Roomba Dance Repair and Bumper Upgrade

Two significant news of my trusty vacuum assistant, Roomba. Nevertheless, he still serves me well and faithfully. The battery runtime seems to have shortened, but that is a post for another day.

Bumper Upgrade

I have two pieces of furniture which have just the height for Roomba to wedge itself under them. The clearance is not low enough for Roomba to knock into and avoid going in, but it is high enough to make me squirm as my Roomba grinds a bit to get out.

Broken plastic bracket
Broken plastic bracket for rubber wheels

This is the possible cause of a broken plastic bracket that holds the axle of one rubber wheel in place. There are also black scratch marks on the white shell of the machine, caused by the regular confrontation with my furniture.

Bumper upgrade
Bumper upgrade with rubber pads

The simple but aesthetically-deprived upgrade is to add square rubber pads around the bumper.

I used masking tape to hold the rubber pads in place, which I reckon will hold for a few months before they tear off. I guess rubber or sponge tape lining the same place will also work, but they should be at least 5mm thick. I wouldn’t recommend placing more pads at the vertical face of the bumper which increases the clearance between the machine and the edge of walls and furniture.

The pads are positioned on the bumper such that they face 45 degrees upwards. After the first few runs, I can see pressure marks where the bottom edge of my furniture hit Roomba. Feels so good…

The result is no more hard bumping into these furniture and heart-wrenching grinding to navigate at the edges.

Roomba Dance Repair

The Roomba Dance (RD), or Circle Dance, is a common problem for Roombas more than a year old or used in very dirty environments. The basic cause is dirt that affects sensors at the bumper or the rubber wheels which results in a “dance” sequence. The machine would jerk as it moves forward and rotates 180 degrees continuously.

Insides of the Roomba
Insides of the Roomba, bumper and shell removed

Referring to the well-presented guide to fix this problem, I managed to open up and examine the insides of my Roomba. Of course, doing this is not easy and may void the product warranty. If you want to try this, I recommend that you clean the sensors under the bumper that detects cliffs and see if this solves your RD.

In addition to the instructions at the above site, I recommend to print the image of the type of screws at every location so that it is easier for you to put them back in. Prepare the following items as well:

  1. Vacuum cleaner with a half-inch wide mouth to reach narrow gaps of the Roomba
  2. Damp cloth to wipe off fine dust from the surface
  3. Small pliers or flat tip screwdriver to disconnect two ribbon cable connectors between the chassis, bumper and shell

The places which I find the most amount of dirt and dust are inside the two brushes, in the corner where the power socket is located and the opposite corner. This is also a good opportunity to apply lubricating oil to the internal gears of the two rubber wheels, wheel motors, and brush motor.

Bumper interior
The side of the bumper where the side sensors are needs cleaning

All three motors have holes cut on their sides. It’s obvious dirt will accumulate inside the motor via these holes, but I’m not sure if it is acceptable to cover them with some tape. Perhaps they may overheat if we do that. Comment here if you have good info on this.

Top view of rubber wheel
Top view of rubber wheel

Motor for main brushes
Motor for main brushes

Electronics and battery area
Electronics and battery area is particularly dirty

Links: – FixCircleDanceImproved

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