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It's Not Just Me; Went To A Makerspace And Even The Latest Issue Of Servo Can't

It's not just me; went to a makerspace and even the latest issue of servo can't figure out the EZ Robot software.

I bought my EZBv4 when it was brand spanking new in 2014 and mated it to a RoboPhilo.  Couldn't figure out how to program it the way I wanted.  Posted on the forum and got defensive deflections telling me to RTFM N00B.  I got 110% certified (website could not count correctly), but still had no idea how to program the thing.

One of my old threads got necrolized and reminded me I had a $500 robot and a $100ish controller collecting dust.

I took the setup to a local makerspace, downloaded the latest version of EZBuilder, and out of the 3 of us, we could not figure out what was wrong or how it was supposed to be programmed.

This month's servo magazine has an article about the EZBv4, and the opening jist is that the software doesn't do what he wants, so he programs in something else and makes a direct connection to the board, also saying that the software was kludgy and gimmicky.



Now that you're up to speed, I think I might have a defective board, and I still don't know how to make the software work.


While at the makerspace, we found inconsistent behavior when testing servos.  Sample programs did not affect the servos.  The button on the webpage to put all servos to 90 degrees sometimes worked, and sometimes the servos went limp right after moving.

Both of the other guys there recommended that I buy a new board because the software was too confusing.






BTW the search function of the website can't find any of my old posts, but DDG can: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=synthiam+allanonmage&ia=web


Related Hardware EZ-Robot EZ-B v4
Related Controls Vertical Servo Horizontal Servo
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#8   — Edited
Oh John from robobasic...:) he’s incredibly passionate about robotics and has been for many decades. In his time, John was very forward thinking and I respected his work. That being said, servo magazine could benefit from new authors which understand multi-threaded and event driven programming techniques. It would help servo magazine move on from 2010 style robots to more recent programming models. 

as for john's issue with the frame based gait system. He mentions lots of software does this, which is opposite to my experience:) .  Aside from no other platforms competing with ARC’s features, one of the incredible values of the ARC software is this community and how supportive everyone is. Take this thread for example, any other forum the original poster would have been torn apart for trolling, ironically by trolls. Instead, people are stepping up to offer assistance... including the ceo of the company:D 

Sorry, I digress! I’m personally disappointed that John has again refused visiting the forum and asking for assistance. This isn’t the first time an author with old school single thread arduino-style programming experience has neglected to use the forum to better his understanding of ARC’s incredible potential - but instead publicly blamed that ignorance on the software limitations. Make magazine wrote an article years ago by an outdated programmer that quietly retracted his statement of the software after the community stepped up by showing his approach was incorrect. If John would have asked about how to affect the gait frames in real-time, I would have helped him. 

....

and still will:) all he needs to do is ask. Heck, I might just do a live hack in response to the article. It’ll be fun and educational.
#9  
Ah ha ha, Right on DJ! would prove to be interesting!
#10   — Edited
Welcome back allanonmage. It's good to see you visit again. I hope you can find a way to get your robot up and running. From what you are describing you may indeed have a bad board. While uncommon bad EZB's have popped up. I'm not blaming any fault on you but it is possible to damage these boards several ways while using them. There also could be issues with the computer or your wifi connection somehow. I've had problems in the past with EZB's, keeping them connected and controlling them. In all cases it turned out to be my mistake in setting up the scripts, hardware I'm trying to control or my computers issues. Again, I'm not ruling out an EZB issue. 

If you could post some of the scripts you have been trying to write or use we could help by seeing is there are any improvements or changes needed that may be causing these issues. Also there are very many example scripts you can download through ARC from the EZ Cloud. These scrips show examples of just about anything you may want your robot to do and were written by both EZ Robot designers and users like you and I. While most cant be just cut and pasted and make your robot run without changes to customize it to you needs, they do help you understand the structure needed to write your own EZ Script. In addition, inside the EZ Script control where you write your script there is a Script help list on the right that lists every command available with examples of how they are used. You can even cut and paste and with a couple changed make them work. 

I understand how frustrating it is to have someone tell you to "Just Read The Freakin Manual". I know there are some people that default to that advice. However there is a lot of truth and wisdom in that path. You will find most of your answers in the EZ Robot manual, if you can find it. Personally I've always had a very hard time finding it on this website and get frustrated trying to dig it up. Mostly though If you can give us specific problems there a lot of kind and knowledgeable people here that will help. I looked through a lot of your past posts and I see you were good at listing your questions about how EZ Robot worked but I didn't see a lot of specific questions about the problems you were having. Maybe I missed them. Sorry if I did. 

Please post your scripts, take pictures and videos of your problems if you can. We can help you write some simple scripts that will work with your setup to test your hardware. If the proper script dont work we can help figure out if it's your computer or the connection. If all that seems to work then it's probably time for a new EZB. 

As far as EZ Robot and ARC being kludgy and gimmicky and hard to understand I gotta respectfully disagree. I will say this however; it is hard to understand until you start working to learn it. Like anything else there is a learning curve. Despite all the comments made by EZ Robot, this is not a plug and play platform. Builders need to learn how things work in ARC and how everything works together.  The hardest concept for me to understand in ARC was timing because of the Threading feature of Windows that ARC utilizes. ARC can run several commands or run several scripts at the same time and send them to you robot. If two commands are sent to the same device at the same time one of the commands wont get heard or even stop the first one. Even though there are Pre-written controls and scripts they usually need to be edited and reorganized to work with your robot. This is more true if you are building your own robots and not building a EZ Robot Revolution Robot. In comparison to any other robot platform or computer language ARC and EZ Script are light years easier to understand, learn and write. Lot less to learn and understand. Lots faster to get up and running with professional results. 

Please start by posting the ARC Project you have been using with your scripts inside. By your description of your servo going limp and unresponsive it could be a simple matter if timing or even the wrong use of a command at the wrong time. It almost sounds like your sending a unwanted servo release command before the servo reaches it's destination or shortly after. It sounds like you're almost there.
#11   — Edited
@Allanonmage:

My initial idea was not to criticize your post or minimize your issues, but, is important to get right facts and the understand the  different motivations.
To recap it's clear the magazine article said the software is effective for beginners. 


I did some google search and found the robophilo specs:

Quote:

Height: 13" ( 330.2mm )
Weight: 1.2kg ( 1200g ) with battery

PCB Unit
- Dimensions: 2.99" x 2.24" x 0.06" ( 76 x 57 x 1.6mm )
- Weight: 1.91oz ( 54g )
- Operating Voltage: 6V DC
- CPU: Atmega32 - 16PU

SV 4032 Servos
- Dimensions: 1.59"L x 0.78"W x 1.42"H ( 40.4 x 19.8 x 36mm )
- Weight: 1.3oz ( 37.2g )
- Torque: 4.1kg-cm
- Speed: 0.19 sec/60
- Operating Voltage: 6V DC

SV 4104 Servos
- Dimensions: 1.57" x 0.79" x 1.5" ( 40 x 20 x 38.1mm )
- Weight: 1.4oz ( 41g )
- Torque: 6.5kg-cm
- Speed: 0.16 sec/60
- Operating Voltage: 6V DC

SV 2030 Servos
- Dimensions: 0.89" x 0.45" x 0.81" ( 22.8 x 11.5 x 20.8mm )
- Weight: 0.28oz ( 8g )
- Torque: 1.3kg-cm
- Speed: 0.12 sec/60
- Operating Voltage: 6V DC

7.2V 1000mA Charger
- Input: AC 100 - 240V, 50/60Hz 500mA
- Output: 7.2V 1000mA
- Dimensions: 1.69" x 2.91" x 1.33" ( 43 x 74 x 34mm )
- Weight: 100g
- Charging Time: Approximately 1.5 hrs

6V Ni-MH 5 x 2/3AA 700mAh Battery
- Dimensions: 1.14" x 1.57" x 1.14" ( 29 x 40 x 29mm )
- Weight: 75g
- Voltage: 6V
- Capacity: 700mAh
user manual:
http://www.robophilo.com/live/products/RoboPhilo/manuals/en/web/index.htm

one of your posts:
https://www.robotshop.com/community/forum/t/please-help-with-robophilo-cant-load-a-motion-file/22618


let's get to the next complain:

Quote:

While at the makerspace, we found inconsistent behavior when testing servos. Sample programs did not affect the servos. The button on the webpage to put all servos to 90 degrees sometimes worked, and sometimes the servos went limp right after moving.
Your first complain is 2011, 8 years later I hope you have bought new batteries, your robot has 24 servos and the available power (Specs) is:
5 x  https://www.amazon.com/Exell-Rechargeable-Battery-toothbrushes-instruments/dp/B00YFSXKCI => 5 x 1.2v = 6V 700 mAh 

Note: some user complains those batteries don't last more than 18 months, even if you don't use them frequently.

Quote:

to put all servos to 90 degrees sometimes worked, and sometimes the servos went limp right after moving.
When you put all servos to 90 degrees requires that all servos get a good amount of energy (Amps) if the batteries can't handle a brownout will occur https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownout_(electricity) the voltage will drop, and the EZB board will reset, and the servos will stop moving, , the ezb http page will be unresponsive, etc etc. 

I would get new batteries then i would connect a single servo to EZB, then i would use ARC to control the servo to test the servo positions, then one by one to confirm all of them are full functional.

After that i would connect all of them and i would test moving all of them at same time, if you have issues i would consider upgrading the power, maybe 700 mah are not enough to handle all the servos plus an EZB controller. 

bear in mind EZB is a wireless (wifi) controller, wireless controllers require more power.

Please reset your mindset and start from the begin, breaking the problem in small sub-problems.

I believe it's possible to have your bot with ARC but don't expect to be a 5 minute journey.
#12  
This is an old school link to DJ RoboPhilo Jr with EZB3 Bluetooth....so all images of the controls in the software and the voltage requirements will be different, but it gives you the idea of how it might work with a EZBv4 - keeping in mind all the points PTP just pointed out like the v4 is wifi and you'll need to be mindful about the power you are suppling.  https://synthiam.com/Community/Robots/RoboPhilo-485

BTW - Check out that robot's right hand in the second video...is that a EZ-Bit CLAW Prototype?*cool*  DJ?

PTP's advice to control 1 servo, master that then move on is how I would approach your project...that's how I approach all my projects.  And if you can post a video of the issues you are see, even if its something quick, it helps to see things from your side and troubleshoot.
#13  

Quote:

DJ Shures: Can you let us know what you’re wanting the robophilo to do?
This question does not traverse The Internet well.  It 110% looks sarcastic to me, but given your other comments in this thread, it seems that you were genuinely asking.  The RoboPhilo is a humanoid robot, and was my first robot.  My intent was to learn about robotics as a hobby, and eventually get into it as a career or small business.  I wanted to do all the cool robot things that you can do with a humanoid robot.  Learn, experiment, play, etc.  SO far, it's brought frustration and collected dust.


Quote:

DJ Shures: What power supply are you using for the ezb and robophilo servos? How many volts and amps, etc.
I'm using an old Radio Shack 35W variable voltage power supply, and it was set to 6V.  I did not have the batteries connected, and I started by testing 1 servo at a time, for various and obvious reasons.  Eventually I tried more servos.  I did not see anything like a brown out, and I was keeping an eye out for it.


Quote:

DJ Shures: i would start by looking into the Auto Position control since the robophilo robot has a bunch of servos and that sounds like where you’re looking to do?
No, we're no where even close to that.  Still testing the hardware and it's not working.  It could be operator error, which is why I went to the makerspace, and now I think it's bad hardware.

Quote:

@robo_rad: <various comments>
My guess is that because you're new to the scene, you're quickly able to grasp certain concepts that the product designed under.  I've been doing techy stuff for a long time, and about the time I got this kit, the sea change started becoming apparent.  I don't like or understand the sea change, and from my perspective it's backwards for no good reason.  My guess is that something obvious to you is not obvious to me.  Which DJ Shures touches on here:

Quote:

DJ Shures: The challenge some people with prior knowledge of arduino experience is with the programming part in ARC. In arduino, all you do is write code and write code and write code and write code for days....
Yes, that's part of the problem.  I'm quite comfortable in Arduino-land.  It makes sense and is very obvious to me.  As evidenced by the fact that I put an OWI arm on a roomba and controlled it with a PS3 controller through bluetooth to an arduino ADK.  Code avail on github.


Quote:

ptp: You wrote a lot and is difficult to understand the problem, we all have limited time span sometimes is better to break to conquer.
A metaphor: I'm stuck in the mud spinning my wheels trying to get to the start line, and the race is half over.

As far as pointing out that the typical way to program a robot was a frame based system, it wasn't until about a year or so ago that I realized what was going on.  The original documentation for RoboPhilo didn't explain any of that (but it did use frames), and none of the EZB documentation circa 2014 - 2016 mentioned it either.  I agree with the author of the article where there is nothing inherently wrong with that approach.  I don't have any other experience with off-the-shelf robotic kits, but I have built my own robot from parts and other projects.

I would have liked to know that the author was the creator of RoboBasic though.  I must have missed that while reading the article.


Quote:

Dave Schulpius: If you could post some of the scripts you have been trying to write or use we could help by seeing is there are any improvements or changes needed that may be causing these issues. Also there are very many example scripts you can download through ARC from the EZ Cloud....
I tried using the servo write command in my own EZ Script, using the sample script from here[1], and running the RoboPhilo Jr Example Project (for those that don't know, the Jr has about half as many servos, so it obviously won't work correctly).

I started out testing 1 servo on D0 with the servo(?) command in the scripting tool, with my script and a sample script that I now can't find, then added a bunch of other servos onto various other servo ports while trying to run the RoboPhilo Jr project.  It was the opposite of clear to figure out how to get any controls to use a specific port, but somehow through rapid and random clicking, I managed to get a horizontal servo assigned to D0.  However, it did not respond to commands.  However, it was not clear if I was giving it a command, or setting a limit.  Most of the time, the board seemed to respond, but the servos do not.  I could only get the servos to respond in the web UI.

[1] Well, I did look for the sample script in the help file section of the site, but I couldn't find it.  That's most of my issue with the documentation.  There are multiple articles talking about the same thing, but kinda slightly different, and they all skip the first few steps to get there, and I waste all my energy getting frustrated clicking around looking for something that should be there but clearly isn't.
For example, I got to this page https://synthiam.com/GettingStarted/Behavior-Control?stepNumber=15, which eventually (after wondering why I'm at a camera page) gets me to https://synthiam.com/Products/Controls/Servo/Horizontal-Servo-16098, which has a link to http://www.ez-robot.com/Tutorials/Hardware.aspx?id=4, which gives me a 404 error, presumably because of the company split.  It was confusing to retrace my steps, so it should be confusing to read.

Quote:

Dave Schulpius: I understand how frustrating it is to have someone tell you to "Just Read The Freakin Manual". I know there are some people that default to that advice. However there is a lot of truth and wisdom in that path. You will find most of your answers in the EZ Robot manual, if you can find it.
In concept, I agree.  However, when you are telling people to read your manual that you wrote, you should also direct them to the specific section, and that recommendation has to be highly relevant.  The last two are what seem to be missing here.  I write manuals professionally, so I appreciate good documentation.  I have yet to find programming documentation that I also find helpful, and the EZB stuff, while voluminous, seems to be written in programming style, which for some reason doesn't work for me.

This guy's project was what convinced me to buy an EZB controller, and I had high hopes to get it up and running quickly given that he did with a previous generation controller: https://synthiam.com/Community/Robots/Everybody-Meet-phil-388

No, I'm not here trolling.  I'm incredibly frustrated with this, and it's getting the better of me as far as reporting details to request help.  What started many years ago as "how do I program this thing?" seems to now be at "How do we determine this thing isnn't broken?" and I think it will soon be at "OK, so it's a 5 year old out of box failure, what is the manufacturer going to do to make it right?"

As far as pictures, you can find them on my thingiverse and github, which uses this same username.
Synthiam
#14   — Edited
Hi @allanonmage,

It's definitely understandable that you are going to run into some issues being at your level of understanding. With ARC you actually have to forget some things to take advantage of how easy it can be.

It seems that you have challenges in two areas:

1. Scripting servo movements: This is something I had to forget about myself. The power of ARC is that it puts this concept on it's head. With ARC you don't need to script servo movements any longer. The AutoPosition control takes care of all the scripting (or if you are testing one servo, just use the horizontal servo control). It may seem backward to use something so elementary but all the most amazing robots that people have built in our community use the AutoPosition control.

2. Power: Something that almost every robotist struggles with is power, trust me, I was there too. Servos are hungry for instant current and if the power supply can't give it, the servos simply drag down the voltage until the robot controller resets. Unfortunately, the power supply you have is not sufficient for the amount of servos you have. With a 35W supply you can only likely run 5 servos or less. With initial surge (in-rush) current of all the servos trying to get to 90 degrees you'll brown out the robot controller every time. For a wall powered power supply we usually run a 5V 20A supply (100W) for our robots. It is for this exact reason that in the past we created servos that could run directly off 7.4V lipo battery voltage. You don't have to deal with the in-rush current limitations of power supplies and voltage regulators.

P.S. Just in case you hadn't run into it yet, ARC also has a battery protection setting which won't allow you to do much if you are supplying the EZ-B with 6V. It will disable the servos at any voltage below 7V by default and give you the "low battery" message until you drop the voltage down in the settings of the connection control.
#16  
allanonmage takel that robot.step by step.or build another bot.

is kenny storm still on the forum here? maybe he can help .he made a robophilo.
#17  
@Jeremie
Most of my testing has been with 1 servo attached.  Since I have 5V servos, I didn't want to risk frying them with a 6V power supply. ........but it seems that's where most of my problem is.  If the EZBv4 doesn't like 6V power, I don't think this is going to work.  Looking at the specs, I'll need to check to see if the battery low voltage warning has been disabled.

I'm going off of memory of a project and research from several years ago, but as I recall, the servos are 5V, and you can push them to 6V, but you're not supposed to use 7V or 7.4V as that could damage them.  Which is why it makes it hard to find a battery online because searching for 6V gets your 3.6V batteries.


@rz90208
I can try that, but as it is now, the speaker has been disconnected.  When I mounted it on my custom plate, I didn't carry the speaker from the plastic chassis over.  Like I said before, I can connect and communicate with it.  I think Jeremie hit the nail on the head that I probably need to turn off the low voltage alarm condition.
Synthiam
#18  
The 35w power is a wall wart from radio shack? Is it the one with the switch that selects between 3,6,9,12 volts? If so, that won’t power even one servo. 

also thanks for your very thorough response to everyone. That was useful. I’m glad you saw my question as genuine because it was. What I meant about what do you want the robot to do, is do you want it walk or use cameras or etc... it was more of a specific what features are you aiming at

the very first thing I would recommend is an adequate power supply... then your life will change:) because the servos will move and that’s a good thing hehehe. The power is 100% of the challenge
#19   — Edited
I'll see about getting specific on the power supply and post them when I can.  Probably tomorrow.  I have lots of different power supplies, but not so many high amperage ones in the 5-6V range.  I guess I'll look into buying one just for this project.

Long term, I'd like to add sensors and cameras to the robot.  I bought the accelerometer that is supposed to be already have a software module, and I'd like to pursue the (inverse) kinematic algorithm that can figure out how to walk.
Synthiam
#20  
Excellent to hear about the power supply. Look into a digital switching power supply that’s at least 5 amps. Better yet, if you’re pursuing this as a hobby/career, I recommend getting an adjustable power supply. A bunch of us on here purchased this one on eBay:  https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.ca%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F333358703404

as for the inverse kinematic, the robophilo servos aren’t compatible with that feature without modification. Let’s first get you up and running with servos moving with adequate power supply. Once you get that, we’ll start you off on making a walking gait using the auto position. Following that, we can connect the camera. And then I’ll show you a tutorial video I did on modifying those servos for inverse kinematic
Synthiam
#21  
@allanonmage thanks for the reply!

The EZ-Bv4 can work down to 4.5V.

6V is fine.

Definitely look to see what your battery monitor voltage is set to inside the connection control settings.
#22  
@allanonmage,  Where are you located?   Although from reading through this I am convinced that your primary issues are related to power (it is always the amps, not the volts - and a wall wart power supply never has enough amps), if you are near another EZ-B user, we could quickly rule out hardware by bringing one of our EZ-B's to you or a good meeting place.   

I personally am in the Maryland suburbs of DC, but I can travel for free on Amtrak anywhere in the Northeast, and would be happy to arrange something (although finding an opening on my calendar can be difficult).

Alan
#23   — Edited
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@thetechguru
I'm north of Atlanta in the metro area.  Complete opposite direction of the NE lol


The power supply is adjustable from 6 - 24V, and supports 3A/35W max.  It's a RadioShack 273-1685, which The Internets seem to have forgotten.  Seems strange that a 6v 3A power supply can't power the EZB and a single servo.  The little battery packs that came with the RoboPhilo are the cut down AAA cells in a 5 pack to get 6V, and have ~600mAh (as a pack) IIRC.  There's no way they can sustain much more than 3A.

I'll probably order that PSU DJ Shures recommended since it's like $20-$30

What about using the 5V rail from a PC power supply?  That can usually source 20A - 50A depending.

I used it to power up a yard sale find, which is why it's on 9V in the picture.  I scored a Win CE tablet thingey for $10, but that's another problem for another forum.
Synthiam
#24  
Lol! @allanonmage I was thinking about that this morning and was going to suggest that exact solution.

Yes, you can use an ATX power supply to power robots, the 5V 20A+ rail is more than sufficient.

The radio shack supply should definitely be able to power up the EZ-B and a few servos, unless it is faulty. 

Did you have a chance to change your battery monitor voltage?
#25   — Edited
@allanonmage  It looks like the power supply is set to 9 volts....keep in mind that voltage would probably damage your servos in the robophilo, but I think from your comments you know that, I just wanted to remind you.

You keep mentioning the wattage on the power supply, but look at the amps, its 3amps max.  Back in the day I used to work for Radio Shack, many years ago, and I purchased many Radio Shack power supplies like that one, not that one specifically, but similar to it with my employee discount and the only thing I would say about them is if you connect a meter up to them you'll probably find like I did that their power output fluctuations widely.   And back in the day, I found I could never rely on them to power my Basic Stamp micro controller projects.  Even to control LED circuits, I could not rely on them.  So back in the day I either used a bunch of batteries or eventual I built my own homebrew power supply. 

The power supply you have looks like it was meant as a universal laptop power supply replacement maybe with a bunch of different end connectors you can swap out, so it's probably good for that but perhaps not good for robotics.

I'm not sure what you purchased years ago from EZ-Robot if you just purchased a standalone EZ-Bv4 controller or an Experimenters kit, but if you got the DC adapter that came with it, then you might have also got the 6 AA battery pack holder.  That 6AA battery pack holder would provide 9 volts to power your EZ-Bv4 but again too much power for your robophilo servos which need around 5/6 volts.   If you have a 4 AA battery pack holder you could connect that to the EZ-Bv4 to provide 6volts and power your servos, if you lower that voltage settings as mentioned before.
Synthiam
#26  
If you had that power adapter set for 6 volts and the speaker was disconnected, the battery monitor would activate and that’s why the servos won’t move (as jeremie mentioned earlier). Deactivate the battery monitor and try again with that adapter. Since it’s a switching supply at 3 amps, it might work for a few servos. Although those robophilo servos draw a TON of current. They’re real cheap (sorry) servos and not efficient at all. But, with adequate power you’ll be fine:)

I do recommend hooking up a speaker for notifications like the battery monitor. And... who doesn’t like a robot that speaks:) or dances to music. A speaker on the ezb makes it way cooler!