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Bookstone Rover 2.0

Hello, I am very new to anything robotics and need some help/advice on what to do with my Brookstone Rover 2.0. After searching the Internet for any upgrades to the software or firmware I came across an EZ-robot video where some guy explains that a Brookstone Rover can be controlled by using the arrow keys of my PC / a joystick / etc. using the ARC software. Since I find using an iPad as a steering wheel controller less than useful - the lag time before it does what I want is horrible - and using the virtual sliders are also really bad, I thought a joystick controller might be a better choice. So I downloaded the software, and unsuccessfully, searched the tutorials looking for a step by step set of instructions on how to connect it to the software for the specific purpose of using a joystick controller. Since I really am a total novice at this, any help would be appreciated on what to do and how to do it. So here are a couple of basic questions. Thanks!

1- Do I have to use a specific joystick controller, and if so, which one?

2- Can I use my iPad as a video monitor in tandem with the Joystick controller?

I would like to thank you (whoever you are) for taking the time to help - thanks!

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Synthiam
#1  
The brookstone rover is no longer supported by ez-robot.
#2  
Ooops! Oh well... Thanks for the info. Even though the Rover is not supported now, but since it would have been at one time, is the software still usable or am I wasting my time? Thanks again!
#3  
It only worked with the Rover 1, not the 2. So, unfortunately, wasting your time on that front.

Now... If you want a REAL robot, you can get an EZ-B and an H-Bridge, open up your Rover and replace the "brain" with an EZ-B. Not sure if we can make the existing camera work or not.....

Alan
#5  
Hi Alan,

Thanks for the clarification regarding Rover 1 and Rover 2. I looked at the link you sent (thanks for that too) and although I have no problem opening up my Rover I just don't think I'm savvy enough to get the job done. The step by step instructions for someone with my limited knowledge and experience are not quite step by step (explicit) enough. I would need a more in depth explanation (the kind you might give a 5th grader - LOL!) in order to get the job done. Here's what I'm talking about in regard to the instructions...

MY QUESTIONS/COMMENTS WILL BE UPPER CASE AND IN [BRACKETS]. THINGS I WILL BE COMMENTING ON WILL BE HIGHLIGHTED WITH *ASTERISKS*

The Instructions read as follows:

This repository contains a *Python API* [WHAT'S A PYTHON API?] and demo program allowing you to control the Brookstone Rover 2.0 spy tank and Rover Revolution spy vehicle from your laptop or PC. To get started, you should get hold of a Rover 2.0 or Revolution (of course) and a Playstation PS3 controller or clone, and install the *repository* [WHAT'S A REPOSITORY AND HOW AND WHERE DO YOU INSTALL IT?] (sudo python setup.py install for Linux users), as well as *PyGame* [WHAT'S PYGAME?] and either *OpenCV* [WHAT'S OPENCV?] for Python (Rover 2.0) or ffmpeg (Rover Revolution). *Join the Rover's ad-hoc wifi network* [HOW DO YOU JOIN AN AD-HOC WIFI NETWORK?] from your computer. Then run either the *ps3rover20.py or ps3revolution.py script from the repository* [HOW DO YOU RUN PS3ROVER20.PY?] This script will allow you to drive the Rover around and watch its streaming video, as shown here.

I HAVE NO QUESTIONS REGARDING THE REMAINDER OF THE INSTRUCTIONS

So... Is there any possibility that you could sufficiently explain to a novice what all of that means and explain in more detail what I need to do and how?

I don't know if what I'm asking is totally impossible or simply a walk in the park for someone with the skill and knowhow, so please forgive me if I'm asking too much and sound crazy - LOL!

Thanks again for taking the time to help...

Eddie
#6  
It would almost be easier to explain how to rip open the Rover and install the new hardware, but let me at least try to answer your questions so you get an idea of the scope of the work and what you would need to learn.

Python is a scripting/programming language that is included in Linux, but there are Windows versions available. A Python API is an Application Programming Interface created for use in Python, so in this case, it is a set of commands that allow you to control a Rover 2 from within Python.

A Repository is a place where code is stored, so if you click on the link for "this repository" in the article, it takes you to the repository that holds the code.

How do you install it.... Well, if you are using Linux, which you are not he gave the command - starts with sudo. For Windows, you would first need to install Python and learn how it works, and then download the code from the repository and install it in Python, which I do not know how to do because I have only used Python on Linux, and even then, not much.

PyGame is another Python application that supports using a game controller in Python.

OpenCV is an application, available in many forms, that does face and object recognition through a computer's camera.


Joining an Ad Hoc network is the easy part. you are already doing that from your iPhone when you connect to the Rover 2.0. An Ad Hoc network is one which provides its own WiFi network rather than attaching to your router.

Running the .PY file, that goes back to the platform you are running Python on. On Windows, with Python and the application installed, you would just double click on the file.

It is a shame that Brookstone did not provide better support for hackers and hobbyists for the rovers. I read another article by the author of the link I sent you, and he created his programming by sniffing (using a tool to capture data) the communications between his rover and his phone and reverse engineered the commands. This is why you don't find dozens of windows apps or alternate phone apps already available.

Alan
PRO
Synthiam
#7  
I was the one who first sniffed and published the original command protocol for the rover - which others are using today. Videos are still online but unlisted. It was a time consuming effort and was good for a short period.

The camera on the rover doesn't see colors well, so it didn't work with tracking. It pretty much is a toy with no robot value - the amount of protocol security they implemented made hacking it a chore. Multiple revisions of the unit made it difficult as well.

The only reason to keep a brookstone rover is to take it apart and add an ezb.

But, based on your questions, I'd say you would much better benefit from an adventureBot or Roli.
#8  
DJ, this is the article where Simon Levy describes how he figured out the protocol. Looks like you were doing duplicate efforts (and his was on the 2.0 that you never did support). http://isgroupblog.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-i-hacked-brookstone-rover-20.html

I agree, best option for the OP would be an AdventureBot or Roli depending on budget (I would go for Roli if you can afford it, but AdventureBot is a good starting platform. Can do everything the Rover can and a lot more too).

Alan
#9  
Alan,

Thanks again for taking the time to explain things to a novice. Just to clarify because I didn't say this before, I'd be perfectly willing to install the new hardware as you originally suggested if that's actually the easier thing to do.

I'm assuming we're talking about the EZ-B and H-Bridge your referenced earlier. Correct?

So if that's the case, then here we go again with more questions - LOL!

What exactly is that hardware, where do I get it, and how do I install it?

Just to give you a heads up on the mechanical skill level that I do possess. I have successfully removed and replaced the screen on my nephews iPhone (very very delicate and tiny parts to contend with) and I also replaced the screen on someone's iPad (not quite as challenging). Both of these projects were well within the scope of my mechanical ability.

So taking apart the Rover is not going to be all that challenging.

The part for me that will be a bit somewhat more difficult will be any computer related code writing steps (If there are any) I'm capable of installing and running programs but writing code is completely unfamiliar territory. That being said, if things can be sufficiently explained I'm sure I can get the job done!

Thanks again!
Eddie
#10  
As I think about it, really EZ-B, H-Bridge and Camera - all available in the store hear, click on the products link above. Because the Rover camera is junk anyway, and will be difficult if not impossible to integrate, so best to just replace it.

Need to think about power. I am not sure what the voltage on the Rover batteries are. EZ-B will operate over a wide range of voltage, so probably can use the existing batteries.

Programming will not be an issue. ARC is very easy to use and although it can be expanded with a simple script language or more complex programmed plugins, just with its built in features it can do far more than the rover could do with its software.

Alan
PRO
USA
#11  
If i understood well, you started this thread looking for an alternative application to control the rover 2.0.

you have two options:

1) develop a software plugin (there are enough information about the 2.0 version)
2) hack the existent hardware

if your are not familiar with software development and you are not familiar with electronics & hacking (H bridges, voltage regulators)

why destroy a perfect functional toy (Hardware & Software) and not invest in a EZ-R kit ?

IF you go with a EZ-R kit/solution is not a final product (Rover 2.0) you still need to learn how to use ARC and get familiar with the kit learn about robots

So is this the path you want ?
#12  
I've been thinking more about this and the cost of parts to convert a Rover is more than an AdventureBot that does more out of the big. Unless you are dead set on making the Rover work from a PC, that is where I would invest.

Alan
#13  
Hi Alan,

Once again I thank you for taking the time to shed some light and give me some advice. To be perfectly honest it was never really about being dead set on making the Rover work - although that would have been really nice since I already own it and it does in fact work.

My thinking (and subsequent questions) were based on the video I watched, in which I was led to believe that it was a simple matter to get my Rover to be controlled by either a PC or joystick controller by downloading and using the ARC software. It wasn't until you pointed out that the Rover 2.0 could not be controlled using the ARC software that I started to wonder what my options were.

You of course were good enough to make a couple of suggestions, which I again thank you for. Now... since you've revised your thinking in regard to swapping out the components in my Rover, then I suppose I have to defer to your expertise, since you seem to have a firm grasp on this sort of thing - and I do not.

So here we go again-LOL! What is an AdventureBot? How much does it cost, what does it do, and where would I get one? LOL!

I can't help but feel like the little kid in the back seat of his parents car who keeps asking the question "Are we there yet" Haha!

I await your reply!

PS - What was PTP referring to when he said - why not invest in an EZ-R kit? Is that what you are suggesting with an AdventureBot?

Eddie:D