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Asked — Edited

Is Ez Robot For Me?

I'm not new to electronics, but new to robotics. I want to build 3 robots, a self balancing (Segway-type), hexapod and biped. I bought materials for all from different vendors. I've been looking for good software package to work with. I regularly program with PicBasic Pro (from ME Labs) on a development system and I know Mikro Basic from MikroElektonica. I've programmed in Pascal, but never C or C++, though I can somewhat get through this programming.
I purchased Flowbotics from Robot Store. It looked very promising but really falls short: very buggy, bad documentation, terrible GUI (grey text on white background), tutorials don't match product, etc. I've given up on it after 2 weeks trying to make something work.

I'd like visual programming like Flowbotics for 3rd party computers, ie the ones I'm building. I have SSC32, another one that is Chinese knockoff, some Pololu servo controllers, and a couple PS2 remote controls. I put the balancing robot together from a kit, purchased only so I could learn how to program it and scale it up someday. Software came with this unit. No software fro the hexapod and biped though.

Q. Will EZRobot fill my needs? Where do I start so I can make an evaluation?

#1  
It depends on what your needs really are. There is s good chance the EZB4 controller will work with your robots, however, if it's traditional software that you're looking for, that's not what EZ-Robots is based on. You can use traditional software to run the controller, but you will do a lot of reinventing the wheel if you do. The controller has been used in many different robots both small and large. Size is not an issue. It can work many different servos but some will require a power booster device to run if the servo (or motor) requires a lot of power. Basically it works on devices which can interpret PWM signals.

The EZB4 controller is designed to work with the ARC software program. That program has, as it's basic philosophy, the use of pre-programmed modules called Controls. In ARC, you select what controls you wish to use and set them up accordingly by changing options. The controls do all the interfacing and handshaking for you. Basically, you can get the robot to do what you want with little or no traditional programming required. There is a scripting language available to do things not covered in the controls or things to communicate with devices for which there are no controls as yet. The scripting language is, however, only a subset of a full blown language like MS Visual C++ or Visual Basic. It can do many things but not nearly as much.

I suggest you download a copy of ARC and have a look at it. There are also many tutorials you can go over to help you get a feel for the system.

I might mention that ARC has recently been revised/rewritten to accommodate plugins. But that is just starting and has a long way to go before it is fully implemented. The plugins would be written in higher level languages such as those I mentioned earlier.
United Kingdom
#2  
Hi queenidog, and welcome to the forum.

From what you have asked and with the requirements you are looking for, I would decently say a big YES, EZ-Robot is for you. C++ has some restriction with what can be done with robotics, where as EZ-Robot has software called ARC, which has a seriously powerful and easy to understand built in scripting language that can do so much, and is as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. So you don't really need to get bogged down understanding C++. You don't really need to know programming to use EZ-Robots software, but if you wanted to, there an SDK section and there is also the open source UniversalBot .

Along with the ARC software, is the heart of most robot projects seen here, and that is the EZ-B v4 controller. This is where you can connect and control servos, sensors, the v4 camera for recognition and tracking abilities, and numerous other devices you can connect to it.

A good place to start and make an evaluation, is to look through the learn section to see what all the functions are and how to use them. And another good place to look, is through the project showcase section to see what members have made, and how they went about it. I was a lot like yourself, with some electronic knowledge, and knew zero about programming. I have now built two robots, and half way through building my third. I can say, hand on heart, I couldn't have done this without the EZ-B and ARC, or without the help and advice from the very friendly, helpful, and knowledgable forum community.

So, look through the learn section to look at the features available, look through the project showcase section, download ARC to your PC and have a play around it, and have a good look through the forum, as there is a lot of valuable information here. Once you get involved with EZ-Robot, you'll never look back.

I hope that has given you something to think about, and if you have any more questions, don't be afraid to ask.:)

Steve.
United Kingdom
#3  
I forgot to mention... another good place to have a look is the user tutorials section of this website. The tutorials were written by fellow community forum members and will also give you a great idea of what you can do with the EZ-Robot platform.
#4  
Thanks to both...
I have other servo control boards from Lynxmotion, Pololu, Chinese clone, and I made a couple myself using PIC processors. I've abandoned the latter since I don't want to reinvent the wheel since the first two products I mentioned have superior software to what I was attempting. (I wanted to make a standalone servo calibrator tester...found one from China for $3.95 with free shipping.) I'd rather buy the big parts and work to make something useful. So...what I'm saying is I'd rather not buy ANOTHER controller (EZB4) when I have all this hardware already, BUT if it really advances my cause, I could!
I played around with EZRobot which has an SSC32U control..but didn't know how to use it. And if I did get something going, how far could I take it with EZRobot, which seems <mostly> proprietary to its own products.
I certainly like the GUI of EZRobot compared to Flowbotics.
#5  
@queenidog I asked a question similar to this, some time ago, wondering if EZ Robot products would enhance the robot I had built and allow me to get it to do the things I wanted it to do. I certainly wasn't happy with the platform I was running it on.
Having no background in programming and never having built any robots before, I was looking for an easy to understand programming platform. (the hieroglyphics of Arduino scirpts baffled me).

I received answers from several people, including the CEO himself DJ Sures, telling me that I couldn't go wrong with EZ-Robot and boy were they RIGHT!
Everything about EZ Robot has made building and programming robots (I have 3 now) EASY. I am amazed at how easy it is to animate a robot with a few clicks of the mouse.
This forum is also one of the best, the staff of EZ Robot as well as many experienced and intelligent people are here to answer your questions.

So, Yes - EZ Robot will fill your needs. To get started download ARC and play with it. Look thru the tutorials and forum discussions to understand how it works. Order one of EZ Robots robots or a Developers Kit to run your own robot - you won't be disappointed.
United Kingdom
#6  
@queenidog.

The SSC-32 servo controller uses the servo() comand using the VX (virtual) servo ports found in ARC. Here is a tutorial on using the SSC-32 servo controller. It connects to one of the three UART ports on the EZ-B, and uses the TX and RX pins on the digital ports. Funnily enough, I just ordered a SSC-32 today to connect to an EZ-B so I haven't tried it yet, but I know of other members who have and are very happy with the way the two boards interact.

I wouldn't necessarily say that the EZ-Robot platform proprietary (although you did say mostly", as there are many devices that come from over sources that works with the EZ-B, including Arduino which works well as a slave unit to run additional sensors ect. You can also use other software platforms with ARC such as RoboRealm for example. ARC already has a great recognition control, but RoboRealm has more options and can be used with ARC. That's just one example.

The platform here will in my option, advance your needs, and I think you will be very happy if you jumped in and got yourself an EZ-B v4.;)
#7  
Wow...these answers are great. I'd like to thank ALL of you which is why I didn't click on the "resolved" link above.

This is giving me a clear path on what I want to do.

this is a great forum! 4 replies in 22 hours.

I've also since adopted Arduino a little more than I had in the past. (I was going the Microchip PIC way), so EZRobot interfacing with Arduino is a good thing.

Can't wait to jump in.
#8  
I said I was "new to robotics". Not quite true since I have made some in the past, but not very sophisticated ones. Here's a link to Bunzilla, Racky, and Duncan.
Bob's 3 robots
#9  
Great Projects! I look forward to what you would do with an EZB controller. The simple programming of an ezb will drive you imagination to the next level.

Welcome to the forum

Ron R
United Kingdom
#10  
@queenidog.

You've been holding out on us. They are some great robots you have there. I particularly liked the spider drivetrain. I look forward to seeing more of that. And that's one big energizer bunny you have, lol.

Great stuff. With what you've done so far, EZ-Robot is definitely for you. If you do decide to get an EZ-B, I reckon you'll come up with something pretty amazing.:)

BTW, in your quest for building a self balancing robot, there will be an Inverted pendulum which is available for pre-order that will help with that.

Steve.
#11  
@queenidog,

Cool robots you've built there. My fav is Racky. I love the leg action. Very sturdy and smooth little robot.

The guys that have tried to answer your questions are true EZ Robot cheerleaders and stand behind this platform totally and compleatly. Don't let their 5 star reviews spook you. They have a reason why they are so loyal. EZ Robot is truly an amazing platform. However I always look at the 3 and 4 star reviews for the true limits of any thing I buy. They will show you the true limits and weaknesses. With that said I think WBS0000's (post 2) answer is a good answer. EZB and ARC are a work in progress. This platform started out as a very strong and easy to understand platform and has gotten better and better. EZ Robot is always working to advance t and make it better and stronger. The plans they have shared with us on this forum for the future of the EZ Robots platform is breath taking.

Sadly one of EZ Robot's biggest advantages is also their biggest weakness. EZ Robot is operated and ran by a very small but brilliant team of employees with one mastermind genius (DJ) working as programmer, CEO, visionary and who knows what else. With this small team of people I'm amazed at the speed they are advancing this product and the high level of customer service they provide. If the community has a problem or finds a bug it's usually addressed very quickly and fixed or a new feature is added to the next update. Any slack in personal help with using this platform is filled by very helpful and knowledgeable forum members like the guys that have answered your questions s far. There are many more like them ready to jump in and help if needed. However because they are so small of a teem there is a pile of things they cant get to and address. Manley requested features but they have a list and get to them as soon as possible. There are some other performance issues they couldn't seem to find the time to resolve that only the most advanced robot builders have noticed but always seem to offer workarounds.

As I mentioned, updates come very regulatory. You mentioned that tutorials and instructions are important to you. Because of the quick advancement of EZ Robot these tutorials are often out of date but basic information given is usually correct. There is no paper documentation of the EZB or ARC. The best place to find information about how to use this platform is in the Learn section, taking "ALL" the courses offed in that section (even if it doesn't relate to your robot), searching this forum and asking questions here. Read through the EZ Script manual and the ARC manual you can find links to on the top navigation bar in the Learn section. You can also download for free the ARC software and play and work with it without having an EZB. You can download other people's project into ARC from the EZ Cloud and see how they are building and coding their robots. EZ Code is a very simple language invented by DJ and should be a snap to pick up by someone of your talents. I think your biggest challange will be to try to nor over complicate your scripts and projects. WBS00001 had this challenge when he first joined our family here. He seems to be learning to "keep it simple(r)". ;)

So heck ya! Get an EZB and give it a try. This little wonder is only about $80 USD and I'm sure you can find someone to buy it if it doesn't work out for you. I'd be amazed if you decide to not use it though. ;)

One word of advice. If you don't mark this thread resolved you'll start getting nag emails from ARC in about a week to either mark it resolved or they have the option to "ban you from the forum". It's pissed a few people off in the past. I'm sure they don't intend to sound so "nuclear". I think it's a result of having such a small team and a need to manage the web site somehow. *sick*