There has been an ongoing conversation over on the B9 Builders Club forum about using EZ Robot or other Arduino type of controllers. I'd like to share a post I added to that thread. Get a cup of coffee and a comfy chair and enjoy:
Hi B9 Builders,
I thought I'd add to this thread. Sorry in advance for the long ramblings that follow but please stick with me.
I've been very vocal these past couple years about the advantages to using EZ Robot's EZB. Some people have called it a toy, I call it a God send. Before I found it I was planning on buying an Arduino and learning what ever coding language it required. Up to then I had never written any code. I was pleased to find such a large community using the Arduino with a large amount of code already written that I could piece together.
With that said I still needed to learn how to understand and write a new language and learn how to make it do the things I wanted my robot to do. I mostly wanted voice recognition, a voice of his own that could respond to my questions and motor response to voice commands. I also wanted the robot to appear to move, act and speak on his own with a personality. It all seemed like an overwhelming task. Added to that I had just started building the robot itself and that is nothing to sneeze at as it can be overwhelming also. However this seemed to be the best time to decide how I was going to automate him as I needed to build the motors, joints and sound system into him as I was building.
Then just as I was gathering the pieces of his personality (CF3 Sound system, motors, power supplies, Arduino and books on how to write code) I came across a new company that promised to make all my dreams of robot control come true and more. EZ Robot said they could do everything I mentioned above and also include video camera features like face and movement tracking and joystick control. All this without my having to spend who knows how many years learning complicated coding languages. So I was fully in and haven't regretted my decision or been disappointed sense.
I think there are two kinds of people in the world of Robotics. People who can code and make their robots do what they want and people that cant and wish they could. The latter usually ends up with a display or RC controlled robot. They just don't have the time to spend or the ability to wrap their heads around trying to learn what seems to be an overwhelming learning curve with code writing. I fully fell into this last group and was thrilled and relieved to find EZ Robot. I still had to learn how to code to fully utilize the EZB but it's a much kinder and easy language. Most of the code is written already in the background and the simple commands the user writes seems to just trigger what needs to happen.
It's true that the EZB won't work without being tethered through WiFi to either a Windows laptop, Android tablet or phone or soon to be released Apple product (they are waiting on Apple to approve the app). However being connected to the computer is what gives the EZB the power and flexibility it has. I dont see it as being tethered, I see it as being freeing. I can make changes or control how the robot acts on the fly and have him run as many scripts as I can dream up. These scripts can be run randomly, constantly, on demand or a combination of each. If you want autonomy then build your system and mount a motherboard and hard drive on the robot somewhere and have it boot up when the robot powers up and connect to the EZB automatically. When you want to adjust anything or work on EZ Builder just hook into the robots on board computer remotely. There are many programs that can be used to do this.
What about the sound system? This is a no brainer. Sound files can be stored in folders on your hard drive, triggered by voice recognition or scripts and streamed over Wifi to the EZB where it is sent to a speaker on EZB or the robots sound system. With a simple little modification to the EZB you can tap into it's sound circuit before it's onboard sound amp and send true audio to your own amp and sound system.
All this and more.......................
I have great respect for you guys that can work your magic with writing coed. I really don't know the extent of what could be done with your skills and knowledge. I do know I don't have the time or energy to learn more then the basic understanding of how to do it. My time on this world is limited and my real skills with my mind and hands are in the building and design trades. EZ Robot is perfect for people like me. It lets me concentrate on what I do best (build), have fun, learn about how to implement robotics into my project and end up with an amazing true to life robot that acts and interacts with me like the hero from my childhood.
One thing more for you coding wizards. EZ Robot offers the ability to use SDK:C#, SDK:C++ and SDK:Visual Basic to control the EZB. You dont have to be tied down to using EZ Builder. I really don't understand how it all works but it's been said that this really releases the power of EZ Robot. I also know of several people that use Arduino or their own microcontrollers in tandem with the EZB. They let the other controllers do the heavy lifting of controlling functions that are triggered by the EZB. This frees up the EZB to process other important functions. I do this with all my waist, hip, arm and radar motors. I send serial commands through EZB's Uart port to several Sabertooth / KangarooX2 boards that control these motors. I can also trigger things to happen to my CF3 sound system with the EZB.
Additionally, if I ever motorize my tread section I would make it a separate system operated by RC controlled motors. I feel the same as others have mentioned; that you get better control and safety using this tried and true method. Heck, if hobbyists can fly 100 lb airplanes for miles and land them safely on the ground in front of them then it seems to be the best method to roll my 400 lb B9 around the driveway. ;-)
Thanks and sorry about the long post,