Three blinking lights means LR is dead

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Three blinking lights means LR is dead

Postby Scott Larson » Sun Apr 09, 2006 12:40 am

Three blinking lights means the LR can no longer figure out where "home position" is. That usually means it overturns, dumps the litter into the drawer and leaves your cat with an empty LR. The manual says contact LR about it and I hope they'll get back to me sometime soon.

Any clue on how the LR figures out what position the globe is in? There are no sensors on the base so apparently it more or less guesses by the load on the motor which of course changes over time as the globe and motor age..
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Re: Three blinking lights means LR is dead

Postby reb_el » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:25 am

Scott Larson wrote:Any clue on how the LR figures out what position the globe is in? There are no sensors on the base so apparently it more or less guesses by the load on the motor which of course changes over time as the globe and motor age..


I don't know for sure, but my guess would be that it simply counts the rotations of the drive sprocket in the base that turns the globe. It would be similar to the sequence of opening a combination lock. The drive sprocket first makes a specified number of turns counter-clockwise (to sift the litter and dump the waste), then a specified number of rotations clockwise (to move the globe past the home position to level the litter), then back counter-clockwise again a few more rotations to the home position. This would not take a lot of computing power. Indeed, I would think that particular aspect of the LR's functionality could be done mechanically, without electronics at all.

I guess the electronics part is necessary though, for the LR to 'remember' the position of the globe during its cycle, so that it can readjust itself in case it has to stop and back off during a cycle for some reason; such as a jam, power-loss or a re-entering cat.

Best,

-Rick
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Postby jhe » Sun Apr 09, 2006 9:27 am

I got the blinking lights once! It was caused by something over the unit hanging on a towel rack interfering and preventing the rotation.

Someone here mentioned they lost a magnet during cleaning that was used to sense rotation stop points. It was inside the globe somewhere.
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Postby Scott Larson » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:52 pm

Here's how I fixed it. I'm sure this won't happen to anyone else!

When I was cleaning the globe I noticed that it was oddly top heavy, like something was stuck in the mysterious chamber that the litter goes into when it rotates. I took a garden hose, filled it up with water and sloshed it around. Out came a blob of litter the size of my fist. Obviously a lot of litter had accumulated in there so I tapped around on the top of the globe and loosened up a lot more litter that was stuck in there and flushed it all out. Now the globe is balanced like it was before. The globe rotates smoothly and I don't get the blinking lights when it's done.

Apparently the base monitors the load on the motor and if anything funny happens like the motor requiring more load than it should, it goes through the cycle the best it can and gives the blinking lights error when it's done.

That magnet thing is a good non-mechanical way of detecting its position. It has to figure out where the globe is since it could be in any position when you first plug it in.

I also have a lot more litter capacity now! :D
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Postby Scott Larson » Tue Apr 11, 2006 3:39 pm

And of course that didn't fix everything. While it doesn't fail every time now, it does still over-rotate sometimes when dumping, maybe one out of four times. It does rotate back into home position, even leveling the litter properly but it gives me the three blinkies afterwards. At least it isn't dumping all the liter now.

I wonder if I've knocked a magnet loose in the globe. I've dropped it more than once when cleaning it. I may have to play around with the base and see if I can figure out how it works. I haven't gotten any response from LR via email.
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Postby Scott Larson » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:27 pm

The LR people sent me some suggestions on how to find out if the magnets in the globe were still there. Here's how you check for them.

There are two. The first one is five or six sprocket holes above the seam on the drop hole side of the globe. The other is eight or nine sprocket holes below the seam on the same side. If you look into the holes on the bottom of the globe and lift up the bottom of the liner, you can see the lower magnet on the right of the globe wedged between two sprocket holes. The other one is totally inaccessable in the litter reservoir.

These are fairly powerful magnets. You can confirm they're there by holding a paper clip against the track. The clip will stick right to the track where the magnets are.

Of course both my magnets were working fine so the next step is to see if the magnet detector in the base is getting flaky.
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Postby mskitty666 » Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:28 am

I have also been having the same problem and some others. My first LR worked for a year with no problems at all. Something was wrong with it and it started making a very loud weird noise, yet still it worked. Instead of sending it in for repair I opted to buy a new one. That worked well so I bought another for my six cats. After the first few months I began having troubles off and on with one then the other and sometimes both. It stops in the middle of the cycle for no reason. It won't return to the home position leaving the box upside down, litterless and unusable. It does a cycle then gives a red blinking light for no reason. I does a cycle then gives all lights blinking for no reason. I am absolutely disgusted with the lack of reliability of this new model. Now I am going to have to waste a lot of time and effort to try to get these increasingly useless boxes hopefully working.
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Postby Scott Larson » Mon May 01, 2006 1:41 pm

After a lot of debugging, it looks like my LR is just wrecked. If you look at many of my other posts, you'll know I have a cat that generates huge oblong clumps that fall halfway into the drop holes. When the globe rotates back, the clumps get chopped up, ground up and smeared all over the globe.

A couple years of the LR grinding this abrasive material along the track and along the globe where it sits on the teflon feet has worn ridges and bumps into these areas. In fact there are holes on the left side of the base where clumps have literally ground right through the plastic.

Since the globe doesn't move smoothly any more, the motor grinds as hard as it can to get the globe to move. The globe wobbles around as it rotates unevenly sometimes setting off the cat detector. When the globe gets stuck in an especially rough spot, the gear will lift the globe out of the track until it falls back in. Unfortunately one of these spots is when the magnet tells it to stop rotating. Since the globe is lifted out of the track, it never detects the magnet.
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Postby jeff » Mon May 01, 2006 2:22 pm

Have you asked the company for help? I'd say there is a good chance they may just replace your unit for you if you ask them ...
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Postby Scott Larson » Tue May 02, 2006 2:43 pm

Being the great company they are, they've already offered me a remanufactured LR. But being the engineering type I am, I've been trying to track down the exact problem with their help so it wouldn't happen again. I didn't want to replace the whole thing if it just needed a screw tightened. I've just been running it manually trying to figure out why it was misbehaving.
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Postby jeff » Tue May 02, 2006 2:45 pm

LOL...I'd be doing the same thing, if it weren't a product contaminated with cat waste ;)
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Postby Scott Larson » Tue May 02, 2006 2:50 pm

Yes, it was as fun as trying to figure out why your toilet keeps getting clogged.
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Postby jhe » Wed May 03, 2006 6:34 am

I just had a new problem that causes the 3 blinking lights.

My cat likes to dig and she doesn't turn around right. So not only do I get some litter out the door, sometimes she gets all the litter in the unit up on the front side right at the door. This unbalances the unit and makes the litter robot stop.

I had to readjust the unit sensitivity and also keep the litter amount down near the low side to prevent this problem.
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Postby MickeyR » Tue May 16, 2006 8:04 pm

I was getting the 3 blinking lights thing unitl I tried what scott suggested. I banged on the top of the globe with a broom handle a few times, and now it's working again. I don't clean this thing like I should, in fact the outside is pretty scared right now lol, going to clean it this weekend becuase I have found a few tears in my inner bag. I'm going to need some tire patch and rubber cement to get this thing sealed. During this time I'll give it a good cleaning as well.

BTW I'm going on over 3 years with this unit. It does have it's moments but I can't live without it !!! I'll never go back to the old way of doing it.
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Postby Scott Larson » Wed May 17, 2006 3:04 pm

LR has just shipped me a replacement. With this one I'm going to be much more diligent about keeping the outside of the globe clean and making sure that clumps don't get ground up in the base.

Remember that cat litter (most brands anyway) is abrasive and will chew up the outside of the globe whereever it meets the base. The only reason the underpowered motor can turn the globe is because it slides smoothly on the teflon feet. If litter grinds bumps into the globe in these places, the globe won't move as smoothly and you'll end up with a noisy and eventually non-working LR.
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