Asked — Edited

Looking For Some Help With My Robot

I am asking the community for some help. I dont know anything about programming or writing code etc. But, I can get almost anything to move or animate. My back ground is Make up effects for films and television, but I started out as an R/C animatronic mechanic, (back in the day when there was animatronics (now its all CGI). Anyways, I have a full sized B9 Robot from Lost in Space that I am building for fun (5 years in the making and counting), and I want to be done with it so I can move on to other robots and other endevours.

Here is my quandry. Coming from animatronics, I use the VSA and RAPU from Brookshire. This allows me record and animate with upto 128 servos, and to sync audio to the animations. So, I am creating animations for say the arms, adding that to a library of animations, then adding that to a time line, like non-linear editting. So lets say on time frame 120, he moves forward, extends his arm and says "howdy". Its all in the can, prerecorded motions.

What I'd like to do, is control the animations (called routines in VSA and the recorder flash called RAPU) with the EZB. Now here is where it gets fuzzy for a non programmer like me. The RAPU uses IR controller to just cycle through the routines, but it also can be controlled via this description using Visual Basic and even Macromedia Director:

The Console

And this is the version of the RAPU I have: My RAPU

I believe there is some serial control as well in there (see page 8 at the bottom' serial control'), but again I have no idea how to get EZB to send serial commands to play the Routines etc. Or maybe none of this will work the way I think it might?! I'd like both the RAPU and EZB to work together, EZB giving it autonomous operation and the RAPU for the library of motions and audio.

So any help, in laymens terms, I would be grateful. Egads thats alot of writing I hope it makes since.




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Sounds like a freekin wicked cool job you have! I am so jealous!


In summary: I think you will need more than just the EZB to do this interface. it is not impossible though. you could use IR as you mentioned but that would most likely require a PC with a device called a USB-UIRT that can learn and send IR signals to your RAPU. You would then need to have ARC send commands to the USB-UIRT through software like eventghost to send IR signals to the RAPU do launch your routines.

The best method and most direct method is to build or find a converter to interface the RS-232 serial to TTL serial (EZB).

Page 8 of you manual describes this below

2.7 Control serial port Many of the RAPU's operations may be controlled through the control serial port (1). The serial port operates at 19.2kbps, 8 data bits, no stop bits, and one parity bit. The port implements a standard RS232 interface and conversion circuitry may be required to interface to a TTL serial port (e.g., Basic Stamp or other microcontroller). The port provides a console-like interface that is designed for human or automated operation.

Sorry that this may not be as simple as you may have liked it to be. You might actually be able to find a TTL-Serial circuit someone has already build for the RAPU. I also know that sparkfun has some DIP chips that do this too.





Thanks for replying, I had all but given up hope that any one was going to reply. You have alot of great info there that I have to digest.

Now that I think on it, I see where you can connect up to 5 EZBs through one running ARC. I guess in theory you could have 100 servos running. I could do away with the RAPU in the robot and use an onboard mini ITX. Do you need a Blue tooth for each of the EZB boards? My robot has 32 channels of servos, and they all would not be running at the same time, so would there be enough bandwidth for say 2 boards on the mini ITX?

I am wondering if Auto positioning and GAIT will evolve into banks of recorded motions from servos like the RAPU. Then the canned animations could be triggered by EZB? Just thinking out loud have to download the new firmware and play with those two options.

I recently got the MP3 trigger and it could be used to again replace the RAPU audio in an autonomous response to spoken word (something you cannot do with the RAPU.

Ok lots to think about with no clear answer. Thanks again for the response.

Here is a link to a few projects that I have done make up effects on: Works

Chat soon,




Very impressed with the work you have been involved with! That is really cool.

Good news, I think I may have found something for you that would be an easy solution.

Theoretically this adapter should work to connect EZB to any RS-232 controlled device. You would need to use a single digital I/O port and would be limited to transmit (tx) only to send serial commands to your RAPU unit. No guarantees on this..but might be worth a try if you are still set on controlling your RAPU with your EZB.

RS-232 to Serial TTL adapter





Very very cool piece of hardware you found there. I will order one tomorrow and post more once I receive it.




Hey Will! Welcome!

I too started work in anamatronics and Yes now CGI:)lol But for more Indie Film Fare..

I found EZ-B from searching for a better servo controller board for an Animatronic project.. (A film were the "Creature" will be a MIX of Practical and CGI.) Then I got hooked on the Community and the Cool ROBOTS!



Awsome Rob, are you out here in Los Angeles too?




Like I said "INDIE", NH,NY and Boston area work. lol Not as hard core as you've been, I suppose....


Hey its work! I started out in Pittsburg 25 years ago, working with Savini, so I know all about INDIE, lol!!


LOL; I did some work on an INDIE with Savini, 3 years ago: "SEA of Dust"...

He was,,,,,,"Interesting".:)lol


That is an understatement. Lol


Hi Gents,

Here we are 3+ years later and I have the same problem! Unfortunately Brookshire's documentation on the RAPU is lacking many details. The short section on controlling with serial is fine, if you are connected to a COM serial port with an ancient DB9 straight-through cable (or USB-to-RS232 converter). Pull up RealTerm or similar, set the 19200 baud rate, and power up the RAPU. Console shows the boot up and the command prompt is hot and ready in your terminal window. Commands work exactly like they are shown in the manual.


Get that to work with your microcontroller.

Yes, you will need a TTL-to-RS232 converter (5V level).

Yes, you should be able to use the same command in the manual through serial communication from your controller to the RAPU.

It doesn't work!

I have been fighting this for a good long time, love some tips or to hear some success stories.

Here's where I'm at:

  • I can "see", using a serial monitor window, all commands and boot-up text and an active prompt
  • Despite using CRLF formatting it trips-up the input commands. For example it will not take in an "a". So if I type in "play" it reads "ply" and reports that it is an unrecognized command.....DUH!

For the record YES, I'm sending 8-bit, no parity, one stop bit at 19200 baud.

Seems like there something else a tiny bit off. For fun I tried shifting the baud rate. No real significant changes from about 19100 to 19300, outside that is gibberish.

Soooo close!