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Ez Kit Questions

I don't think it's appropriate to post this here but when I tried under "Contact Us" I have gotten no response in 4 days.

I tried to contact you again through Contact Us under Technical but got this

" Warning: Technical Support?
As stated above, sadly the EZ-Robot staff will not be able to assist with technical questions over email due to limted resources. Instead, visit the Video Tutorials. For questions not answered in the tutorials, share your question publically in our Community Forum. Thanks for understanding:) "

Before I post this I want to state that I believe you have an excellent product. Your videos inspired me to get back to building. Unfortunately I am also a businessman, so as a first time customer I am getting frustrated with looking at some non-working components in this kit and not knowing what to do with them. Someone in QC in Hong Kong needs a kick in the butt.

So here is what I tried to get to you through contact us,

Hi,

I contacted you guys by email on 9.11.2012 when I received my kit. Have not heard back from you.

I originally told you I had two servos (1 continuous and 1 regular) both were DOA. After a couple of days of not hearing from you I just decided to see if I could do something with them. Turns out the motors in the servos were not seated correctly. They both work now.

Next problem. I just read on your forums that others had camera problems back in June or July this year. I have the same issue. Two different PCs see the wireless USB receiver but no video. Camera is useless. I also noticed it is not screwed to the case. It just slides out when disconnecting the USB charge cable to it.

Next issue. I also purchased the pan and tilt kit. One of those servo's is DOA.

It's been 4 days since first contact. Get to me about this please.

Thanks,
Steve McClure

AI Support Bot
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#4  
Just a side note for anyone reading this thread. As soon as I saw DJ's first reply about getting Alan on my issue I found two emails from Alan almost immediately in my inbox. They don't screw around. My little issues are being addressed as I write this.

These guys are good and they care.

Hand holding is over. quit reading this and go build robots.
#5  
Hi,

Glad I have found this post.
Finally got my kit today (10/26/2012) and noticed the very same issues with my camera.
It actually came apart when I removed it from the foam. The back plastic bulkhead is somehow drilled upside-down (or the entire camera assembly is assembled that way, it's really difficult to tell).

And my system recognizes the dongle, but turning the camera on doesn't yield any image.

I haven't tried the servos yet.

It's kinda frustrating, after waiting for about a month (and paying extra 60 bucks duty tax in Brazil) I get this feeling someone in shenzhen is just throwing stuff in the box and no attention is given to proper assembly & testing.

I guess it's what you get from cheap labor.

*tired*

[Edit]
I figured out the camera housing issue, indeed both plastic bulkheads (front and back) were installed upside-down. I suppose the chinese guy whilst assembling the camera had no problems inserting the lens into the front bulkhead but then his brain must have frozen when he saw he wouldn't succeed in closing the back because the external connectors were not aligned with the holes in the bulkhead. Too complicated, so he just threw it into the box.

But still, no video. *stress*
#6  
@wmoecke could you please take a couple good pics so we can see what your talking about for the camera? Also for the no video part have you fully charged the battery a couple hours before doing the installation of the v am drivers when it first sees the cam? Thanks - Josh S.
#7  
Hi sorry,

Don't know what you are talking about. The camera didn't ask for any "v am drivers" when it loaded. I just opened up Skype and went to video settings to test the camera and it was already listed as "Wireless PC-CAM". Nothing special happened prior to that.

I didn't know anything about fully charging the camera before your post. I figured out by pure accident that I could turn the camera on by pressing the tiny pushbutton on the back (and the blue led turned on). So I assumed the battery must have been pre-charged at the factory.

Could you please indicate where I can find a comprehensive manual (or at least a quick set-up guide) and the drivers? I searched your website and wasn't able to find any references.

As for the pictures you asked, I've already corrected the mistake they made at the factory, you want me to disassemble it again?

*mad*

[Edit]
I've connected the camera via USB to my PC in order to fully charge the batteries as you suggested. The red led came on and stayed on for just over 15m or so, then it turned off. I disconnected the USB and reconnected it just to double-check. Same thing.

So that kind of validates my assumption made earlier, that these things either come pre-charged or my kit was put together with faulty components returned from previous users - I sincerely hope the latter is untrue, this would be a deal-breaker for me.

Oh yeah, almost forgot - still no video and Win7 didn't ask for any drivers whatsoever.

*mad*
#8  
OK, I've decided to run a few more tests whilst awaiting for anyone to reply.
I have another system (this one being loaded with Vista Basic) so I went ahead and plugged the dongle in it. To my surprise Vista detected it and it popped up a message, after which it was finished loading some drivers.

Then I loaded Skype and the camera worked straight away, So I figured the only difference between that test and my own PC was (besides the O/S, which are not so far apart from each other) that in my system I've got an externally-powered USB hub, and the dongle was plugged into one of the available USB slots.

So I plugged the dongle directly into my system (no longer via the hub) and it worked too. I guess I've narrowed the issue down to the camera dongle not really fond of being indirectly connected to the host system (even though it was powered by an external supply).

I've noticed the hub's external power supply has an output spec of 5vdc/2.5A, and I've got many other devices plugged in, so maybe I'll get a stronger PSU (3A, maybe even 5A) and see if that helps.

I feel compelled to issue a few constructive suggestions:
The camera housing was really incorrectly assembled. The camera's circuitry was inverted with respect to both the front and rear plates - The front plate has aa center hole for the lens and a tiny one on one of the sides for an electret mic (not present), so there was no problem in sliding the camera into that plate. The rear was loose because the USB/antenna/pushbutton were inverted, and someone in the assembly line couldn't figure this out on their own. Chinese manufacturers are known worldwide for abusing the cheap labor X low quality binomial. So perhaps a stronger posture must be adopted with regards to QA to ensure a minimal standard.

There seems to be a number of wholesalers throughout china for these cameras, but no further info (manuals/drivers/quick set-up guides) was available. Nevertheless, I think it would be helpful if you posted it yourselves on the Getting Started section of your website, based on feedback from users such as myself and many others who had issues.

Finally, I want to let you know in advance that I plan on buying more from you, (after I am done using this kit to make my own Wall-E robot) - I've included in my shopping list another kit plus a couple 6DOF robot arms and an H-Bridge for my other robot (it's a rather commented toy robot in the forum).
But before I commit to those purchases, I would like to reiterate that in many countries throughout the world (Brazil for certain), customs policies are being enforced when dealing with items originating from asia (and more especially, those sent via EMS) - In Brazil for example, no EMS items get sorted past customs without being issued a 60% tax upon the declared value of the goods (I understand you have declared it with a value of $50, but nevertheless, I had to skip work for a couple hours to go pick it up at the post office and got charged $60). The kit comes in a rather small package, so perhaps there would be a possibility for you to consider shipping it regular air mail, so it would stand a much greater chance of arriving directly to my doorstep with no customs charges (and considerably sooner)?

*tired*
Canada
#9  
@WMoecke Welcome. I am not an employee, just another client, but have some feedback for you that might help?

To the best on my knowledge, the wireless camera from the EZ-Robot kit is not of direct EZ-Robot manufacturer, nor is it's overall performance directly related to the ARC software. I find that it is a great camera for it's price, but did find it's assembly a bit... loose:) Not really an issue for me, as I like to mod and tweak things anyhow... and this camera is great for that. I think they did well in choosing it for the kit... but as with anything, QA is an ongoing issue and a few quirks or questionable experiences does not equate a trend or faulty company policy.

In my experience, finding instruction for many of these 3rd party products of Eastern manufacture are not always possible... assuming they where ever released in the first place:) I think EZ-Robot has done a remarkable job designing a product, matching it up with 3rd party components and fighting through this world of manufacturing and shipping options to bring us the final kit. Unfortunately nothing is perfect, nor under their control (international shipping issues, duty charges, etc. - Heck, I got dinged duty in Canada while purchasing from them, a Canadian company :P) but of the few start-up companies that I have purchased from, bringing relativity ground breaking products and services, I think they have and are doing a really great job!

There are a few other dealerships that carry the EZ-Robot kit in the USA that might be a better shipping option for you in the future? And of course, the nice thing about this product is that it works with so many other brands or components that while purchasing directly from EZ-Robot helps support them, you are not limited to their store for components, arms, chassis, servos etc. Pick locations that work best for you shipping wise and have fun building:)

Please share with us as you progress... that's what this forum is all about, a community of like minded robot enthusiasts:D
#10  
i know something that you can try... once i started wiring my cameras this way i have zero issues with the standard camera. but i am pretty sure it would void any warranty lol

here is a video from a long time ago. Dj directly soldered the camera for an ezb digital port. if you are able to solder then this may be a better way to go.

solder the signal(white) wire where dj did in the video. but instead of using the usb plug for the pos and neg wires, cut out the battery and solder the wires to where to battery used to be soldered in.

then while programming in ARC you can set the digital port (the camera) to turn on and off with out having to hit the little button on the back of the camera


2.4 wireless camera video
#11  
@Gunner, I appreciate the validity of your comments with regards to what it seems to be judging an entire business just by some minor (eh, minor?) quirks in some of their suppliers.

With that in mind even before you posted your POV, I took extreme care in writing my posts in order to make it absolutely clear my suggestions (and criticism as well) referred strictly to dealing with these chinese suppliers (I have dealt with chinese suppliers and been extremely disappointed in all regards). Not once have I issued a negative comment directed to EZ-Robot. I merely suggested they:
- Take a closer and stronger approach to their asian counterparts in order to ensure a standard that would be closer to the rest of the items on the kit
- Perhaps offer a simpler, cheaper shipping option, that would be more welcoming to customers from all over the world (perhaps even canadian customers would benefit from that!) by avoiding unnecessary charges and a faster service (I know it may sound a bit unorthodox for canadians and americans alike, accostumed to things being done properly and - to most part - fairly). But south americans have to deal with a lot of annoyances that other countries do not I am sorry to say, forgive me for sounding a bit blunt - no harm intended. ;)

That said, I know other resellers sell these kits, I have done my research prior to doing business with EZ-Robot directly, most of them don't even ship to Brazil, and all of them reserve a great profit margin for themselves; so their prices were way too high to my taste. But if next time I have to consider the same expenses ($235 for a kit + $64 S&H + $60 duty tax = $359 grand total) then of course, I might indeed be forced to consider other options - if such are available to me, that is.

I am both an electronics engineer and a computer programmer versed in a handful of computer languages and I can certainly appreciate the immense value that is bundled with each EZ-Board alone (not to mention the software, which is worth 10 times it's "weight" in gold) - that's brilliant engineering and being offered for a cost that doesn't cover 1% of the engineering and labor that went into them and I support DJ Sures' efforts all the way [hand in chest].

But I find it a pity to find such fine products mixed together with poor off-the-shelf goods that lack the same rich craftsmanship - to me, it's a barely bearable (try saying that 3 times fast) contrast. Wouldn't you agree?
With that in mind, I may next time consider narrowing my shopping and getting only the essentials (EZ-Board alone instead of kit, robot arms and H-Bridge) and purchase the remainider "brick-a-brack" items (servos, wireless camera) from more reliable sources (individually selected), in order to achieve a platform that's compliant to the highest standard (in whole, that is). Sounds pretty fair to me, how about you?;)

(I apologize for not making myself sufficiently clear before, but now I hope I have corrected my previous mistake).
Canada
#12  
@WMoecke no offence intended or taken:) When posting comments here, you are actually reaching other clients (as well as some EZ-Robot members) as opposed to emailing EZ-Robot directly... so of course some of us forum users like to return the favor with our two bits:P You did word your opinion well... and I was only intending to lift your spirits in case you had concerns against EZ-Robot (not saying you did, just my interpretation :)).

I agree on the issues involved when dealing with China based services, whether directly via ebay or via a 3rd party company like EZ-Robot. China effectively takes advantage of both their own population for low cost and the rest of the worlds desires or needs to outsource in order to survive.. or sometimes just greedy profit (NOT EZ-Robot, rather others like mining companies that import labour instead of local workers... an issue I have heard about in Canada :()
Canada
#13  
One of our forum members sells EZ-Robot kits in the USA... A Pro Hobbies You might have better shipping options from there?
#14  
They certainly have better servos.;)
And the kit price is the same as here - but they do not ship to Brazil, I'm afraid. *stress*

You see my problem?
Canada
#16  
I know that EZ-Robot is searching for better shipping options as it is, however that may not make any difference if Brazil has it's own polices with anything shipped from China (where all manufacturing happens in-order to keep costs out of the stratosphere :)).
#17  
@wmoecke sorry I was away from internet for a while. Here are the basic steps I would try before giving up on the cam. The cam must have drivers installed from the included installation disc or it will not work regardless if windows sees the usb adapter. Charge the cam 2 hours prior to trying these steps...

1Plug in the usb adapter, ignore and close any pop ups.

2 place 2.4ghz cam driver disc in your cd drive

3 it may autorun at this point and install window pop up. If not go to your disc drive under computer / cd-dvd drive , then select install or autorun

4 once the drivers are installed you may power on the camera and it will pair up with the usb receiver. To turn the cam on by pressing the power button for 3 to 5 seconds. The power light will now stay on and video should be available from the cam..
Canada
#18  
Also, I found a simple viewer that helps me test cameras without any other fancy purposes that might complicate the results... Try this from Bustatech.com WebCamViewer

If your camera is still having issues outside of ARC (and after Josh's suggestions), then it might be faulty after-all... contact EZ-Robot via email for options.
#19  
It all depends on wha's being planned.

Brazil's federal government is extremely greedy and bureaucratic. They did not waste any time in learning that EMS parcels may potentially contain goods that can be taxed and thus they enforce the '60% law' which says anything labeled 'EMS' must first be routed through customs for inspection. So the border officials automatically sort EMS packages for further storage and taxing.

That means, what once was a faster, more secure shipping option, has now become the slowest (due to the extra waiting time) and guaranteed to be charged extra. Every time.

On the other hand, a discretely labeled, small(ish) package shipped via regular air mail (what USPS calls 'first class air mail') stands a much greater chance of being routed directly to the recipient - due to the high volume of parcels entering the country every day against the low staff working at customs, they can only afford to sample a certain number of parcels from the processing batch. And it is still traceable.

All I suggested is that the option to ship via regular air mail be made available for orders not exceeding certain weight and size criteria, as it it done by a great number of asian sellers, who already became aware of these regulations and want to stay in business.

When I placed my order with EZ-Robot, I actually was offered this option in my checkout (which instantly made me smile), but when I got the confirmation e-mail I was disappointed to learn that EZ-Robot would only ship EMS and the option I selected was presented to me by some mistake. *stress*
#20  
@jstarne1: what 'included installation disc'?
There was no such thing included in my kit - perhaps this is yet another matter for QA...?

If you kindly read my posts #8 and #9 on page 1, you'll learn that I've already sorted out the problem with the camera and that the issue wasn't related to the batteries or drivers.

If you are an EZ-Robot employee, may I ask that you also read and forward to your colleagues my further suggestions regarding QA and shipping? As I do believe these could prove extremely benefitial to everyone, not only myself?

[Edit]
I just wanted to communicate I was contacted by Alan by e-mail and he did a wonderful job in making sure I would not be left unassisted with my issues. I really do appreciate @Alan and @jstarne1 putting on their time and effort to try and help customers such as myself.

As I've stated in an earlier post, I am a strong supporter of EZ-Robot and I do not believe the issues I encountered and reported are in any way related to their own products. I have great plans in my mind for future robot projects and I hope I can still depend on EZ-Robot's and DJ Sure's ongoing support. I certainly aim to do more business with EZ-Robot.

(I realize I may have sounded a bit 'grumpy' in some of my earlier posts, and I honestly offer my apologies to anyone who felt hit a bit harder than they are used to. I am truely embarassed by that and I promise to try harder to adjust my attitude in the future.);)
#21  
Jstarne1 is not an employee, just a very helpful (and I'll add generous) user. The driver disk used to come with the camera, but I recall a post from DJ saying he was thinking about not including it since it caused more problems than it solved. Windows 7 (should' recognize the camera and work with native drivers. It did for me on two different computers.

Alan (not the Alan who works for EZ Robots).
#22  
@thetechguru thanks alan I appreciate the compliment.

@wmoecke glad the cam issue was resolved:) im not an employee im just "always around" to help. Have fun with your kit. We would love for you to post your progress for others to learn. Have a great day!
#23  
@thetechguru: It is true, you shouldn't need any additional drivers if you're on Vista or higher - most problems occur when a 'cowboy' manufacturer provides a driver without the WDM signature required for any drivers to be securely run under Windows.

W7 is packed with a load of native drivers addressing most essential hardware functionalities for a variety of hardware devices. So most things work out of the box in W7 and Vista. Custom manufacturer drivers still may be required under XP and older O/Ss though.