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Asked — Edited

Ez-B Questions For A Large Stationary Robot Of Sorts

Hi all. I've had a good look around the website and can't really find a solid answer for a few questions I have so I'm hoping I can find some safe advice from some experienced EZ-Robot users.

Love the look of the dev kit! I have an UP! Plus printer and lots of experience using it largely for RC flying (aircraft and multirotor parts). I stumbled across the site while procrastinating on thingiverse. Struggling to find justification with the wife to buy a hex robot when she says I have enough hexacopters to go round. A thought occurred...

I'm putting together a man shed as a workshop in the garden, a fair size to work on bigger stuff. It will have mains power, 12v LED rail lighting, a 2Kw heater and a 12,000btu A/C unit (I'll be doing temperature critical fibre glassing work in there). Electronic door locks and actuators, big extract fan etc...

Basically I figure instead of building a robot, why not automate the manshed with the EZ-B, have my own J.A.R.V.I.S. (Of iron man fame) with the use of an MP3 trigger. I could walk in, ask it to warm the place up to 22 deg C and turn on the lighting and extract fan after it closes the doors. All at the same time running security with a servo mounted EZ-wireless camera.

The first question I have, is does the EZ-B have an internal microphone for voice commands, or an option to attach an external
Mic? All the videos and tutorials only mention having used the internal mic on a laptop/PC.

My second question, which I guess is slightly more important, this EZ-B doesn't need to be WiFi connected to a computer to run all its functions does it? Again, it may seem obvious but I've yet to see the paragraph or video that explicitly says once the code and instructions are loaded on the EZ-B, it can run autonomously.

Question the third, is there a voice generator section to the software? I.E. Can a word or sentence be written in and the EZ-B (again, without being permanently wifi tethered to a PC) figures out how to voice it (such as with apples "Siri")?

Many thanks in advance to all whom take part in this thread!

CJ

United Kingdom
#1  
Other automation features I would love to program in would be running and monitoring my compressed air supply, tank purging when I leave the workshop, pressure monitoring etc... HVAC control via A/C, electric space heater and large extract fan. Security monitoring & door operation (open, close and locking). Also a JARVIS style calculator buddy would be awesome but I doubt its achievable. E.G...
"Shed"
"Yes CJ?"
"Can you remember the number 42.5 for me"
"Of course sir"
-Moments later-
"Right, now what's a third of that?"
... Tell me you weren't reading that with RDJ and Jarvis's voice in your head :P.

CJ
#2  
I'm sure others will join in on how to use the EZ-B to control the systems you want to use. The one point to remember when using all the functions of the EZ-B platform is that it will require a Windows PC to be connected to the EZ-B at all times. Either via a wireless connection or a direct USB connection.
United Kingdom
#3  
Ahhhh I see. So it's more like a very clever wireless/wired I/O device than totally independent controller of its own. That was one if the big ones I needed to know. So ill need a cheap laptop to butcher and integrate into the shed walls, I can't have the iMac running bootcamp all day long :P. Thanks for the quick reply!

CJ
PRO
Synthiam
#4  
Yeah if the EZ-B was to have the power of a PC, it would be a PC. The issue with PC's or small controller boards (such as the raspberry pi) is I/O speed. The I/O is incredibly slow (measured in milliseconds rather than nanoseconds like EZ-B) on embedded PC's. Now, this is digital i/o i am referring to, not USB or HDD, etc..

Also, if we were to have the features of a PC (for example having an operating system, etc) then it would cost as much as a PC:) And no one wants to pay that!

So instead the EZ-B provides hardware extension to a PC. There will be a USB shield for the EZ-B v4, but not until after the new year. The EZ-B v4 is two PCB's sandwiched together. The USB shield will be a replacement for the WIFI I/O shield of the EZ-B v4.

You can have a calculator that you can speak to with no trouble. you can use the PandoraBot to create a Jarvis personality. EZ-Script can be embedded within the PandoraBot responses to do calculations, get local weather, and more.

:) It's real easy!
United Kingdom
#5  
I'd rather it wasn't a self contained entity, It all sounds good to me :D. And a personal reply from the big cheese no less, I'm pretty humbled actually. Thanks for the warm welcome.

I'm fine with all the mechanical stuff (a commercial heating engineer by trade). It's the countless lines of (to me) meaningless code that I stumble on. I kind of see this as a kick ass version of the Lego mind storms V1 kit I had as a kid many moons ago. Point and click programming that let's me enjoy the result without having spent 4 years doing a degree to figure out the code.

Hats off to you DJ Sures. EZ-B is a very exciting project. And maby after the shed is automated I might convince the missus to give the coffee machine a personality and arms to grab cups and dispense milk, dressed up as Clean-&-Go-Mo from Wall-e :P.

Kindest regards, CJ
#6  
EZB Shields! Wow, of course! Pure genius. I remember us all mentioning these last year. This really does open up the power of EZ Robots and will make things very ez to adapt to just about any need.

@Carlos230023 , Welcome! We're in between versions of the EZB (3 & 4). We're still a little in the dark on the specs of V4 but it is known to have an onboard sound AMP. This should mean you'll be able to run your MP3 Trigger right through the EZB and not a stand alone amp. As far as a microphone, I think you'll have to have it attached to your computer and let Win 7 or 8 handle the Voice Recognition. The ARC software does a great job of intergreating the power of Windows and EZB.
United Kingdom
#7  
It all sounds very promising. Thanks for all the help an suggestions. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on some of this kit. Got to build the shed first though :P. So use the laptop mic and the EZ-B's amp through the MP3 trigger. It's almost worse asking a question and getting a positive answer, because if none of my ideas worked I would just leave it there. But now that I know I can do what I need I'm thinking if more things to do lol. Bye bye free time.

CJ
#8  
Although EZ-B could, with some custom work on interfaces, make a good home automation interface, there are devices and software specifically designed for that which might be better choices.

Check out Homeseer Fairly pricey, but also very mature product set, or Smarthome for many many more options.

Alan
#9  
Hey Carlos sorry I'm chiming in late:) , you absolutely can do some home automation with ezb. Things like temp control can be done using a analog input to read your temp and a couple digital pins to trigger relays in your thermostat/heating and ac controller. Most household appliances are pretty simple in the way that they work. Most jobs can be done with a simple automotive grade 30a 12v relay. Lights can be powered on and off easily because a relay can pass through 110v current regardless of the tiny ezb controlling it. I use 5 to control a saltwater fishtank lighting and pump system.
User-inserted image


Here's a low budget drawing for your enjoyment I did using pics of things you want to control :). You need the ezb v4 , relays, wire , connectors , solder and iron and tip120 switching transistors to trip the relays. Oh and ofcourse a pc to run it all.:) the acer netbooks and the acer w3 tablet has become a very popular low power choice:)
#10  
Sorry apparently I am excessively using the smiley today lol
United Kingdom
#11  
Thanks for the alternative suggestions Alan. It's more a case that I want to learn the EZ-B software for future actual robot projects. Instead of learning how to program a thousand different products :P.

Wow Jstarne1, 'A' for effort :P. I'm not worried about the switch gear side of things. I'm a domestic and commercial heating, ventilation and mechanical engineer by day. It's the programming side of things that'll slow me down if anything. The door locks and actuator will be air driven. I'm putting an atmosphere controlled 3D printing cabinet in too. Humidity and temperature controlled filtered air. I was going to run the controls from an arduino but tapping into the EZ-B seems easier.

I suppose at this point I'm running out of ports, perhaps the robotic assist arm attached to the ceiling will have to wait (for the jobs when you need three hands, one to hold something, one to hold something else and one to apply glue).

I'll make a list.
1. MP3 trigger (unless voice commands as DJ suggested earlier can be generated on the attached PC and played through 2. that)
3. Extract fan
4. Heater
5. Room thermistor
6. A/C
7. Compressor
8. Door actuator
9. Door open/close microswitches (figure I'd do two on one channel with different resistor values)
10. Security cam Pan (doubt ill need tilt)
11. Lighting
12. Door locks
13. Printing cabinet dehumidifier
14. Printing cabinet heater
15. Printing cabinet air circulation
16. Printing cabinet thermistor
17. Printing cabinet humidistat

As for the robotic assist arm, I guess it would have at a minimum;
2 axis shoulder
1 axis elbow
3 axis claw (grip, rotate & tilt)
And possibly a rail along the top of the shed to traverse the space :P.

So there's another 7 outputs and that's an arm with no sensors.

Anyone know of a relay board that takes a PWM input to control several relays, one at a time or all together :P.

CJ
#12  
Dude , EZ Robot makes it easy:) , honestly with ez robot the hard part is physically building your setup , wiring your garage and all those relays ect. Once you have everything connected correctly it's only a matter of assigning a voice command to the actions you want. Most of your setup will be digital pins on or off. I would recommend using a different ezboard for your robot arm project because that will take some tweeking. You will understand what I mean later because we all constantly improve our pet projects and I imagine that will be one of yours. The other items are very straight forward however. All the lights , heater , air conditioning , door lock trigger ect I would have on a single ezboard. The things like temp sensors and door sensors or even motion detection you can utilize the ADC inputs which are for sensors. That way you keep as many digital ports open as possible. You will need to make a project box big enough to house all the relays ect for ezb to connect too and a benchtop power supply. Personally with you doing this much automation you will need a big case and a power supply that is reliable. A computer case with power supply could be a very good choice for you.
United Kingdom
#13  
I'm not too worried about the switch gear. I have a 12V 20A power supply for the LED's and my lipo charger. I'll get a 5v 10A supply to feed the robot arm, servos and solinoid valves for the air system. I have a wall mounted panel to house it all in which will have manual override switches in case something goes south. I'll have the laptop keyboard & mouse on a pullout tray and the screen mounted in the panel.

Am I right in thinking there is a good stepper motor control board available that works well with the EZ-B? Something that works on a PWM signal (for the robot arm). Thinking getting a second EZ-B might be a wise idea. That way I could do magnetic induction position sensors for the robot arm.

Of all the hairbrained ideas I've come up with over the years I feel this one is genuinely feasible.

CJ