Solar Skimmer Robot Modifications

gingrbredman

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Jun 10, 2020
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I know there are a lot of posts about solar skimmer robots, and specifically about the Betta, but wanted to post this about some modifications I did as to not take over anyone’s own threads on their experiences.

I had read a lot about the different solar skimmers, but these two threads in particular, were helpful to me in finally pulling the trigger on a Betta2 solar robot skimmer.

@Orion7319 review
Instapark Betta review | Trouble Free Pool

@Katodude review
Battle of the Solar Skimmers: Ariel vs Betta 2 Bake off!!! | Trouble Free Pool

For me, the biggest driver on the decision was my single skimmer in my pool is in the wrong spot, and the way the plumbing all comes together, I just don’t get enough skimming on my pool to always be clean. If I had joined TFP before my pool was going to be built, I would have known a lot about prevailing winds, two skimmers, proper return locations, etc., but alas, here I am. Trying to position the return eyeballs, a “vortex” type skimmer basket, all left debris floating on top that I manually had to scoop out. I do have an auto cover, so maybe not as much debris as I could, but more than I wanted. Some of my “pool friends” could not accuse me of being “lazy” because I don’t have to grab the net anymore, but I’m all for working smarter and not harder. I already have a pool robot, so I don’t manually vacuum the pool, why not introduce another robot to make maintenance even easier?

So on to Betta’s website, bought the Betta2 and the 3 year warranty (thanks again for all the advice on that), and $589 and 2 days later, it arrives at home.

It’s still early, and I can’t really say anything more about the performance of the robot than the other the two posts I linked above already have, but I have been happy with the results. We usually close the cover at night so the robot comes out, but when it gets as hot as it has been here lately, we keep it open to cool down a little overnight, and this morning the new robot was moving right along and had caught plenty of bugs over night.
Betta Mod8.jpg

Wanted to post a little bit of modification I did, and maybe can help others who come across the issues that may happen.

I have a sun shelf in the shallow end, so was already prepared to need to lower the legs. I had read in @Katodude thread about some modifications to the legs, and I think it was @Dirk who mentioned the plastic pieces, so I went right in.

As a lucky mistake, I didn’t even think, or remember, there were front and back legs that could extend, but knew without an extension, my new robot was going to get beached. So I saw the first legs, pulled them out, and started modifying them. These happen to be the back, and again, just by mistake, happen to be for me, exactly what was needed. With this modification, the new Betta hums right along and never gets stuck.

Found these at Home Depot, looked just like what I needed...
Betta Mod1.jpg
Really, the plastic pieces is what I was interested in, about $4, and some 1/4-20 nylon bolts and nuts

I took some schears, and trimmed the legs so the plastic extensions could sit flush against them. Not the cleanest cut, but will work just fine.
Betta Mod4.jpg

Drilled some holes in the legs, and attached the extensions....
Betta Mod2.jpg

Slid the legs back into the robot and away she goes...
Betta Mod3.jpg

I looked back at the other threads and realized later I probably could have done this to the front legs, and did swap them to the front, but it seems to bounce around a but more. Keeping my extensions in the back seem to work best for my pool, and this girl just floats around all day, and hasnt got stuck on anything once.

The kids named her "EVE-A" as our other robot is names WALL-E ;). Just aquic shot of Wall-E standing by while EVE-A does her thing.
Betta Mod5.jpg

The only thing that seemed to bother me at first, was EVE-A seemed to always want to hang around the steps. Like she knew she had to get up to the top. Seemed like every time I went out there, there she was and was missing the rest of the pool.
Betta Mod6.jpg

However, maybe that was just timing, becasuse when ever I did pull her out to clean the basket, it was full of crud, and the water looked clear, so go do your thing, I'll be sitting in the chairs with a cold one, admiring the TFP!
 

Orion7319

Well-known member
Jul 1, 2020
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Rock Hill, South Carolina
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You would think they would include/sell longer legs for it in case someone needs them. They know it’s a design flaw because the original didn’t have the legs at all. I can see them making modifications to them in future runs, they make slight changes all the time to these things. If more people complain on Amazon about the legs being too short, they might start offering longer ones.
 
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ride525

Gold Supporter
Jun 17, 2010
348
Pleasanton, CA
You would think they would include/sell longer legs for it in case someone needs them. They know it’s a design flaw because the original didn’t have the legs at all. I can see them making modifications to them in future runs, they make slight changes all the time to these things. If more people complain on Amazon about the legs being too short, they might start offering longer ones.
Just curious what the design flaw is, and how the additional legs help fix it. Thanks
 

Orion7319

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Jul 1, 2020
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Rock Hill, South Carolina
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Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Just curious what the design flaw is, and how the additional legs help fix it. Thanks
The flaw was that the original beta could beach itself on stairs, beach entry’s, ect. I never had an issue with it myself, but apparently a lot of people do. It’s always going to depend on the pool and it’s not just the betas that do it, but any of these solar powered skimmer bots can and will apparently. The beta 2 tried to address this issue by adding adjustable legs, but they aren’t long enough to prevent beaching in many pools. Apparently they should have made them a few inches longer somehow.
 

gingrbredman

Gold Supporter
Jun 10, 2020
715
Chicagoland
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The Betta2, with the legs all the way retracted, would go towards the sun shelf, and then in the shallow water there, bottom out. The propellers are strong enough to get it up there, but not strong enough to back out. The legs, if long enough, would stop the Betta from even getting on to the ledge, but in my case, and a lot of others, the factory legs aren't long enough to provide an actual stop, so the robot actually keeps going, and still bottoms out on the ledge. The legs are actually adjustable on the Betta2, but only two stops. Short extension, and then a little longer. If they were able to go a few clicks longer, that would have been a perfect size for me.

Modifying the legs was the best for me, and just putting a hole in them wouldn't prevent me from taking the plastic extensions out, and then insetting the stock legs back in, or in the future, if Betta does come out with longer legs, picking those up and using them.
 

Newdude

Mod Squad
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TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
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NY
And as with any beached vessel, just a little more water stops it from bottoming out in the first place. I can see this being missed on the originals and it probably took a while to realize why sometimes it got stuck and other times it didn't.
 
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Katodude

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Aug 22, 2017
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So I spoke with a friend who was raving about his 3D printer. He mentioned that if you have a LiDAR enabled iPhone you can do a 3D scan of the legs into a CAD drawing. Then modify the drawing before you print it.

So I am traveling this week, but I will try scanning the legs when I get home and see what I get. Then I just need to find a closer friend with a 3D printer to try printing them out.
 
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Orion7319

Well-known member
Jul 1, 2020
1,228
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Pool Size
19775
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
So I spoke with a friend who was raving about his 3D printer. He mentioned that if you have a LiDAR enabled iPhone you can do a 3D scan of the legs into a CAD drawing. Then modify the drawing before you print it.

So I am traveling this week, but I will try scanning the legs when I get home and see what I get. Then I just need to find a closer friend with a 3D printer to try printing them out.
Neat! What app does he recommend you need for that?
 

gingrbredman

Gold Supporter
Jun 10, 2020
715
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
And as with any beached vessel, just a little more water stops it from bottoming out in the first place. I can see this being missed on the originals and it probably took a while to realize why sometimes it got stuck and other times it didn't.
I could see how different ledges, and different water heights would change the behavior for sure. I'm sure if I raised my water level, I wouldn't have to worry about the legs. But in my pool, raising the water would put the level to the top of the skimmer, which wouldn't be too horrible considering I have the robot for the improved skimming. I don't have to worry about unexpected storms and overfilling with the auto cover, but can see for sure a lot of different scenarios where the water level is one of the factors.

Then I just need to find a closer friend with a 3D printer to try printing them out.
That would be great to see. Even if you could share the drawing when you get it, a lot of us have access to 3D printers, but maybe not the drawing.
 
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