untangle hair from around the sweeper axle so it would turn properly. Any more maintenance than changing a bag out every 2-3 months and winding the cord up when I’m done with it is just too much maintenance for a dang vacuum (and some new ones wind the cord for you!).

Further, I’ve got the yellow high capacity battery, but I get a run time of about 30 minutes or less, not even enough to do a room decently. Maybe the battery’s shot, maybe not. Do I really want to pop 50$+ just to find out?

No, even though the SE model is the “third generation” Roomba, this is clear Gen One stuff.

In my mind, a robotic vacuum should:

  • Be about the same size and shape as the Roomba. That I like. Maybe a bit bigger to handle the rest.
  • Have a much bigger bin.
  • Have a more powerful vacuum.
  • Be a tad smarter about where it’s been and where it needs to go.
  • Be able to run for at least 3-4 hours. Long enough to clean, say, 1000-1500 sqft.
  • And of course, it should have built in WIFI!

That said, iRobot may get there eventually. Roombas have been a surprise seller for them, so that bodes well.

In the meantime, there’s that nifty serial port to play with!

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