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Help! Looking To Buy. Ez-Bot Or Arduino!?

Hello all, I'm looking to get back into robotics and was considering getting an Arduino + shields, etc, but this looks even better! A few questions though if anyone can help answer:

1. Is there some way to control via android phone or tablet?

2. Is it possible to communicate to the pc and/or other bots via X-Bee Mesh insead of bluetooth?

3. As far as tracking via video, does it have to be a wireless cam or is there some code to interface a wired cam to the EZ-B and have it process the video. Is something like this even possible or would I need some sort of video interface board like the CMUCam?

Basically I am not a big fan of being "tethered" to a pc via bluetooth unless it's to hook up for programming but I love the ease of "WYSIWYG" programming and communication though. What are my options in this regard for the EZ-B?


Thanks in advance!

PRO
Synthiam
#1  
Hello:)

Arduino and EZ-B are very different - much like EZ-B and Microchip PIC are different. The concept behind EZ-Robot (combining the EZ-B and software) is leveraging the processing power of your computer to compensate for the lack of processing in MicroControllers. The true power of the platform is in the EZ-SDK, but it's only used by a few advanced users and rapid prototyping education/industry organizations we deal with. CMUCam is neat, but again limiting if you're expectations are scalability. You can even connect ROS to the EZ-SDK. And within the ARC, you can create your own controls and customize the environment.

Tethering is actually an interesting word - it has a bad rep but is a very popular and scalable control method. Internationally, advanced robots contain computer's and external hardware I/O. So technically, even our customers (such as NASA and MIT) use a computer with the EZ-B as an external hardware I/O. You'll enjoy having a computer operate the robot in real-time because it provides a graphical interface to "tweak" and "customize" the robot interface. You will always be tweaking values and showing-off the graphics to your friends. Most people are interested in the Project before the robot:) - You'll get used to the question "How did you do that?", everyone wants to see!

Having the PC also enables so many other control methods. Such as telnet consoles, wii remotes, web servers, speech recognition, etc.. the list is huge and grows weekly. Oh yeah, our Windows 8 tablet (i guess its called Surface now) support is pretty awesome too.

So to answer your questions:

1) yes
- http://www.ez-robot.com/Community/Videos/Default.aspx?id=sfxXSui6J6U
- and we have MFI (which means we can create software for the bluetooth in iPhone)
- we are working at allocating development resources to create an Android/iPhone version
- we support anyone else wishing to create their own
- there is an open-source linux version for EZ-Robot on google

2) yes
- you can connect either wifi, synapse, xBee to the EZ-B
- It's really easy as all communication methods like that use TX/RX uart. The ports are clearly labelled on the EZ-B for alternative communication methods.

3) microcontrollers aren't there yet:) Which is why the world uses tethered PC's. Our open source version runs on Rasberry Pi - but the hardware performance on the Pi is a little less than expected and therefore is limited to applications written with specific purpose rather than customizable like ARC. Plus there is a huge benefit of EZ-SDK exposing ALL functions as an Open Framework which enables connecting OpenCV or anything else into the video stream:D


As you could use an Arduino or PIC and create your own EZ-Robot type project from scratch, it'd be a lot of work and neat - but i can assure you that we're a lot more fun and progressive than starting your own:D

Alternatively, if you are experienced with Arduino programming - the Arduino makes a great automated slave for the EZ-B. Little automated scripts on the Arduino can be triggered by digital/serial data from the EZ-B. Although most people simply add additional EZ-B's to their robot. The ARC software supports 5 EZ-B's (i.e. 100 servos) and the EZ-SDK supports 2000 EZ-B's (i.e. 40,000 servos). The most i've used is 5 EZ-B's and the video is here: http://www.ez-robot.com/Community/Videos/Default.aspx?id=JmPJuRN6WJs



Also there are many supported platforms - which makes the EZ-Robot Platform scalable for everyone. Either build your own robot, or use one of your old toys. For example, the EZ-B connects to most WowWee robots or iRobot Roomba with only two wires. Other robots are supported over Wifi (such as Brookstone Rover and AR Parrot Drone). Here's more information on that: http://www.ez-robot.com/Tutorials/Supported-Robot-Platforms.aspx

I'm influenced to add features by community interaction. Also you have the ability to create your own controls and share with the community via our EZ-Cloud. Aaaaaaaaaaaaand our community forum is active with amazing people. We're a big family and everyone with a smile is invited:D

Okay, that last line might have been cheesy but it's true!
Ecuador
#2  
the first question is.. in the future... Dj said that he is creating an application for Apple and Android....

the second question is.... yeah... you can use X-BEE with ez robot... here.. in the community you have a tutorial about this...

and the third questions is.... IS A WIRELESS CAM! haha... and the computer process all the videos... tracking... etc...... and you dont need other programs for the camera.. only ARC...

I think that you can use X-bee instead Bluetooth .... and if you want to create your own programs you can follow the tutorials in the SDK of EZ..! is easy.. (C#)

Good luck!
#3  
Awesome, thanks so much for the answers and info! As Mr. Sures says, I realize I could get to the same point as EZ-Bot with an Arduino plus extras... I'm just trying to figure out the lowest cost overall that'll get me the most 'bang for the buck' so to speak.

I have some decision making to do, thank you again!
#4  
cobaltphoenix -

I think everyone pretty much answered your questions. The EZ-B is a great platform.

However if you are not wanting to be tethered to a pc then you should consider adding a mini itx to your project. There are a few in the project showcase. You will be very limited to what the arduino can do, especially if you are looking to process video etc. Most of these use your (computer) to process this. The microcontrollers do not have the power to do so. Also using the arduino you would need to be an excellent programmer. EZ-B offers such a wonderful user interface, that makes it easy for anyone to use. I think you need to decide on really what type of robot you want to build. Then we can help you come up with the best solution to fit your needs.

I personally did not think everything through. Made a robot but was unhappy with the limitations that the design/tethered to the pc did. So I am now gathering the items for my second robot that will have it's own computer.

Good luck.

Oh ps. the community is wonderful and very helpful here.

Samantha
#5  
EZ-Robot is worth every penny.
#6  
I'm selling off all of my Arduino stuff 'cause EZ-B does it all and is so much less. I only wish I had known about it before I bought that Arduino stuff.