Grawler: Painless Cleaning For Glass Roofs

Part of [Gelstronic]’s house has a glass roof. While he enjoys the natural light and warmth, he doesn’t like getting up on a ladder to clean it every time a bird makes a deposit or the rainwater stains build up. He’s tried to make a cleaning robot in the past, but the 25% slope of the roof complicates things a bit. Now, with the addition of stepper motors and grippy tank treads, [Gelstronic] can tell this version of GRawler exactly how far to go, or to stay in one place to clean a spot that’s extra dirty.

GRawler is designed to clean on its way up the roof, and squeegee on the way back down. It’s driven by an Arduino Pro Micro and built from lightweight aluminium and many parts printed in PLA. GRawler also uses commonly-available things, which is always a bonus: the brush is the kind used to clean behind appliances, and the squeegee blade is from a truck-sized wiper. [Gelstronic] can control GRawler’s motors, the brush’s spin, and raise/lower the wiper blade over Bluetooth using an app called Joystick BT Commander. Squeak past the break to see it in action.

As far as we can tell, [Gelstronic] will still have to break out the ladder to place GRawler and move him between panels. Maybe the next version could be tethered, like Scrobby the solar panel-cleaning robot.

18 thoughts on “Grawler: Painless Cleaning For Glass Roofs

      1. The Architect did not like heights so had a mechanical system designed to run in tracks up and down the outside of the building – was set in the tracks at the roof and lowered down to clean the windows, The person that ran the cleaner rode the WTC down when it collapsed.

    1. If it can be done without breaking the solar panel.
      I had man who installs panels for solar farms tell me they don’t bother washing them because of the likelihood of breaking them. (Makes me wonder if they can stand up to a hailstorm)

      1. They are extremely durable, my panels were demoed by running over and parking a jeep on them with not even a scratch.

        We’ve had 170kmh winds which destroyed most roofs in the area, but my panels have been unharmed.

        However, cleaning is a non-starter because they are 40′ up, I can’t even hit then with the hose, insufficient water pressure.

        1. Yeah, let’s try placing them up on the two pieces of unistrut that they are usually mounted with and then drive your Jeep over them!

          When they’re placed dictly onto flat pavement it’s not much of a test, the stress is just transmitted straight thru. That’s not indicative of the condition that they will be in on your roof!

          Not that I’m bashing solar, my roof is covered in them. But I know that they’ll break the minute something hits them with enough force (massxvelocity) in the right spot.

  1. There’s a bigger version of this used on glasshouses used to protect solar concentrating trough collectors used to generate steam in the desert

    [video src="https://www.glasspoint.com///wp-content/uploads/washing_unit.mp4" /]

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