Introduction: Roomba Virtual Wall Mod, for In-wall AC Power (no More Batteries!)

As a person who is a self-confessed techie, I have an onslaught
of electronic devices in my home. A fair share of these devices require
batteries, and over time it can be quite expensive to replace. Also, it is
inconvenient for those times when the batteries die at the most inopportune
time.

While batteries can be justified to power electronics that are
mostly portable (ie. cordless phones, remote controls etc), there are many
devices that would be a lot better if they had a plug-in option.

Cue in Jarvis, my newest recruit to the household. My Roomba
660. I had low expectations about his cleaning prowess at the beginning, but he
quickly proved me wrong. My Roomba has become an invaluable member of my
household.

As most Roomba owners will agree, to optimize roomba’s cleaning
there involves a great deal of Roomba-proofing the home. In the first couple of
months of using Roomba, Im learning new ways of how it usually gets stuck. If I
were to hazard a guess, it makes it cleaning rounds in the apartment and docks
back to charge, 50% of the time. Sadly a low percentage of automated success.
The other 50% of the time requires hide-and-seek on my part to drag it back to
the dock. While there are multiple areas in the apartment that attract the
little robot to its demise, this instructable relates to an issue where
bumpers, weatherstrips and unicorn extenders fail

Issue:

I recently made a purchase on a Herman Miller Aeron chair that I’ve
been holding out a loooong time for. (I thought that 7 years of ‘wanting’ this
chair was justification to purchasing it). Problem is my Roomba is constantly
getting stuck in between the legs/casters of this chair. The shape of the Roomba
and ‘burrowing’ behaviour ends up wedging it beautifully between the Aeron’s
legs. #firstworldissues

The solution:

The Roomba 660 included an auto virtual wall. But it requires 2x
C cell batteries to run. This is a mod on how to convert it to use AC power. This
mod does not require permanent alterations to the integrity/structure of the
virtual wall

Credit goes to DIY Hacks and How Tos for the idea! https://www.instructables.com/id/Convert-Battery-Powered-Electronics-to-Run-on-AC/

Step 1: Materials Needed

1. iRobot auto-virtual wall

2. 3V AC adapter

3. Electrical tape

4. wire cutters

5. Scissors

Step 2: Prep the AC Adapter

Purchase a suitable AC adapter to power the virtual wall. The wall takes 2 C batteries, so collectively it takes 3V to run. I luckily rummaged through my junk and found a power adapter for my Gameboy advance (I just aged myself), that was spot on at 3V. More likely than not you will probably have old electronics devices that you can salvage for this project. Otherwise I believe The Source carries AC adapters with variable voltages for reasonable prices.

  • Take the AC adapter and cut off the plug to expose the wire. Identify and separate the wire into the positive and negative wires. Use a multimeter or other visual markers to identify positive vs negative. See this thread http://forums.arcade-museum.com/archive/index.php/t-157038.html
  • Strip each wire about half an inch

Step 3: Open Up the Battery Compartment in the Virtual Wall

Step one seems easy enough, but from reading threads and searching youtube allegedly this is a rampant issue where the door is difficult to open. So much so that there is a full video on youtube specifically on how to open the door (I originally thought it was a gag video).

Either iRobot made amendments to the door design for my model, or I have superhuman strength, but I personally had no issues opening the compartment.

  • Use index and thumb of one hand, and place them on either side where the logo 'iRobot' is. Squeeze the sides in, and lift the cover off.

Step 4: Remove 4 Small Screws From Top of Battery Compartment

**this step could be optional if you have dexterity and small hands. The idea is to place secure the positive and negative wires of your AC adapter to their respective terminals within the housing. I found it a lot easier to remove the housing, to secure the wires to the terminals

  • Take the bottom piece of the virtual wall and set it aside.
  • Looking into the top of the battery compartment you will see 4 small screws. Using a precision screwdriver, remove all 4 screws.
  • After removing the screws, you will be able to pull the battery terminal out of the virtual wall housing. You can visualize the polarity of each terminal because it is etched into the plastic with a '-' and '+'
  • Using electrical tape, secure each wire to their respective polarity. Use good electrical tape and secure them in two points to ensure that they are well secured.

Step 5: Test Functionality Before Reinserting the Battery Compartment Back Into Housing

  • Ensure the switch to the virtual wall is set to 'Auto'
  • Plug AC adapter in and look for the green LED on top of the virtual wall house to flash. You may have to watch for a while because it flashes in a very slow speed.
  • If you don't see the LED flash, you don't have it working properly. Double check you have the device set to 'Auto'. Double check you have the wires secure on the terminal. Make sure you have the right wire on the right terminal *this was my issue where I accidentally swapped positive and negative wire with terminal. After switching the wires around, I had it working
  • **Troubleshoot with the AC adapter UNPLUGGED from wall!

**please excuse the clutter in the photo >.< Look for the green LED to light up and flash!

Step 6: Reinsert Battery Compartment Into Housing

  • Once you have determined proper functioning, place the batter compartment back into the housing.
  • Reinsert and screw down the compartment into the housing
  • You may want to place one more piece of tape to secure the wire to the inside wall of the housing

Step 7: Replace the Bottom Cover of the Virtual Wall

  • Feed the wire down the side of the out through the gap to either side of the 'iRobot' logo. There should be a small gap where there is enough room for the wire to fit in between the top and bottom pieces of the virtual wall.
  • If your AC adapter has thicker wires, you could just use the virtual wall without the bottom compartment. It is merely for aesthetics and does not alter the function of the wall since we are not using batteries

Step 8: Place the Virtual Wall

  • Position the virtual wall to deter Roomba from entering a certain zone
  • Plug in
  • Revel in the joy of having a wall-powered virtual wall!

Comments

author
SteveS251 (author)2016-03-29

You've stated for Item #2 that you need a "3V AC adapter." I think what you mean to say is "An AC adapter that outputs 3V DC."

(3 volts of AC are going to fry your virtual wall.)

author
MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2015-02-03

This is awesome, and I bet allows the roomba to do so much work uninterrupted! I love that's AC power and you don't have to worry about how many batteries one could use up. Welcome to instructables!

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